No Need To Create, Just Transcreate

Powerpuff Girls

The Wall Street Journal has a depressing article about a growing trend in the cartoon world: ‘transcreating’ cartoon characters, in which American cartoons are remade for foreign audiences. A notable example of this is the recently produced Japanese version of the Powerpuff Girls called Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z.

The characters mentioned throughout the piece, like the Powerpuff Girls, Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man, are successful in the first place because their American creators were passionate about and personally invested in the characters and stories that they were creating. It’s a shame that today’s corporations don’t believe that investing in foreign artistic talent could lead to similarly popular creations, and instead are commissioning foreign artists to simply churn out cheap copies of American originals. ‘Transcreated’ cartoon characters may result in short-term profits for these companies but not much else.


  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com Robert

    Wow. I imagined the Japanese to be more adventurous in their animation tastes than Americans, so it’s disappointing to find out that something as graphically basic as PowerPuff Girls has to be redrawn in the most clichéd style possible to be palatable there.

  • Charles

    I thought this Powerpuff Girls series had been created because of the popularity of the original Powerpuff Girls in Japan. Not because Japanese audiences didn’t like it, as the article says. Fans were already doing stuff that was very similar to Powerpuff Girls Z on their own, so I guess it was giving them what they wanted. In my opinion though it kind of kills a lot of what was fun about the Powerpuff Girls.

    Transcreating is hardly a new trend though. Check out this weird attempt to introduce the popular Japanese Gundam robots to America that features every executive-created cartoon cliche in the book.

  • Charles Brubaker

    It’s not the first time an Japanese company remade a cartoon based on an American cartoon.

    Back in the late 1970s, Nippon Animation did a short-lived anime series based on Little Lulu called “Little Lulu to Chicchai Nakama,” which is literally “Little Lulu and her Little Friends.” Only 26 episodes were made.

    Judging by the clips I’ve seen from it, the character designs were pretty faithful to the original. It could’ve been worse.

  • James

    Powerpuff borrowed so much from manga and japanese anime, with irony or admiration or both. I don´t see where the problem is.
    The question is : how good is their show?

  • http://stephansolarchive.blogspot.com Stephan

    Yeah I have to agree with James. I think the only difference between “transcreating” and “stealing idea’s” is that with transcreating, the compagny who has all the rights, is making a whole new show inspired by their first native one.
    But you know, -transcreating- and -stealing idea’s- has been going on for so long now between animation east and west . Personally I think it’s interesting to see how the styles and characters between eastern and western animation evolve through time.
    Can’t say that I like the show, but Avatar is a good example.

    Anyways, I think that it’s a way of animation evolution and that the real fans of the original thing will always seek out the original.

  • Christopher Cook

    I saw clips of Powerpuff Girls Z on YouTube. Cliched is hardly the proper term.

    PPG creator Craig McCracken had no say in the making of the Japanese version, so that may be a telling point.

  • http://www.crylic.blogspot.com Dan

    I’ve seen the show and it’s not terrible. It’s not great tho either. It has some great action sequences with some pretty stellar animation sprinkled throughout, but in small doses. Apparently it’s the bees knees over there so expect it here soon…ugh.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    Don’t forget that Power Rangers was basicilly a ‘transcreation’ of the long running Japanese Super Sentai series. Robotech was a combitnation of three unrelated anime series’: Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. America has been “transcreating” for decades now.

  • wundermild

    “Ach, was muß man oft von bösen / Buben hören oder lesen” (“Oh to hear or read the news about bad boys”) – what may resemble a complaint about the producers of japonized Powerpuff Girls is in reality the first line of “Max und Moritz” by Wilhelm Busch, first published in Germany in (or about) 1865. When U.S. citizen and German immigrant Rudolph Dirks took the source material unbeknownst to its creator and converted it into a comic strip (“The Katzenjammer Kids”, from 1897 on) he did essentially the same as the Japanese producers do now. It was the begin of a success story and helped defining the comic strip as art form. The Katzies themselves were plagiarized numerous times over the years (including transfer into animation, at least twice). Dirks did more than simply paraphrazing the Busch episodes, he re-defined the formula and developed the characters as well as the stories further. He made Busch’s Max and Moritz into his own Hans and Fritz, because he had the talent (not only the opportunity) to do so. This would be a prime example of “transcreation”.
    Now the creative heads behind “Powerpuff Girls Z” have the chance to adapt the original U.S. material into their own. I say: Let them do it – it’s not a bad thing per se, like the above paradigm shows. It’s depends on what they do with the characters, the stories, and the series formula. And besides: Japanese animation directors have shown that they are capable of excellent results (Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata …).

  • Andrew

    Nice word. Gotta remember that one.

