Krystallina wonders why the NYT put Boomerang and Crunchyroll together in a piece, especially considering their target audiences.

On May 11, 2017, The New York Times posted an article in their “Streaming” column titled “Boomerang and Crunchyroll: Of Old Cartoons and Fresh Anime”. Quite frankly, I found the whole article a bit bizarre.

A Brief Synopsis

While you can read it for yourself here, Glenn Kenny, the author, then mentions several examples of cartoons and movies that are self-aware. Then he talks about the Boomerang app, a spin-off of the cable channel that focuses on classic cartoons. Finally, the last third of the article discusses anime, first bringing up Akira and Ghost in the Shell before explaining Crunchyroll and one of the series featured on the platform (Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor).

The Boomerang Side

Boomerang AppNow, I love most of the shows available on Boomerang. A cat versus a mouse, rabbits and ducks trying to convince a hunter what he should shoot, a scaredy-dog… Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting certainly have a wonderful cartoon catalog. Is it worth $4.99 a month or $39.99 a year to access all these old and modern classics? Well, I’m sure that’s a debate for another time and another place. Quite frankly, if you have the Boomerang channel and a DVR, you can pretty much just record stuff like Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry and watch at your own pleasure, and most of the old Hanna-Barbera is available on DVD in various collections. Plus, if you just need something to keep kids entertained, there are other options like the free Mickey Video app. OK, so I guess I jumped into the debate anyway.

The Crunchyroll Side

Crunchyroll SeriesObviously, as evidenced by the title, Kenny does bring up Crunchyroll, but it’s not really in a sense of comparing the two platforms. He tells readers of about the price of a Crunchyroll subscription, The Matrix having anime influences, the UI of the PlaySation 4 application, and series featuring a teacher who stared at his students in their underwear to avoid acting embarrassed like a typical harem protagonist. But… that’s pretty much it.

If this article is supposed to be just informing readers of apps that feature Western or Easter animation, that would be one thing. He could have bridged the two for Times readers by saying something like, “But while Boomerang focuses on family-friendly cartoons, the platform Crunchyroll hosts anime, Japanese animated TV series that tend to target different demographics.” Different groups may prefer Atom Ant to Juniper Lee, but that’s nothing compared to how dissimilar the target audiences are for Bakemonogatari versus Shugo Chara! Instead, it’s almost like the author suggests gamers (who often have a negative image in pop culture) log on to Crunchyroll and watch non-groundbreaking, perverted shows, unlike the still-often-imitated Tex Avery cartoons. (The Crunchyroll PS4 app works well with a controller… that’s not targeting a demographic; that’s good design.)

The Self-Consciousness Aspect

Kenny admits his specialty is films, so reviewing an app that centers on TV series is out of his normal range. Plus, the whole cinema aspect of the article seems to be focused on “self-consciousness”, but the only anime he uses as an example is Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor. If he’s looking for  anime which have been a “substantial force in moving cinema forward both in terms of visuals and ideas”, why choose a series that is so new, even if he shares the same name as the hero? It’s hard to argue that something that is still airing is going to have a large impact in the future.

Or why not, instead of Crunchyroll, did the author not showcase FUNimation, which hosts Akira and Ghost in the Shell, two examples he lists in his introduction about anime? Or if he is looking specifically for shows that highlight his theme about being self-aware, perhaps the long-running Gintama would be perfect, and the much less raunchy, completed, highly-rated Ouran High School Host Club does not even try to hide the fact that there’s a vase in the room that’s going to be broken in its first episode. Plus, FUNimation has English dubs, which are more accessible to new anime viewers.

Final Thoughts

Boomerang and Crunchyroll may both stream animated videos, but I doubt they will have a lot of overlap between their audiences. One is geared more to the days of old while the other pushes the new, one safe for pretty much all ages while the other requires reading skills — and the tolerance of suggestive material. Heck, only one of the two requires handing money over to watch! That’s probably the breaking point for most people, a fact that almost gets lost in the emphasis on self-consciousness in movies.

What did you think of Glenn Kenny’s article? How would you respond to the author? What anime series or movie that is available to stream do you think has done well in “moving cinema forward”? Did it make sense to use Crunchyroll in a column that focuses on streaming movies?