By David Cabrera
#59 - The Other Kind Of Fanwork: Tokyo Crystal Mew and MS Paint “Fanime”
My friends and I often say to each other that it's a wonderful thing we weren't born ten years later, in the age of Youtube, because kids like us would have shared a million awful videos to the world that we'd never be able to take back. This is a story about that.
On the other end of the Western fan work scale, far from the flashy, polished anime music videos (we should talk about that sometime) and the nearly professional parody dubs, there is, shall we say, budding talent.
You will want to turn down the volume on your speakers.
Tokyo Crystal Mew (http://bit.ly/K3iV76) is something that swept certain corners of the anime-watching internet by storm a few years back, and it wasn't exactly because of the quality of the work. Imagine it: it's 2007, you're 11 or 12, and your favorite anime is Mew Mew Power (originally Tokyo Mew Mew). You're so into it that you want to make your own anime! You want to make an anime just like Tokyo Mew Mew, but you're no artist... and your only available tools are Windows Movie Maker and Microsoft Paint.
But you're twelve, damn it! If it can be done, you're going the one to do it! You are going to make that anime! And that's where Tokyo Crystal Mew comes from. It's obviously not the work of any kind of trained animator (or even artist!). Most of the material is traced over or otherwise stolen. It's truly hard to watch. But there's something about Tokyo Crystal Mew, the level of sheer mad determination that only a child could muster.
Years later-- and presumably well into the author's teen years-- Tokyo Crystal Mew is somehow still in production, with four episodes totaling about a half-hour of footage. It's improved. (http://bit.ly/Lyab86) The kid's okay at drawing her characters now, and she's at least decided to draw storyboards rather than the “animation” that was going on previously. And of course, the theme song is stolen from Toradora now rather than the speaker-destroying mess I subjected you to before. It's still not a professional effort in any sense, but the kid improved at what they love doing, and good for them!
This is not an isolated incident: it's just the most famous case. There is a whole community of kid otaku with creative streaks assembling their dreams with MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker and putting the results on Youtube. See also the Higurashi knockoff Prism, (http://bit.ly/MfMQVO), the incomprehensible Superu Ground (http://bit.ly/KCfC8o), and of course Nyan Neko Sugar Girls. (http://bit.ly/b1uPKQ) I could go on for days just clicking around on Youtube. The authors of these are completely serious! (Alright, I guess Sugar Girls is a joke.) What we have here is a whole underground, unwatchable Internet genre. What an age we live in! I just hope that they're all actually kids...