Category Archives: Anime Subculture

Moe, Bro, Moe or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Watch the Show

Moe-bro shit.

I’ve said those words time and time again to dismiss a series prior to watching it because it seems to fall into the moe “genre”.  I’ve written at great length about moe and its invasion into anime norms.  And, definitively, moe has entrenched itself into anime.

But I’ve been wrong.  For one, moe is not a genre – it’s more a method of depicting characters –  and, as such, does not dictate plot, subject matter or character development.  That means that even though a show might look like mindless drivel…

chuunibyou-demo-koi-ga-shitai-1-takanashi-rikka-finger-twirl1…it might be something with much more substance.

A little over a year ago I challenged my readers to start forming constructive opinions about anime.  Today I can finally say that I’ve dissolved my own opinions about moe in anime and believe I have substantive evidence that it’s not that I have hated moe-bro shit this entire time – I’ve just hated shit, in general.

It began with Chuunibyou.  I’ve recently been interested in broadening my perspective on anime – watching mostly cerebral series can be tiring – so I picked up Chuunibyou as what I thought would be a light, guilty pleasure.  Suffice it to say, Chuunibyou was not that kind of show.  Sure, it didn’t have the intricate plot I usually look for in anime, but it did have something I’ve been missing:  a depth of character interaction that I rarely had experienced in anime, romance.  The series was covered with moe, but didn’t allow it to color its development.  I developed an attachment to the characters that I found nowhere else in anime.

And that’s what moe can do when used correctly.  Though moe has no strict definition, most would agree that it has roots in describing the affinity one has for a specific character.  Speaking from experience, it definitely can create that kind of character attachment.  Used solely for a financial grab, the utilization of moe in anime typically churns out plotless atrocities like K-On.  But what if it could be used for a more innocent purpose?

That thought in mind, I still mostly dismissed Chuunibyou as a rarity and resumed my normal watching habits.  However, a show piqued my interest:  Nisekoi.  It was produced by my favorite studio, SHAFT, and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Nisekoi-The-Best-Romantic-Comedy-Series-EverImmediately, elements of moe – but the show was presented in a way that kept me watching (and smiling constantly).  Despite the anti-climax of an ending (of which I hear we are getting another season), the show was legitimately good with an interesting plot – though Raku needs to fix his memory.  I liked the characters in the show so much that I really can’t and don’t want to decide who Raku should end up with – and I can only admit that this is probably because the show used moe aspects to make the characters seem more appealing.

All of this is to say that I made my final, probably irrevocable, step into moe and finished Toradora today – solidifying my new-found opinion that has been developing over the last several months.

Toradora!.full.651090

Toradora tackled so many distinct and often complex emotions and situations that I must admit that moe is no longer a problem for me.  On the one hand, the comedy in the series (otherwise known as anything Minori says) is top notch and fun to watch.  However, Toradora also explores the isolation of being separated from two divorced parents who are both physically and emotionally absent, the responsibilities associated with taking care of both a childish train-wreck of a single mother and oneself, unrequited love, the use of facades to mask ones true emotions, and so many more complex scenarios.  It made me laugh at times and then cry 10 seconds later when I realized that the comedy wasn’t always for fun, but it was sometimes to cover deep emotions that can’t always be expressed in front of others.

And all of this in spite (or probably as a result) of the moe.  The thing I claimed to hate ultimately added to the endearment of the characters in a way that I’m convinced is not possible otherwise.  All of the characters (besides Kitamura, he was relatively boring) were just so complex, so incredibly well-developed and so…moe…you just couldn’t help but love them.

Now that I’ve changed my mind about moe when used as an enhancement, not as a sole attraction, what shows have you seen that I may like?

Cynicism in Otakudom

k-on-cast-in-club-room

If you are an anime fan, upon seeing the above image you have pulled forth your opinion on the subject matter.  You’re either happy that I’ve went out of my way to post K-On on my page (this will be a rare occurrence) or you’re withholding your rage for the, honestly, innocuous junk that is moe.  However, this is just a demonstration of the broader prevalence of cynicism in the anime community.

Probably as a result of, and parallel to, the “rise” of hipsterism as a subculture, anime subculture has become increasingly skeptical of widely appreciated series and large fandoms.  It’s happened to all of us in some way or another.  I know that I have become an opponent, to a fault, of any series that has too much fan-service, spends too much time not developing its plot, or which every other word is “Uguu~!”  This is a problem when my attempts to be pleasantly biased against aforementioned problems become distorted to the point where I ignite the pyres for these kinds of series.

