April 23, 2007
American cable channel ImaginAsian TV has announced that they're going to be starting a weekday morning anime block, featuring three classic series from TMS Entertainment.
I actually find this old-school approach pretty heartening. To hear it told from modern anime fans (and a few writers), Astro Boy was the first anime series back in the 1960s, then pretty much nothing happened until Neon Genesis Evangelion. These three series provide a nice look back at what was on TV at the midway point between Astro Boy's debut and today.
Cat's Eye (which used to come on here in French as Signé Cat's Eye) is about three sisters who run a café by day and are art thieves by night. They're on the hunt for their missing father, and the art they steal contains the clues they need to find him. It's clear they can't depend on the police for help, because one of the sisters is engaged to the detective who's charged with stopping them—and somehow he's failed to notice that the three sisters look an awful lot like the art thieves he's chasing, and they happen to own a café called—wait for it—Cat's Eye.
Based on a manga created by Tsukasa Hojo, Cat's Eye bears the same stylistic flourishes as his more well-known City Hunter: very 1980s designs, a heavy comedy bent, and plenty of cute girls. City Hunter was a little bit racier—the protagonist was a grade-A lech, after all—but the all the tight body suits and occasional faux pas added a very mild sexual undercurrent that would now be considered positively quaint.
Super Dimension Century Orguss sounds an awful lot like Super Dimension Fortress Macross, with good reason: they were both part of the Super Dimension trilogy that included Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross. (Macross and Southern Cross were eventually adapted into the first and second parts of Robotech.) "Series" is a bit of a misnomer as the shows really had nothing to do with each other, but as it happens Orguss and Macross shared a character designer (Haruhiko Mikimoto) and a mecha designer (Miyatake Kazutaka). If you glanced casually at images from both shows—especially if you'd seen Macross: Do You Remember Love—you'd swear one was a sequel to the other. Check the Gears Online Orguss page for a great breakdown of the show.
Finally, there's Nobody's Boy: Remi, which I know nothing about. But based on its description (it's based on a Hector Malot novel from 1878, and has the young Rémi travelling in search of his parents), it's a tear-jerking drama, rounding out the romantic action comedy and science-fiction genres covered by Cat's Eye and Orguss.
The series start airing on June 5 at 8:30 a.m., and they'll all be in Japanese with English subtitles. They will later be made available on DVD. I hope that when YTV gets around to launching their anime channel, they'll also try to get older anime like these. Inu Yasha and Naruto are fun and all, but it's good to be reminded where this stuff came from.