    I heard about this version of the Girls for years now. I thought it was interesting at first, since I don’t think Japan ever adapted a cartoon from the United States into a new show, but thanks for clearing that up, Brubaker. Unfortunately, I have yet to see an episode in its entirety.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    “Powerfpuff” is one of the funniest tv shows on the air. Here, in New local newspaper : one lady had complained about the “language” & “inuendos” (talking about “Miss Vellum”)….where I fully & boldly stated that (duh) the show is made FOR ADULTS!! High-larious!!

    I would be curious to see if our friends abroad could make it HALF that lightening-quick & VERY funny!!

  • Chuck R.

    I wouldn’t assume that because a pale imitation is being created in Japan, it’s taking artistic geniuses away from loftier pursuits. There are artists with creative vision who are making bold films with cinematic flair, and there are skilled hands who are earning a living pumping out cheap entertainment. I’m glad there is a market for the former and I’m glad there are jobs for the latter.

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com amid

    Wundermild: Katzenjammer Kids is a terrific historical example of ‘transcreation.’ I would argue however that both of those comics – Max and Moritz and Katzenjammer Kids – were created by artists. The difference here is that while artists are creating the original characters, the decision to ‘transcreate’ is a corporate one.

    With these new batch of ‘transcreated’ characters, there is not an artist in another country going, “I have a vision for how to adapt these characters in a novel way for my country’s audience.” It’s purely a committee deciding that the way to boost their company’s bottom line is to redo these characters for international audiences. And historically, there is little precedence for great animation and comic characters having been created by executives. The same money invested in redoing these characters could have been invested in giving local talent the opportunity to create new and interesting characters.

  • sara

    I dont know why is this so depressing or surprising…its quite well known fact that commercial animation is the least original form of art around. Just take a sharp look around you. I did when someone told me this and realized its quite true. Here is just another proof. So there I am even more convinced. This does not mean there are no masterpieces around.

  • http://cath68.blogspot.com Catherine

    The key elements in a work can be copied and recast for a different culture/audience/era, but so much of what made the original special can get lost in translation or just abandoned. If it was that stuff that held the appeal, and if it was in that stuff that the work’s truly definitive qualities lived, I just wonder, what is the point? Why not just come up with something different?

    Evolution over time is as it should be, borrowing from or being inspired by other cultures is a great thing, and there is definitely a place for telling a new version of an old story, but I’m a big fan of authenticity and most things in the realm of this example just do no more than rub me the wrong way.

  • Alex

    I think its pretty cool. Besides, the Powerpuff Girls still exist, and they always will. Its not even in the United States, and look at how good the American Office remake is! Both exist, and both are fine. No need to get too upset over anything.

  • Bobber

    What they are doing overseas is shameful – but how soon we forget what we have bastardized right here at home.

    - Scrappy Doo
    - Flintstone Kids
    - Muppet Babies
    - Anything made into younger versions of the original characters
    - Anyone remember “Droopy, Master Detective? It thought not.
    - Any Looney Tunes animation after the early 50′s
    - Any Popeye animations after the early 50′s
    - New Bazooka Joe
    - New Betty and Veronica
    - Remember when McDonaldland was the coolest place around and then the next thing you know Early Bird was there to ruin everything?

    etc……

    It’s amazing how corporations in general just don’t get it.

    Don’t get me wrong – the Japanese screw things up way faster than the rest of the world – but we are all guilty of it too.

  • http://coyotecoyote.livejournal.com/ DavidMcG

    Regardless of what you or I think of it, there’s certainly a market for PPGZ.

    Bobber: The only reason that new Betty & Veronica sucked was they didn’t take the time to hire good artists for it. In the hands of someone else, a reimagination of those characters may have been fun and interesting. Superhero comics change artists and writers regularly, and sometimes the results are impressive.

    Carl Barks’s duck comics are perhaps some of the imaginative and entertaining stories of their time, and last time I checked, Carl Barks didn’t invent Donald Duck.

  • Paul N

    “It’s amazing how corporations in general just don’t get it.”

    What don’t they get? That some people care about the artistry over the revenue? They get that; they just don’t care. Nor should they. Corporations exist to make money for their owners. If they happen to create enduring works of art while doing it, great; but schlock will do just as well if it gets the cash rolling in.

    It’s not good or bad – it just is.

  • http://chrisbattleillustration.blogspot.com/ Chris Battle

    Kurosawa’s films have been remade by everybody many times over, it’s not too big a deal. Not to mention the current fad of re-making every European/Asian hit into watered-down American remakes. Sometimes it works, sometime it doesn’t.

    …and speaking as an artist on the original PPG series, I actually really enjoy PPG-Z. It’s a well-done reimagining of the show.

  • http://mwbworld.livejournal.com/ mwb

    Can’t muster the remotest outrage over this. Beyond all the examples listed here on internal US borrowing – let us not forget how the Flintstone’s is the Honeymooners. Let alone the Honeymousers.

    Heck, stepping outside animation, the US has been doing this for years to British Sitcoms.

    All in the Family comes from “Til Death Do Us Part

    Three’s Company from Man About the House

    Sanford and Son from Steptoe and Son.

    The list goes on.

