This is Amy. Her favorite TV cartoon was Scooby Doo. The original series, “Scooby-Doo, Where are you!?”, was created by Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1969 as a Saturday morning cartoon. Scooby-Doo is about a gang of mystery crime-solvers and their dog named Scooby-Doo. Amy liked it because she liked mysteries. She would always try to solve them herself before the twist was revealed!
This is Amanda. Amanda’s favorite cartoon growing up was Arthur, a Canadian/American series created by Cookie Jar Group and WGBH productions for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). It’s original air was in the early 90s. Arthur is an Aardvark with a family and school friends who are different animals. It’s an educational show in that usually episodes have a moral message. Amanda always thought she and him should trade places, because he was the only one in his family with glasses, and she was the only one in her family WITHOUT glasses! But then she got glasses.
This is Kevin, he loves Dino, from the Flinstones. The Flinstones is mentioned in earlier posts, as one of very early cartoons by Hanna-Barbera Productions in the Saturday morning cartoons era. Dino is the pet dinosaur of the working-class stone-age cartoon family, and Kevin likes him because he’s goofy and fun to watch.
Our class recently took a field trip to the Turner Networks headquarters in Hong Kong, and learned about the way they run, screen, and design for their channels. One of the main channels that Turner owns is Cartoon Network, and they adapt and screen from this headquarters to multiple countries around Asia, one of their main recipients being India. One things that stood out to me was when the lady who showed us around mentioned the most popular televised cartoon in India. The show is actually more figure stop-motion than animation. Simple and almost jerky looking to many other Asian audiences, it continues to be the most popular among Indian children. We were told that a huge part of this has to do with the amount of episodes created. On a low budget, the procurers of the show have created hundreds of episodes and continue to put them out to their Indian audience, making it the most consistent show for kids to keep up with. And something about it has them hooked! I guess that quantity is a factor, just as much as quality.
This is Carolina. Her favorite cartoons are the Moomins, the main characters in a comic and book series by a Swedish-Finn illustrator and writer Tove Jansson. He originally published these comics in Swedish, from Finland. The Moomins are a family of trolls who resemble hippopotamuses, and live in a magical, care-free world of adventure. They’ve actually been the characters of many stories as well TV features and series throughout Europe. In fact the first TV series they featured in was a German marionette called Die Muminfamilie (The Moomin Family), in 1959-1960! Jansson and his Moomins were huge pioneers in European animation history. Carolina likes them because of the strange creatures created are the kind you would only see in a dream. She drew Little My, (Pikku Myy in finnish), who is mischievous but can be a good friend if she wants to.
This is Eric, who liked the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a team of 4 anthromorphic turtles trained by a sensei rat in the ninjutse art of combat, and live in an underground sewer in New York City. They battle evil alien invadors and villains in the city whie staying out of the lime-light. “TMNT” originally appeared in comic books before being heavily merchandised and turned into it’s first TV series in 1987.
One of my friends helped me ask a security guard of an office building in quarry bay about his favorite cartoons! He immediately said Gundam, an anime metaseries by Sunrise Studios about giant transforming robots called “Mecha”. The first TV series, Mobile Suit Gundam, aired in 1979-1980. When we asked why he liked it he said he remembers it being new and hip when it came out, even thought he was not a young child at the time. I’m not able to remember this man’s name L but the next time I see him I shall ask him again and add it here!
The post above this one has an interesting story. I had wanted to ask a particular security guard in the lobby of an office building to recall his favorite cartoon. When I asked him, the first thing I noticed was how shy he was about the whole topic. When asking my friends they happily recalled their favorites and were excited to draw them. But this man seemed hesitant. In fact he went on to share that he didn’t grow up with cartoons. His family did not own a TV, and he only remembers later in his childhood watching miming shows for entertainment. The one cartoon he could recall and mentioned in Chinese was Snow-White, and other princess stories, which is INTERESTING because this was one of the FIRST American animations to reach and influence China, as mentioned in my earlier post “a Detour: China”.
When asking older adults from western backgrounds, they usually had an answer because this was when televised cartoons were booming in North America. It WAS the “saturday morning cartoon” era, but only for this part of the world. Televised cartoons did not become popular in Asia till much later, and so this man had not grown up with them.
I realized that I encountered not only generational and culture boundaries, but most-likely some economic and social class boundaries as well, when he talked about not owning a TV, and that not being his primary source of entertainment growing up. He eventually pointed me his colleague, another security guard who could recall liking “Gundam” when it came out.
So during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II, Japan began exploring with the animation influences of the West. During this time however, animation developments were quickly picked up by the Japanese government and used as propaganda to get people to join the national party. During the governments enforcement of the national party, many artists who had resisted did an about-face in their loyalty to the government, on the basis of using their art forms to support the party instead of being drafted into the military. While much of it’s foundations are tainted with these political conflicts, this is what caused Japanese anime to take shape.
For example, in America, animation took shape on the basis of Children’s entertainment, and much of the animation world in America today continues to aim towards this audience. Anime however is still watched by many adults, and influences all of society in Japan, as well as Asia.
After World War II, a cartoonist named Osamu Tezuka greatly defined anime further with his first work Shintakarajima, ”New Treasure Island” in English. As a child, Tezuka was a huge fan of Walt Disney’s earliest animations to make it to Japan. He eventually formed his own production company in 1962 called Mushi productions, where he created his most-well known animation Astro-Boy. Astro-Boy, whose illustration style was influenced by earlier French and German cinema, was crucial in forming anime’s distinct illustration style. If you look at anime today, characters almost appear asan adapted, updated, and much more vivid version of Astro-Boy. By 1963 Astro-Boy was finding success across international borders, in America.
After Astro-Boy Tezuka’s greatest work was Jungle Taitei, or “Kimba the White Lion”. Many have speculated that the idea for Disney’s Lion King, featuring “Simba” the lion, was stolen and adapted from this work. Some controversy was said to have occurred when Disney released the Lion King not long after. Hmmm…