Archive for the ‘The Anime Blogosphere’ Category
- February 2011: Barefoot Gen (via Sam Kusek of A Life in Panels)
- January 2011: Karakuri Odette (via Anna of Manga Report)
- December 2010: One Piece (via David Welsh of The Manga Curmudgeon)
- September 2010: Afterschool Nightmare (via Sean Gaffney of A Case Suitable for Treatment)
- August 2010: Yotsuba&! (via Robin Brenner of Good Comics for Kids)
- July 2010: Paradise Kiss (via Michelle Smith of Soliloquy in Blue)
- June 2010: The Color Trilogy (via Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf)
- May 2010: To Terra, (via Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic)
- April 2010: Mushishi (via Ed Sizemore of Comics Worth Reading)
- March 2010: Emma (via Matt Blind of Rocket Bomber)
- February 2010: Sexy Voice and Robo (via David Welsh of The Manga Curmudgeon)
- Initial Announcement
I’m so glad to see that Moritheil’s been blogging more (and not just re-posting arguments, either). He just posted a gem, Judgement on Otaku. An excerpt:
Try as I might, I canâ€™t really see picking on otaku, but trumpeting your sensitivity towards gays and lesbians, as any different from having learned what you can and canâ€™t get away with. It doesnâ€™t seem to indicate that youâ€™ve actually internalized the idea that stereotypes can be damaging.
As usual, Moritheil’s absolutely right. I have two things to add:
Making fun of people is wrong. I don’t care how clever you are, or how ironic, or whether you “don’t mean any harm.” “Grow up” or ”don’t be so sensitive” aren’t valid resolutions, because they don’t resolve the problem.
The kindest, most respected men in history — Jesus, Buddha — spoke most strongly about not making fun of people. This is a well-established standard of conduct.
On the other hand, there’s a big difference between making fun of people and critiquing a group phenomenon. All sorts of groups and movements throughout history deserved critique and analysis. To take extreme examples, the Nazis and the Klan deserve analysis and debate. Those groups shouldn’t be shrugged off or ignored.
Neither should their members be made fun of or dismissed out of hand.
…the run of this show has so far shown that [the characters] really work well as cartoon characters, crude, filthy little things that attack their ludicrous situations
head-onwith yet more ludicrous means.
(Emphasis in the original.)
I find this comment fascinating. Cartoons certainly can be crude, but to my mind, that hasn’t been a defining aspect of the medium. When I think of Calvin & Hobbes, Looney Tunes, and Krazy Kat I don’t immediately think of filth.
Which begs the question: what do I think of when I think of something cartoony?” As with anything complex and evolving, it can’t be rigidly defined any more than a river can be caught.
However, the second part of Dave’s sentence hones in on a more concrete concept: cartoon characters are
Anime isn’t cartoony. This is something typically lost on Western viewers. (And to be clear, it’s certainly not lost on Dave; I’m just furthering the thought.) For most Westerners–at least, most Westerners older than forty or so–animation means three things: Looney Tunes, G.I. Joe, or Beauty and the Beast–juvenile slapstick comedy, juvenile action/adventure, or a juvenile fairy tale. (Often, all three at once.)
Anime was birthed from a fundamentally different primordial soup. Anime was born out of Pinocchio robots and soccer, then grew up with atomic bombs, economic revolution, and civil protests against authority.
(And for a country as concerned with order as traditional Japan, imagine the deep trauma inflicted by the image of young Japanese throwing Molotov cocktails at police.)
Anime can be experimental,
This may explain the appeal of Panty & Stocking to its fans (who have internally categorized the show–rightfully–alongside Looney Tunes), and the aversion of its detractors (who like anime because it’s not cartoony).
A question for you: are there any other examples of ”cartoony” anime? Dead Leaves and Kodocha come close, as do several of Akitaro Daichi’s other works (Animation Runner Kuromi, Grrl Power). Others?
Having been ridiculed in the past because of my clothing, â€œgood fashionâ€ and â€œgood looksâ€ became symbols of the enemy, the barriers which prevent people from seeing that itâ€™s the inside that counts, as taught by one Ugly Duckling. But when you think about it, if the inside is really whatâ€™s important, then people should not be judged negatively simply because theyâ€™re attractive and make an effort to be attractive.
…you can think of fashion as accentuating your better qualities, where you define â€œgood-lookingâ€ on your own terms, and the difference between fashionable and unfashionable can be as simple as an anime t-shirt that fits versus one that doesnâ€™t. But this isnâ€™t what Tsukimi is doing. Rather than making a declaration that sweats and unkempt eyebrows are a sign of her own personal beauty, she has defined â€œbeing prettyâ€ as a state that she can only achieve through deception and trickery, that whatever â€œbeautyâ€ is, she isnâ€™t. To look good is to be one with the enemy, and neither she nor her housemates at Amamizukan can accept that (or at least thatâ€™s what Tsukimi believes).
The concept of ”the Other”–that which one defines as separate from our an enemy of one’s self–crops up a lot in anime. Indeed, a core element of anime’s maturation came about when the writers of Mobile Suit Gundam challenged the Other: instead of the enemy being Lizard Men or a Mad Scientist, the enemy consisted of space colonists rebelling against what they saw as an oppressive government. You could sympathize with the Other in Gundam.