  • Cliff Galbraith

    Just when I thought we’ve (the USA) got the most retarded culture in the history of humanity, along comes Japan, and their love of 80′s looking spiky-haired doe-eyed characters. Other than some really bitchin’ looking space ships and robots, I just don’t understand anime.

    So here’s an American creation, done in anime style and thrown back at the Japanese audience, in a form they can understand? Now if we could do that with automobiles we might might have a formula for a whole new economic model.

    But seriously– sure it looks stupid. I mean, it really looks stupid. But giving people in other countries an American product, tailored to their tastes has been done by multi-national companies for decades. Just look at what’s offered in MacDonalds in China. Actually, it would be better if you don’t look.

  • Kyle Maloney

    “Don’t forget that Power Rangers was basically a ‘transcreation’ of the long running Japanese Super Sentai series.”

    super sentai had to be changed for the american market. there’s no way a lot of the stuff they do in the show would fly over here. but this isn’t even animation, and a show like powerpuff girls should do just fine in other parts of the world. especially japan imo.

  • crapjuice

    At least they’ve actually aired the original, uncut show… The same cannot be said about the americanized translations of anime…. To me, transcreating a show, no matter how ghastly it might be, is a lot better than bastardizing it’s origins, like Fox and 4Kids have been doing for years… I mean, changing the story? Painting on frames to hide guns, alcohol, gas (yeah, that actually happened), blood and backwards nudity? Scrapping the original soundtrack and change it for crappy synth? Adding dialogue in order to remove all tense scenes? Or maybe they are right from the beginning, after all, what kind of a sick monster would want kids to feel emotions when they watch tv, or worse, let them find out that alcohol and buttcracks actually exist…

    So yeah, I’d take Powerpuff Girls Z over a bastardized version of the original Powerpuff Girls…

  • Some Cute Anime Thingy

    Don’t really have much to add here (save for the idea of a “Powerpuff Girls” Anime is strange, given that the original series is a loose parody of “Sailor Moon”), but I think I can top Charles’ “Doozy Bots” with The Saban Nightmare! Note that both it and “Doozy Bots” could serve as elaborate satires of executive meddling.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    It’s disconcerting that the PPGs- themselves an American near-parody of a Japanese-style animation- are being processed again for the Japanese audience. It’s a little like the Taco Bell restaurants that are springing up in Mexico. Almost insulting.

    And weren’t there sexed-up versions of the girls available as manga (or maybe American comics) as recently as a couple of years ago? That rings distant bells with me.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > Transcreating is hardly a new trend though. Check out this weird attempt to introduce the popular Japanese Gundam robots to America that features every executive-created cartoon cliche in the book.

    Oh yes, that one was a classic the first time I saw it nearly a decade ago, I had to spread that one around to clue more people into our delicate and fragile our fandom is!

    Of course there’s always this little gem too (not to be confused with the recent live-action series that was produced in Japan)!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7Hge38AkFg

    > Back in the late 1970s, Nippon Animation did a short-lived anime series based on Little Lulu called “Little Lulu to Chicchai Nakama,� which is literally “Little Lulu and her Little Friends.� Only 26 episodes were made.

    And of some amusement, this series got aired in a number of countries worldwide, an English dub was made by ZIV International in the late 70′s.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pJ0_PPp8ME

    > Judging by the clips I’ve seen from it, the character designs were pretty faithful to the original. It could’ve been worse.

    They sorta got that lumpy potato-head style going for them (much like the way Leiji Matsumoto would draw some of his characters), but it’s OK (and nothing like the super-deformed look they might use today).

    > super sentai had to be changed for the american market. there’s no way a lot of the stuff they do in the show would fly over here. but this isn’t even animation, and a show like powerpuff girls should do just fine in other parts of the world. especially japan imo.

    Still it’s a shame when stuff like that happens (what most tokusatsu fans would dread the most when it comes to anything being imported with the intent of maintreaming it for the general public).

  • http://gorblat.blogspot.com eeedel

    “Power puff borrowed so much from manga and japanese anime, with irony or admiration or both. I don´t see where the problem is.
    The question is : how good is their show?”

    You were never an avid watcher of the show WERE you James? I can maybe think of maybe 5 episodes TOPS where the “borrowing” may have taken place. If anything they did it more in Dexter’s Lab.

    If you don’t see where the problem is your at the wrong blog.

  • http://cartoonbrew.com JJ NewArms

    That’s pretty funny….especially considering that the US has been doing the exact same thing for many many years.
    I don’t understand the outrage, to be honest.

    My personal lament too is based around stealing stylistic attributes and stripping whatever is behind that look. E.g. the dynamic holds/floating poses/silent pans in anime…all of which originated from anime’s ancestors, such as wood prints, ukiyo-e and kabuki…all focused on drama and expression.

    These are all used in horrible examples that come to mind such as Kappa Mikey and Teen Titans…..”the kids love that anime, let’s see if we can crap some out ourselves!” Nothing worse than US Anime….

