Wizard World Chicago: Anime for Comics Fans

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Summer Mullins from Wizard Anime Insider led this panel which focused on pairing similar Anime and comic book properties to persuade fans to expand their cultural horizons. Anime fans can be hardcore and elitist about going outside their fandom and comic book fans can be the same way.

It was noted that Disney had a huge influence on early Manga and later Disney works then pulled from Anime. Today’s American cartoons use Anime studios and have Anime influences. Likewise a lot of American animators have worked in the Anime field – for example, the Animatrix project. Some American artists are being celebrated in Japanese Manga now as well and, conversely, Manga artists are being more accepted in America – see Kia Asamiya’s Batman: Child of Dreams as a recent example.

Here are some suggested pairings of comic books and Anime.

Invincible and Bleach – Two series that feature high school age protagonists dealing with life and their powers - a mix of comedy and drama.

Banner of the Stars and Star Wars - Both are sci-fi, space opera epics and both have sequels and spin-offs.

Astro Boy and Buck RogersBuck Rogers is a beloved retro series and Astro Boy was also one of the earliest Anime/Manga in Japan. They each originate from the 50s & 60s sci-fi tradition. There are rumors of Buck Rogers possibly returning to the small screen and Astro Boy will have a CGI Hollywood movie coming out soon.

Code Geass and V for Vendetta – Two properties that are a high literature style of comics and anime. Code Geass is in its second season in Japan. Both feature slightly unbalanced masterminds who do not care what it takes to reach their goals.

Fables and Wolf’s Rain – This pairing feature a mythological feel brought into modern day. The series focus on legends come to life and how they deal with their existence. Wolf’s Rain is not a werewolf story however but rather about wolves who can appear as human.

Berserk and The Punisher – Two bloody stories of revenge unbridled with over the top action. Both protagonists are slightly unbalanced and do not make any bones about the fact that they enjoy it. While The Punisher is set in modern times Berserk is set in a kind of fantasy past. The Anime is limited, however, as the studio ran out of money….

Gankutsuou (right) and Sandman – These have a "fairy tale in modern times" feel and both have a high literature feel as well. Gankutsuou is a sci-fi retelling of the Count of Monte Cristo. They share a mythological feel and very lush art.

There was some discussion as well of the fact that many Anime studios prefer finite series but it all depends on what TV stations are willing to pay for and what viewers are interested in. Also there was discussion of how some Japanese Anime are very adult in tone and content with nudity, sexuality, and even sometimes scenes of brutality and rape. Those series may not be picked up in the US or may have to be heavily edited.

Some Anime may become wildly popular in the US but fail in Japan and be discontinued as a result. There are few series that keep going and going in Japan like Dragonball Z or Pokemon. Many Anime are based on original Manga with the approval of the Manga authors. Anime animators try to pace themselves so that they stay behind the releases of the Manga.

Japanese TV has maze-like laws about what can or cannot be shown on TV though and there can be copyright issues so some things sometimes need to be changed from the Manga to the Anime. Also since Manga are ongoing, while the Anime will be finite, some Anime writers change things from the original so that they will be able to wrap up the story.

Continuing with the themed pairings of Anime and comic books…

Teen Titans and Natruto – The animated Teen Titans series was heavily influenced by Anime. Both of these are based around young, super-powered teens who learn to use their powers and to work together. They run from silly to touching and are series that feature running jokes as well.

30 Days of Night and Hellsing – Each of these is based around vampires. Hellsing has been released as an original Anime which was poorly received but then remade as Hellsing Ultimate which was more faithful. Both feature blood and gore and chilling themes.

Spider-Man Loves Jane and Fruits BasketSpider-Man Loves Mary Jane was deliberately drawn in a Japanese Manga style. With Fruits Basket the Manga is a little different than the Anime. They share a generally happy outlook and a sweet kind of drama.

Death Note and 100 Bullets – Both feature morally ambiguous characters and ask those questions of if you had the power of life and death and could get away with anything how would it change you? 100 Bullets is more revenge-based, however, while Death Note is the story of a boy who finds a notebook that, should he write someone’s name in it, death will come to that person. 100 Bullets is less fantasy and more reality-based since the driving plot is that a person hands over to various people 100 untraceable bullets. Both pose throughtful, philosophical questions.

Runaways and Fullmetal Alchemist – These are youth-friendly series that have a sophisticated tone. They share the similar plotline of the children having to deal with the fallout from the sins of their parents. Both series also deal with the idea of how to use power and the potential of that power for evil.

Ways to check these out for free:

Many Anime series are available on TV today on channels like Cartoon Network, Sci-Fi Channel, Encore, Fox Kids, IFC and some are available through OnDemand on cable. It is also worth Googling "Streaming Anime" to find online streaming sources.

For comic books go to your local library – they carry a lot more graphic novels and Manga now than they used to. Interlibrary loan also opens the search up. You can also check them out by skimming them in your local bookstore!

*It must be said that this panel seemed to be geared a lot more towards getting comic book readers into Anime rather than vice versa.

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