Anime Vice News

Japan is Learning to Love American Superheroes

Thanks mostly to Hollywood-- but there's interesting impact for anime and manga fans.


 Astro Boy (created 1952)
 Astro Boy (created 1952)

 Superman (created 1938)
 Superman (created 1938)
Traditionally, Japan hasn't been very interested in American superheroes, either. After all, with a constantly rotating cast of heroes, from Astro Boy to Cutey Honey to Kenshiro to Goku to Naruto, America's long-running hero comics might sound a bit stodgy (to contrast, the longest-running manga and anime in Japan are usually kid-friendly titles like Doraemon and Sazae-san). I've heard it said-- by people who would know --that most of Batman's fans in Japan are mangaka, rather than mainstream audiences. Of course, that was before The Dark Knight!

See, Japan has always been interested in Hollywood movies on some level, and the recent spate of popular superhero flicks like X-Men, Iron Man, and the Christian Bale Batman movies have clearly done a lot to build up interest in those franchises in Japan.


The latest evidence of this is that the NHK is bringing back Domo-kun, who has been growing in popularity in the west thanks to TOKYOPOP and Dark Horse, and giving him a superhero transformation, complete with superhero suit and utility belt. He can also fly with his special shoes and has gloves that give him super-strength punches.

But that's just one piece of the puzzle. A trailer for the new Stan Lee-branded anime series Heroman, which starts this April, has launched, and it looks pretty good-- sort of a fusion between mech and superhero in theme. It'll be very interesting to see how the series performs, given that its design is very heavy in Americana (particularly the mech itself, which is decked out like the American flag, as though Stephen Colbert's TV persona was involved somehow). 
 
  
  
And then, of course, there's the upcoming Iron Man anime due out this season, one of five projects that Marvel and Madhouse are working on (including Wolverine, Blade, and the X-Men, as well as a direct-to-DVD Hulk anime).
  
  
Quite a few of you came here from superhero-lovin' sister site Comic Vine. How do you feel about Japan's growing interest? And how interested are you in all these superhero projects?    
metalsnakezeroon March 8, 2010 at 8:54 a.m.
It's nice that people around the world are interested in over seas heroes and I wont mind them trying to do their take on the characters with their for form. I just hope they do a good job with it.
Kuma_From_Argentinaon March 8, 2010 at 9:24 a.m.
Considering how Anime is giving inspiration to half the western Animation Studios I think It's a fair trade...
JackSukeruon March 8, 2010 at 9:40 a.m.
Wow, that Heroman trailer looked pretty good. 
 
So are they using English lyrics for the Japanese version? or was that an english trailer?
ryozakiLon March 8, 2010 at 9:42 a.m.
hey am i the only one getting a guyver vibe from heroman ???
cfatalison March 8, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.
@ryozakiL said:
" hey am i the only one getting a guyver vibe from heroman ??? "
no, not really same feeling here
 
anyone still remember ultimo?
giaon March 8, 2010 at 10:25 a.m.
@cfatalis: Of course I do! I was trying to focus on upcoming stuff, but I probably should have mentioned it :)
cfatalison March 8, 2010 at 10:29 a.m.
@gia: you rememberd everything, just asking to some others, the story is a bit forgettable, due to a lot of character getting introduced
 
oh and ultimo have a prototype manga, it's called Jumbor
sora_thekey moderator on March 8, 2010 at 2:42 p.m.

I like collaboration... for entretainment purposes! 
 
It's awesome!
N15PCAon March 8, 2010 at 3:47 p.m.

I think reason why Comics book heros from the west are starting to get foot hold in Japan in the western comic books are get more adult themes in the Comic Book movies live action, cartoon, comic books themselfs. 
 
Japan Manga with though that Tranformation back the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Let hope they are more crossover works that keep happing  between Manga/Comic books so that way in the end we all win. 
Addfwynon March 8, 2010 at 4:46 p.m.
I've never gotten into western superheros, there was always some quality with them that didn't quite click with me.  Especially stuff like Superman (he can do so much it is boring) or Batman (he is...just a rich guy).  Some of the bit more interesting ones included the X-Men series of heros, but I never really got into that series either.  Just too long a franchise to really break into, same problem I have with long running manga series.
Konandaon March 8, 2010 at 6:13 p.m.

Ironman looks pretty decent. I really enjoyed the Batman: Gotham Knight animated shorts, which had two of the short films done by Madhouse.

Liminalityon March 8, 2010 at 11:22 p.m.
I don't like it...
cfatalison March 9, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
@Liminality said:
" I don't like it... "
why? some would fit , like that ironman
Liminalityon March 9, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.
@cfatalis said:
" @Liminality said:
" I don't like it... "
why? some would fit , like that ironman "
I don't like western comics (if I see something good, I could like it, but I generally don't like anything) and I'm scared that in the future that might mix even more with the japanese culture.
cfatalison March 9, 2010 at 12:17 a.m.
@Liminality said:
" @cfatalis said:
" @Liminality said:
" I don't like it... "
why? some would fit , like that ironman "
I don't like western comics (if I see something good, I could like it, but I generally don't like anything) and I'm scared that in the future that might mix even more with the japanese culture. "
well this is more like trying anyway, it wouldn't mix that much, i think we would still get the ordinary anime besides the mixed production one
HawkofLighton March 9, 2010 at 2:08 a.m.
 
I really like what there doing with Iron Man, but if anyone has seen the Wolverine anime trailer, it looks bad. Real bad. I hope most of the American super hero animes they come out with turn out like the Gotham Kight shorts. Those were greate.
Boddingtonon March 9, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.
Well, the animation is pretty clean, though trailers never really show how the final product will actually look. I did enjoy how that jackbooted fascist guy revealed his true form by exploding out of his skin like a Bubblegum Crisis boomer. Memories of the 80s...
daotherkenjion March 11, 2010 at 7:01 a.m.
First a good story is a good story no matter what culture it comes from. I live in the Us, and I had no idea what anime was a year ago and now a day does not go by when I don't watch at least an episode of something. And the same can if the western shows good. But honestly, I think one of these projects has to be eye opening like Cowboy bebop if any other western show is going to make it.  
Also, I think nobody cared for western comics because they were made with children in mind. Thats one of the main reasons I started watching anime, I got older and noticed that it was really all about selling toys and games and not about the story at all. Few of the western superhero shows had actual character development like Batman TAS, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, and Justice League. Thats Capitalism for you.
Charagonon March 11, 2010 at 8:26 a.m.
Hopefully Japan will be a good source of super hero stories when the Marvel and DC finally collapse their comic book universes onto themselves. :(

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