    I can see the Power Puff girls as an homage of sorts, or something at least that has been around a (relatively) long time as well as ushering in a market for this look. Which I’m quite quite tired of by now.

  • Graham

    You guys are finding out about this NOW?! This is two-year-old news. The show already premiered in Japan over a year ago and has plenty of episodes under its wing.

  • Soos

    This is to say nothing of all the foreign live action hits which are transcreated for America – the Office, the Ring, Ugly Betty, the Grudge… Martin Scorsese won the “Best Director” Academy Award for ripping off Infernal Affairs.

    “Transcreation” in general is an extremely offensive force of xenophobia.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    The saddest part of this is, for a while, floating on the internet was actual concept art from this show. Things the japanese artsist drew. All sorts of wonderful great redesigns of the Powerpuffs that everyone would have loved.
    And then, as you go through the jpegs, you see the designs getting less and less creative and more and more generic, and finally you arrive at what is currently the girls design for PPGZ.
    I wonder if those concept pictures are still floating around the internet….

  • red pill junkie

    Well I don’t know. I enjoy Powerpuff girls, because I think it’s aim to a ver wide audience, although I agree with a previous comment that said the reason for this it’s because it’s more of an adult-based humor and gags.

    So this new product is obviously aimed for japanese pre-adolescent girls. I wouldn’t watch for the same reason I’ve never watched Sailor Moon.

    The show might give the opportunity to explore new ideas for the characters in a creative way. Or it might be just a bland product that hopes to piggy-back from the original’s success and predominant place in current pop culture. Whichever it is I honestly don’t know, since I haven’t had the chance to watch an episode.

    But yes, the very concept of a show like Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z is definitely quite ironic.

  • Danielle

    “And weren’t there sexed-up versions of the girls available as manga (or maybe American comics) as recently as a couple of years ago? That rings distant bells with me.”

    You might be thinking of certain PPG doujinshi (fan-made manga) that have been self-published in Japan. There have been quite a few PPG doujinshi made, a significant number of them well before PPGZ came along.

  • Chris

    My first thought when I read this on the front page was “One word: Voltron.” I’m with those who don’t see the reason to be depressed. This is neither bad nor good, it just is, and it has been for some time, and it crosses several different oceans bidirectionally.

    I love the original series, BTW. Some of the best comic writing ever.

  • purin

    I had forgotten about that Sailor Moon pilot! Oh, if only there was a better quality version floating around the net. It’s so… hilariously dated. Such an obsession with wheelchairs…

    Well, I guess this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s kind of like remaking shows and movies. It really has to do with the quality of the final product.

    It’s interesting that the lackluster reception of Powerpuff Girls in Japan resulted not in dropping the subject altogether but investing in a new show just for Japan based on it, which worked for them. I wonder if it’d be possible for import companies to give us that chance before remaking or doing a “4Kids” style adaptation.

    From what I can see, the show looks pretty cute.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    Seems some people here know the truth about POWER RANGERS!

    I’m offended by POWER RANGERS (and have always been), because I was already a fan of Super Sentai and other Japanese superhero shows. It began the principle that all tokusatsu (special effects) superhero shows must be “localized.” As one who has watched Godzilla movies and hundreds of superhero TV shows for decades, I am opposed to it.

    Tsuburaya Productions won’t allow any transcreations of Ultraman, which is what touched me even more about them. (But 4Kids blew it with ULTRAMAN TIGA, though, even though I prefer the 4Kids dub to POWER RANGERS any day.) They know there are fans in America, and have a death-grip on the franchise. Same deal with Toho, which regrets the transcreation Hollywood did of Godzilla (Toho, thankfully, now owns the rights to the GINO design, so no one else can use it again).

    Don’t get me started on PPGZ. I was not impressed at all. When I first saw it (ironic that the designs were unveiled on April 1st!), I said, “Those are not the Powerpuff Girls, they don’t even have their spirit.”

    Producer Sam Register is also to blame.

  • the Invertabrat

    I dont see the big deal in remaking any good animated show or any good idea as long as they let the creative talent handle it insted of the Shareholders…..

  • http://cartoongeeks.blogspot.com/ S. Michelle Klein-Hass

    I dunno, I thought what I have seen of Demashta PPG Z is actually quite amusing in a bubbly Shoujou way. However, I think I understand why Cartoon Network US is wavering on picking it up. PPGZ is totally adapted to Japanese youth culture. The original PPG series took Anime series for little girls and made it very Americanized. Turnabout is fair play, I suppose.

    However, considering that CN US helped fund this series, it’s going to eventually show up on Toonami sometime. Or perhaps it might be handed off to Williams Street to add in enough bongwater humor for it to become part of Adult Swim. They are going to have to make back some Return On Investment, somehow.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > JJ NewArms says:
    > My personal lament too is based around stealing stylistic attributes and stripping whatever is behind that look. E.g. the dynamic holds/floating poses/silent pans in anime…all of which originated from anime’s ancestors, such as wood prints, ukiyo-e and kabuki…all focused on drama and expression.

