Anime Heroes

Inspired by Archie Tait’s sublime choice of SFF Song of the Week – with its anime theme – I’ve decided to make it Anime Week on Debatable Spaces.  Yes, I’m like that, wild and impetuous.

So today, and every now and then when we feel like it, are some fabulous images of anime heroes with intros from arch guest blogger on this site Stuart Angell McGregor – who, when he’s allowed out into the real world, also write screenplays, makes films, and reviews comics and graphic novels. (Adding all those things up – he’s clearly NEVER allowed out of the house.)

Stuart Angell McGregor writes:

ANIME HEROES (Part 1)

SHOTARO KANEDA (AKIRA, 1988)

I had a green jumper when I was a kid.

Not just any green jumper mind. Oh no, the front of this one was emblazoned with the loveable and furry face of my childhood hero, Dogtanian, the brave star of the Spanish/Japanese animated mish-mash ‘Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds’.

I ate in that jumper.

Slept in it.

Cuddled it lovingly as I ran around the playground, all carefree and childishly stupid, fingers grabbing at the frayed cuffs.

I was happy.

And then I saw ‘Akira’.

You see, in 1981, the American actor Cam Clarke voiced the spunky little anthropomorphised rascal I loved so much, and it wasn’t until 1994 – as I pushed my VHS copy of ‘Akira’, bought proudly with many weeks worth of pocket money, into my Aunt’s fat player – that I would come to discover how far Clarke had moved up in the world.

Toward the end of the 80s he found fame as Leonardo – the most ‘vanilla’ of the ninja turtles, despite those awesome swords – but here I was now, watching open-mouthed and wide-eyed as Clarke romped through the neon-soaked mess of Neo Tokyo, popping pills and kicking faces, as the voice of Shotaro Kaneda, leader of the teen biker gang ‘The Capsules’.

Kaneda, and Clarke, expertly exude two of the best kinds of rebellion – 1) a total lack of respect for any kind of authority (watch as Kaneda bad mouths school teachers, police officers, and baldy, serious-looking army generals alike), and 2) the ability to drive big shiny bikes very very quickly towards other gobby teens.

Kaneda can be a wonderfully vacuous character at times. He looks cool, driven by aesthetics, wearing a great jacket and riding the best bike in the world (EVER!), but also displays amazing moments of charming stupidity.

However, as the landmark ‘Akira’ marches on, shifting focus from these ongoing violent biker conflicts, to the post – WW3 Japan’s abuse and betrayal of its army of young psychics, the sheer joy of Kaneda’s delinquency becomes tempered somewhat. His youthful alienation gives way to a sense of both place and purpose as he falls in with proud underground rebels, and the fate of the world comes to literally rest in his hands.

But then, that’s the problem with all teen rebels.

Ultimately, some day, they have to grow up.

Some day, they have to become us.

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