Animation & Volleyball

It’s rare I get to write about the two pre-occupations of my life in the same post, so i just couldn’t resist when i saw this on Volleywood. Mark has written about the “Talent Code” and the role of “ignition” that coaches play in getting young people into the sport. Another source of ignition that comes to mind  is the media that young minds are exposed to.

Back in the late 60s, there was a manga comic series about teenage girls playing volleyball called “Attack no. 1”. It was adapted into an anime series that was quite popular, that then “spun off” into another manga/anime series , “Attacker you”. “Attacker You” was sold to France and Italy where it reportedly inspired Francesca Piccinini to take up the sport.

The influence of a cartoon on the sporting choices of a generation may seem far fetched but this is not the only case. Manga/Anime series Captain Tsubasa reportedly inspired many japanese stars to take up Soccer as well as Alessandro Del Piero. According to John Kessell, one of the original Italian versions of mini-volleyball was heavily branded with the Disney characters Huey, Louie and Dewey (Donald Duck’s nephews. how they got this licensed is beyond me).

Of all the types of media, cartoons have always been among the most powerful means of influencing the youngest children. For a start, they’re usually among the first examples of the recorded moving image that children see. The first film my parents took me to see at the cinema was a re-issue of 101 Dalmations. For most in my generation, the first film they are likely to see is a Disney animated feature. For younger generations it’s probably a Pixar film. Young kids will respond to a Pixar film before they understand why they want to emulate David Beckham.

Why does this matter? Well, when I was researching screen cultures I found two very strange facts about Danish cinema: 1) In the last 10 years, Danish made films have taken an unusually high percentage of the Danish Box office – averaging at about 25% (Denmark outperforms Italy and Germany, which both have traditionally strong native film cultures. Australia averages at a pitiful 4%); 2) The Danish Film Institute, which funds Danish productions has funded an unusually high number (about 12) of animated features over the last 20 years.

I’m guessing that unlike children in anglophone countries whose first cinematic experience is a Disney movie, a Danish child’s first cinematic experience is a danish animated film. Does that influence their cinematic choices when they’re older? I hope so (it could just be that the Danish Film Institute’s commitment to making animated films is a reflection of the country’s overall commitment to a healthy screen culture from both producers and audiences).

Anyway, just enjoy the f!@#ing cartoon.

[The volleyball depicted in SPIKE TEAM is possibly the “least worst” screen depiction of volleyball I’ve seen. They have already done more for volleyball than Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Ciara, Peter Horton and Magnum PI. A couple of weeks ago I bought the boxed set of the French dubbed version of Attacker You! off eBay. I hope I won’t be disappointed]

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