SPIRIT OF THE DECADE: Mecha is well and truly dead.
Okay, I’m probably being a bit way too melodramatic about this, considering that the mecha-to-everything else ratio seems to be rather constant with the 1990’s, but…
When you consider that the only notable mecha shows in the past decade were either the Bandai cashcows (the various Gundams, Code GAY ASS), Overman King Gainer (Oh yes it was, shut up), Gurren Lagann, remakes of old super robot shows and Macross (Moe) Frontier…
Plus factoring in the almost criminal lack of mecha in the last 2 or so seasons (No, Asura Cryin’ S2 does not count as a separate series)…
I’m starting to wonder if mecha is starting to lose favor with the commercial realities.
In the cut-throat world of Japanese animation (which follows Japanese business practices, sadly), mecha is slowly losing it’s status as the moneymaker. IIRC, Full Metal Panic! sucked in a lot of money for KyoAni and they have yet to make it all back. And it was a rather good franchise to capitalize on, to be honest. (Who wants a Bonta-kun plushie? I know I’d want one.)
And then KyoAni made Haruhi, and KyoAni put hand to plow and never looked back.
Of course, we should have seen it coming, what with Eva introducing Rei and Asuka and Kanon geting animated in 2002, but…
If you noticed, the appearance of mecha shows in the past decade seems to be going DOWN. And until I get further information regarding trends in the animation industry, chances are, if you’re not Sunrise, Gundam, or Macross, you’re not going to see money flowing in anytime soon.
Part of the reason is that the people who saw Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Gundam and Macross are suddenly at least 30-odd years old and are not as idealistic or full of bloody hope as it is. The realities of life (and Japan’s sustained economic recessions) are starting to sink in, and no amount of courage-fuelled shouting is going to fix the economy. Suddenly, the mecha fans see themselves as alienated, lonely and to be honest, depressed. Misery seeks company, and well, there’s the Japanese solution to the problem: 2D girls. Zoom forward to 2006, and Haruhi’s popularity is now explained. Gone is the age of Kouji Kabuto fighting for justice in Mazinger Z, Nekki Basara singing to the space whales, Guy Shishioh defeating evil with PASSION and COURAGE. In comes the seductive curves of Haruhi and company.
Guess what happened? Instead of giant robots, they now put their hopes (and perversions) onto 2D females. It’s a match made in heaven. Otaku get their fantasy, and producers get their money. I’m not too sure if the females who do watch robot shows watch it for the robots or for the emo bishies piloting them.
It’s a very sad thing, really, but unless Gurren Lagann triggers a new era of super robot shows, we’re gonna have to stomach yet another Bandai plamo marketing blitz (since Kawamori is probably done fucking around with Macross for at least 10 years).
Here’s hoping 2010 proves me wrong. Very much wrong.
PS: Shit, another round of SD Gundam would probably be better than not seeing mecha for the next 5 seasons.
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