Monday, February 07, 2005

Doing 'Japanese-influenced properties,' old school?

Using the Feb. 20-23 American International Toy Fair as a faint news hook, Bandai America issues an odd press release reminding us that the company was anime when anime wasn't cool (if I may paraphrase Barbara Mandrell). Or something like that:
As U.S. toymakers prepare to unveil their latest offerings at the American International Toy Fair in New York City, one trend is evident -- Japanese-influenced properties and designs are all the rage. Nearly every major toy manufacturer has a brand that can be traced back to the land of the rising sun -- or has been heavily influenced by Japanese culture and "anime" -- the term for the distinct form of animation from that nation.

... Bandai America Incorporated, which not only produces toys for Power Rangers, but also the popular Teen Titans, Gundam, Tamagotchi and Strawberry Shortcake properties in the United States, is more than happy to quench American audiences' thirst for this recent cultural explosion. "Power Rangers is a proven phenomenon in this country because the toys and the TV show work together to translate the brand's theme of teamwork and good versus evil," said Bill Beebe, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Bandai America Inc.

"We introduced the Gundam action figure model kits in the United States six years ago, and together with the animated TV series on Cartoon Network, Gundam consistently finds new die hard fans in this country who carefully follow the brand's intricate and dramatic storyline each season," said Sandra Leo of Bandai America Inc.