(Granted, this sympathy wouldn’t fully materialize in the show until the introduction of Ramba Ral; previous examples of Zeon soldiers were unsavory fellows.)
This intersects with fandom, too. During a live news show a few weeks ago, we wondered whether a massive rise in anime’s popularity would destroy anime’s “specialness.”
“Anime fandom” has a specific definition. Change in that definition would traumatize many fans. We’ve already seen it in anime fans decrying the rise of moe.
Anime is comfortable. It satisfies some desire. We very much want that to continue.
So we set ourselves up in opposition to everyone else.
At what point does otakudom become an insular world, a thing worthwhile only in-and-of itself? At what point do we cease to enjoy anime/manga/etc. for what it is, and more for what it says about us? When do we watch anime mainly because we watch anime?
I see otaku watch anime that they dislike. Who groan about “making themselves” watch a show, or of how they had to force themselves to finish a show.
At that point, anime became a defining activity for that fan. He doesn’t enjoy the anime; he enjoys the feeling he gets out of having finished an anime, of being able to say that he watched it (and to dismiss it, usually).
It’s perverse. And it’s so human.
…anime is never very far from my mind, whether it’s thoughts of a recent episode that I watched, a blog entry I just read, or a favorite character. What does this mean for myself, or for anyone else who frequently thinks about anime? And what effect does it have on us?
…When we think about anime, we devote our mental energies to recalling and exploring worlds we can never visit, characters we can never meet, and events we can never experience or affect….does thinking about anime really differ from daydreaming, or the effects it might ultimately have on one’s mood?
This touches on a larger topic: that which we do changes us. But that’s another post.
If we spend a large percentage of our time thinking about worlds we can never set foot in, 1) that’s unproductive, and 2) we will eventually feel frustrated at our inability to actually inhabit those worlds. Nothing is free, not even daydreaming.
One might call daydreaming about anime “simple escapism.” It’s escapism, yes. Escape from what? Reality? Is that really the most healthy reaction to reality: running away? (cue Evangelion music)
What’s most ironic about this is anime’s constant focus on the need to accept reality. Anime is full of heroes who “mustn’t run away.” We honor heroes who face impossible odds instead of running from them.
Anime’s heroes (and manga’s heroes) live very much in their real worlds, not escaping into fantasies at every opportunity.
So, what should we do? Well, look around you. Find something in your life that you dislike and can change, and change it.
Anime can be relaxing and recharging and challenging. Great! May it never die. But never forget that a life
Let’s do a little more.
Iâ€™m guessing that a teen will think all this love triangle/body dimorphism stuff is much more dramatically fascinating than I do. I just found it wearying. This is another one of those stories that wouldn’t have anything to tell if people would only honestly talk to each other….
This is a key storytelling lesson. It’s okay for characters to keep secrets from each other, as long as they must. Tetsuo can’t admit to his fellow macho gang members that he’s experiencing severe psychological problems, because they’d perceive that as weakness. Kei can’t tell Kaneda that she works for the resistance, because she can’t tell anybody.
Sometimes, authors mistakenly add secrets in the belief that secrets are inherently interesting. They’re not, especially if keeping them shatters realism.
An interesting example of an interesting secret appears in the original Dominion Tank Police OVA.
When we fade back to the present day, Buaku waxes philosophical, then changes the subject. Leona never knows Buaku’s history, and Buaku never shares it with her. He wouldn’t. It’s a special secret for him, something that he wants to keep secret. That’s the kind of secret to keep.
Compare this to the typical fantasy story of a Boy (or Girl) Prophesied To Save The World, who is kept completely in the dark about it until his (or her) country is invaded. Especially if said Boy (or Girl) slacks off in his (or her) training. I don’t care how much of a burden it’d be for the kid to know; tell him (or her) so the he (or she) will understand the importance of said training and buckle down. What sane person would not tell the savior of the world at some point about said prophecy, especially if it was due to come true soon?
Quick note: To my delight, I’m the guest host on this month’s episode of Life and Times of Anime, where I and regular host Matt discuss the first five episodes of Highschool of the Dead, and the regular hosts discuss Mitsudomoe. They’ve put a lot of hard work into the episode, so check ‘em out.
Department of Alchemy is a blog run by Alex Leavitt, the guy who hosted the tremendously informative noitaminA panel at Otakon this year. That’s how I found out about the blog; his talk was so useful that I subscribed to his blog as soon as I could.
He posts infrequently (five times in April, once in May, once in June, once in August, and once in September). Like the posts on Cutfilm Tovent, his posts are long, detailed, and thoughtful. Moreover, Leavitt brings a deep understanding of the anime and manga industry to his posts. From “The Problems with The Problem of Online Manga” to ”Yotsuba&! â€“ The Adult Comic Comic,” he goes into great detail on his subjects, including lots of background. When the guy can not only tell you which magazine a manga was originally published in, but the evolution of that magazine’s demographic, you know you’re reading an expert.
Leavitt writes in an academic style: clear-headed and always aimed at a goal. It’s a welcome break from most bloggers, who meander through their topic much like I am now.
While I’d love to see Leavitt post more often, I’m very glad for what we get now. Long may it continue.