From Castlevania To Cannon Busters – How American Creators Are Changing Anime

by Tito W. James

The landscape of anime is changing as evidenced by the success of series like Castlevania and Cannon Busters. Anime has transcended its original meaning of “limited animation produced in Japan.” Now anime has become more globalized not only in its audience but also its means of production.

The aforementioned shows are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to American involvement in anime creation. Castlevania producer, Adi Shankar also has plans for anime adaptations for Assassins Creed and Devil May Cry. Cannon Busters creator, LeSean Thomas, is also developing an anime about Yasuke; Japan’s real life black samurai.

And the list goes on! Here are some of the other American anime being produced: Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Zack Snyder’s Norse Mythology anime, Gods & Heroes, Altered Carbon: Resleeved, and Pacific Rim.

What does American involvement mean for anime? Well, notably these shows are not constrained to the tropes and trends of the contemporary anime landscape. Just because it’s anime doesn’t mean it has to be about cute high school girls.

What’s also interesting is how the cross-cultural collaboration could reshape American cartoons. Castlevania and Cannon Busters are original, narrative-driven, animated shows by American creators, geared for mature audiences. However, that fact seems to have slipped under the radar seeing as the shows are being branded, coded, and marketed as anime. And anime has been known for its use of mature storytelling for over 30 years.

Now these American produced anime might become the avenue for more narrative-focused, mature animated shows. Animation houses might find it difficult to market cartoons for adults but when they call it “anime” and the cartoon looks like anime, they know they are reaching a teen-plus audience.

Whatever the future holds, I’ll be interested to see how this new wave of content develops.

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