• 'Where did the Gene Starwinds of anime go?', an article by Moe Sucks
  • 'Where did the Gene Starwinds of anime go?', an article by Moe Sucks

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  1. #1
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    'Where did the Gene Starwinds of anime go?', an article by Moe Sucks

    This is an article I discovered a while ago and found to be an interesting perspective on anime of the 90's, including Outlaw Star, and how Japan's economic status at the time may have impacted anime of the decade. Have a read if you like. All credit goes to @moesucks on Twitter.

    https://moesucks.com/2012/08/13/outlaw-star-first-post/

    As someone who's favorite anime all more or less comes from the 90's, I have to agree. Where DID the Gene's of anime go? These days it seems like all anime pertains to the same tropes; whiny high school outcast with absolutely ZERO likable qualities finds himself surrounded by a harem of cute schoolgirls for some reason. Panty shots and fanservice galore. Nothing against the people who enjoy that stuff, but enough is enough! It's well past time to bring back the heroes of anime past, I say; the heroes who forged their own destiny and fought to make their dreams a reality and inspired us to do the same, no matter the odds.


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    Great article, I tend to agree. I love 80s and 90s anime with fully realized interesting settings and characters worthy of having their own story. Ever watched Legend of the Galactic Heroes? Original run started in 1982 and its writing puts most modern anime to shame
    ~rat

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    That article expresses and interesting view point. I'm not an expert in Japan's economic issue so I wont comment on that but I think it does bring up an interesting question about how anime these days and the lack of more take charge, masculine lead characters. I think it's important to remember that the spineless, shy high schooler isn't a new thing and has been around for quite sometime but it did seem back in the 80s and 90s seemed to have a better variety of more badass leads. You had Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, Ryo Saeba from City Hunter, Golgo 13 among others. Hell, even Tenchi in the originaly Tenchi Muyo series showed he can be a fighter if push came to shove! A lot of anime these days do go for that high school spineless kid type character. The only modern anime I can think of that had more badass lead characters is JoJo's Bizzare Adventure.

    I have a theory as to why the shy highschooler character is more prevelent these days. In Japan, a lot of preassure is put on indviduals to make something of themselves and live up to their family name, hence why the japanese names goes by last name and then first name. If you screw up, you're a disgrace to your family and have practically ruined their good name. You have people working long hours where they barely have time for themselves. Middle school and high school is seen as the only time where a japanese person would have a lot of time on their hands and just be with their friends and have fun so that's why a lot of anime these days are set in a high school or at least have a teenage protaginist. I think NEET culture does play a hand to why these characters are frequently use, though I'm sure that's far from the only reason.

    I could go on my whole old ass man schpiel about how anime was so much better in the 80s and 90s than now but I wont get into that. There's still plenty of good anime these days and I don't even mind the shy kid depending on how he is written. But yeah, I do think we need less Shinji Ikaris and more Gene Starwinds in our anime diet.

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  7. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starwind55 View Post
    The only modern anime I can think of that had more badass lead characters is JoJo's Bizzare Adventure.
    And even then, "modern" is a bit of a technicality, because the ONE go-to "MANime" most people can list nowadays...and it's based off a manga that started in the 80s!

    I think this is an interesting topic, and maybe it's primarily because this is an OS fan site lol but, I too tend to agree with a lot of the sentiments here: variety in protagonists is all well and good, and if they ALL were the macho-level of Riding Bean or Golgo 13 it'd be repetitive...but, alas, circa twenty-first century so far that's hardly been the case! (Well, if anything, the reverse--spineless pushovers or "beta males" abounding--contributing to aforementioned sense of repetitiveness, but I'm rambling at this point.)

    There's probably no singular, simple answer to this phenomenon: and, who knows, maybe these things just have a natural ebb and flow to them. But to add my two cents, I think a part of the prevalence of certain shows (we all know what I'm talking about, and we've all probably enjoyed at least a couple "otaku bait" titles here and there, nothing really wrong with it) mostly comes down to catering. Aforementioned NEET culture (which, interestingly, doesn't occur just in Japan), "tig ol' biddies" merchandising, the prevalence of various forms of fetishization (thanks, internet lol), and numerous other factors have surely all come into play at one point or another (of course, I'm just speculating here). Another odd phenomenon is...I don't know how else to articulate it, but it seems as though "the industry" itself is becoming more and more insular: we're now a generation or two removed from the "original otaku" generation, and so these otaku grew up loving nothing but anime and said "I want to make anime when I grow up!" (again, nothin' wrong with that), and, well, what do they produce? More stuff akin to what they and other otakus consume, and that in turn inspires others to do the same, and so on and so forth. I hate to say it, and I hope I'm wrong, but I think your days of directors--actual filmmakers--like Shinichiro Watanabe in mainstream anime are going to be a thing of the past.

