2007, The Mecha Revival and The Return Of The Classics

I’ll say it right now, 2007 has been one hell of a year for anime, in a time when I thought all originality and good old fashined fun had been stripped right out of the artform by corporations bent on making the quickest buck off of Otaku.  It took lots of courage and risk on the part of a few good studios to make this feat possible, but here we are…..

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The year actually started with an early bang thanks to a series that had started later on the previous year.  I’m talking of course of Code Geass, the ambitious Sunrise series about an exiled princes war of revenge against the royal family of a massive empire bent on global domination and asserting the will of the elite.  Code Geass did what no other series had done in a long time, combined a variety of genre’s with great character relationships, a complex and intriguing plot, and some good old fashioned action and fun.  In short, Sunrise had created a series for everybody to enjoy, AND they had done it with absolutely no source material, in a time when it was becoming increasing common for ideas for anime series to be ripped from whatever Visual Novel or Manga was currently running hot with Otaku.

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Perhaps inspired by the success of Code Geass, other original mecha stories followed such as Heroic age and another Sunrise series that completely reinvented from the ground up Bandai’s red hot iDOLM@STER franchise, combining cute girls and melee oriented mecha for an interesting, dramatic and fun story.

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And who can forget Gurren Lagann, the series that came out of nowhere to put the term Gar right back on the map.  In a time where series that ended up popular seemingly all had one thing in common, Moe girls and a slice of life approach, a series came around that offered an epic and expansive storyline, spanning the limits of the universe itself, and character with such overwhelming charisma that you couldn’t help but cheer for them.  It’s hard to say what effect Gurren Lagann’s legacy will have on the industry, but for a series like this to make a breakthrough (pun intended) right around the time when the unearthly popular Kyoto Animation’s Lucky Star was airing, AND at a time when the mere mention of them behind something is enough to automatically default it to masterpiece status in the blink of an an eye and draw fans attention away from everything else, AND while offering almost no moe girls or references to anything currently known to most modern day viewers, speaks for itself on just how influential this series has become.  It’s definitely one for the books.

2007 also saw the return of Gundam, with it’s ever complex storylines and character taking us into next year.

There was also some some simply outstanding music to be had as well this year.  I think I’ve downloaded more Anime OST’s from 2007 series than any year ever period.  Darker Than Black offered up my favourite song of the year in Howling by Abingdon School Boys, which still get’s regular play on my Mp3 cycles, but many other series offered at least one memorable tune.  I don’t think the same can be said for many other years since the turn of the century, as my soundtrack collections basically have years ranging from the 80’s-early 90’s, 1 from 2005 (Eureka 7) and then at least 6 from 2007.  Basically it feels like composers are starting to at least try again to make whole soundtracks that will draw people into the atmosphere of the anime, instead of just composing quickie tracks on synthesizers (as opposed to actually utilizing the full capabilities of the instrument) and relying on popular idols singing a couple of singles that will ultimately amount to what could vaguely be considered a “soundtrack”.  Well, okay there’s still a fair bit of that, but at least they are trying with the idol singles a bit more now too, and working to make the songs fit the anime rather than the animes to fit the song for a promotion or some such thing.

And then there were the other studios who either lacked the resources to create an original series, or perhaps just didn’t feel like it also stepped up the ante.  Rather than just count on the license to sell a series, groups like Studio Deen offered up Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, a popular license in it’s own right, but also added some good original arcs and showed they gave a damn about the material.

All in all, it’s been one hell of a year, and even while some studios continue to rely on licenses and Otaku pandering to earn their keep, hopefully this year will stand as an example of what is possible for anime and keep it from becoming little more than an extended commercial for whatever popular Visual Novel or Idol CD is coming out.  That said, January is a rough start for this year, with what appears to be a return to Visual Novel adaptations as the main idea for anime series, but we know it’s a short one.  Soon enough Macross Frontier will be debuting and so will the second part of Codes Geass.  And who knows what other unknown series may grace us in the coming year, but I now have hope that next year will be good.  With that said, it is now in fact 2008 as I finish typing this,  and I say goodbye to 2007, the year of the Mecha Revival and the beginning of slow return to Classic Storytelling instead of story retelling.  so without further ado, let’s kick reason to the curb and pierce further into 2008 with our drills.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS!

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2 Responses to “2007, The Mecha Revival and The Return Of The Classics”


  1. 1 IKnight January 1, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Happy New Year to you to. I’m certainly hoping for more of the same quality non-adapted series in 2008, though adaptions can have their merits.

  2. 2 Major1138 January 5, 2008 at 9:44 am

    My take on the issue of adaptation vs. original material is that the when it’s good, original material can be much better than adaptations. You are freed from fans nitpicking you on your adaptation choices, at the expense of having to roll the dice on “unproven” material (although not necessarily unproven creative talent).

    In my mind, the strength of adapted material is that it is (to some degree) proven, so the bulk of your efforts can be spent making the story “come to life.” Practically speaking, while artistic integrity and vision are all well and good, it’s also a business, and popular material pays the bills and keeps the lights on. That being said, the downsides are fairly obvious – your series lives and dies on how it is received by fans of the source material.

    In the grand scheme of things, I don’t really care what the genesis of the story is, so long as I find the end result entertaining. I never really got into Code Geass (even though I appreciate what they are trying to do), but I loved Heroic Age. I’m a sucker for Full Metal Panic!, thought ef ~ a tale of memories was great and remain a big fan of Major, even though I admit that might have to do more with the subject matter than anything else.

    Regardless, here’s hoping


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