Episode 379: Remembering the Early Days of Animax Asia

I have spoken in the past my love for anime in the past and, lately, I have been bombarded by YouTube with so many anime clips suggestions from out of nowhere. I still clicked on them and I might go out and try to watch some of the latest ones. The process of finding and watching anime used to be a difficult process compared to today because of streaming services wherein everything is just a click away. Growing up, I didn’t have that luxury. I had to look up schedules and sit my butt in front of the TV when my favorite anime was on!

Then again, I kind of miss that. I do wistfully remember those moments when I would eagerly await my favorite anime being shown on the dedicated anime cable channel Animax Asia. I know it’s still active these days but, well, we cut our cable TV a while ago and it was for the better since we do mostly stream stuff nowadays. That may be the case but I still have so many fond memories of watching Animax Asia.

It certainly helped that, before Animax Asia started broadcasting in the Philippines, there was a channel championing the power of anime way before then. Their sister channel, AXN Asia, were already testing the waters by showing a couple of anime programs during weekdays at the early evening. I guess they were a way to prove it was possible for an all-anime channel would work.

Then again, AXN Asia certainly helped the cause by picking the perfect anime to tickle the audience. They had pristine picks like Rekka no Honoo/Flame of Rekka, which, thanks to its strong similarity to another popular anime in the Philippines, Yu Yu Hakusho (called GhostFighter in the country because… the Philippines?), it hit like gangbusters! They also had some more crowd pleasers like Fushigi Yugi, Gate Keepers, Steam Detective, Slam Dunk! and the ever popular Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X.

I do have to give a shout-out to some of the lesser known AXN Asia animes like the sappy teen drama Boys Be…, the space adventure/harem Vandred, the rather weird but exciting Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko, the super depressing Now and Then, Here and There and, my personal favorite and the first anime I did watch on AXN Asia, You’re Under Arrest! I dreamed of owning a moto-compo because I thought it would be so handy to have a motor scooter you can fit into the back of a car! You’re Under Arrest! was so cool!

Anyway, the AXN Asia animes prove to be a big hit in the Philippines so, when they announced Animax Asia, a channel dedicated to only showing anime programs 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, I pretty much lost my mind! To me it was a dream come true and a dream I didn’t think was ever possible.

I could understand channels like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon working since they were basically channels for kids programs. Having a channel devoted to just anime, which can be for kids or show adult content, that was going to be difficult. I mean, despite the genre being popular to most of my friends, I always thought it was a niche hobby and something a lot of outsiders misunderstood, especially here in the Philippines. I guess I was wrong because the anime community has been steadily growing under my nose for ages already with local channels broadcasting the aforementioned Yu Yu Hakusho, Trigun and The Vision of Escaflowne. I basically stuck around for the opening song of The Visions of Escaflowne because it was super dramatic but I didn’t bother watching it because I couldn’t handle how unnatural sounding the Tagalog/Filipino dub sounded to me.

I did avoid them as they were dubbed in the local language of Tagalog/Filipino and I prefer my anime to be dubbed in English at the time. It actually feels odd for me to say I favored English dubs before since I like subtitles for my anime programs nowadays. I guess it was because most of the anime I did watch were dubbed and, you guessed it, most of them were from watching AXN Asia and Animax Asia.

The way they dubbed the animes were rather funny. Not because the voice acting was bad, by the way. What I found amusing was how they used the same, like 5 or 6 people for all the animes! I remember watching Card Captor Sakura on Animax Asia and noting Sakura’s voice was the same as Midori’s from Midori Days, Megumi’s from Detective School Q, Milfeulle from Galaxy Angel, Caroline from Paradise Kiss, Mikan from Gakuen Alice and many more! I hope that lady and the rest of the dubbers got paid per anime because, if they did, they would have a mint now! On a side note, I really loved her voice because of how cute and nasally it sounded! It really fit perfectly for Sakura and the rest of the characters she played!

I did kind of grow out of my love for English dubbed anime and, once again, that’s mostly thanks to Animax Asia. Usually, the animes would be played on a rotating shift, meaning the same anime would be repeated throughout the day so, if you missed the first showing, you can catch it at a later time in the day or over the weekend, when they would show all the episodes in one block.

While I did grow accustomed to the dubs, the channel did also show the subtitled versions, usually at a later time. Since I had school during the morning and evening, I would usually just catch the subtitled versions since those were the ones shown late at night. I initially had trouble because I was so used to the dubs but, after some time, I did start to appreciate the original Japanese voices much more because, well, they are Japanese cartoons! It was also refreshing to hear different voice actors. I still have a nostalgic love for the Animax Asia voice actors but, now, I do prefer the subtitled versions of anime.

I got more than my fill of my favorite animes from Animax Asia. I really loved Card Captor Sakura and it grew to becoming one of my favorite animes of all time. The Law of Ueki is a very underrated shonen battle anime that needs more attention, in my opinion. Of course, the original Fullmetal Alchemist was and still is brilliant, even though it doesn’t follow the manga as closely as Brotherhood does. Ghosts at School is a fun supernatural anime more people have to watch. Cowboy Bebop is, well, everyone knows it’s good. Kino’s Journey was a trip because of how mind bending and existential some of the stories are. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was a futuristic grand cop adventure that questions about the human soul. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a trippy take on the original book with a super interesting art style.

Oddly enough, if I were to pick my favorite anime from Animax Asia, it would be Jigoku Shojo/Hell Girl. The stories were all the same, with the tormented person finally giving in and summoning Jigoku Shojo/Hell Girl to send his or her bully to hell to be tortured for eternity then getting a glimpse of what their eternity will be like. As a kid, this frightened me but it was surprising how cathartic it felt to see the bully get their just desserts. I also loved the marketing Animax Asia did as, like in the anime, they mocked up a special website that could only be accessed at 12 midnight and you can put your tormentor’s name in there! I knew it was fake but the mere thought of it being real sent shivers down my spine when I thought it could be real!

I did stop watching Animax Asia very early on but it wasn’t by choice. The cable company we subscribed to figured out how many people were watching the channel so they decided to rewrite their subscription plans, making it so you can only get Animax Asia with a higher tier plan than the one we were subscribed to. Upgrading to get one single, solitary channel just wasn’t worth it for the rest of the family so we stayed on our regular cable plan and poof! Animax Asia was cut out of my life.

My love for anime has waned and has been rekindled in waves since then. If I still had Animax Asia in my life, maybe I wouldn’t have dropped my love for anime then as I would’ve been watching a lot of them at the time. That’s a whole different question and post. I do have a lot of fun memories of watching Animax Asia and then talking to my friends the next day about the episodes. I still love the dubs they did, even though I know they are reviled because they’re supposedly terrible. While I can see their point on a logical level, my emotional side can’s since I can’t help but love the dub because I grew up with it.

I’m not sure how Animax Asia is fairing nowadays. I bet all of the dubbers have moved on so I won’t hear any familiar voices. I know they’ve been getting animes fresh from Japan as recent as the next day so they’re still relatively big. So, while I can’t watch Animax Asia or even recognize it anymore if I do see it, I’ll still have the memories of me eagerly watching shows like Card Captor Sakura and listening to her nasally cute voice.

Byee!

What’s your favorite anime from Animax? Have any anime recommendations for me? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s