Archive for the ‘Soapbox’ Category
Anime, of course, is a collection of fun memes which continually build on story and character concepts established in previous works.
It’s a completely false world, or rather a world that’s as stylized as, say, Hollywood movies are, and just as we don’t actually see cars exploding dramatically in the U.S. every other day, most Japanese males don’t find themselves surrounded by harems of adoring females on a regular basis.
I certainly understand why fans like new shows. There are plenty of interesting shows this year.
I don’t understand the assumption that every anime fan is watching the latest shows being released in Japan. Fans frequently ask for my thoughts on the latest shows, and I have to explain that I rarely watch them. I’ll watch recent shows eventually, but I want to catch up on all sorts of older shows.
Moreover, I think fans shortchange themselves when they focus on the new.
Anime is incestuous (and not just in the Yosuga no Sora sense). Most anime creators were otaku in their youths, so their works (consciously or unconsciously) reference previous anime works, especially those a decade or two old. Some of these references are simple cameos, but many are far more subtle. For example, I didn’t fully understand the origin of Evangelion‘s infamous 1995 Instrumentality ending’s abstract imamgery until I saw the many metaphor-rich and visually experimentational sequences of 1978′s Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
Also, the staff of earlier shows approached their material differently. Much as I love the postmodernism of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the plotless comedy of Lucky Star, I get different satisfaction from the aggresive story focus of 1980′s anime, from Armored Trooper VOTOMS to Gundam and Macross. The 1990′s introduced wild premises, from Ranma 1/2 to Tenchi Muyo!. You may find that the anime of a different time suits your tastes better than that of today’s series.
There’s nothing wrong with the new, but there are far larger worlds to explore.
From a fascinating article on AnimeNews.biz, about the $499 retail price for Aniplex’s Fate/Zero
Aniplex USA is importing the Japanese set as a limited run…importing the Japanese sets at a 20% discount is preferable to sublicensing the series and taking an 80% haircut on profits because of lower pricing on home video here. It’s getting to the point where Japanese fans are pitching fits about what we pay compared to them and Japanese companies don’t want to risk losing those fans to cheaper imports.
So that’s important: cheap anime for us means protests from Japanese fans, who still account for most anime sales. Japanese companies literally can’t afford to annoy Japanese fans, but they can afford to annoy us (the Western fanbase), because we don’t buy much anime anyway.
Again, this isn’t so much about fairness, as about the fact that we aren’t buying enough anime for the Japanese companies to care about us. Any number of Gaia posts about how much Westerners love anime won’t keep the studios in business.
This also explains–as the quoted article mentions further down–odd delays in Western releases: the companies are waiting for Japanese sales to taper off. If the companies released shows in the West shortly after the shows’ broadcast, the Japanese fans would just buy the discs off Amazon.com at the US $40 per show we demand, undercutting the Japanese discs’ higher prices.
Why are those prices so high? Because that’s where Japanese companies make their money.
That’s one tough thing: anime can be cheap for us, because we’re an
Now, it’s a lot more complex. Westerners see shows as they’re released in Japan, and want their discs immediately and cheaply. But somebody has to make money off these things, and traditionally, the Japanese companies did it with
Our demand for cheap anime quickly is now driving a race to the bottom, and it’s the Japanese companies producing the anime we love that suffer. Now we see the alternative: we’ll all pay Japanese prices.
When I started watching the recent Iron Man anime series, I stopped after 3 episodes and recorded a disappointed initial review. Iron Man came across as a monster-of-the-week show that got its characters right but its pacing wrong. I was bored.
Then I finished the series, and recorded a much more positive review. The show finally came together, and the last half worked beautifully.
Which led to a few interesting comments. Folks were, shall we say, surprised at my change of heart.
Some folks complain when I review just the first few episodes or volumes of a work. “That’s not fair,” they say.
But my first review wasn’t wrong.
My first review looked at the first three episodes, and formed an opinion based on the information presented there. The first three episodes were monster-of-the-week stories. They were uninteresting.
If a show is uninteresting for its first 3 episodes, that’s an important data point. As long as you, the reader, understand the context of the review–how many episodes or volumes the reviewer saw or read–you can glean useful information.
