“Japanese animation is science-fiction books on film. Done for an intelligent, literate audience with an appetite for variety (remember, most of it is based on manga). An audience that appreciates and accepts artistic expression in any form. This allows for a richness and complexity of characterization and background usually missing from most SF cartoons, and a realism missing even from live-action.”
This quote is from the publisher’s note at the beginning of Anime-Zine #2, which was published in 1986. [Edit: Actually, it was 1987.] I included it not just because it’s an incredibly quaint sentiment, but because it probably says a lot about fandom around the time this issue was published.
Truth be told, I don’t know anything about this magazine. Some Internet research leads me to believe only three issues were published, and aside from Robert Fenelon and Toren Smith (pioneers in American cosplaying and manga translation, respectively) none of the names involved with the magazine strike me as familiar. Anime-Zine #2’s publish date is given as 1986, [Edit: Again, it was actually published in 1987, not 1986] meaning it predates both Protoculture Addicts and Animag, possibly making it the oldest English-language “professional” anime magazine? I can’t say for sure. Hopefully some of the more knowledgeable readers can chime in with some actual information (paging Dave Merrill and Steve Harrison), but for now I’ll stick to just talking about the issue itself.
Rather unassuming at only 40 newsprint pages, the magazine is nonetheless filled with interesting things. The typesetting and writing is professional enough, certainly not nearly as amateur as the early issues of Protoculture Addicts. Lots of big images from Japanese sources, none of which look particularly stellar when reproduced on black-and-white newsprint.
The cover story is on the third season of Space Battleship Yamato, although it advertises it as the third season of Star Blazers. The article is your typical mix of background information, character bios and episode summaries. The most interesting part may be the outline of the original 52 episodes that the series was supposed to run, before being cut down to just 25. Saint Seiya gets similar treatment in another article, although not nearly as in depth.
Toren Smith writes a multi-page plot synopsis of Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, which admittedly isn’t that interesting of an article. What is interesting is the follow up, a comparison between the Japanese language original and the English-dubbed version titled Star Quest. Interesting not just because I had absolutely no idea Royal Space Force was dubbed into English in the 80s, but because the comparison piece provides multiple examples with the English-dubbed dialog and the Japanese script translated into English. According to an old USENET post by Carl Horn, Star Quest was shown in public only once, at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. One wonders if there are any nth-generation bootleg tapes of this floating around.
The next article is a brief article about various Japanese monster films, ostensibly proving that ever since there have been anime magazine, there have been articles about live-action Japanese films that most people don’t care about. Toren Smith pens another article, this time covering various news and information from Japan. There’s some really interesting stuff in here, like mention of a trip Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii took to Wales to do research for My Neighbor Totoro, which I’ll cover that in a minute. The magazine closes out with a brief summary of Megazone 23 Part II.
In addition to these articles there was the typical news and a letters sections, all containing some interesting bits that I’ll mention briefly now:
• Star Musketeer Bismark was being shown on American TV as Sabre Rider and the Star Sheriffs.
• There was talk of an American-financed animated Godzilla film.
• US Renditions was apparently preparing to release English language film comics of Iczer One.
• One letter recounts meeting the people behind the absolutely hideous Robotech dolls and how these advertising executives had absolutely no interest in the origins of the Robotech show or the depth the characters.
• Another letter asked when the Robotech movie would be released. Poor guy.
• Toren Smith mentions he saw an English-dubbed version of Aura Battler Dunbine, done by none other than Harmony Gold. While I knew Harmony Gold had done more faithful dubs of both Genesis Climber MOSPEADA and Super Dimension Fortress Macross, I had no idea they’d taken a shot at Dunbine as well.
• According to Yutaka Izubuchi, a live-action film based on Dunbine was in the works, with involvement from Lucasfilm.
• Yutaka Izabuchi also insinuated his Protect Armor design from Oshii’s Panzer Corps/Kerberos Cops series might have been ripped off in the live-action He-Man movie.
• Project A-Ko II, Macross Flashback 2012, and Robot Carnival were all to be released shortly in Japan.
Next Week: Shameless Bandai advertising organs.