5code_geass_by_manga_raven

It’s a problem when major series like Code Geass, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Madoka, and, more recently, Sword Art Online are ridiculed for their minor flaws when we as a sub-culture aren’t looking back at our roots.  Sure, there is something to be said about nostalgia, but consider the fact that the majority of anime fans claim to “love” Dragonball Z or Pokemon.  These shows are much more flawed than, admittedly, 90% of the series making it on air these days – and that includes the plethora of slice of life shows that mostly involve relational drama and comedy (which is only arguably on a higher ground than 90’s shounen anime).

Entertainment in anime has improved.  Vastly.  The writing in anime in recent years has outclassed the majority of anime’s previous scripts, but to what end?  Despite the fact that the anime community has been provided with incredibly interesting stories, the growth of interest in the community is only marginal.  Additionally, phenomenally diverse and unique series are met by disdain because of their fandom or simply out of obstinance.

Durarara-durarara-12185755-1000-576

I’m not trying to say that some fandoms don’t suck.  I’ve went into that in-depth, before.  The fact of the matter is, some things are worth experiencing despite their faults and it’s not worth an individual’s time to ridicule, in general, and much less before having given adequate time for review and contemplation.  That’s right, I’m basically saying that people need to stop hating things before they’ve watched them, which should be anecdotal, anyway.

While I doubt that the hate for organized and large fandoms will ever go away, I think it’s worth mentioning that there are a couple more problems that are extremely prevalent in the subbed anime culture.  There has always been a hipster-like smugness associated with the culture and that is that a general subbed viewer finds himself superior to a dubbed viewer because “he saw the series before it was cool.”   There is definitely nothing wrong with seeing a series before it receives widespread release (I gladly give my money to Crunchyroll every month), but to do so only to revel in glory when your show receives praise only to cast it away after it reaches mainstream popularity is a problem with our culture, entirely.  That being said, it’s an easy hole to fall into.  I do my best to proliferate the knowledge of a series I thoroughly enjoyed rather than hoard it until it reaches those who would prefer to watch a series in their native language.  Selfish anime viewing makes people skeptical of you along with your opinions.

Burst Angel - Bakuretsu Tenshi
15 minutes trying to find a “cool” Burst Angel picture…I forgot that this was an impossibility.

As a final note, it’s important to distinguish between cynicism and criticism.  The cynicism that I’m talking about that is abundant in anime culture is that which is bitter and, usually, baseless.  Criticism, on the other hand, is a good and healthy thing.  For example, you are asked,”Why don’t you like Burst Angel?”  A cynic replies “I hate the way it looks.  I don’t like the genre.  I don’t like you if you like it.” whereas a critic would explain his reasoning, “While the character of Jo was relatively well-written, she did not have a personality that allowed her to stand out from the remainder of the cast.  The animation was also inconsistent, and there was no cohesiveness to the plot being put forth.  On the other hand, Burst Angel: Infinity almost atones for its evil stepfather by correcting a lot of the problems with the original series.”

Vividred_Operation_10

I love a good conversation about anime, and it’s about time that we as a community both begin breaking our comfort zones in what we watch and also have serious discussions about the reasons we like or dislike things.  Seeing a broader spectrum lets us know why we like things and why we dislike things, rather than just learning that a specific series is entertaining or not.  My attempt – I’m watching Vividred Operation this season despite the fact that I know there will be needless fan-service and buckets of cuteness.

What are you doing to help you form constructive opinions on anime?

Why Your “Fan”tasies Suck for Anime Culture

Why Your “Fan”tasies Suck for Anime Culture

First of all, if you are sexually aroused by the above image, you probably won’t want to read the rest of this article because I am calling you out.  That’s right, it’s time for my critique on anime fandom.  Above image has so many things wrong with it that, hopefully, by the end of this article you will be enlightened on.  Anime fandom sucks.  Pretty much every show that has ever been good, tried to be good, or sucked from the start has a group of fans that make it a waste of time to watch if not only for the fans.  Lets get right into the first problem with anime fandom and this is that

