Let's get this out of the way first: The 77th Annual Nintendo Investor Meeting Official Transcript sheds some light on what I previously reported as Miyamoto planning a Star Fox anime. What they were actually saying is that they currently do have a Star Fox anime short (Star Fox Zero: The Battle Begins), and that they were "interested in more actively pursuing the development of these kinds of videos" in the future. So, not totally wrong. Yes, they aren't saying they're actively planning a Star Fox anime, but they are also saying they want to continue to create new animations, and distribute existing animations, based on Nintendo IP.
If you look back, you'll find that Nintendo actually has a ton of animated projects beyond commercials and promo footage:
- The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! - A Mario cartoon with live-action interstitials
- Captain N: The Game Master - A weird animated show in which Kevin Keene is sucked into Videoland to fight the video game villians
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 - Another Mario cartoon based on Super Mario Bros. 3
- Super Mario World - ANOTHER Mario cartoon based on Super Mario World
- Super Mario Bros.: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! - A Japanese only Mario anime movie
- Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Bros. - Another Japan-only Mario anime OVA
- The Legend of Zelda - TV series featuring the now-famous "Well! Excuuuuuuse me, Princess!", and also probably the reason why Link never talks anymore
- Kirby: Right Back at Ya! - The Kirby anime that was actually pretty popular across the board, and included scenes that allowed us to discover that Kirby actually has a pocket universe inside his stomach
- Donkey Kong Country - A hilariously weird 3D animated Donkey Kong Country show, complete with really creepy musical numbers
- F-Zero: GP Legend - A proper anime of the F-Zero series, complete with this amazing FALCON PUNCH!!!
- Pokémon - The animated juggernaut with over 1000 animated episodes and over 20 animated movies
- Yoshi Wooly World Animated Shorts - Used to promote the game
- Pikmin Animated Shorts - Used to promote the game
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem - Believe it or not, there was an anime OVA for Fire Emblem
- And, of course, Star Fox Zero: The Battle Begins - Used to promote the launch of Star Fox Zero
- Did I miss any? I probably did.
Nintendo has had some hits and misses when it comes to animations, but I feel confident in saying they have plenty of experience to make quality animation if they so choose. Star Fox is a little more serious as a story than the likes of Mario (and even Pokémon), but they showed some real promise with The Battle Begins. I think that what they did there was nearly perfect: a serious conflict (Andross tries to kidnap General Pepper!) with some crazy action, all mixed in with a few good jokes and gags.
Another interesting thing about the Star Fox series, as a potential animated IP, is that unlike so much of media today, Star Fox, like other IPs from the 80's and 90's portrays the future optimistically. Not that it's a utopia, but rather, the future is bright and hopeful with protagonists rising to meet new technological challenges at a galactic scale. This is different from a pessimistic view of the future, where everything is post-apocalyptic, or full of zombies, or simply slowly dying for lack of resources. It is also different from what I call the "meh" future, where things are the same as now, with all the same sort of basic problems and issues, but with space ships.
In some ways, Star Fox is a hold-over from an earlier time. The original script for the games wouldn't hold up today at all, and you can be certain it would have been a bit more pessimistic if today's typical game designer had anything to say about it. The games have changed so little in terms of story, that the spirit of the 80's and 90's still holds over into this series' narrative.
What do you guys think about a Star Fox anime? What should it include? What should it avoid? Where should they take it from here? Do you want a different graphical style? If so, what kind?
This is Part 1 of a week-long discussion on Star Fox as an animated IP. The next parts will focus on TV and movie series that capture a bit of the Star Fox spirit in the absence of an actual Star Fox anime. Thanks to Ayano and Mr. Brownstone for pointing out the correct translations of the report.