Well, it’s been a long time since I cared about Animax-Asia again. For so long, this anime channel has never changed much in terms of its dubbing policies and prowess, showing yes, the same quality that caused a lot of my complaints over the course of this episodic drama. I didn’t care anymore what kind of anime is being shown there and even in our own local anime channels. I guess I really just ended my anime-on-TV watching altogether, in favor of digital distributions and DVDs. I do admit though that this channel, and all others showing anime series locally, have really contributed to the popularity of this kind of entertainment as a whole in our country. Nowadays I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if someone comes up to me and mentions certain “niche” series, the NOT NARUTOS and NOT BLEACHES of genres. I think even the sometimes-talked about ‘elitism’ within groups of anime fans seems to be blurring itself away as well. Nowadays I don’t think other people would say that some anime will just be “bastardized” or it will lose its niche appeal once it comes on TV to be shown to the mainstream. I think people now appreciate that they have a vast selection of shows to choose from on TV. Choice is good.
Let me focus on what’s happening on local TV first. There’s a new player in town, well actually an older player, local channel TV5. Since the new management change, the channel has revived its anime primetime block. This will be the first time in 5 or so years that anime can be seen on evening, because the other major channels have trashed this idea in favor of more lucrative markets like gameshows, the usual teleseryes and more meh reality series. TV5 goes a step further, with its anime selection seemingly and surprisingly relevant to the very discerning anime fan. Maybe their staff are anime fans too, probably knowing about the fansub and internet world and also what’s critically acclaimed and popular in anime. From classics like Ranma 1/2, mild hits like Special A, DNAngel, and Ragnarok to REALLY good stuff like Azumanga Daioh, Shakugan no Shana, Code Geass, and Cowboy Bebop, this is really a powerhouse lineup that trumps even the 24-hour anime cable channel selections. Whatever I sampled about their dubbing is not bad, and they even completely show the openings and endings. The guys at TV5 know their stuff, and I say kudos to them for this excellent alternative programming especially in competitive times. A few more mentions though. QTV selection is quite decent as well, but they show anime on some odd and unpopular schedules. ABS-CBN and GMA has yawn-inducing reruns and kid-focused new anime. Studio 23 still shows the ever-antique Samurai X, but at least it’s picking up pace with Blood+ (original English dub, quite rare) and the upcoming Gun X Sword. Hero TV is as usual, nothing to report, although as a bishoujo anime fan I’m rather surprised to see some bishoujo game based anime there (Kiminozo, Happiness and Da Capo).
Now, let’s go to the meat, Animax-Asia. It really had been stagnant for quite a while. They have the same good-to-average-to-poor dubbing quality and they still hire the same voice dubbers for the job, all these years. Everytime I channel-surf in random, when it comes to Animax-Asia, I would say “OMG they show this anime now? But meh, dubbing as usual.” There are also lame attempts at capturing new markets. I think they tried some magazine shows, featuring stuff I wouldn’t normally see in an anime-focused channel. They have quirky Takeshi’s Castle-style Japanese game shows too. I don’t see Music Station often there anymore, have they canned their jpop music show? They also do specials for Hollywood geek shows and movies in sci-fi and comic genres. Finally, they have their own original anime production. I think a Filipino wrote the script of LaMB, which is quite nice but it’s not my genre.
And more confusion, as some anime (like Slam Dunk) are being shown BOTH on dubs and original Japanese with subtitles in different time schedules. What’s up with that? Old AXN anime fans haunting them? Trying to win back the audience they lost (me included)? Well, this may be a start. Another nice anime selection, Nodame Cantabile, is being shown ‘exclusively’ in original Japanese with English subtitles. Considering the content of this popular shoujo anime, it is rather logical to show it on subs, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they give it their lame dub treatment someday. I really hope not. This is positive news moving forward. They have returned to their roots, although I initially thought that they are just testing the waters.
But this is where it really begins. The other major, and this time it’s rather MAJOR, change in Animax-Asia is the announcement of not only one, but two new anime premieres in the original Japanese with English subtitles format. Good, more subs for the sub-loving audience they want to return to. But wait, there’s more to this. When I mean new anime, I mean NEW, as in fresh in Japan. As in SIMULTANEOUS PREMIERES! SIMULCAST!
Tears to Tiara and the new Fullmetal Alchemist will be shown on Animax-Asia in the original Japanese language with English subtitles. Tears to Tiara will be completely simulcast on the same time schedule in Japan… you can literally watch the episode at the same time Japanese fans can watch it. Fullmetal Alchemist episodes will show a mere week later from its Japanese counterpart. I think that this is, really, historic.
While Crunchyroll already does this in its internet distribution, these are firsts for television. I think they have reached a maximum-possible turnabout for anime premieres. To think that some time ago, we still need to wait a year or two for anime to appear on television sets, now we (English-literate anime fans) can have same-second entertainment the way the Japanese gets entertained. This is also a direct challenge to the gray-area (pirated if you see it that way) anime fansub scene, because really, is there any need (other than private collecting) for Tears to Tiara fansubs now? Not that I predict that show is worth it. I like Leaf/Aquaplus game based anime but I don’t follow their fantasy pieces (Utawaremono included) as much as To Heart and White Album stuff. Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood though, this is the BIG one. If the old series had so much critical acclaim even with its complete diversion from the manga, what more with this when they said that the new anime will faithfully follow the manga this time? New episodes premiere in six days. Only speedsub lovers would dig the fansubs now. Even I prefer marathon runs especially on shounen pieces like these, so recap marathons on the channel would be welcome to me.
This is really the next step, a huge one for anime fans like me. Along with internet distributions and rapid DVD releases, Japanese anime companies are finally seeing the international market, and that they can cater to them by showing them the absolute latest of what they can offer. They also know now that they can reduce potential piracy by doing so. I hope that this is only the beginning. I don’t think Animax-Asia will rest on their laurels now that they have more positive mindshare coming from me, sub fans, fansub viewers, FMA fans, Tears to Tiara fans (however few lolz), and all others in the mainstream. This can only continue with MORE simulcast premieres right? I hope that you guys can muster some time to give them positive feedback, maybe by e-mail, guestbook, or blogging, showing our appreciation for this wonderful news (so we can have moar of this). Even with the recession, well, “in fact” with this recession, innovation will be something that will drive things forward, create new markets and energize the economy. This is innovative television programming. I am truly looking forward to this, as I can finally have a reason to turn the TV on for anime, delivered the way I like it. Finally, something new. WELCOME BACK!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 1: The end of Animax-Asia? Too sudden!?
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 2: Cardcaptured.
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 3: Trying to Adjust
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 4: Towards the 1st Anniversary
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 5: I gave up on Animax-Asia
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 6: One year since
Animax-Asiaâ€¦ Dubbed in English - Episode 7: Dubbed in Filipino?!?
Animax-Asiaâ€¦ Dubbed in English - Episode 7.5: Initial D Filipino Stage
Animax-Asiaâ€¦ Dubbed in English - Episode 8: More Pain
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 9: Now in blue
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 10: Fake Revival
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 11: Something New
Animax-Asia... Dubbed in English - Episode 12: Red with anger