A Look Back On Saiko Exciting and CNX

26 10 2008

For all those living in the UK who’s into Japanese culture and entertainment cast your minds back to 2002 and in particular the Sci-Fi Channel on Sky. Do you remember the fanfare when a new 2 hour show catering to those people that were nuts about everything Japanese premiered on the channel. Sci-Fi were already showing anime in the midnight hours with respectable figures so they decided to create a programme and schedule it on a Saturday morning thinking that this would reel in the Japanophiles. That show was Saiko Exciting. Hosted by a gorgeous young lady called Seera (Sarah Backhouse) with segments by other presenters such as Jonathan Clements and Emily Newton-Dunn, it featured a mix of J-pop music, gaming, anime, culture and other vignettes designed to show the best of Japan. Unfortunately the buzz that Sci-Fi thought would happen with Saiko Exciting failed to happen and the following year the show was axed. But what went wrong? Why did it do so badly? Considering that the brilliant anime Neon Genesis Evangelion and Martian Successor Nadesico were part of the 2 hour slot you’d have thought this show would be a big hit.

The problem lied with the content of the show itself. It was uneventful and boring. The music PV’s they showed were wrong for a start. Instead of showing the most popular J-pop artists of the day they instead chose to go for those by Cornelius or Pizzicatto 5 for example. Nothing wrong with showing music by either but they could have gone for artists like Ayumi Hamasaki or even Morning Musume. For those not familiar with J-pop music this was a bad move – they should have gone for mainstream artists instead. Another mistake was the attempt at humour which was pretty bad (remember the pathetic segments SORIGAMI and I Think I’m Learning Japanese). I suspect that the majority of viewers tuning in to Saiko Exciting were only watching the anime and couldn’t give a toss for anything else. By the end of it’s run the show’s creators were desperately trying to fill the 2 hour slot with whatever crap they could think of. The axe couldn’t have come quicker in my opinion. You’ve got to give the channel some kudos for trying something different but had they thought things out properly it could have been a big success.

Seera - who hosted Saiko Exciting

Seera - who hosted Saiko Exciting

It certainly had a big effect on the Sci-Fi Channel who cut their anime content drastically and moved them back to after midnight after the failure of Saiko Exciting. In the Summer of 2003 (I think?) they had a season of showing extreme Japanese movies. Battle Royale, the Ring trilogy and Takashi Miike’s movies such as Visitor Q were all shown late on Saturday night and uncut. I remember emailing the channel to congratulate them on their effort and asking for another season. I did get a reply back saying they were considering doing it but the new season failed to appear.

Around the same time as Saiko Exciting’s debut came another channel on Sky called CNX which was targeted for the 12 – 34 audience. Daytime schedules for this channel consisted of shows such as Dragonball Z but what interested me more was the evening schedules. Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star were 2 brilliant animes to be shown at this time on this channel. Also shown during the evening were HK movies in the Triple A block. These movies were usually shown uncut and gave viewers such titles as The Heroic Duo and Burning Paradise. It was a great place to showcase action packed martial arts HK movies that perhaps people hadn’t even heard of before and I was hooked. Every weeknight I’d be glued to CNX. But just as CNX was getting into it’s stride it quickly disappeared and the channel was changed into being Toonami. CNX’s last day of transmission was September 7th 2003. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. Again I’ve no idea why this change happened. Were ratings for the channel extremely poor? 

Since that time other channels have come and gone showing anime in the UK but still this country is lacking in a proper anime channel unlike the US. UK anime fans can only look on with jealously at the amount of great shows they get. You guys don’t realise how lucky you are to have a bountiful supply of anime to watch. Anime Central was the last big hope anime fans in the country had but now that’s only a 2 hour slot from 4am to 6am. Maybe this country still isn’t ready to welcome anime into it’s daytime schedules? It’s not for lack of trying though. Strange though as the UK’s anime and manga industry is growing and we know that kids like their Pokemon and their Yu-Gi-Oh but it’s teenagers and those in their 20’s that want something better. It’s this target audience that sadly there’s nothing for them. As for other forms of Japanese entertainment at least we’ve had the superb Japanorama from Jonathan Ross and even Adam & Joe giving us their take on Japan.

Who knows – in the future we might have another channel that’ll try to give us a combination of anime during the daytime and some Asian movies during the evening. It’ll be up to us to support it and make sure it won’t follow the list of failed channels we’ve already had.


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2 responses

7 05 2011
neko chan

Saiko Exciting did use good artists such boom boom satellites , mad capsule markets and drugstore cowboy but yer right aboot everything else

26 10 2012
territory Evans

I too was devastated when it was canceled and hope and pray for a return as anime is awesome .

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