Toys! You like to pose their arms and legs, turn their heads, aim their guns and slash their swords. With more points of articulation than you can count, today’s toys are more appealing than the static, fixed pose statues that they are replacing. We are moving forward with toys making intelligent decisions regarding artful sculpting of details versus poseability.
The past few years in Japan have seen a sharp rise the production of action figures parallel with the high production of garage and styrene kits. Many of these toys are based on popular video games like Tekken, Virtual On, Final Fantasy and Capcom’s Street Fighter and Darkstalkers series. Kids of all ages feel the need to recreate great battles and adventures from their dynamic, interactive experiences with high-end console games rather than settling for another generic looking Gundam robot from an even more generic reinvention of the franchise. The high standard set for video games demands fully animated stories shifting between high-res CGI FMV sequences and playable low-res action scenes like those found in FFVII and Resident Evil 2. Popular anime is more often than not a glorified slide show with static talking heads, brief and often confusingly choreographed fight scenes with heroes and villains panning across colorful background action lines. Anime’s dramatically static style lends itself to the super glued resin arms and busts that need to be drilled to a base to stand. Always short of filling the next season’s schedule anime studios look to video games for inspiration and profitable licensing opportunities. Many anime series are based on video games including Night Warriors, Street Fighter, Pokemon, Magic Knight Rayearth, Tekken, and Final Fantasy. That is not to say that anime has not prostituted itself into the video game streets. Anime to video game always seems like a less successful venture with disappointing interpretations of Dragon Ball, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam and Macross. This licensing fiasco resembles the America’s Hollywood and Silicon Valley failed marriage.
It is more tangible to make the transition from gamepad to action figure than punching play and pause on your VCR’s remote and trying to manufacture light reflections in a garage kit’s eyes. Accessibility is a virtue, you can walk into an arcade and spend as little as fifty cents to have fun with your favorite video game characters and then stop by the toy store on the other side of the mall and pick out those same characters. The anime alternative is less economically viable with the mail order purchase of a $60 import LD for an hour’s entertainment and plopping down at least $70 for a garage kit of the show’s most popular character. Fortunately for fans of everything anime, the paths of video games and anime are entangled indefinitely. The two forms of entertainment have an eternal co-dependence that will never break.
Long live Darkstalkers in the arcade, your PSX console and on OAV DVD!