YOUR YAOI FANDOM SUCKS FOR ANIME CULTURE

The problem here isn’t that you are taking two completely heterosexual characters (alright, so maybe Izaya is questionable, above) and making them gay for each other.  The problem is that you are creating an entire fandom based on a twisted fantasy vision you had in your sick mind.  Eventually, this fantasy becomes widespread and it gets to the point that everyone just assumes that their fantasy is a reality.  You end up with a twisted vision of the characters that were once (usually) mortal enemies, that, for some reason, are now wanting to bang.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this were the only effect, but it gets worse.  The more this yaoi pairing becomes mainstream the harder it is for actual fans – yes, your sick fantasies make you into a fake fan – to get around it.  I’ve been at several conventions where cosplaying a character with another guy immediately meant that I was expected to be gay and that, potentially, I would get my ass smacked by some faggot carrying around a yaoi paddle.  I guess the main thing is that if yaoi is your thing, then stick to the plethora of shows that have yaoi undertones (or are blatantly homosexual) – don’t force your ideal into the mainstream.  Watch some Gravitation, or better yet, Number 6, which is actually a relatively decent anime with pretty strong yaoi undertones.  And it’s not so much that I care about you having your fantasies for yourself, but the yaoi fanbase of some anime has ruined series.  Durarara!!, Tiger and Bunny, Naruto, and Kingdom Hearts have met a similar fate – the fans have turned the series into their dreams of yaoi love.  Yuri fans tend to stay detached enough to keep their indulgences to themselves, so please learn from your fellow fetish friends and stop forcing it on the anime population as a whole!

YOUR PROJECTED RELATIONSHIPS SUCK FOR ANIME CULTURE

I know I’m hitting on the Naruto fanbase pretty hard here, but that’s because the Naruto fanbase sucks.  My point here is really more of a blanket point for my previous point, because most of the poorly projected relationships are yaoi ones, seriously.  Honestly, the Naruto and Sakura relationship pairing isn’t one that really makes me rage because there are some actual canon moments that promote the idea of it, but whenever relationships are imagined out of nowhere and then become a mainstream thing it becomes a problem.  I try to stay away from this kind of fandom at all costs because it can really be annoying to see people assume a relationship is intended whenever two people are together for more than a minute in a scene.  If we can’t have drama between characters without someone trying to imply a relationship, then I guess its time to start watching shows without any relevant character interactions (like K-On).

YOUR SELF-IMPLIED AFFILIATIONS SUCK FOR ANIME CULTURE

Look, not everyone is a Shinigami, not everyone is an Anbu, not everyone is an Akatsuki, not everyone is a State Alchemist, not everyone has a Death Note, and just to reiterate NOT EVERYONE IS A DAMN AKATSUKI.  It’s not so much that there’s really any harm to fantasizing about character belonging to organizations that they don’t, it’s that, when you do, you inspire others that may be less intelligent than you to listen to your fantasies.  I won’t even get into how many times I’ve seen characters that are not any of the above thrown into the bucket with people that are part of the above.  It just doesn’t work and, by implying your ideas, you are really degrading the ideas of the organizations themselves.  The idea of a Shinigami is a neat one, but whenever everyone is a Shinigami it’s just not neat anymore.  Anbu are a secretive organization that apparently everyone belongs to?  Apparently passing the State Alchemy exam just requires you to put on a State Alchemist uniform and that’s it.  The idea of having a Death Note is a ridiculous one because, since everyone has one, people can just kill each other at will.  And I think the real problem here is that by making everyone an Akatsuki I think that the creators of Naruto actually listened.  Those 3-4 episodes with Sasuke in an Akatsuki cloak were totally just fanservice trying to get the fans to shut up about Sasuke joining the Akatsuki.  You have ruined the idea of a character searching for “true” vengeance and made him into an Akatsuki fanboy.

YOUR FAN-CRAZY OPINIONS SUCK FOR ANIME CULTURE

I don’t have a problem with loving an anime for what it is and even raving about its greatness (or raging about how much it sucks).  It’s a problem when people are deluded into thinking that an anime is awesome because it has a disproportionate fanbase for its quality.  You’re allowed to like your own things, but when somehow a mass opinion on something that stems in unfounded fan-ravings raises a show to another level, it’s getting ridiculous.  There are plenty of shows this applies to, though you’ll mostly see the issue with shonen anime.  I still don’t understand the fanbase behind K-On which is literally just a bunch of girls screwing around for 20 minutes at a time.  To those who pretty much follow the crowd on fan-crazy anime ravings, watch some good anime and come back in a couple years.  You’ll see that there’s a large part of anime fandom that is just going with the crowd.  But don’t let the crowd ruin an anime for you, either.  If that happened, I would be completely against Durarara!! at this point and that would be a complete shame.

