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Of All Things Nelvana and Card Captor (Sakura?)

August 9, 1999

It is a sad day for anime fans, for the worst has come to pass. On August 12, 1999, Nelvana Limited announced the acquisition of Card Captor Sakura as the series Card Captor. Not one mention is made to the quality of the series, and how children all over Japan enjoy it. Not one mention is even made of the creators, CLAMP, or their cute manga that spawned it all. All that is mentioned is the money-making potential of the series, and how Cardcaptor is poised to be a "highly-visible and successful merchandising brand." Never mind the show itself, which is probably going to be mangled into unrecognizably.

Fellow anime fans, we have a new martyr to North American commercialism, and it is our beloved Kinomoto Sakura, soon to be renamed "Niki" for our consumption. Nelvana doesn't care about the quality of a show, as long as it has a "strong potential to build our merchandising revenues and profits.'' Their foray into the "exciting world of ``Anime''" is as sad as you can get. Never mind that it's a window into another culture, that it's entertaining and charming. It's "well-received and profitable", and that's the bottom line.

Not that Nelvana has a very good track of keeping things authentic. Elfquest was almost turned into a downright cloying kiddie show, rather than the epic saga it is. Leetah, for example, actually had a skin-tone change planned, because mixed-race marriages were taboo. Never mind this was in the late 1980s... And this company hasn't really done much since to raise our expectations of it.

Even DiC, FUNimation, and 4Kids have made attempts to keep their respective shows as close to the originals as deemed possible. Sailor Moon didn't have nearly as much chopped out as we thought it would, and it retained much of the plot and characterization. Dragon Ball Z didn't even have name changes! They remained Goku, Gohan, and Trunks - very little of that anime was really changed by release. And Pokemon is actually very faithfully done.

Card Captor, though, brings the state of anime in America straight back to the 1980s with its blatant "Americanization". Nelvana apparently doesn't care about what anime fans want, anyway - that's not their audience to begin with. They want to make money off the children of America with toys based on some marketable show from Japan, because anime is "exciting" and popular. They seem to think Card Captor will make them the Pokemon billion by virtue of simply having cards (which aren't even part of a game, but more a magical tarot deck than anything). It's downright sickening, and Nelvana really shows its ignorance.

Nelvana has no right to be releasing anime in North America, but apparently, money talks more than actual artistic integrity here. Nelvana hasn't even produced anything of note in the last decade. Can you remember anything important distributed or created by Nelvana in the '90s? *cricket chirp* I didn't think so. Anime fans ought to be incensed by this blatant travesty. It's bad enough that once-reputable companies are throwing out half-hearted dub jobs because they know it will sell with the trendy club-kid crowd, who seem to have adopted "anime" as the "with-it" thing to do...but to do this to an anime as charming and beloved as Card Captor Sakura (oh wait, she's Niki now) is purely unforgivable.

It's events like this that are making it hard for us to be *genuine* anime fans here in America. We're surrounded by the specter of anime every day, but it's been commercialized and altered to such an unrecognizable form that it breaks our hearts to see it. Seeing DBZ and Sailor Moon to sell skateboards and drug paraphernalia is simply disgusting. And most of the people wearing the trendy "anime" baby-T's don't even know which series or what characters are emblazoned on their shirts. (Case in point: a Saber Marionette J baby-T encountered on ASU campus - she bought it at Urban Outfitters for $20 because "it looked cool". She had no clue there was a TV show based on the characters at all.) People don't even attempt to go beyond a surface "appreciation" of the anime "look" to find out what it actually stands for, and Nelvana simply reinforces it with its business-only announcement of Card Captor.

Well, they're not getting any money from me. I know that's a small thing to say in the world of business, but I have never wanted to boycott a company so much as now. The moment I saw CCS for the first time off my third-generation fansubs, it was pure magic. And it still is. But I refuse to contribute to the bastardization of anime in America. And neither should anyone else.

I'm not a fan of anime because it's "hip" or "edgy". I will restate this again: anime is a *medium* which is a reflection of Japanese society, good or bad. And it's a great way to tell a story. But when I see Americans dismissing it as just something cool-looking to wear out at the raves, it sickens me to no end. This is not the future I wanted anime to have in America...and I hope the fad dies soon. I don't care if I have to go to Japan to get my anime now, but I'll be DAMNED if I sit back and watch as North American pop culture destroys yet another art form in the name of the almighty dollar.

How dare you, Nelvana. Card Captor Sakura is not a jewel to be plundered. It is a genuine gem in the art of animation to be appreciated for what it is, and not for its profit value. I seriously doubt CLAMP was thinking about money when they first started the manga, and you shouldn't be only thinking money as you go into this project. We want genuine quality in our Japanese animation, not some recombined mess that you deem appropriate. Must you sacrifice Sakura, and Japanese culture, in this way?

I'll just buy the import LDs and skip this nonsense altogether. I refuse to feed my hard-earned money to this monster of commercialism.

- Carlos Ross


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