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Date Posted: 1998-02-14

The recent popularity of Japanese cartoons or Anime can be traced back to the 1960's where Astro-Boy, Speed Racer, Gigantor & 8 -Man first hit the American shores. Yeah so the lip syncing wasn't all that great and some of the characters names were down right weird, but they were pretty cool, and have remained so to this very day in popular culture. Several other cartoons soon followed like Marine Boy who's gimmick was that he had this chewing gum which allowed him to breath underwater for a couple of hours, plus an electric boomerang which he would throw against any brain dead idiot that would be stupid enough to attack him and shock the thug on the spot. Kimba The White Lion (Who many claim was the inspiration for the Lion King). Also shown was the rarely seen Wonder 3 & Prince Planet.

Fast forward to the late 1970's and the Star Wars craze is in full gear, where many of the next crop of Japanese shows had the word "Star" thrown in to capitalize on the popular George Lucas movie. First up was Star Blazers, the high drama adventures of the refurbished Japanese Super Battleship Yamato (Which in reality had been sunk by US Navy planes while attempting to reach Okinawa during World War Two) & her valiant crew as they try to battle their way through legions of the evil Gamilon empire as they strive to make it to the planet Iscandar in order to bring back a machine to save the human race from extinction. Trust me, the cartoon is a lot better than I made it sound.

Others on tv screens throughout the 'States were the Starvengers, Battle of The Planets, The Spaceketeers, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Brave Raideen, Galaxy Express, Great Mazinger. Those cartoons were heavily edited to take out a lot of the violence & some racy scenes. Japanese cartoons hit their stride in the 1980's when shows like Mobile Suit Gundam, Macross, Dr Slump, Urusei Yatsura & Dragonball were all the rage. Japanese and more recently Korean studios have pretty much dominated the animation arena except for the theatrical Disney & Don Bluth cartoons which are done in Hollywood or Europe. Popular shows like the Simpsons, Animaniacs, The Batman/Superman Adventures, Dark Wing Duck, Tailspin Tales & several others are animated out here in Japan & Korea.

Did You Know: That an original mint condition G.I. Joe action figure is valued at thousands of dollars?

Where To Get The Cool Stuff: Most of these cartoons are available for rental through the BX video rental shops or though Plaza Video and while you're there tell 'em you read about these cartoons in Japan Update!

If you're interested in purchasing Japanese dubbed or subtitled videos a great place to start is the Right Stuff International, PO Box 71309, Des Moines IA 50325 or Tel 800-338-6827 and ask 'em for their giant catalog or if you're on the web check 'em out at www.centsys.com.

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