All in all, I think that this article has alluded to a point I didn’t originally intend, but somehow brought up subconsciously on every point.  Pretty much the main issue with anime culture right now is that it is so dominated by a majority fanbase that really sucks, and the problem with that is that usually these individuals will only see the fringe of anime and never really get into what makes it both an art form and a way to spend your time in a plot that is well-developed.  So what I’m really trying to say here is that

YOUR FASCINATION WITH SHOUNEN ANIME SUCKS FOR ANIME CULTURE

Top Ten Anime Series Moments in Recent Years

I’ve been wanting to do a blog on good anime moments for a while now.  I feel like there have been some solid scenes in recent years and that they deserve some praise.  So, cutting some corners here, below is my list of the top ten anime series moments in recent years and my reasoning for choosing that particular moment.  Let it be known that there can and WILL be spoilers throughout this blog.  Important moments are usually what make a show, and spectacular moments are what makes spectacular shows spectacular.  I will subtitle the scenes and the name of the series they are from so that those who wish to ignore anime they have not scene can do so.

10.  The Power of the Dollar – Durarara!!

Although Durarara!! is one of my favorite series, it’s not because of it’s specific moments.  The director, instead, does an amazing job of making connections between events, characters, and ideas.  This scene however was quite powerful.  Only slightly before this we learn that Mikado, the seemingly useless lead role of the series, is actually the leader of the Dollars, the largest and most powerful “color” gang in Ikebukuro.  The scene depicted above is truly where we see that, differences apart, the entire cast of Durarara!! belongs to this semi-secret organization called the Dollars.  Mikado brings together the entire city from the shadows and creates a powerful team for himself all while only few know his identity.  The scene was just so powerful because it’s unexpected.  We don’t expect Mikado to have such power, but it all makes sense and all ties together at this moment.  The remainder of the series only becomes more and more of an extension of this, but this scene was the catalyst for making the series unique.

9.  The End of a World – High School of the Dead

Despite the fact that I couldn’t make it past episode 5 in Highschool of the Dead, I thought that the series had a great intro.  The opening throws the characters into a world full of chaos and a true zombie apocalypse.  In the first episode we fight with the final survivors of the human race and watch them battle against their friends and peers.  Insofar as zombie series go, this pretty much exemplifies what can be good about mindless mobs of assailants.  What was particularly good about the introduction to the series was that at the last bit of the episode, our survivors are trapped and their friend/boyfriend begins to turn into what they are fighting against.  Instead of waiting for him to become a mindless beast, he’s put out of his misery and smashed with a baseball bat.  That moment had true feeling.  The rest of the series went on a downhill slope until the overwhelming amount of fanservice took over the premise of the series.  It was a shame but I had to drop it, even though I wanted more of how the series began.

8. The True Side of a Brother – Naruto Shippuden

The single best moment in all of Naruto, and really the only reason why I still continue watching Naruto, is pictured above.  This scene is the biggest twist ever presented in Naruto, if not in Shounen Anime, in general.  All the hatred that Sasuke has for his brother throughout the series, all of the lies that have been told, and the buildup to this moment have finally come unwrapped.  In this moment, Sasuke has finally defeated his brother, only to find that not only is his brother loyal to the Leaf, but that his entire clan had tried to cause an uprising and, because his brother loved him so much, he was the only Uchiha spared.  This moment is when Sasuke becomes a true avenger and when the story continues to get darker.  The fact about Naruto is that there is some unprecedented depth to some of the characters, and they do a great job of playing roles.  Sasuke plays the role of the hero becoming corrupted by evil, and Itachi becomes the martyr.

7. You Have My Heart – Angel Beats

If you want to watch something depressing, but excellent, Angel Beats is definitely the best pick.  The entirety of the story is full of great moments because of all of the characters leaving purgatory, but this final moment definitely tops the rest of the moments if not for being so utterly bittersweet.  Earlier in the series, it is revealed that Otonashi died by being trapped in a subway accident and convinces the rest of the people dying in the accident to become organs donors to save people that are in the same need that they are.  Angel, like the rest of the characters has died, as well, but not before having received Otonashi’s heart because he donated his organ.  It is just very sweet that the two of them fell in love with each other in the afterlife and that Otonashi saves Angel twice.  I’m not super big on sappy endings, but this one was done particularly well, and Otonashi stays around as a shepherd to lead people out of purgatory.

