Before anime, there was Manga! And it was blowing your mind into the 21st century…
In a time when no one knew what the hell anime was in the UK, or perhaps more cynically when marketers assumed ‘anime’ would be more difficult to remember or pronounce, Manga Video was a video label formed by Island World Communications in an attempt to capitalise on Akira’s success in the early 1990s. As they were treading into untested territory, they had to establish a clear statement as to what the company was about. As a result, virtually every release by Manga Video on VHS was headed by a minute-long intro to get viewers into the mood for whatever title they’d bought.
For better or worse this clip became a defining moment for a certain generation of fans. The tabloid-grabbing tentacle porn and obscene violence were what anime was all about back then, and the stereotype was only knocked on the head when Pokemon arrived on the scene and gave everyone epileptic fits.
This is all old news and people have been through it enough times already, but I thought it’d be fun to break the clip down anyway for those less familiar or the nostalgia-heads. The clip is made from 6 different titles, which also formed the initial batch of Manga’s releases in the UK. They were:
Dominion Tank Police (OVAs 1-4)
Fist of the North Star (1986 movie)
It’s quite a strong line up of titles, most of which are still well regarded 20 years later (sorry Odin…). The famous ‘What’s happening’ line at the end of the clip is from the old Streamline dub of Akira, and the music was from the intro of a track called ‘The Heart Beneath’ by Celtic Frost.
…that’s pretty much all I wanted to talk about it. It’s an iconic thing from a certain age, and conjures up images of a time when anime was a bit more crazy, swear-filled and unpredictable. Of course things have moved on, but this was given decade to burn itself into fandom’s collective brain, so it seems cruel not to give it a bit of recognition today.