A string of animations aired during Japan’s miraculous economic boom of the 1960s is gradually regaining popularity with people in their 40s to 50s.
According to industry sources, animation producers, struggling to make brand-new big-hit “anime,” frequently reuse materials aired in their childhood.
Black-and-white DVD animation series and computer graphics-aided movies made people want to relive the good old days or show them to their kids.
For instance, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, a sales segment of Walt Disney Co. (Japan) Ltd., and Toei Animation Co. jointly launched three monochrome cartoon DVD series from March to May, including the internationally popular “The Cyborg Soldiers,” or “Cyborg 009” in Japanese, which was first released in Japan in 1964.
The companies supplemented the series by adding inside stories from interviews with former staff who recounted troubles or funny incidents that happened when making the cartoons four decades ago.
Koji Kishimoto, senior manager of Buena Vista, boasted about the revival of the old hit animation on DVD, saying the project began “at the right time since the use of DVDs has spread to many Japanese people.”
While the popularity of old-time hits is not “explosive,” they definitely grab the hearts of “true fans,” mainly men in their late 40s, he said, adding that at about 10,000 yen for each series, they are not cheap but sell quite well.
“I’ve seen many fathers visiting here with their kids on Sundays and buying monochrome animation DVDs for themselves while buying DVDs for their kids,” said Satoshi Kanamori, vice store manager of a CD and DVD shop in Tokyo.
The fathers’ nostalgia contributes to the increasing popularity of such animation, but industry officials stress the strong features in old-time characters attract new audiences as well.
A remake of “Tetsujin 28” (“Ironman Robot No. 28”), a national hero robot animation as famous as “Astroboy,” was shown on the silver screen from March to April.
The original story of “Tetsujin 28” is about a boy and a huge iron robot that the boy’s grandfather originally developed as a military weapon.
The boy wishes to use the robot for peaceful purposes, but the robot, which is operated by remote control, can be either good or evil, depending on the mind of the operator.
Staff at the film’s production and distribution companies pointed out that unlike modern cartoon characters, those born in the 1960s are impressive and the stories are well-plotted.
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