The Sunday, January 20th Sunday New York Times carried a lengthy story titled 'Anime, Japanese Cinema's Second Golden Age,' which began under a large color illo above the fold on the cover of the 'Arts and Leisure' section and was continued for a full broadsheet page (also with color illos) inside.  It was a coming out party for anime in America.  As writer Dave Kehr put it in the article, 'After a decade or two as an underground phenomenon in the United States..., anime is slowly emerging into the light of day.' 


The 'second golden age' in the title of the article refers to the current flowering of anime theatrical production that has reached the point where anime account for 60% of Japanese film production.  The artistic comparison is to the period in the fifties and sixties when Japanese directors such as Akira Kurosawa were turning out live action epics that packed art houses in the U.S. and Europe. 


The opening of Metropolis this weekend seemed to be the impetus for the article, and the discussion of the movie and of Osamu Tezuka (and his soon-to-be-revived Astro Boy) made up a long opening section, but the analysis of recent anime, including Perfect Blue, Ghost in the Shell, and Princess Mononoke that followed aimed for the more ambitious goal of describing the current state of theatrical anime for a new audience in the U.S.. The serious treatment of the work, and the praise Kehr lavishes on the best of it (he's particularly generous with Princess Mononoke) puts anime in a new perspective for the readers of the Times -- far beyond children's cartoons. 


Unlike the Times' coverage of a year ago, which noted the heavy doses of violence in anime on American television (see 'Anime Makes the Front Page'), the more recent coverage is even friendlier with regard to the changes that anime go through to get on the air.  A second article in the Sunday 'Arts and Leisure' section deconstructs the transformation of Cardcaptor Sakura, a shojou anime in Japan, into Cardcaptors in the U.S.--a more male-oriented, action-packed series that loses relationships that would be problematic for some American audiences (e.g., the romantic relationship between a student and her teacher).   Again, the underlying tenet is respect for the work in its original form and that can only be good for the market for anime in America and the retailers selling it. 
Although we tagged 'Anime Spreads Out' as our top anime story of 2001 (see Top Anime Stories of 2001'), this Times story represents a further legitimization of the anime art form for American audiences, and will continue to fuel the expansion of market for anime and manga in the U.S..