6. Stargazing – Bakemonogatari

Okay, so I know I said I’m not big on sappy things, but here’s another moment that was spectacular.  The greatest part of Bakemonogatari is the dialogue, and especially the dialogue between Araragi and Senjougahara.  Unlike other harem anime, the point of Bakemonogatari is that Araragi immediately picks his girlfriend and sticks with her despite being surrounded by plenty of other women who like him.  Senjougahara and Araragi’s date was just another moment that made this show great.  The moment was almost cliche, but the dialogue of Bakemonogatari is what set the moment apart.  The relationship between Senjougahara and Araragi feels so innocent and so right.  It’s just one of the moments in anime that solidified my love for good characters, good plot and well-scripted dialogue.

5. Bells in the Rain – Death Note

If you don’t know by now, you probably don’t watch anime:  L dies in Death Note.  It’s not his death that is the best moment in the series, though.  The fact that there was so much buildup, evasion, intrigue and suspense leading up to this moment causes L’s final moments to be brilliantly played out.  Along with the obvious biblical allusions in this scene, Light finally sees his victory in his hands.  L finally finds a friend in someone and that friend becomes his worst enemy, but I don’t believe that L would have had it any other way.  His defeat means that he has accepted that he and Light are equals.  Unfortunately, after L’s death, the show becomes somewhat of a disappointment.  Near is not L, and that is about all that needs to be said.

4. Noblesse Oblige- Eden of the East

Alright, before I get the influx of fanrage from fans that liked the ending to the movies better, I definitely thought the ending to Eden of the East was much better than the movies.  Takizawa started out in obscurity, a naked man with a gun and a cell phone walking around outside of the White House, and became powerful enough to both become emperor of Japan and annihilate a missile attack created by others like him.  The final moment when his memory is wiped only shows that there is another chapter to this story and that we are to interpret what is to happen.  He leaves his phone with Saki and disappears back into obscurity.  To me, this is perfect and spectacular, but I suppose I understand the fangirls’ sadness that their Takizawakun has disappeared.

3. あばよ、ダチ公 – Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Episode 8 of Gurren Lagann.  To any fan of Gurren Lagann, all you have to say is “Episode 8” and instantly feelings from this scene are invoked.  Kamina is what made the beginning of this series, if not only just for his raw bad-assery.  I remember having read that nobody can be as much of a man as Kamina was, and that is entirely true.   No death in anime is as shocking or as powerful.

2. A Descent into Corruption – Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

I can’t say enough about how great Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was.  I definitely did not think that a show could accomplish what it did: tore apart the Mahou Shoujo genre by its limbs – nearly literally. This scene, easily one of the best moments in anime, features Sayaka who fights entirely for justice becoming engulfed in her desire to protect others.  She is facing the cruel truth that a Puella Magi is designated to hunt witches and eventually become one herself.  In this realization, she exhausts her powers because she cannot handle that burden.  Human weakness is not something that we see from powerful characters in anime, and this scene shows the weakness of Sayaka and her downfall.  The rest of the series is worthy of commentary, but I’m waiting for a moment when I have plenty of free time for that.

1. The Zero Requiem – Code Geass

The ending to Code Geass is good enough that it would be a shame to ruin it.  The above pictured should be enough to stir the emotions that this scene invokes.

Picking a Side: A Critique of Current Trends in Anime Fandom

If you were waiting for me to make a Type A/Type B anime post, here it is.  Although I’m not entirely sold on the theory of Type A and Type B anime fans, I think there is some relative validity in the hard line between anime fans of this day.  That being said, some anime doesn’t necessarily fit into this schema and some anime entirely exemplifies it.  I think the best way to start this out would be to give solid definitions to what a Type A and Type B anime fan looks like:

Type A Otaku

A Type A Otaku is the type of person who got into anime because of the ability of the medium to capture any situation brilliantly.  Commonly, Type A Otaku are very critical of anime, as a whole, and will be turned off from a show at first sign of plot inadequacy.  This type of otaku looks for a new story being told, intricate character involvement, beautiful artwork and spectacular voice acting.  But aesthetics alone don’t really set the Type A Otaku apart.  If there is something to analyze or interpret, or if the plot is just genuinely a thrilling adventure, the Type A Otaku is generally appeased.  Above pictured is Durarara!!, a decent example of Type A directed anime with an intricate plot with brilliant character interaction, storytelling, and voice acting.

