I go back and forth on the anime thing. I want to like it, I want to hate it, but mostly I can take it or leave it. I have really fond memories for Voltron (especially the Vehicle force Voltron I version, which was played in NY only on Sundays at 10am at the time when Lion force Voltron III was being played every weekday twice in a row). I also used to like Transformers and Tranzor-Z. I realize that none of these is proper "Anime" (especially Transformers), but the robots and the big-eyed people is what I like/hate about anime. I've recently seen a lot of supernatural anime that sort of strikes my fancy as well, like Doomed Megapolis, but as much as I'd like to really be an anime geek, I can't get into it as much as I would like.
Why would I want to force myself to like anime? Because I remember being so impressed with these cartoons as a kid. They inspired me to draw and filled my head with all sorts of ideas, creating an appetite that was later to be filled by heavy metal airbrushed album covers, skateboard graphics and Eightball comics. Speaking of appetites, I remember staring at the robot rapist illustration by Robert Williams on the inside of Guns N' Roses "Appetite For Destruction"album cover and wishing to hell it would come to life. I wanted to see more detail on the red metal guy. Maybe I should've bought a poster or something).
Anyway, so now you know where I stand on anime. I'm not a big anime geek. I had seen Akira and thought, "yeah, this is okay..." but the other day, as I'd been thinking about Voltron again and annoyed by the fact that the series is no longer in reruns and the annoying fact that there are no DVD box sets or anything, I decided that maybe I'd rent some anime and see if I liked it more these days. Maybe it would fill this Voltron void.
I found Metropolis in Buttbuster and it looked promising, so I rented it. It was made by "the creators of Akira and X and the godfather of anime" and the production budget was a whopping $15 million. That's a lot more than I thought people were spending on anime. It took 5 years to make the movie and the back of the box said that this was the new achievement in anime, to which all others would be compared. So, basically, it's better than Akira and that's a really big deal.
This movie was great. It wasn't really juvenile at all and it did exactly what I'd hoped it would--it inspired me to sketch and want to make cool graphics again (as opposed to wondering what's so "cool" about cool graphics, which is the rut I've been stuck in lately). There's no big robots or anything in Metropolis, but there is a bunch of Asimov type labor robots. The animation is way better than Akira was and for once I found myself really digging the clash of illustration styles (highly detailed backgrounds vs. goofy almost Popeye-like characters in the foreground). Around the same time I was thinking how much I liked this contrast, Monica walked through and commented that she's starting to "almost really like the big eyes now," which is exactly what I was thinking. The characters move smoothly, like old Disney cartoons. Almost rubbery. This is totally unlike Voltron, for instance, which rehashed as many scenes and character poses as possible, causing the characters to move around herky-jerky.
Also missing was the lack of annoying English dubbing. There was no ridiculous acting or stupid little kid's voices screaming like brainless brats at the top of their lungs. The DVD had 4 languages you could switch back and forth. It was really satisfying to switch from French to Japanese to English and realize that the same amount of effort was put into the acting so that the vocal qualities, volume and mood were all the same on a completely separate track from the background music and sound effects. I was getting an accurate translation of the movie, rather than some hackneyed approximation.
I have this movie for a week and I do believe I'll watch it again. I may even go buy some anime DVDs. It's kind of nice to get that feeling of wonder again from something that's not illicit. But right now, I'm going to check out this anime cartoon on the Cartoon Network. I have noticed that the Cartoon Network has about 5 or 6 anime series on at the moment and I'm going to see if I can enjoy them like a 12 year old. (Later note: I discovered that most of Cartoon Network's anime sucks the same way Pokemon sucks, but Cowboy BeBop is kind of cool.)