What’s Happened To Us?

For some time now, I’ve had mixed feelings about the Fantastic Four soundtrack. Why? Because, Orange Range, a major Japanese pop music group, is on it, with their song, “Kirikirimai,” which means “Whirlwind”. That’s where the aforementioned mixed feelings come into play. I mean, I’m glad they’re on the soundtrack, but it also goes to show you just how of a fad Japan, and Asia for that matter has become in America.

It was bound to happen, sooner or later, but that doesn’t take the sting out of it. I remember, years ago, during the dawn of Japan’s media exodus to America, there were only a few of us who got into it. It was unique, it was something all our own. But as the years passed, more and more people have gotten into it, watering the uniqueness down.

Now, at the zenith of its popularity, Hollywood and the music industry have taken notice. More so, Hollywood, as more and more movie and TV series ideas are being “borrowed” from the Asian entertainment industry.

Movies such as The Ring, The Grudge, and Dark Water are all remakes of Japanese motion pictures, with The Lake House being a remake of the Korean film, Il Mare. Also, even if it’s unintentional, the TV series, Angel is parallel to the Japanese animation (anime) series, Rurouni Kenshin. Title characters, Angel and Kenshin, had killed a lot of people in their pasts, Kenshin was a Samurai, and Angel, a vampire, and are now trying to atone for their sins by helping and protecting people.

Hollywood is also remaking Infernal Affairs, My Sassy Girl, and My Wife Is a Gangster. As if ruining The Ring, The Grudge, Dark Water and Il Mare wasn’t good enough for them? Where the hell has all the originality gone? There’s millions of people in this country, I’m sure someone other than Joss Whedon can come up with a decent idea. I find this really aggravating. These movies are already great. There really isn’t a need to go and remake them into pieces of crap. This is just really starting to annoy me, because it’s not like anyone ever knows the movie is a remake, unless they’ve seen the original. I mean, really, give credit where it’s due, dammit!

As the internet has become a larger part of our lives, it’s become increasingly easier to get our hands on new anime, which, a decade ago, would have taken us years to obtain. Years that would’ve been spent doing things like translation and making distribution deals. But, like with other new abilities, this comes with a price: more new “fans.” These new fans believe that the new stuff coming out of Japan is visually more pleasing than the older stuff. I tend to disagree with this. At the risk of quoting an anime entitled Full Metal Alchemist, “in order to gain something, first you have to give up something of equal value.” In this case, for the ability to easily obtain new media, we’ve given up some of the originality of the original. You always lose something in translation.

The internet has also opened the door to the Asian music market. Thankfully, that one has not caught on as much as the other areas of Asian entertainment have. Yeah, there are a good number of Americans who like Asian music, but it’s nowhere as many as those who like the other areas. The main curse upon that being that it’s not in English. However, that particular aspect is another blog for another day.

It’s not the fact that it’s become mainstream that’s the problem. It’s the fact that it’s become a fad. It’s not a bad thing that there are a lot more people that are into anime and manga (Japanese comics). That in itself is a good thing, because it means more money for the companies and thus more anime. It’s the fact that there are those who like it simply because it’s in and treat it as a fad. It’s the infernal networks like Cartoon Network, that create fanboys, that are too stupid to realize that that crap isn’t really anime. It’s because it’s a fad that it’s a problem, and when that fad dies, it will be even worse because it could make it harder for the true fans to get anime than it ever was before.

Take for example, the original Star Wars trilogy. It was great and groundbreaking, sure, there are the insane fans but they are the minority. Therefore, it is very enjoyable and there is plenty of easy access to merchandise. However, something, like, say Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Harry Potter, which had the potential to be something great, but were killed by the massive fandom and fads. Therefore, the types who would be true fans tend to want to have nothing to do with them. It’s a shame, anime series I once enjoyed; I can’t bring myself to watch anymore because of the massive numbers of idiot fanboys.

It’s truly sad to see how of a fad Asia has become in America. The fact that it’s now a fad is what has killed most of the enjoyment that original fans once had for it. Slowly but surely, it’s losing its fanbase, and when that unfortunate day arrives, true fans will be out of luck.

Andrew Monkelban

Andrew Monkelban is an avid gamer and writer, who has been featured in Second Skin, and on Wired's GameLife and The Escapist. He is also really into the Japanese entertainment scene. Even though he has Cerebral Palsy, he does not let it stop him from doing what he loves, although he's always on the look-out for technology that would help him with difficult tasks. He came to PopTen in the Summer of 2009, where he's now able to combine his passions.

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1 Response

  1. Jenny says:

    I 100% agree with your rant. But, have you ever wondered that perhaps more of the problem is that Americans simply refuse to learn anything outside their own cultures? These movies are great in their own language…but do you really think Middle America is going to read subtitles or listen to a voiceover?

    I think our closed-off society is more of a problem than the “borrowing” of ideas and culture. Maybe Japan has the right idea, if Americans won’t go to them then they’ll come to us. I mean, shoot, it’s probably the best marketing idea ever.

    Overall, until I stop hearing educated people saying “You’re in America, learn English”, I’m never going to believe that as a society we will be able to embrace world culture. So, sad to say, what’s wrong with dumbing it down to make it more palatable? (For the all mighty dollar of course)

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