    That’s very true. In particular, silence doesn’t seem to have much impact in Hollywood as we can see in today’s entertainment. Brad Bird has discussed this on some occasions over his distaste for the need to keep inserting cuts or something jarringly loud into a scene in order to break up the momentum. Things that are usually never present in anime when it comes to the dramatic points it wants to show.

    > These are all used in horrible examples that come to mind such as Kappa Mikey and Teen Titans…..�the kids love that anime, let’s see if we can crap some out ourselves!� Nothing worse than US Anime….

    This is so true. The problem with productions like this is that the producers would rather take the surface elements (design, style), rather than the brass tax (story) that made anime work. If there was more attention to how to handle the story elements in American shows, it would be a great improvement over trying to ape the usual conventions we’ve seen ad nausem.

    > purin says:
    > I had forgotten about that Sailor Moon pilot! Oh, if only there was a better quality version floating around the net. It’s so… hilariously dated. Such an obsession with wheelchairs…

    I’m afraid to admit I have a very good copy of that pilot, but I’m not sharing it right now, mainly it’s another hand-cam shot from that convention, but from a tripod and much closer to the screen, but it doesn’t suffer from the shakiness of the vid most commonly seen.

  • Andre

    Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura were both re-edited and had their stories altered to appeal to American schoolkids (and possibly the US censors as well). As far as the Powerpuffs are concerned I would rather watch McCracken’s original series. I saw YouTube clips of the Japanese series and I found them way too cutsie for my taste.

  • Jorge Garrido

    The only “transcreation” that was better tha its source material was “A Pup Named Scooby Doo” (and some would say Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures)

    It’s a futile endevour to keep rehashing things

  • http://mytwoyenworth.blogspot.com/ Michael Jones

    I love the original and have also seen several episodes of the DPPGZ. Though I can’t discern most of the dialogue, I DO enjoy the new version as well. Anyone interested may want to read my comparison of the two here: http://mytwoyenworth.blogspot.com/2007/07/ppgz-from-ppgz-wiki-entry-i-borrowed.html
    I see nothing wrong with this being an extension of the original though I do agree with the Invertebrat that the creators deserve a piece of the yen-pie.
    Michael

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    S. Michelle Klein-Hass:

    THE POWERPUFF GIRLS was not based on shoujo anime at all. (People used to keep comparing it to SAILOR MOON, but PPG was created just a year before SAILOR MOON, even though that was certainly not the first shoujo anime.) Only the *action* was Japanese-inspired, not only by anime, but by Japanese superhero shows, which Craig McCracken has watched (he told me this himself). The Girls themselves were based on Margaret Keane’s “waif” paintings, and also the “flower girl” designs seen on handbags etc. in the 60s (or even popular cult toys/dolls in the 60s like Little Miss No-Name). Craig did this to create a contrast from the many hunky comic-book superheroes that were prevalent at the time (only these cute little girls, in a stark and scary surrounding, were as tough as said superheroes).

    I don’t know if “Japanizing” PPG was necessarily Toei’s idea. I thought it was producer Sam Register’s idea, as he was *totally* capitalizing on the “anime” trend when he was in charge of CN for a while. He seemed to want to anime up PPG to make it more “relevant.” (When PPGZ was being developed, PPG was seriously on the wane after the 2002 movie.) He also developed TEEN TITANS, but was quite dismissive of Bruce Timm’s style, calling it “old, tired and dated,” and wanted to create his own legacy on CN: Witness anime-inspired shows like HI HI PUFFY AMI YUMI, BEN 10, etc.

  • purin

    Anime influence in American cartoons goes back a lot farther than I think many people want to admit. It wasn’t until it became flat out popular that it got very obvious, what with people just using it so generally without paying attention to whether or not the people they hired to draw like that are even any good at it, or if it’s the style they want after all (something assumed anime-style might not really be). Teen Titans probably got on the air mostly for its looks, and it took a few episodes for it to really develop its soul.

    At the point in time that we almost got Doozy Bots and Bizarro Sailor Moon, I think they were also in that same rut.
    Wouldn’t these pilots for transcreations that thankfully never were make a great featurette?

    I’d like to see the actual guidelines over time of “What audiences want” that companies consult. It used to be that the anime style and Japanese culture were the things you shunned (just look at old video game box art), and now they’re hip. I wonder what the Japanese list looks like, and has looked like over the years. What did you have to do to a show to guarantee success, or at least a return? Which shows used the formula to create a great show? Which ones used it to create empty shows nobody remembers? Which ones broke the mold successfully?

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    PPG was maybe created a year before some specific version or US release of Sailor Moon, but definitely not before Sailor Moon generally!

