Thursday, July 29, 2021

Showa Monogatari: Anime for Literal "Boomers"? Next You're Going to Tell Me that Anime is for Everyone!

Hey, the Olympics (& Paralypics, too) are taking place in Tokyo! After being delayed from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the quadrennial games are finally happening... Despite the pandemic still essentially looming over Japan as a whole, and competitors are being prevented from playing for smoking marijuana, and there won't be any spectators in the stands because of said pandemic still looming, which has resulted in some players pulling out of the games entirely... And this is arguably the lesser of the problems with the entire thing. "Citius, Altius, Fortius", indeed.

Huh, I was hoping for something a little more upbeat for an intro, so let's just move on to the point I wanted to make: Tokyo in 1964!

The last time Tokyo was home to the Olympics was back in the Summer of 1964 for the Games of the XVIII Olympiad, and those games were an important one for not just Japan, but the world as a whole. Internationally, this was the first time the Olympics were truly broadcast live, by way of satellite feeds, and were also the first time the games were aired in color, at least partially; it's also the first time South Africa was excluded due to apartheid, which stuck until 1992. For Japan, this was the country's chance to show how much it had changed since the end of World War II, with the only real remnant of that era being Emperor Hirohito (a.k.a "Emperor Showa") opening the games themselves. This was a peaceful Japan, & its various technological advancements, like the Tokaido Shinkansen & various tech that the Olympics would continue to use to this very day, helped give the country the feeling that it was ahead of the curve, in some regards. The 1964 Summer Olympics also received a documentary in the form of Kon Ichikawa's Tokyo Olympiad, often cited as one of the greatest sports documentaries ever made.

That leaves only one question: So how was life in Tokyo leading up to all of this?

Turns out anime studio WaoWorld & media production company Think Corporation wanted to answer that question, so the two came together (along with numerous other companies) to do so in an interesting fashion: Through anime. After an apparent 4.5-year production process, Showa Monogatari (literally "Showa Story") wound up being the final product, allegedly becoming the first anime ever aimed primarily at senior citizens & baby boomers, i.e. people who actually were alive back at that time; it was even called a "TV Manga", just like early anime at the time was. The first four episodes initially had an advance airing on Mie TV from December 30, 2010 to January 2, 2011, followed by a handful of other regional stations airing those episodes throughout January, & a compilation movie would debut in theaters later on January 29. After that, the full 13-episode TV series would receive a proper broadcast during the Spring 2011 season, where it received either a late morning, early afternoon, or prime time evening time slot, depending on the station. Showa Monogatari came out just before anime simulcasting had started to become fully standardized via Crunchyroll, so it unfortunately missed out on that boat, though it was given a full fansub (TV & movie), & its first episode did see some coverage on sites like ANN when it started airing in full. So let's see if this anime truly does give the viewer an idea of what life in Tokyo was like the last time the Olympics were held there, and if an anime aimed at "old people" can even appeal to younger audiences.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Demo Disc Vol. 19: Leaping Lead-Ins

It's been a long while since the last volume of Demo Disc; three months shy of a full year, in fact! Not just that, but it's also been two years since we last looked at any Shonen Jump anime pilots, something which I'm honestly running out of. In fact, excluding the Kochikame pilot that Tatsunoko made back in 1985, which looks to have essentially become a lost anime, there are only eight Jump pilots left for me to cover, and they all come from 2002 & later. Therefore, let's get half of those out of the way with this 19th volume of Demo Disc, and see what 2002 to 2005 offered in terms of first-time-ever looks of hot Jump manga properties!

The fifth touring event that Shonen Jump ever had was Jump Super Anime Tour 2002, four years after the previous one in 1998. Whereas the previous tour was nothing but pilots, JSAT 2002 only had one, which ran alongside new specials for Hikaru no Go & The Prince of Tennis. However, this pilot would be notable in that it was first one to be made for a manga that ran in Monthly Shonen Jump, instead of the more synonymous Weekly Jump. Debuting at the start of 2000, Kousuke Masuda's Gag Manga Biyori/A Perfect Day for Gag Manga was a series of comical manga shorts that would appear in Monthly Jump right up until its final issue in June of 2007, before being one of the handful of manga that would carry over into the magazine's successor, Jump Square, that November; it also made a special one-time appearance in Weekly Jump during the interim between magazines. It'd eventually end in 2015, after 15 volumes, before starting a second series, Gag Manga Biyori GB, in Jump Square, which is currently at five volumes. The manga's success would eventually result in four seasons of short anime from 2005 to 2010 done by Artland (Seasons 1 & 2) & Studio Deen (Seasons 3 & 4), as well as even some stage plays from 2015 to 2018, but it really all starts here with this late 2002 anime pilot, animated by Tokyo Kids & Kishousha, so let's see what acted as the creamy filling to this JSAT anime sandwich.