Type B Otaku

Type B Otaku are definitely not plot-driven beasts.  Visual aesthetics mean almost everything to the Type B Otaku.  Generally, the Type B Otaku is happy if the characters are cute, the art is pretty, and the voice acting is cute.  Plot tends to get in the way for a Type B Otaku because it restricts the characters to roles, where they could, instead, have characters do just about anything that they please (without this random nature being the actual plot).  Without going into the larger point of this article, I really have a hard time saying that a Type B Otaku is a “moe fan,” entirely.  A large portion of moe anime falls into Type B Fandom, but truly, the Type B Otaku is just the anime otaku that sincerely just likes the “idea” of anime.  They may or may not enjoy intricate stories, but if there are pretty faces to dance, sing, or serve them dinner, they are legitimately happy.  Above pictured is K-ON!, which pretty much exemplifies what we expect a Type B Otaku to enjoy – a vague story direction with cute girls playing in a band.  K-ON! is no more than that, but it is what makes the Type B Otaku happy.

My Side of the Fence


Before we go any further, I think it’s important to pick my side here.  I will admit that I have been both types of otaku at different points in my life.  In my younger years, when I first began watching anime, I was definitely a Type B otaku.  The idea of anime itself is what got me motivated to watch more series.  Looking back on it all, Dragonball Z, Pokemon, Digimon and so many others were anime that appealed to me, but only because they were the only anime that I had access to, and I threw myself in the direction of any anime I could get my hands on.  I would often argue about how “cool” a character was, simply because I thought that anime characters were “cool.”  But it wasn’t because of what the characters were doing, obviously, because Gohan from Dragonball Z is really a pretty lame persona.  It was the look and the appeal that drove me.

When I made it into High School, my attitude toward anime had changed – likely because I got involved with Gundam and Evangelion.  Anime wasn’t as much about the characters, though a cool character was definitely an additive bonus, but instead it was about the ride to the end of the series.  Though Bleach won’t go down as the most intricate plot, and definitely not as the most developed anime, ever, it, along with Trigun, allowed me to make some progress into really watching anime for the plot, and not for the visual character designs.  At this point, I was well involved in what was definitely Type A fandom, but then came Haruhi.

Haruhi was a storm that took everything with it.  And for good reason.  If there was a moment in anime history that I remember most vividly it would be the shift of anime following the release of Haruhi.  Moe anime started to abound, and there was a time when my Type B fandom came back, if not only because there was so much Type B anime available.  That being said, Haruhi itself was definitely a moe anime, but, in my opinion, not a Type B anime.  There was far too much effort put into the design of Haruhi for it to be anything other than what it really was, a masterpiece that led to the moe revolution.

At some point, likely after having watched anime that hit closer to my roots, I began to really tire of the tendency of anime producers to create for an audience of Type B anime.  When that happened, I pretty much shut off a lot of anime that I would have initially watched.  In recent years, my appreciation of a lot of anime has been pretty limited, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve lost any kind of zeal for anime, in general.  Nothing makes me happier than finding the diamonds in the rough of the current anime trend.  And I’m not saying there’s anything particularly -bad- about Type B anime (more on some of the common misconceptions later), it’s just that it takes a creative director (*cough* Akiyuki Shinbo *cough*) to really impress me.  And sure, I still have some Type B tendencies.  I wouldn’t have near as many figures as I do if I didn’t, nor would I like the idea of the characters in Type B anime…but watching it just makes me tired.

The Point


The point I’m trying to make here is not that Type A or Type B anime fandom is superior.  The overarching misconception that I see from people is that they classify anime more into the categories of “moe” and “not moe.”  While sometimes these categories are relevant, it’s really hard to make that classification.  K-ON! is definitely a Type B anime, but is it moe?  Likely, but debatable.  Clannad is clearly a moe anime, but is it a Type B anime?  Not so much.  There’s a bit too much plot for it to classify as that.  Dragonball Z (and many shounen anime) are clearly not moe, but definitely not Type A anime either.  There’s just some fine line where both characters and plot are emphasized, Haruhi being a great example (though plot is a loose term to use for Haruhi).

