You’ve heard me mention that I count Batman: The Animated Series as the finest example of American animated television and I stand by that. I’m a big anime fan, but I solemnly believe that BTAS is good enough to be matched against any Japanese series as a representative of what writers and animators here in the States can do. I thought for sure that my future worship of this magnificent masterpiece would be relegated to the DVDs I plan to buy from Amazon, but fortunately, the Dark Knight returns to cable television today. Starting the Tuesday after Labor Day, the new syndication channel HUB (already famous for the propagation of the runaway cult plague My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) will be playing episodes of Batman: The Animated Series every weekday at 4pm Central Time (with replays at 6 pm and midnight) beginning with the brilliant pilot “On Leather Wings” before moving to the two-part “The Cat and the Claw” and the award-winning “Heart of Ice” on Friday. I’ve got my DVR set and I advise you all to do the same.
Still, it got me thinking about DVD boxsets and my preferences regarding them. They really are a marketing godsend; I’m greatly looking forward to the day when I won’t need to watch any of the contemporary shows that pass for “television” because I’ll have a few bookshelves full of anime and 1990s cartoons. But, even so, there seems to be a point in just about every series where the title jumps the shark and viewers old and new alike are better off quitting. Having once rented season one of Batman: TAS (for a college paper on film noir), I had intended to buy them all as soon as they were out and I had the scratch to spare. But, as I researched them further, it became apparent to me that the cheapened animation shift in the series that I so disliked even in my youth occurred in the fourth boxset – so I decided then and there that I would be perfectly content only buying the first three. It may sound harsh to the DVD suppliers who thought so much of us as to grant us a chance to watch these classics without the aid of syndicated cable channels, but I really don’t need or want to watch any of the later seasons when the noir/art deco feel was swapped out in favor the less expensive animation used for shows like the 1990s Superman cartoon.
I even feel this way about certain anime series (though not necessarily for the same reasons). Dragon Ball is an unparalleled classic that I adore to the depths of my heart, but I have some objections to the Buu saga (despite having enjoyed it as much as anyone else), and so – even after obsessively picking up the original boxsets of DB and DBZ (skipping DB Kai and the Dragon Boxes, ’cause honestly…even I don’t need THAT much Dragon Ball), I stopped buying or caring as soon as I had the Cell Games Saga. And, though I believe Naruto‘s storyline remains coherent all the way up until the end of the Hidan/Kakuzu arc, the frequently crappy animation and rampant filler arcs ofNaruto Shippuden compelled me to stop collecting the series at episode 135, completely ignoring everything that came after the official end of Part 1. I guess as far as I’m concerned, the Naruto anime ends on a cliffhanger. Anyone who knows me in real life is aware of my worship of Mobile Suit Gundam, but even after painstakingly purchasing each DVD of the original series (ironically finishing just before the announcement of a full-series boxset to be released later this month ><” ) as well asGundam 0080, Gundam: 08th MS Team, Char’s Counterattack and Zeta Gundam, I decided that I really don’t care about Gundam ZZ or the new Gundam Unicorn series. I’ve got season 2 of Rurouni Kenshin on DVD, but couldn’t care less about seasons 1 and 3. I suppose it really just comes down to money. I might have watched all these “extra” bits for free on television, but actually shelling out money for arcs I care nothing about seems a bit foolish to me.