Tuesday, July 15, 2008

classification of aging geeks by childhood exposure to bowdlerized anime

You probably know that in the 1970s and 1980s, a number of Japanese anime properties were Americanized: dubbed, renamed, edited, censored, sculpted, and packaged for the consumption of American kids.

I'm no expert on anime, but these are the ones I know about. I won't bother with their Japanese names.

Battle of the Planets
Star Blazers

Now, here's the thing. Not all American kids were exposed to all of them. Most of them aired in syndication, which means their existence and air time in any particular market were purely a local matter.

The only one of these that I ever saw as a kid was Voltron, with the exception of seeing one episode of Battle of the Planets when we were on vacation in Mississippi (The idea of taking a vacation in Mississippi may seem strange to some of you; I will eventually get around to explaining it).

I believe that every adult American geek saw at least one of these as a child, and that his or her future personality was shaped by it. Voltron people are different from Battle of the Planets people, etc. It's like signs of the zodiac.

Voltron people, because of that whole Lion Voltron vs. Vehicle Voltron thing, are inherently schizophrenic. We cannot decide between the two Voltrons. The mysticism and romanticism of the Lion Voltron, in which ghosts and witches are just as real as spaceships, and actual non-figureheaded monarchy is the obviously natural form of government for both baddies and goodies; versus Vehicle Voltron, with it's rationalist Star Trek like vision of the future, it's collapse-of-the-evil-empire-from-within Cold War plot, and it's constant reminders that the reason humanity is having to search for new planets is because Earth is overcrowded and polluted or something. The ideal of the heroic as held up by Lion Voltron is that of the medieval Knight (like the Jedi). The ideal of Vehicle Voltron is the Solider-Scientist (like Star Fleet). We Voltron People were raised to believe in both of these; it keeps us from being able to pick a side in Star Wars vs. Star Trek and sticking with it. It makes our choices of political candidate very difficult.

I don't know enough about the other shows to similarly describe them. Except that Battle of the Planets People are likely to be from Mississippi. And Star Blazers allegedly had people actually die in it, which probably means that the people who watched it ended up being goth or something.