I’d love to watch every episode and read every volume of every anime or manga that comes across my desk. But there are some works that don’t appear to be worth my time. I maintain that it’s useful to state that.
Keirii Kashii left the following comment, which got me thinking:
Manga is definately classier than things like Fairly Odd Parents and such. American cartoons tend to have cheap jokes, and worse art.
First off, no offense to Keirii, but it’s a bit unfair to compare one society’s comics with another society’s animation. They’re too different. Comparing manga to American comics would be much more fruitful, and there’s plenty of classy fare in American comics.
However, when you compare Japan’s and America’s television animation, the statement is absolutely true.
I wouldn’t call American art worse, as that implies an objective standard. A nice still from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends has plenty of charm and artistic merit.
But American cartoons certainly don’t have the visual finesse of anime, even comparing kids’ shows like Foster’s Home and Fairly OddParents to Japanese kids’ shows like Astro Boy and Precure. American animation tends to have much more limited and more simplistic facial expressions than anime. Anime characters can show a surprisingly subtle array of emotions simultaneously: surprise, fear, and determination, for example.
On the gripping hand, allow me to defend American cartoons for a moment.
First, American cartoons have a much more limited stable of animation talent. Japan has been producing dozens of new anime series every year for decades. America sees far fewer shows, and many of those were outsourced to Japan. So the talent pool is smaller in America.
Also, American television animation has a long tradition of extremely limited animation, thanks to
American action animation is often outsourced to Japan. But that’s the animation that often stretches animators’ muscles the most, leading to a certain amount of atrophy in TV animators’ abilities.
Moreover, modern American cartoons aren’t trying to look pretty. Artistic flair isn’t required to sell well; look at successful shows like Ren & Stimpy, Rugrats, and The Fairly OddParents. That’s not a complaint; it’s a matter of a certain art style just working in America.
I’m increasingly frustrated by reviewers’ insistence that only original stories have dramatic power.
How often have we read a variation on this?
There really isn’t a trace of originality in this thing at all, just naked
demographic-courting…the girls are pure, flat archetypes.
Look, folks, just because you’ve seen these archetypes before doesn’t make them dramatically uninteresting to the rest of the world. The question is how well the characters are used, not how “original” they are. There’s hardly an original character in anime, when it comes to that.
Besides, if you’re going to use originality as a required value, how on earth do you define it? How original does an anime have to be? Completely original across all fiction? Surely not. Then how much? And why are you complaining about it when you haven’t told your reviewer the standards you apply?
I finished watching Occult Academy last week, and I surprised myself by my reaction to the ending.
The show itself established its characters and world, built on both, and told mostly
And I was rather bored.
Everything in the show gets either a twist or a payoff. The plot is perfectly paced in its revelation of character background and character development.
But the finale lasted for 3 episodes, and there just weren’t enough characters or factions to fill that out. That’s a movie, essentially.
The ending didn’t drag, exactly. It was paced as quickly as the rest of the series, and was certainly filled with greater direct tension. But in retrospect, I wanted things to move quickly.
The funny thing is that anime is more often accused of rushed endings than slow ones. I suspect the creators of Occult Academy wanted to give themselves plenty of time to avoid that. But instead, the show spends a lot of time on characters running away or engaging in duels that don’t push us towards the end.
On the gripping hand, these are nitpicks. I thoroughly enjoyed Occult Academy, and several moments burned themselves into my brain. It’s just a shame that the ending felt drawn out.
Did you feel the same? Have you seen an anime or read a manga that had a
You can learn a lot about a culture by its relationship to food. In anime and manga, I can think of 4 major ways in which food is used:
Around the table. Rarely do we see families together except at meal times. But we do see families together for dinner. Is this really common in Japan?
Drink machines. The ubiquity of Japanese snack and soda machines is revealed in the number of times they’re used for social interactions. If a boy and a girl are out walking, the boy will ask if the girl’s thirsty. And grab a drink.
Snacks for small parties. When students get together for study groups–or just parties–Pocky and cookies invariably appear on a central table.
Running a restaurant. From Antique Bakery to Ristorante Paradiso to Yakitate!! Japan. This seems to be a popular