The evolution of the fur genre. From fighting monsters to space opera. Part one (Topic)

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The evolution of the fur genre. From fighting monsters to space opera. Part one


One of the things that comes to mind when thinking about anime and Japan is mechs. Huge robots that fight other huge robots or monsters. It's hard to deny the great influence this genre has on anime in general. And although today it is very doubtful, we will analyze what the history of the fur genre is.

The origin of the genre and what does World War II have to do with it?

The fur genre is rooted in the very history of the origin of anime and manga, and was influenced by the Second World War. After all, the consequences of the two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan affected not only the lives of the Japanese themselves, but also their future culture.

The "proto representative" of the genre was the short manga "Electric Octopus", written back in 1940, which told about a manned octopus robot. The pioneer of the fur genre was Osamu Tezuka's manga "Astro Boy", which was first published in 1952. Tezuka put into his work the experiences of all peoples who were exhausted after World War II, and his hatred of war. Today "Astroboy" does not look like a representative of fur in our understanding, but it was he who laid the foundations for the genre.

The manga about Astroboy inspired Mitsutora Yokoyami to write really the very first fur of the Tetsujin 28th published in 1956. The story told about the boy Chatoro, who remotely controls a 20-meter robot left by his father. The robot was created by the Japanese government to win the fictional Pacific War. In 1963, the television series Tetsujin 28-go was released from the manga.

Like Osamu Tezuka, Yokoyama put his memories of the war into the work, and laid in it the message that huge mechanical super-robots, like nuclear bombs, are not evil or good in their essence. What they will be depends on who they will be in. After that, interest in huge robots will continue until the 70s, and then it will begin to grow even more.

Fur Explosion

Today we would call it a trend, or hype, but in the 70s it was simply described as an "explosion of interest." Then the first representatives of the classics of anime fur appeared, who began to bring and develop new ideas.

In 1972, the anime "Mazinger Z" appeared from under the hand of Go Nagai, where a robot piloted from the inside was shown for the first time. Today, thanks to this picture, we determine what is fur and what is not. The era of giant super-robots with flying fists and lasers in their chests has arrived, defeating new opponents every week. The anime series Getter Robo [1974], Grendizer [1975], Kombuttler Vee [1976], which appeared a little later, but inherited the Mazinger Z anime series, have entrenched the concept of the "villain of the week", which will then migrate to Western TV series on for a long time [for example, the X-Files were published on the same concept].

Vivid images of robots were directed to the children's audience. Then marketing noticed this and the first toys for these anime appeared. As a result, anime furs were made to sell them to children. For better or worse, the genre is still heavily entrenched in merchandising, which determines the success of a series by the number of robot figures sold.

The anime of that time has a clear pattern: an alien civilization attacks the Earth, some professor creates a huge robot and gathers a team of teenagers that will control it. The main character, as a rule, is a relative of this professor. This concept could not last long, because all projects were monotonous and the genre soon fizzled out.

Towards the end of the decade, the first attempts at change were Chou Denji Machine Voltes V [1977] and Tousho Daimos [1979], where the classic black and white distribution [aliens are evil, and defenders are good] was erased. The saboteurs of the conflict became the real antagonists. But really relaunched the genre, and became a phenomenon that continues to this day, "Gandam".

Realistic robots

After the appearance of "Gundam" in 1979, the fur genre split into two subgroups "super robots" and "realistic robots". It was a kind of evolution of the fur genre. In "Gandam" robots were shown precisely as realistic - real machines for war. It was an anime about fictional people in a fictional war that showed everything seriously. There was no battle against absolutely evil alien robots, but a real confrontation of people against people in "tanks with legs and arms", which were mass-produced.

And although the conflict in the anime was shown one-sidedly, we knew the motives of each of the opposing forces. This concept was revolutionary, as well as the fact that the hero was not a teenager, but a young, adult guy who fell into a world unfamiliar to him. And if you think it sounds similar to what you've seen in recent robot anime, then it was Gundam that gave birth to that.

His adult themes had nothing to do with simple 70s anime fur plots. This caused a strange phenomenon. The show was so mature that it was canceled. After all, often the fur was intended for children to buy toys. The adults just didn't take this genre seriously. And when the Mobile Suit Gundam appeared, it was difficult to sell toys for it, since the children did not want to buy them. The funny thing is that the RX-78-2 Gundam robot received its legendary coloring only for the sake of an attractive appearance of merchandising.

He returned and received recognition only in 1982, when three compiled films were released. It was then that he had as strong an influence on the offshoot of realistic robots as Mazinger Z once had on super robots. New series began to appear with original ideas that intrigue. And super-robots receded into the background, giving way to the beginning of a kind of renaissance.

It was then that titles related to an irresistible future appeared, where humanity produces robots in series, and also conquers outer space with their help. Since 1982, Gundam followers have emerged as Fang of the Sun Dagram [1982], Macross Hyperspace Fortress [1982], Wotoma's Armored Wars [1983], and Future Police [1988].

And now a lyrical digression. I will spoil my own stuff a bit, but in the future we will break down the concept and history of idols [or idals, whatever you like]. And the funny thing is that it was in "Macross Hyperspace Fortress" that they first appeared. Back then, hardly anyone knew that anime about realistic mechs would give birth to damn idals. And Shoji Kawamori, the Mech designer of the Macross Hyperspace Fortress, will become famous as one of the most popular robot creators.

The genre has become central to anime culture. Today we consume every isekai, stupid harem and everyday life, and before robots set fashion. Alas, even in spite of the cool concept, all this led to the same thing as in the 70s - a glut of the market, a decline in its popularity and a decline in the quality of TV shows at the end of the 80s.

Once again, the ground is ripe for the revolution, which was Hideaki Anno. He started his career in the industry working on the anime Space Battleship Yamato and Hyperspace Fortress Macross, but as a director he made his directorial debut not even with his first work, Royal Troopers, but with the mech title Gunbuster: Reach for Heaven. In it, Anno blended together classic super-robot motifs with serious themes that rose up in realistic anime furs. Over time, it is this association that will become defining for the genre.

The 80s were coming to an end and at the beginning of the new decade, the genre began an identity crisis. Mechs have ceased to adhere to the concepts of a dystopian military future, or fighting aliens, as it was before. The nineties were at times of experiments, during which the genre was popularized all over the world.

But we will talk about this already in the second part of the material about the history of the anime genre of fur.

The Topic of Article: The evolution of the fur genre. From fighting monsters to space opera. Part one.
Author: Jake Pinkman