    Yep, when I interviewed via email members of the PPG crew at the time, while at college, they confessed to having seen hardly any anime at all.. the were slightly inspired by some specific scenes in random things like Project A-Ko etc… but really it’s not much of an anime parody at all.

    P.S. threads like this always totally depress me… how can people supposedly passionate about animation be so totally and willfully ignorant about any that happens to come from Japan?

  • http://exitplanetwhom.blogspot.com doctorwhom

    I don’t feel offended by this, which has made me rethink my motives for being offended in the past by the many American remakes of popular british sitcoms. Perhaps the language divide is what makes this case more palatable.

    Isn’t transcreation just a new perspective on what has been a constant in human traditions since spoken language began? The legends and myths of all cultures are seeded by retellings/reimaginings.

    Religions have borrowed from one another; european and eastern fairy tales have been repeatedly regurgitated by Disney…
    PPGZ and the countless others are just a modern continuance of this ancient habit.

    Jump forward a thousand years and if stories are still being told PPGs may have been mutated beyond recognition by repeated transcreations. Perhaps it becomes the basis of a religion. Despite the corporate motivations, it’s still a noble tradition. Even if it doesn’t live up to the original. Tributes rarely do.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    doctorwhom:

    I dunno . . . POWER RANGERS was an insult to the original. I’ve seen DINOSAUR TASK FORCE ZYURANGER (the 16th Super Sentai Series, and the first used for MMPR) in late 1992 (back when the show was fairly new), and when I saw POWER RANGERS, they totally changed not only the main characters, but the story. It was a *joke* in comparison. ZYURANGER is just as compelling as any anime from the same period! But Americans would rather recognize the bad version over the good version. I feel like the only sane person in the world.

    Anime fans should feel the same way, because before the Animation Revival of the late 80s (spawned by the successes of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, THE SIMPSONS and REN & STIMPY), cartoons were looked down as being only for kids, and many edits of anime movies/shows reflected that. Today, shows like TRITON OF THE SEA and MAZINGER Z (which got butchered into TRANZOR Z, which I’m glad I never, ever saw) and the like don’t get the same treatment, and are looked down at by the “new generation” of anime fans, because they’re “old.” How stupid is that!?

  • http://www.goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    It’s fair if you ask me. How many American cartoons these days rip off the Japanese style?

  • Matt Sullivan

    Y know, die-hard japanese animation fans are always complaining about how anime shown on American television isn’t good because of the english-dubbed voices. Well at least the freakin footage doesn’t get mangled…for the most part the cartoon itself stays in one piece.

    Figures only Americans would allow their art to be raped to appease some foreign audience.

  • ChrisSketch

    Don’t we do the same thing with their horror movies?

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    Matt Sullivan: Yes it often has been mangled, especially for TV, and no your second paragraph is not in any way a correct interpretation of what has happened here.

  • http://www.jessica-plummer.com Jessica Plummer

    America seems to have not only made itself comfortable remaking other countries’ films our own products, but have now reversed the process. That’s depressing.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    Matt Silluvan:

    Excellent point about the current reaction to anime in the US by fans!

    But then, did you see BATTLE OF THE PLANETS? Shows that anime can be victims of Power Rangerization, too. Compared to the original GATCHAMAN, or even G-FORCE, it was a complete embarrassment. Bad new animation, heavy story changes, and tons of footage (mostly violent) cut out that made little sense (7-Zark-7′s “explaining” what happened in place of the cuts didn’t help matters much), and kind of left me feeling cold, even as a kid.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > purin says:
    > Anime influence in American cartoons goes back a lot farther than I think many people want to admit. It wasn’t until it became flat out popular that it got very obvious, what with people just using it so generally without paying attention to whether or not the people they hired to draw like that are even any good at it, or if it’s the style they want after all (something assumed anime-style might not really be). Teen Titans probably got on the air mostly for its looks, and it took a few episodes for it to really develop its soul.

    I would think so too.

    > I’d like to see the actual guidelines over time of “What audiences want� that companies consult. It used to be that the anime style and Japanese culture were the things you shunned (just look at old video game box art), and now they’re hip. I wonder what the Japanese list looks like, and has looked like over the years. What did you have to do to a show to guarantee success, or at least a return? Which shows used the formula to create a great show? Which ones used it to create empty shows nobody remembers? Which ones broke the mold successfully?

    This is a very good question I wish I could get answered too. A while back, a discussion about the theories in Japanese animation production was brought up over at Ben Ettinger’s AniPages forum, leading to Peter Chung (creator of Aeon Flux) to come out of hiding and present us with the facts as he has noted of the differences between western and Japanese production teams, how important the job of an ‘animation director’ is in anime and how keys and inbetweens are handled. It’s pretty lengthly but informative…
    http://www.pelleas.net/aniBBS/viewtopic.php?t=238

    > Tim Drage says:
    > PPG was maybe created a year before some specific version or US release of Sailor Moon, but definitely not before Sailor Moon generally!

