When I first started writing this response to Kisu's article of a couple weeks ago, I wondered about how I should approach this subject, touchy as it is, and as important to myself as it is. I briefly considered the Havoc approach, to jump in with guns blazing, mouth frothing, and spewing my opinions left and right. Then I tried the Mason approach, imitating his calm analysis and understated humor. That didn't work either. So, at last, I came to the conclusion that, try as I might, I could write like neither of them. A similar situation exists with regard to my feelings about the "Americanization" of anime. One side of me screams that anime should be as close to the original as translation makes possible. That it should be kept from the general viewing public because only the few serious fans would be able to fully understand it and because the average American will quickly dismiss it as "a cartoon," or some perverted tentacle movie. And when it finally does make the transition to the mainstream, it'll be butchered, or at least indeterminably delayed, to be mindlessly devoured by the public. The other side of me realizes that this growth is exactly what anime needs, in order to generate greater interest and greater income. This, in turn, will help more titles come to the U.S. and let people on this side of the Pacific experience anime as more than just a curiosity. And I'm hard-pressed to adopt one argument over the other, balancing the goal of preserving the anime against the spreading of interest.
But, once I take a closer look, I realize that my elitist attitude towards anime is sustained by a realization that I don't care whether or not the general public will be able to appreciate anime here. Because I've seen what happens to anime that goes mainstream. It gets edited to remove death scenes, dubbed to remove the Japanese voice actors and to increase general appeal, and the translations are skewed to reflect American idiosyncrasies. What happened to the Japanese culture? It's pushed to the side. It's enough for some people to realize that the anime was originally Japanese. They don't need, or want, any more. They aren't willing, or able, to appreciate the culture that lies behind the entire genre, nor are they willing to see anime as more than just a cartoon. They don't understand the cultural references, and they can't see the deep-thinking themes that often lie behind the plot lines. It's this intolerance and ignorance that drives me away from supporting the concept of bringing anime to the mainstream. Perhaps there are those of you who are foaming at the mouth at my generalizations, insisting that all of my preconceptions are based on falsehoods and stereotypes, but, thus far, nothing has happened to change those broad opinions about the general public. And until that something happens, I don't think American society will be capable of accepting anime as it is, and as it should be.