"In the 1970s and 1980s, anime was edited and dubbed for American TV because that's the only way it could possibly air on American television. However, much time has passed and the anime industry in America has evolved while the American television broadcast of anime largely has not evolved at all. The International Channel has proven, in its limited exposure, that airing totally uncut, subtitled, and even totally unaltered and untranslated anime on American television is possible. Yet the Anime Network, the self-promoted first American anime only "channel" still offers no Japanese language anime."
The thing about the audience for the anime shown on the International Channel (one of many, many channels I wish I could watch in Canada) is that they're in a programming block aimed specifically at Asian Americans broadcasting in their native languages, with subtitles for viewers that don't speak Japanese, and any non-Asians that watch the anime are really just "gravy" for the advertisers. It's not aimed at the general audience like Cartoon Network, Tech TV or the Anime Network. I think the Anime Network, as it's "video-on-demand" for now, has the potential to offer the subtitled version... except, for now, TAN is free to viewers of the Comcast satellite system, and, since ADV must be bleeding money out of the wahoo for this endeavour anyhow (they'll go pay-per-view or super premium sooner or later, mark my words), they need some incentive for people to buy the DVDs. (My somewhat educated guess is that they're assessing the true size of the audience in the test markets to determine what form of fee structure they'll have to implement to make a profit from this.)
"Many fans simply argue that as long as uncut, bilingual anime is released to domestic DVD, what happens to anime on American television is irrelevant. Unfortunately, this may be a narrow-minded and short-sighted perspective. Beside the fact that dubbing and editing anime for American television is a corruption of its original artistic integrity, dubbed and especially edited anime on American television may so as much to propagate itself as promote interest in anime. By continuing to create and support alternate home video and TV versions of anime like Card Captor Sakura and St. Seiya American anime fans and the American anime industry is at least partially continuing to feed and nurture a demand for dumbed down and censored anime. Continuing to air edited anime on American television doesn't promote the TV broadcast of unedited anime; it simply promotes the broadcast of still more edited anime."
I don't disagree that Knights of the Zodiac is a dumbed-down version of Saint Seiya and that Cardcaptors is a dumbed-down version of Cardcaptor Sakura, but, the honest to God truth is that, yes, since the subtitled, intact version of Cardcaptor Sakura is available, I choose simply to ignore Cardcaptors, and the fact that there are people, mostly young children, that enjoy the dumbed-down version of the show doesn't bother me in the slightest. It's called "being pragmatic". I could have bitched-and-moaned about Cardcaptors osoku made (Nobuo and Carol Akiyama's 2001 Japanese and English Idioms book gives this as a translation for "until the cows come home) and boycotted the subtitled, intact Cardcaptor Sakura, because Nelvana got a slice of the profit pie, but, ultimately, it would have accomplished zilch, and it would have made me look like such a fanboy. Plus, for most anime, I think "artistic integrity" is a total red herring; anime is expensive to make, a lot cheaper than Disney films, certainly, but still well beyond what 99.9% of individuals are able to pay, so the creators of the original work or idea, especially when an anime is based on a manga, have to make all sorts of compromises in order to get their work animated, especially if it's to be shown on television. Acting as self-appointed guardians of the integrity of CLAMP's work is arrogant and fanboyish to say the least... if CLAMP were really all that concerned about their "artistic integrity", they never would have agreed to let Cardcaptor Sakura be animated in the first place. And... arguing that something like Pok�mon should have the same level of "artistic integrity" as... say... a Ghibli film or Millenium Actress makes my eyes roll.
So, the truth of the matter there is that, by supporting two levels of release, one for a mainstream children's audience and one for purist anime fans, I am indeed helping to support the existence of "dumbed-down" versions of anime series, but I'm fine with that.
"Rather than demanding unaltered anime on American television, many American fans either make do with censored TV broadcasts or disregard censored TV broadcasts by demanding only uncut DVDs. Personally, I suspect that many fans assume that the fact anime is now on American television will eventually lead to uncut, unaltered anime on American television. But such an assumption has very little weight. The continued broadcast of censored anime, I think, conditions viewers to just expect more censored anime. The American television industry works, very much, on a policy of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If censored, edited anime on America television turns a profit, what motivation is there for television networks to air unedited anime?"
I never had the assumption that, eventually, most anime would air on Cartoon Network completely unedited. Until all Americans become anime purists (re: never), that isn't a reasonable assumption to have. The Adult Swim stuff overall, from what I understand since I can't watch CN in Canada, is getting less and less animated, but, aside from a few "gift" presentations like FLCL, things will still have to be edited somewhat, both for content reasons and for commercial time. That's just the way the TV world works, and it doesn't bother me. I just view the CN airings of anime as sort of a commercial for the subtitled, uncut DVDs... the people that care will buy that versions, and the people that don't care can just enjoy "their" version of the anime shows as broadcast.
Anyhow, this column led to a thread in the "Ask John" forum (EDIT: the thread has been removed) entitled "Are today's anime purists 'selling out'?", which is a ridiculous premise right there, since, if you never owned the rights to the animated properties in the first place, you can't sell out.
Here are my responses:
1) "How is it "selling out" if I simply don't care how stuff is edited or rewritten for TV? I could care and protest and boycott if a TV dub for little kids isn't up to my own purist standards, or I could do something more productive with my time, like draining the Atlantic Ocean with a thimble...
Seeing as how I never personally owned the North American rights to the Cardcaptor Sakura anime in the first place, I don't see how I could sell out. Nelvana sold us a subtitled, intact version of Cardcaptor Sakura, and that's all I wanted. I could still bitch n' moan about Cardcaptors (even though it's a dead horse), but it would have accomplished nothing and it would make me look like such a fanboy."
2) "I'd only boycott individual titles, not entire companies, and that would be only if they didn't have a version up to my standards. Fortunately, I don't care about Initial D either...
Though, I have to say, I already had a translation of Wish so I never bothered buying the Tokyopop version... though I'm not talking about a scanlation, just the completely legit French-language version from Tonkam."
3) "Oh, I didn't realize this thread was in response to an "Ask John" article.
While I respect John's opinions on those matters, I just "agree to disagree" with him there. To be perfectly honest, I'm really not concerned with "artistic integrity" at all... I'm a pragmatic anime fan who simply cares about getting intact versions of things I like... but the existence of alternate, heavily-edited, "dumbed-down" versions really don't bother me, and I don't give a rat's butt about the artistic integrity of Pok�mon and the like. It's a battle I choose not to fight or even care about as it's not a battle I can ever win unless I own the rights myself."
Anyhow, you can be a defender of "artistic integrity" and fight the "good" fight and oppose *all* edits made to *any* anime anywhere, even on TV, on "principle", I'm not going to stop you, but prepare for a life of constant disappointment and indignation since you'll likely never be satisfied.