Posted: 10/22/2008

 

Starz Inside – Anime: Drawing a Revolution

(2007)

by Del Harvey



A Starz Inside original program


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I am a subscriber to this channel, but was not aware of this great series until I stumbled upon this particular entry one late night. The Starz Inside series examines people, trends, and culture in the movie industry. And in this particular program, Starz explores one of the most increasingly popular styles of animation, anime. This Starz original documentary gives us a brief history of the genre, including some insights and background on its pioneers and influence upon current films and television shows. Among other eye-opening tidbits of information, the program reveals that a number of people in the American entertainment industry, ranging from animators like David Silverman of The Simpsons to actors like Michael Madsen, Lauren Holly and Michelle Rodriguez, and musicians like Rob Zombie, are fans and supporters of the genre. Throughout the program they talk about how anime has affected their work and the way they view animation as an art form.

The program also provides some background on one of the genre’s most influential pioneers, Osamu Tezuka, a giant in the Japanese animation industry. The program also shows various clips from a number of well-known anime films and TV shows, such as Ghost in the Shell, Akira and Speed Racer, in order to illustrate how the genre has become a popular within the American entertainment industry. In fact, everything from Transformers to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Pokémon had its origins in Japanese anime.

Even more exciting for animators and fans of animation, the program delves into the processes which artists use to produce anime, and do so in a historical context, thus teaching us all something about the technical aspects of this amazing genre.

I’ll be honest: In general, I have no real interest in anime. Shows like Pokémon tend to freak me out. Perhaps it’s the fact that I never really paid much attention to the genre but I didn’t truly appreciate the impact it’s had on TV and film (especially big movies like The Matrix, Kill Bill and 300) until I had the opportunity to watch this installment of Starz Inside. While I can’t say that the episode will make me want to watch a movie like Ghost in the Shell, it did definitely help me appreciate the artform a lot more.

The final verdict: Anime fanatics and even casual fans of the style will most likely find Starz Inside’s “Anime: Drawing a Revolution” entertaining and informative. The episode provides a fair amount of information about the genre as well as many interesting insights into the artform and its effect on popular culture.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.



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