It seems like Japan has it’s finger on the pulse of what is popular again, to an extent. See why I think so after the jump!
Let’s get into a brief history lesson. In the mid 90’s, Dragon Ball Z was taking over the early morning airwaves. Before school, I raced over to my friend’s house before school, so we can watch how badass Goku was when he was fighting Vegeta. This was new to me, yet it wasn’t. I grew up on shows like Transformers (in case you needed a reminder), Thundercats, and Voltron. Those shows lasted forever, and I loved it. When I was 4, no matter how many times a show would repeat, it was new to me. I mean, I got to see these awesome robots and fighters just wreck shit.
DBZ was just the next evolution of this genre. Granted, they weren’t new to me when I have seen Gohan just house Cell 35 times, but I still enjoy the hell out of the fight. There are other shows, Like Megas XLR, or Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, or Zatch Bell, that I’ve seen once, and can’t remember a damn thing. But like I said, Japan seems to have it’s finger on the pulse of what people want.
The Manga just ended for Naruto a few weeks ago. I was pretty sad, mainly because the only thing I have to do early Thursday mornings now is play the World of Warcraft expansion, and watch Hell’s Kitchen repeats. Why do I say this? Because it seems to me that the last stalwarts of the long form anime are going away. Bleach ended, but the manga is still going. Lack of viewers after the Aizen arc is presumed to kill it. Oh, and the fear of oncoming Bleach fillers contributed as well. There is a tectonic shift that has been going on for a while over in Japan when it comes to anime, and it’s huge.
What do new shows like Attack on Titan and Kill la Kill have in common? They follow a model set a long time ago by Mobile Suit Gundam. Granted, these shows still have ongoing manga, and the opportunity is there for a lot of new episodes past 40 something, but the question is how long between seasons? 2013 saw both the Japanese premieres of Attack on Titan and Kill la Kill, and they haven’t been seen since. Call me crazy, but it’s something that they should have done from the beginning, especially when adapting manga. Instead of filler episodes that divert the audience away from the plot, they take time off. Then, they can cycle different shows and bring more of a variety.
Think about this: in 2009, Toei decided to revisit Dragon Ball Z, and bring out Dragon Ball Kai (renamed Dragon Ball Z Kai here in America). This was a recut of the original series to take out all of the fluff and garbage that took DBZ 292 episodes to finish off. In case you’re wondering, 132. I would say Toei, and Japan in general, decided to start catering to the ADHD generation. Personally, I was on the fence with the series, because a lot of the voice actors changed for the worse, and didn’t have the charm or humor DBZ was known for. I think I would have rather had a new saga.
Even the Power Rangers shortened up. For a series that used to have seasons that ran 60 episodes, they’re now down to 20 episodes. The shortening started during Turbo, and it kept shrinking until Super Megaforce. So, it’s not just anime hitting the trend, it’s live action shows as well.
If you look at the wonderful American broadcasting schedule, you will see that action cartoons are dead here. We are stuck with terrible shows that don’t even show up in prime time, like Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors. Yet, Japan has anime showing all over the place, morning, noon, and night. It must be nice. If Japan can change how they bring out anime, America can follow, at least for action cartoons. The long arcs are a thing of the past, and we need to adhere to a shorter attention span. It’s rather sad, but it’s to be expected from today’s America. But damn, I am going to miss a show like Dragon Ball Z to keep me seated for 300 episodes. At least Naruto Shippuden is on Hulu.