There’s been lots of chat of the impact of the Naruto anime on sales of the manga, which seems to be significant. Tom Spurgeon makes an interesting point when he notes that there’s rarely very much critical discussion of the property:
“The unfortunate thing about a mainstream comics-oriented mindset that doesn’t easily embrace a hit like this is that Naruto is clever and accomplished, well-written in terms of escalating drama and linking character interaction to plot lines, and features the recurring visceral thrill of ninjas punching and stabbing each other a great deal of the time in very expressively drawn and not particularly groove-on-the-violence fashion. I don’t think it’s a transcendent work or an artistically significant one, but its virtues are rare enough I can’t help feeling it would be nice if it more easily popped to mind when the discussions turned in its general direction. Not that it needs the boost.”
I’ve only read a couple of chapters of the manga in some issues of Shonen Jump, and I tend to hit the clicker when the anime comes on, because the register and volume of some of the voice work puts every mammal in my household on edge. The manga seems appealing enough, though, and it’s a title that always hovers on my “I should try that sometime” list. (Unfortunately, that list is pretty long.)
For a look at things from the other side of the equation, pop by Newsarama for the latest Animated Shorts. Steve Fritz talks to Cartoon Network VP Terry Kalagain, who oversees programming not actually produced by CN (Naruto, Zatch Bell, etc.). There’s nothing terribly surprising here (Naruto = cha-ching!), but it’s a nice overview. Kalagain talks about the Toonami block, the ratings performance of the Miyazaki films (To the person who once suggested to me that I should avoid the dubbed version of My Neighbor Totoro, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you.), and politely evades questions about what new properties might be coming to a television near you.
She also disappoints me deeply when asked about the prospect of some shôjo programming:
“Well, you never say never, but I don’t think so. We did some testing and those kinds of shows just don’t do well in the U.S. Honestly, all around the world it’s been proven that girl-oriented properties never do as well as boy, specifically the anime. Now what’s interesting is a show like Totally Spies, which most people aimed for girls, actually does very well with boys. We have 15 new episodes of that starting in April.”
I think I remember reading elsewhere that CN already has a substantial audience of girls and women for its Toonami programming, so I guess it isn’t surprising that they don’t see the need to delve into that product niche. And I can always get Fruits Basket DVDs from Netflix. (I would actually find it pretty uplifting if it turned out that girls don’t generally like Totally Spies, because the characters are mostly vapid, shallow, and even more stereotypical than the Charlie’s Angels troika usually engenders.)