    At the risk of veering off-topic, I'd like to think there's some good to all of this, too! In an odd way, the economy may be another unseen factor in all of this. Obviously, though not everything in the U.S. and Japan (or elsewhere) is interchangeable with one another, I've noticed that "the millennial" generation in the U.S. and Japan seem to have had similar experiences: early 90s trans-global prosperity for their parents contributed to them (including yours truly, lol, just so I don't come across as judgmental) being fed with mantras and platitudes of "follow your dreams" either explicitly from their parents and/or implicitly from the programming they watched. Think about how many times we've seen the formula: there's a hero, a quest, a baddie, picks up a girl along the way, hero beats the baddie, saves the day/world/galaxy/universe, happy ever after. Well...as I've noticed via shows like Attack on Titan, One-Punch Man, and Kaiji (great commentary on the generational divide there, but I digress)...we all kind of had our bubbles burst, our doe-eyed innocence trampled on, and, well...what do you do when you don't make it? What do you do after you beat the baddie? What about when all your dreams come true, but as an old song goes, "the thrill is gone"? At least now some franchises are demonstrating some of these obstacles this generation is facing, be it getting trampled by giants in the big bad world (AOT), being talented/over-educated yet having to do menial work in a fast food restaurant (Devil is a Part-Timer), or having unrecognized talent despite your qualifications (One-Punch Man) and, in an overcrowded job/hero-ing market, having that prize/quest/job/baddie already taken/beaten before you get there (I couldn't become a hero, so I reluctantly got a job...yes, that's the title, and yes, I hate this long-ass-naming trend whenever it started lol). We're in an era of heightened, almost unbearable existentialism, and I think it's cool/cathartic our programming reflects it...sometimes, at least lol.

    BUT then it all comes back full circle! Because Gene's journey in OS sure as hell deals with existentialism, "growing up" etc., and today's popular programming is the ilk of titles like Monster Musume--where, if I recall, the author said he purposefully made the sole male protagonist in a harem-y romp show (speaking of Tenchi Muyo lol nah jk for real, props man for bringing up the original Tenchi Muyo, which, unlike many people's perception, DID as you pointed out have a protagonist who was shy, introverted, but dammit could "man up" when he had too lol) as bland and vanilla personality-wise as possible to be like the visual novel dating games where it's 1st person and obviously the male is as non-descriptive as possible so more people can identify with main character, but again I digress.

    One thing's for sure: as the popularity of shows like Jojo's and One-Punch Man currently suggests, not to detract from their own value, but I'm convinced one of the reasons they're so popular is because when you're unabashedly "MAN-ime" in a cultural climate over saturated with moe/cute-girls-doing-nothing-in-a-school-environment, they're gonna' be gangbusters. ANYTHING that's different people will eat up, because even if your favorite food is spaghetti, having it for lunch and dinner every ^&%#ing day will inevitably get old after a while...gotta' have some variety for Pete's sake, throw some stir fry or sushi in the rotation.

    In the history of programming, is this another case of 'quantity up, quality down'? I suspect partially so, but I've gone over my allotted time for now! *passes mic
    No one's gonna' give you a map. You've gotta' walk your own path.
    - Hilda

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  9. #5
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    He raises some great points. I think I previously mentioned this point of my own to Hari, but here's what I believe. Those decades back I think more people looked towards the future. Far more anime was about hope and desires with Outlaw Star being a prime example, and as far as I'm concerned there were also more interesting protagonists in general. Nowadays though it seems we're more often stuck in the past. Animation studios appear keen to produce stories that reflect recent events or pop culture rather than thinking outside the box. They'll often shoehorn things that appeal to modern society too, such as mobile phones or further yet, text messages and social media. It doesn't feel like escapism which is my primary reason for enjoying such media. I'm not saying I never enjoy "slice of life" anime. There's just an unhealthy amount of unimaginative anime nowadays. It seems the salary man has moved on from the fantasies present in anime of yesteryear. In most forms of media—for instance also including video games or TV—I believe we often settle for less. That's why Gene Starwinds are a dying breed.

    "Think big."

    Sorry, they're fully booked Mr Starwind.
    Gene: "Have faith in me guys, enjoy the ride—you're in good hands. I can handle this. I can do it!"
    Jim: "How do you know?"
    Gene: "I don't!"
    Jim: "I knew it."
    Gene: "That's okay. There's a first time for everything!"

    Anime and Steam info

    Anime-Planet.com - anime | manga | reviews



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    Terrific posts, guys. And I have actually, rat! But only bits and pieces of it, since there are so many episodes. Yang is great.



    I think female characters were far more likable in the 80's/90's, as well. Urusei Yatsura, Kimagure Orange Road, and Sailor Moon come to mind. I think it's pathetic that the majority of female characters these days can be summarized as simply as this chart. Like, how shallow can you get?