    I would think so too. The original Sailor Moon manga came out in 1991 with the anime showing up a year later. I think the original PPG short that was made at CalArts was made around ’92, which probably makes it more a tie in this case.

    > Yep, when I interviewed via email members of the PPG crew at the time, while at college, they confessed to having seen hardly any anime at all.. the were slightly inspired by some specific scenes in random things like Project A-Ko etc… but really it’s not much of an anime parody at all.

    Of all the anime I can think of, “Project A-Ko” would be one that would seem the most inspiring to animators at that time. I personally think back to the scene where the main character is leaping from missles that were being shot at her as she makes her way to the mothership to rescue her friend as a real cool moment. The kind of thing that we’d never seen before in American animation then (not sure if now either).

    > P.S. threads like this always totally depress me… how can people supposedly passionate about animation be so totally and willfully ignorant about any that happens to come from Japan?

    It’s another case of anime often still being seen as this ‘underground’ or ‘exotic’ thing as opposed to something that is of mainstream importance now, but we’ll still see fluff pieces like this get written as if there’s still a few close-minded individuals that have to be clued into it.

    > John Paul Cassidy says:
    > I dunno . . . POWER RANGERS was an insult to the original. I’ve seen DINOSAUR TASK FORCE ZYURANGER (the 16th Super Sentai Series, and the first used for MMPR) in late 1992 (back when the show was fairly new), and when I saw POWER RANGERS, they totally changed not only the main characters, but the story. It was a *joke* in comparison. ZYURANGER is just as compelling as any anime from the same period! But Americans would rather recognize the bad version over the good version. I feel like the only sane person in the world.

    It’s one thing to note the longevity of the Super Sentai Series on it’s own, and to look at Power Rangers as an inferior runner-up that is mostly accepted by western audiences like it was official.

    > Anime fans should feel the same way, because before the Animation Revival of the late 80s (spawned by the successes of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, THE SIMPSONS and REN & STIMPY), cartoons were looked down as being only for kids, and many edits of anime movies/shows reflected that. Today, shows like TRITON OF THE SEA and MAZINGER Z (which got butchered into TRANZOR Z, which I’m glad I never, ever saw) and the like don’t get the same treatment, and are looked down at by the “new generation� of anime fans, because they’re “old.� How stupid is that!?

    This is more the case of the stature of limitations having already passed on these classics, and as such, the new group that come into the fandom would never watch them due to the ‘old’ designs or look for many reasons. If only shows like Mazinger Z, Captain Harlock and others have had their fair share of viewership when the time was right (say 1984), we might not be in this mess as far as I’m concern, despite the fact they’d probably fit in more with the previous generation that would buy the DVD’s today such as is the case with Voltron. It still bugs me sometimes to find those small group of fans who would call the robot “Tranzor Z” because that was how they had known of him from that English version, rather than to stay with the consistency of Go Nagai’s creation, ans was had been accepted in other markets the series was imported to in Europe or Latin America.

    Back in the 80′s, the few people who know what anime was had to persevere through the decade through going to sci-fi conventions that might have anime screening rooms, find copies of a TV show through the underground tape-trading gimmick, or pay that $200 for an LD of the latest movie coming out of Japan that may or may not be licensed/released in the US, where most ‘anime’ related stuff was still mostly in the kidvid section of any store (the infamous “Macross in Clash of the Bionoids” bring this to mind). I don’t think I ever want to go back to those days when things were just like that again.

    > But then, did you see BATTLE OF THE PLANETS? Shows that anime can be victims of Power Rangerization, too. Compared to the original GATCHAMAN, or even G-FORCE, it was a complete embarrassment. Bad new animation, heavy story changes, and tons of footage (mostly violent) cut out that made little sense (7-Zark-7’s “explaining� what happened in place of the cuts didn’t help matters much), and kind of left me feeling cold, even as a kid.

    Practically turned it into some sort of Superfriends Wannabe in Space from the very first time I saw an episode a decade ago after having spent $25 for a pirated copy of several episodes. We should just be thankful ADV has released the entire Gatchaman series on DVD the way they did, giving us a good reason to compare/contrast between the original and it’s reconstitution. I can feel your pain John, too often those edits don’t try to explain how the guys manage to get out of a tight jam as they figured getting the robot to narrate or the guys later on to exposition the heck out of the previous scenes was fine the way the writers must’ve sweated bullets over cobbling 85 episodes out of 105. While it seems like wasted potential for the show to ever be seen anywhere in the US for it’s time, it’s also surprising there are those that ‘loved’ the show given the number of countries outside the US where Battle of the Planets had been distributed in. Those people think nothing of what transpired in those episodes originally.

    It’s still more a case of understanding the differences in culture and customs when it comes to how animation is produced outside our country to be able to appreciate those differences and to learn from them, or else we’ll still be left in our own little box and stay that way.

