THE BLACK MOON
ART, ANIME, AND JAPANESE CULTURE
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Pikachu The Japanese spelling of "Pokemon"

In 1997 the Black Moon became one of the primary websites in the Western world to inform people about the little known phenomenon from Japan called Pocket Monsters (or Pokemon as the Japanese call it). We reported on the immensely popular Pokemon anime broadcasts on Japanese television, and helped to break the story when one of those broadcasts resulted in an unfortunate incident. In the winter of '97, hundreds of Japanese television viewers watching Pokemon experienced epileptic seizures because of the stroboscopic flashes of colored lights contained in the episode. Suddenly the West became aware of anime in a big way as newsrooms from London to Los Angeles cast it in a negative light. Finally in February 1999 Warner Bros. broadcast a dubbed, censored, and totally re-written version of the Japanese original on its Kids WB! syndicated broadcasts... and it became an immediate runaway success.

That all seems so long ago now. In the West anime used to be appreciated only by a small circle of affcianados who really loved and cherished the artform and its being a window to the culture of Japan. Now you can purchase anime DVDs at Wallmart of shows that are so heavily edited you would never know they originated from Japan. Rather than remove this page from the Black Moon, we thought we'd leave it on our website as a testiment to more innocent times.

(The article as it appeared, originally written and posted in 1999)

Many people outside of Japan are by now familiar with Pikachu, the cute little fellow pictured above. He's one of the stars in Pokemon, Japan's most popular amusements and now America's number one cartoon show. The video game manufacturer NINTENDO introduced Pokemon to Japan in 1996, and in early 1997 the Black Moon was one of the very first Web sites to inform the Western public about the wonderful world of Pocket Monsters!

Team Rocket!
The premier of Pokemon on U.S. television was a landmark for Japanese animation in North America, and on November the 10th 1999 another giant breakthrough was made with the release of the feature length film Pokemon, the First Movie (titled "Mewtwo Strikes Back" in Japan). Now Japan's 2nd Pokemon movie, Revelation Rugia has been released in the U.S. as "Pokemon 2000"... with yet a 3rd. Pokemon movie now playing in Japan. Some people are now under the false assumption that Pokemon is a creation of the "Kids WB" (an error that Warner Brothers is only too happy to foster). However, real fans of Pokemon know that artist Tajiri Satoshi is the creator of the series, and that more anime, manga, and merchandise for Pokemon exists in Japan than will ever be seen in the West.
There's little doubt that Pokemon has taken the West by storm, but despite it's popularity in the U.S., Japan is still the trend setter, offering the best merchandise from trading cards to plush toys. Sales of Pokemon items have exceeded $4.5 Billion dollars in Japan since 1996. Tokyo and Osaka both have "Pokemon Center" mega-stores where nothing but Pokemon merchandise is carried (a photo of Tokyo's Pokemon Center appears below). Pokemon was essentially created for a Japanese audience and it is full of cultural references that Warner Brothers edited out. In fact, much of the show has been altered and everything done to lull U.S. viewers into thinking the fantasy world of Satoshi and Kasumi (Ash & Misty) takes place at the Warner Brothers back lot studio in Burbank, California.
Pocket Monster Center, Tokyo

Pictured at left is the Pokemon Center of Tokyo, if you're ever in the area you should visit this collector's paradise. You'll find everything from special limited edition toys to clothing and Pikachu cameras.

Things have changed considerably since Pokemon first showed on U.S. television. It seems the anti-anime barriers have at last been breached in the United States.

Just a few years ago, U.S. newspapers and televised news shows were condemning Pokemon for having caused an unfortunate incident of seizure among Japanese viewers. At the time, the scandal hungry American press mounted non-stop attacks upon anime in general and Pokemon in particular. Many of the voices in the U.S. who were once condemnatory of Pokemon and critical of anime are now "singing the praises" of Pokemon and lauding Japanese animation as art worthy of serious attention.
Kasumi, (Misty)

This is somewhat cheering but let's remember who our friends are. Two years ago (1997), the mainstream Western press was busy maligning anime if it mentioned it at all... while this web site and others like it were the ones to promote anime and manga.

We hate to say "I told you so", bu - we told you so! We've long felt that anime would eventually become enormously popular in the West. Today Pokemon reigns supreme in the U.S., with Card Captor Sakura, Gundam Wing,and Tenchi Muyo now on U.S. television. The fantastic Escaflowne series was briefly on the air and unfortunately pulled, but other anime shows are sure to premiere on U.S. stations. While anime is not yet fully accepted or acknowleged in the West, it is at last beginning to gain the recognition it deserves.

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