    I'm pretty sure this is what Hayao Miyazaki was talking about when he famously said 'Anime was a mistake.'

    Not only that, but if you ask me the art quality has declined significantly since those days as well, with most anime being rendered completely digitally, a certain 'magic' has been lost. Anime used to be a visual treat, but now I can't watch most of it without wanting to blind myself.



    I have nothing against slice of life, not at a conceptual level at least, but does it ALWAYS have to be the SAME high school setting, with the SAME bland character archetypes? I bloody hated my time at school, so there isn't much for me in terms of escapism there. Polar Bear Cafe is a SOL that uses cute talking animals for its characters, which I enjoy a lot. As an adult male, there's no way I could watch something like Lucky Star, a series centered around a group of petite schoolgirls, without feeling like a total creeper. Again, no disrespect to anyone who enjoys these things, but I myself have always been dumbfounded by the appeal of such anime.

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  12. #7
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    This is gonna' seem petty, like I went out and searched, but I swear on the non-existent grave of Hot Ice Hilda, my friend sent this to me (unasked for) just a while ago....

    http://dagon123.tumblr.com/post/1567...but-i-saw-that

    Lol sorry, prob preachin to the choir here, but it's like 'gee ma n' pa' MAYBE I'm not just a lazy good for nuthin' eh? Haha, anyway back on topic, other excellent points. Mantis, glad you brought it up (again, credence for 'maybe I'm not crazy if I'm not the only one'), because I've felt that for a loooong time in the West (perhaps it's similar in Japan, which post-war really emulated 'The West' considerably): we're not looking ahead anymore.

    I remember in the 90s, aside from the Y2K paranoia here and there, EVERYONE was so excited for 21st century--flying cars, cures for every disease, an enlightened age where poverty and famine were no more! 'The future' went from being on the cusp, to 'now' sometime after the new millennium was ushered in. It seems like we were all in a rush to get to 'here, now, the future' but now that we're here........ehhhhhh, I wanna' go back, nostalgia nostalgia nostalgia (yet again, nothin' wrong with that, we're all on a board primarily because of it right now), which unfortunately has been capitalized on by entertainment companies to churn out more and more of the same ol' same ol', not so much exciting, new horizons like the Star Trek's of the last century, but rather REMAKES of the Star Treks of the last century--because, economically, they're 'safer' because if they sold great before, they sure as hell are likely to do so again ('member? U 'member??? Oh yeah, I 'member!!!). I'll never forget a tweet a friend of mine shared with me recently: "it's amazing how many things being green-lit now are based off of things that would never be green-lit now" and man oh man, that quote just hurts reading, doesn't it? Because we all know it's true.

    I don't know what brought about this change (I'm tempted to just say Baby Boomer greed, space programs aren't as profitable as screwing each other over in the housing/real estate market or having a plush gig as a hedge fund manager on Wall Street or inheriting daddy's fortune and becoming the next oil tycoon by keeping the world dependent on early 20th century technology by hiring lobbyists to--sorry, cuttin' myself off, bad place lol), but it's kinda' sad.

    Also some great observations, Hari! I've wondered what sort of effects 20th century feminism has had on Japanese culture of the present--we DO see a lot less testosterone-laden, 80s-era, steroid Schwarzenegger action heroes in anime nowadays (again a product of the times and Japan in some ways emulating U.S. culture back then), but at the same time, shows centered AROUND girls with peripheral nerdy/"beta males" (I hate that term lol but u know what I mean) there may be less of 'girl = trophy/sidekick for the hunky macho man' but...did we really get anything that much better for female audiences? It's just been harems (early 00s) or voyeuristic slice of lifes or ecchi this, fan-servicey that, all aimed at a young, sexually pent-up male demographic.

    Considering the era from which Miyazaki comes, along with the likes of Tomino and Takahata and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Oshii and Miyazaki's own 'protege' Anno, I can see why his generation has the sentiments they do: Tomino, when creating Gundam, more or less accidentally created modern otaku culture as we know it, and in a similar non-intentional fashion, Anno a la Eva pretty much created our current flavor of moe-ridden otaku-ism...considering how much potential the medium as a whole has, I'd be a cranky 'grumpy jii-san' too lol.
    No one's gonna' give you a map. You've gotta' walk your own path.
    - Hilda

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    Hari:

    I certainly agree with your assertions of female anime girls these day, at least for the most part. I do tend to see the character archtypes that you posted being abused but I don't think it would necessarily make a character lesser provided that they have the proper motivation. Lets take Melfina as an example. The soft-spoken, mousey girl have been seen in god knows how many animes. That character type is certainly not know. What makes Melfina stand out is the fact that she is a bio replicant who is basically born into a world she doesn't understand and is uncertain of her purpose in the world or why she came to be in the first place. With that, her being timid makes perfect sense. It's a natural product of her characterization. It doesn't feel like she was designed to be used on someones top 10 list of waifus.

