So, if the “dread spectre of moe” isn’t the real problem with late night anime on TV Tokyo, what is? Well allow me to state the bleedin’ obvious for a moment.
Giving the anime industry free rein.
By brokering the slots of anime, and rarely being involved in production beyond standards and practices, TV Tokyo basically have given the producers of anime for those slots free rein.
Later than NTV’s slots, the ratings are rather paltry, and the belief seems to be that there isn’t an audience that want to watch anime at 1:30AM and later. Instead the plan seems to be to rely on a pre-existing audience for the show. An audience that will be fanatical enough to find it wherever it might end up in the schedule. That’s even before you take into account that various parts of production committee will then be relying on them to also be fanatical enough to buy the various offshoots of the content necessary to make the whole exercise financially rewarding for those involved.
In part that’s a necessity of this end of the anime business, but in terms of getting eyes in front of the screen or making TV shows with a broad appeal like NTV’s or Fuji TV’s noitaminA do, it can’t beat the concept of developing a specific spot in the schedule with the broadcaster’s input. It looks like TV Tokyo themselves realised this and so they established an anime department last year, leading to them launching, with Sony’s Aniplex, the Anime no Chikara slot this year.
The kings (pun intended) of late night anime on TV Tokyo are Starchild Records, the anime subsidiary of King Records. Today, we’ll look at the Sunday night 1:30AM slot they’ve dominated since 2004. Of the following shows – only three shows didn’t have Starchild credited on ANN (Rescue Wings, School Rumble, Nabari no O), most have a Starchild staff member on production or planning (often Atsushi Moriyama) and a lot have their own homepage on Starchild’s website.
Unfortunately the English language licensing website they set up (presumably as part of their ’04 US visit) hasn’t been updated since 2004, so I’m fumbling in the dark over a lot of these. They frequently handle DVD distribution for these shows too. Basically the series have become much more like infomercials for the CD and DVD releases, not to mention all the ancillary character goods, than a show designed to attract a rating. And while “moe” makes money, that’s what’s going to dominate these slots, because the TV ratings really don’t mean anything. As soon as something else becomes what sells to a niche, fanatical audience, then Starchild’s roster of shows will become full of that (you can see some that happening to a lesser extent with their post-Eva catalogue in the 90s). Though I do wonder with Atsushi Moriyama’s involvement with the Azumanga Daioh production led to their pursuit of similar properties in the slot discussed below, as most have his name attached in some way.
So sci-fi fans, if you are bemoaning the lack of sci-fi anime, it’s your own fault for not buying enough CDs, DVDs and merchandise. Your wallet just didn’t want it enough in comparison to the hug pillow brigade.
Doki Doki School Hours (2004) *
Studio: JC Staff
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
A poor man’s Azumanga Daioh.
Fafner (2004) *
Director: Nobuyoshi Habara
Evangelion for dullards.
Mahoraba ~Heartful days~ (2005) *
Studio: JC Staff
Director: Shinichiro Kimura
Apartment building sitcom teaches us that mental illness is adorable!
Pani Poni Dash! (2005) *
Studio: GANSIS, SHAFT
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
A poor man’s Doki Doki School Hours.
RESCUE WINGS (2006)
Studio: JC Staff
Director: Katsushi Sakurabi
A reminder that slice of life doesn’t have to be about schoolgirls. It be can about helicopter rescue pilots too.
School Rumble: 2nd Semester (First series aired during the day) (2006)
Studio: Studio Comet
Director: Shinji Takamatsu
There was then a brief break from animated fare while unusual looking costumed hero Lion Maru G (who was also produced by Starchild) took to the air, before cartoons returned with…
Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! (2007)*
Director: “Team Manabibeya”
A poor man’s Azumanga Daioh. IN THE FUTURE! Where apparently all 17 year-old girls look 10.
Heroic Age (2007) *
Director: Toshimasa Suzuki
Robot show that blew its most interesting idea in the first episode (namely: SPACE TARZAN).
Director: Masahiko Ohta
The story of three dull sisters.
Minami-ke: Okawari (2008)*
Director: Naoto Hosoda
That somehow warranted another series. From a different staff.
Nabari no O (2008)
Studio: JC Staff
Agreeable ninja show.
Today In Class 5-2 (2008) *
Director: Tsuyoshi Nagasawa
A poor man’s Manabi Straight. IN THE PRESENT!
Minami-ke Okaeri (2009) *
Director: Kei Oikawa
If this dishwater gets three seasons then there must be a lot of Softy Walters out there to make it worthwhile.
Natsu no Arashi! (2009) *
Director: Shin Oonuma
Borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered forties.
Kanamemo (2009) *
Director: Shigehito Takayanagi
Newsies, the moe generation.
Natsu no Arashi! Akinai-chu (2009) *
Director: Shin Oonuma / Kenichi Ishikura
More larks with the time travelling ghosts.
Hanamaru Kindergarten (2010) *
Director: Seiji Mizushima
Something about a school for weird looking glove puppets.
* Starchild Records involvement