Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down

When advertisers and sponsors first became involved in the anime business, it was tentative and haphazard. Masaki Tsuji reports phone early calls arriving at TV Asahi from pencil manufacturers and card companies, who wanted to stick some of the earliest 1960s characters on their merchandise. When he picked up the phone, he realised that, quite by accident, the TV channel completely owned the relevant rights in Eightman. By the time of Sailor Moon, interests in tie-ins had ballooned to such an extent that one beleaguered Bandai official complained he had “literally no time to go to the toilet” when the phone was ringing. Literally…?

But how can sponsors get returns on their investment, apart from advertising in the commercial breaks? There is, of course, simple product placement, where cans of soft drink, storefronts and even blatant advertising billboards are placed in-shot. This is mostly harmless, although if you have a fantasy film like Berserk, it’s difficult to have the cast setting aside their roast dolphin for a Happy Meal. In such cases, extra artwork is often generated, such as the Lotteria tie-up campaign, which featured the powerful mercenary Guts and albino general Griffith tucking into a hamburger and a milkshake. The androgynous Griffith was also depicted with a shopping bag over his shoulder, looking like a Lady Who Lunches, in a campaign for a department store.

But some anime go beyond product placement into context integration – imagine a hypothetical anime movie, let’s call it Schoolgirl Milky Crisis Goes to London, where five minutes are set aside for characters to travel on a well-known airline, and then get mixed up trying to locate their hotel, causing them to repeat its name a dozen times. But this has been going on in anime for decades, most notably with the Gundam series, for which a company wanted its toys to be part of the story. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto once called Yoshiyuki Tomino the “pro’s pro”, for being able to take such behind-the-scenes demands and to fashion them into a story that still entertained the viewers. It’s being able to still be creative, amid such immovable limitations, that contributes to the unique look and style of anime.

Jonathan Clements is the author of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade. This article first appeared in NEO #106, 2012.

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Festivals and Preserving Film

The Manga UK podcast is back for its ninth episode, in which Jeremy Graves heads for Glasgow to talk with Andrew Partridge of Scotland Loves Anime, Hugh David, formerly of ADV Films, and Jonathan Clements of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis about film festivals, Japanese premieres and the drama of bringing old television shows back to life.

01:00 What does Scotland Loves Anime have to do with swans? The perils of scheduling a film premiere only three days after the Japanese finish making it. Includes the terms: “human playthings”, “community” and “Volkswagen.”

07:00 Last week’s Edinburgh University symposium on soft power and Cool Japan last week, and the controversial revelations of Shinji Oyama. 15:00 The Glasgow Film Theatre and the atmosphere therein. Comparisons with Fright Fest and Sci-Fi London. Takashi Miike and Ace Attorney. Hidden messages in K-on. Includes the words “can of worms,” “transvestites,” and “dog poo.”

egg_of_the_king.jpg27:00 The Judge’s Award and jury management. The long-term effects of Anime UK magazine. The Berserk movies, worldbuilding and fantasy adaptations. K-on the Movie and the spectacle of London. Naoko Yamada and the research that went into the film. Includes the words “bummed,” “balloons” and “retro-Nazi mutants.”

40:00 Hugh David, formerly of ADV Films, discusses the trials and tribulations of film restoration at Network DVD. The phasing-out of film and its impact on archives and retrospectives. Why has there never been a dub of the original Gunbuster? Why do archivists put tapes in the oven? Macross Plus and its unexpected function as an ashtray. Censored footage in Rock & Roll Cop and From Russia With Love. Shooting “day for night” and the colour-timing of James Bond movies. Includes the words “electrodes,” “sympathy” and “Nigella.”

61:00 Ask Manga UK. Twinings Tea adverts and their role in anime history. Hiroyuki Yamaga’s advice on becoming a film director. The unlikely connection between Goodfellas and Schindler’s List. An unexpected appearance by Jeremy’s boss Jerome Mazandarani (or is it…?). The resale value of digital media. Include the words “Hitler,” “iTunes,” and “daggers.”

Available to download now, or find it and an archive of previous shows at our iTunes page. For a detailed contents listing of previous podcasts, check out our Podcasts page.