    I also see where you coming from on the art style losing a bit of it's soul in the digital age. I can't agree entirely with that statement. I have seen a number of newer animes that used digital enhancements and they look really good. I also understand it's use from the point of view of practicality. It's much easier and quicker to paint it digitally than by hand. With that being said, I do feel that the newer digital techniques did cause newer anime to lose some of the edge older titles have. I recently watched the OVA for New Dominion Tank Police and the hand drawn style and animation gave it a grittiness that is missing from modern anime. It's the same with Bio Booster Armor Guyver. The original OVAs gave it a personality where the newer anime from 2005 made the characters and style look like something from a modern shonen series.

    (Who is) Lobo:

    Yeah, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has been around for awhile. Wasn't there also an OVA for it that was released back in the early to mid 90s? As for your views on female characters, I just think the ones made for males tend to stand out more. You have plenty within the shoujo genre which were made for female viewers to begin with. I don't think female characters made for male fantasy or titilation is inherently bad. It's as legitimate as any other fantasy. With that said, I do feel certain characters go overboard with the moe or waifu aspects. A lot of my favorite anime girls don't really fit that mold. One of my favorites is Kiyone from Tenchi Universe mainly because it's fun seeing her get exasperated over things shitting on her especially when it involve Mihoshi.

    There was something else I wanted to add. I think the blandness that we see in modern anime has alwasy been around. It's just that, thanks to Crunchyroll and Funimation, we get exposed to more anime so as a result, we get more that just plain sucks. Releases were limited during that VHS era. When Akira became huge, distributors were getting their hands on as many edgy, adult orienated anime as possible to cash in on that. I think this has colored a lot of peoples perception on what anime was. We didn't see every show that was released in Japan in those days so we didn't see a lot of the high school or cutesy stuff. Hell, things like fan service have been around for ages thanks to Go Nagai and his creations like Cutey Honey.

    With this talk about macho lead anime characters, it made me think this...Japan, when are you going to do a new anime based on Bastard!! We need Dark Schneider to come back to show these pansy anime leads how it's done.

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    I've actually discussed this with Lobo before, but speaking of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, I much preferred how Dio's World was adapted in the original 90's OVA. Not to discredit David Productions or anything, I think they've done a terrific job with everything so far, especially for a weekly TV anime. But yeah, as you described with New Dominion Tank Police, the hand drawn animation lended the OVA a much grittier feeling overall, which really worked in its' favor. I'm assuming the studio had more money to work with as well, because there is a fluidity in the animation that unfortunately just isn't there in David Productions' adaption. If you haven't seen the OVA before, you should give this a watch.



    The only reason I'm bringing this up is because I think it's a good argument for the 'hand drawn vs digital' debate. Apologies if I gave the impression of being against digital animation, I'm really not, my preference of older anime comes down to the content itself rather than how it was animated. I agree that digital effects can be used to terrific effect, including the use of CGI. Just for disparities sake, I may as well mention that I found Berserk's 2013 film adaptions to be a better watch overall than the 1998 TV adaption. Aside from the soundtrack and a few choice scenes that were removed, the art and animation quality isn't even a competition.


    I feel more strongly about Hellsing Ultimate, which completely decimated the older adaption in the same way as this poor soldier here.


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    Just got done watching the entirety of that JoJo clip. Very interesting. Now, I've only seen clips of the newer shows so take this as you will but I do have to agree that the OVA looks better. The character designs look nicer and the movements are much more fluid. Not to mention the backgrounds. I swear they look like something from Batman: The Animate Series at least in terms of color. It'd be interesting to catch the OVA and then watch the new series. I've been meaning to watch the series for quite sometime but the OVA has piqued my curiosity to the point where I want to track that show down.

    I must say that I did misunderstand in regards to the older anime. I see your point in terms of content, I have to refer to what I said earlier in my previous post about anime and how western audience back in the day didn't have access to the shows that we have right now. It only seems that we have more bad and unimaginitive shows now because streaming services along with fun subbers make it more apparent. I will concede that it did seem that we did have more variety in the types of shows made. I can't imagine a show like M.D. Geist or Genocyber being made in today's anime landscape. It's a bummer because there were types of shows back then that I'd like to see come back. I'd like to see gun heavy action anime like Gunsmith Cats, City Hunter, or Mad Bull 34 make a comeback. Sure, we have Jorgumund and Black Lagoon but beyond that it's high school slice of life or fantasy.

    I'm a bit more optimistic in regards to director driven anime. Your Name proved that it's alive and well in this day and age so I don't see that going anywhere anytime soon. I believe that things go in cycles so perhaps one day a new show will come along that would make Gene Starwind like characters cool again. We'll just have to wait and see.

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