  • Mark

    Amid hits the nail on the head with this comment: “It’s a shame that today’s corporations don’t believe that investing in foreign artistic talent could lead to similarly popular creations, and instead are commissioning foreign artists to simply churn out cheap copies of American originals.” I enjoyed a lot of Glenn Murakami’s Teen Titans, but despised the forced anime bits that had no basis in American animation history and struck me as just inserted as a kind of wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of thing. Then there are the intros to the 90′s X-Men cartoons that accompanied that US animated show when it aired in Japan. Watch those and then tell me which country got those characters “right”. And Japan has been bastardizing it’s own animated creations for years (see Dirty Pair vs Dirty Pair Flash). It’s a sad truth that anything successful is going to eventually be reimagined, reinterpreted, and regurgitated. We always have the originals.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > And Japan has been bastardizing it’s own animated creations for years (see Dirty Pair vs Dirty Pair Flash). It’s a sad truth that anything successful is going to eventually be reimagined, reinterpreted, and regurgitated. We always have the originals.

    Being reminded of studios like Sunrise and Gainax going that route nowadays (what with the three Evangelion movies coming soon I’ll make a note to miss).

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    Gainax is a totally different case… Everything they do is intensely postmodern, each new show is a kind of distillation of all their previous works… New Eva is at some level a more mainstream cash-in rehash, and no doubt won’t be the same unbelievably brutal attack on the target audience that the original was, but it looks like it’s gonna be pretty amazing at some level, if just visually.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Thanks for correcting me Tim.

  • ERRR

    errr an american company called disney “transcreated” kimba the lion, which was japanese and turned it into “the lion king”.

    how about the movie “the ring”? im sure the original was japanese.

  • Seyi

    Though this may be true, there might be some good to all this, when i found out there was an anime version of powerpuff girls i thought ‘this is such a copy of a childish show’ i wanted to see what it was like. I found that they have changed the show so much, that you sometimes forget that this is based of an american cartoon. They have changed the personalities and looks of the caricatures, and the plot is also different.

    Getting to the point, we live in a day and age were things made in one country are popular in other countries. knowing that fact, i do not see a problem with on country changing something in a way that improves it. as long as they are following copyright law must we make such a big deal over this. If Americans can copy foreign works i think foreigners should be able to copy american works.

  • http://piczo jazmin

    i think its realy cool they all look like each other i think they should make a movie were they are normal girls and the power puff girls that would enspire more people to watch the powerpuff girls i amn a big power puff girl fan but i have seen all the episodes so i dont watch them any more from jaz

  • Ria

    Well I’m an american and I used to watch powerpuff girls. I never knew till today that Japan made a powerpuff girls Z. I always wanted to know what they would look like if they got older. I like how they look. I haven’t seen the show yet so I’ll comment on that later. But somehow I still think I’lm going to like the orginal better. That’s just me.

  • Mesterius

    This comment probably comes a bit late, but Amid – regarding your comment about the Katzenjammer Kids – the decision to ‘transcreate’ the kids from Max and Moritz was really very much a corporate one rather than an artistic one. In fact, the chief-of-all corporates newspaper king, William Randolph Hearst, had been travelling in Europe and found that Busch’ stories were very popular. So the idea to produce his own version of the Max and Moritz success hit him. One of his editors, Rudolph Block, got the mission to find a suitable artist – and put the newly hired Rudolph Dirks to work on the feature, instructing him to base it loosely on the German book. In addition, Dirks’ instructions was to make a comic strip which could compete with the current hit “The Yellow Kid”. So there ya go again, corporate all over!
    And yet Dirks managed to write and draw a very good comic strip, which gradually grew into its own and became the artist’s own, unique world. So, good things can emerge even out of corporate decisions. Of course that doesn’t mean they will, but history has proved that such strange things actually can happen…

  • buttercup

    I HATE THE NEW POWER PUFF SHOW!!! they look nothing alike!!!
    you should put on the original power puff girls on instead!!
    I don’t mind wearing a dress!! why is she so whinny about wearing a skirt! >:(

  • Spurwing Plover

    THE POWDER PUFF GIRLS MEETS DEXTERS LAB

  • Tanya

    THE POWERPUFFGIRLS ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I hate ppgz!!!!everyone does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cassandra Bruce

    I actually like the Japenese version better. It’s less creepy (and I LOVE what they did with Buttercup’s hair)

  • That one guy

    LOL the poster of this topic is an idiot LOOK what 4kids did to one piece not even changing it just EDITING art till it was totally broken Example Buggy’s crew had a black guy as a member but in the 4kids version for USA changed him to a WHITE guy as well as all the guns to super soakers removing scars etc so before you start trying to sound smart look at what AMERICA did to some of the greatest titles of all time.

  • Berserk

    PPGZ is just a more girly version of the original show.
    Because in Japan females can‘t kick asses like males.
    That‘s why “Hyper Blossom“, “Rolling Bubbles“ and “Powered Buttercup“ have…ridiculous weapons and the villains…well, are just as ridiculous as the girls‘ weapons.
    The transformation are cute, though.