Classic BDs. Are you a fan of any of them?
Anime's early hits in France. Can you feel the nostalgia?
Enter a man named Jean Chalopin, who founded the company Diffusion, Information Communications (DiC). In the 1980s, Chalopin contacted several Japanese studios for the possibility of co-producing animated series together, which resulted in numerous French-Japanese series being produced jointly by DiC and various Japanese animation studios. The first of these was Ulysse 31 in 1981 (Eng: Ulysses 31; collaboration with TMS Entertainment), followed by series such as Les Mystérieuses Cités d'or in 1982 (Eng: The Mysterious Cities of Gold; collaboration with Studio Pierrot) and Jayce et les Conquérants de la Lumière in 1985 (Eng: Jayce and the Conquerors of Light, also known as Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors; collaboration with Studios Sunrise, Shaft, Giants, Look, and Swan).
Some of DiC's co-productions with Japanese studios. Would you consider them as anime?
Other channels tried to get in on the booming anime scene. For example, in 1979 the channel TF1 aired the anime adaptation of the sci-fi comic Captain Future, which was hugely popular in France under the title Capitaine Flam. The series’ opening theme song was beloved by the first wave of French anime fans. More importantly, TF1 was the home of the show Club Dorothée (Eng: Dorothée’s Club), an incredibly popular kids’ show which imported a great many anime series, including iconic series of the late 80s and early 90s such as Hokuto no Ken (Eng: Fist of the North Star, released in France as Ken le Survivant), Saint Seiya (released in France as Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque), Captain Tsubasa (released in France as Olive et Tom), Ranma ½, Moero! Top Striker (released in France as L'Ecole des Champions), Sailor Moon, Kinnikuman, and of course, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. In fact, Club Dorothée was so popular that the presenter of the show, Dorothée, was once featured in a Japanese tokusatsu show.
80s and 90s classics from Club Dorothée. Were you fans of any of them?
An illustration of Rumiko Takahashi's win of the Grand Prix.
Radiant, an example of manfra. Notice the manga-esque look it has!
International co-productions like the ones DiC pushed out back in the 1980s weren’t dead either: the sci-fi series Ōban Star-Racers was developed and produced by both French and Japanese teams, and came out in 2006. And speaking of French-Japanese co-productions, the French house group Daft Punk worked with legendary anime creator Leiji Matsumoto to create several music videos set to tracks from the duo’s second album Discovery. These videos were then compiled and released in 2003 as an animated movie called Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem.
French house meets Japanese animation in this epic collaboration. Can you see Matsumoto's artistic influences in the character designs?
All of this comes together to the annual event Japan Expo, the largest Japanese pop culture convention outside of, well, Japan itself. It is the event for anyone with even a mild interest in Japanese culture, in Europe as well as around the world! The event was first created in 1999, and has since attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees every year, from those seeking to discuss their favourite series, scour the convention for anime merchandise, or partake in cosplay competitions. And of course, such a huge and popular event could only be held in the one country at the top of 21st century global otaku-dom: France.