Home / News Articles / Author Roland Kelts shares some of the raw experiences that are the basis for his book, Japanamerica
The New York Anime Festival 2008 was this past weekend at the Jacob K. Javtis Convention Center. The New York Anime Festival is one of the biggest anime conventions in North America with visitors and guests from all over the world. One of the highlights for Pokemon fans was a voice actor panel featuring Veronica Taylor, Rachael Lillis, and Lisa Ortiz.

Later on during the convention, author Roland Kelts shared some of his experiences that were the basis for his book, Japanamerica, which covers why Pokemon is so popular and how it became popular in America. He also covered the original Shogakukan/4Kids deal which was signed for only $10 Million Dollars. Below are excerpts from Ed Liu's article.

logoKelts began his discussions with the Pokémon phenomenon, when the game and cartoon exploded on the American consciousness in 1996. He also briefly digressed to relay the tale of how 4Kids' Al Kahn managed to get the Japanese owners of Pokémon to sign over subsidiary rights in return for a paltry $10 million, mostly because Pokémon's Japanese owners at Shogakukan had no legal team on staff to process the thick contract and didn't understand what they were signing away. Kelts related that Shogakukan's Masakazu Kubo told him, "That was our fault. If you do business with another country, you have to learn how that other country does business," even though this simple mistake ultimately cost them millions of dollars.

In Kelts' view, Pokémon introduced a American children to a distinct style of animated storytelling that had several easily identifiable characteristics. The first was that illustrations were based on line, rather than shading or depth-perception.

PhotoKelts also stated that Pokémon, like many other Japanese cartoons, was fundamentally not rooted in a biological reality. No matter how exaggerated they may be, Bugs Bunny is recognizably a rabbit and Mickey Mouse is recognizably a mouse, but the pocket monsters of Pokémon and other Japanese cartoons are divorced from reality entirely.

This, in turn, enabled Pokémon to engage in a serialized/never-ending saga that is also firmly rooted in much older Japanese art forms, such as the episodic Genji Monogatari (a candidate for the world's first novel).

This first generation of kids raised on Pokémon (and other seminal TV shows such as Dragon Ball Z) got addicted to these things, and this in turn led some to explore Japanese culture in great depth. Kelts pointed out that Japan is unique among modern industrialized nations in that it has retained a striking amount of its traditional culture.
The full article is available on Toon Zone.

Sources: http://news.toonzone.net/article.php?ID=26349 & http://www.nyanimefestival.com/