There is a slight concern with the over-abundance of Type B fans.  The anime genre as a whole is getting dumbed down to compensate for Type B fan’s tendency to disregard complexity.  As good as some of the shows I’ve enjoyed in the past few years have been, there seems to be a trend that abstract thoughts should be either entirely abstract or entirely transparent.  As much as I enjoyed FMA: Brotherhood, the gap between the creation of the original series and the second series seems to have lost a bit of intrigue (though Brotherhood’s story was much better ).  I guess my real concern here is that it is going to get too costly to create anime that has both high production quality and a great story (see Angel Beats).  If the trend is for anime fans to like cute characters with no plot (Sora no wo to, K-ON) why waste resources on an intricate plot to appease the fringe viewers?

But this really brings up an important question.  Anime otakudom started off, in both America and Japan, as a major closet practice.  If mainstream anime fandom is somewhat widespread (the viewing totals of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica prove this), and the main drive of anime fandom is Type B fandom, where do Type A anime fans fall insofar as the anime scene?  Are we to expect the same treatment as a S-F Otaku in the future, or will the anime industry continue to attempt to appease us?

Winter 2011 Anime: A Fairly Divergent Season

After reading an article over at Sankaku Complex (http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/01/14/winter-2011-revisited-now-with-even-less-originality/), I was absolutely outraged.  Yes, I’m aware that Sankaku Complex has the tendency to exaggerate, but this article was just a shot in the dark. For those who don’t want to read it (it’s not like it takes long to read Sankaku’s articles…they’re 10 or so lines), the claim is that this season of anime follows the same pattern of  “a harsh heroine, useless male protagonist, and school setting.”  With this diagram (pictured below) they try to overload you with a giant context-ridden image claiming their point:

I’m not going to defend a couple of these because they are, indeed, guilty of this (and also, are the worst shows this season).  This includes Infinite Stratos, Freezing, and Ochinko. Besides that, EVERY anime that is on this list does not fall into the general pattern that Sankaku claims.

I’ll start by classifying the outliers that almost fall into the “school harem/slice of life/worthless” genre.  The only one that really meets the proposed criteria is Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, and that’s a supreme stretch of the mind to even try to classify it in that genre.  Yes, there is an overbearing female character, but she’s not so much overbearing as she is considerate and wants Madoka to make her own decisions.  If anyone is annoying in the show, it’s Mami.  She tries to be overbearing but fails hard at it (very hard, if you’ve seen episode 3…which was the best episode of the series so far).  She even puts on the clothes to make her look like a dominatrix bitch that just wants to control you:

Madoka may be useless right now, but it seems justified in that, unlike usual anime, she’s actually trying to decide her wish to become a magical girl rather than the usual “OMG HILARIOUS WISH THATS FUNNY SO WE LIKE THE CHARACTER MORE.”  It doesn’t work and it’s obvious that Akiyuki Shinbo isn’t falling into that trap.

I guess actually the closest to falling into this pattern is Dragon Crisis, but the images above really don’t speak for the show, at all.  For one, I don’t even REMEMBER a school scene, at all (wait, yes I do, but it was fairly short).  Most of the series has involved interactions between the main characters outside of the school setting entirely.  The school is just a backdrop because people of this age, you know, go to school.  That being said, Main Character A (I don’t remember his name) is pretty useless, so he does fall into that trope.  But Rose overbearing?  Hardly.  Well she’s overbearingly annoying, but the image above tries to portray her as an overbearing bitch.  Oh and I remembered main character A’s name.  It’s Ryuuji.  How could I ever forget whenever that’s all Rose said all of episode 1?

The rest of the generalizations are absolute stretches and “clever” image manipulation.  Starting from the top, GOSICK, which actually falls into this pattern the very least out of all the anime listed, from left to right:  Victorique, overbearing?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  In fact, Victorique will laugh along with you since you were obviously trying to make a joke.

If anything, Victorique may be a strong character, but she possesses the frailty of a child her age and is legitimately human and legitimately scared at situations.  Such a huge stretch.  Kujo useless/wishywashy?  Give me a break…He doesn’t even look that way in the image above.  By episode 2 we can already see that Kujo is the “strong fallback” in this show, and by episode 3 we watch him beat up a guy who is carrying an axe purely with brass knuckles.  Far from useless.  SCHOOL SETTING?  There is about a 3 minute excerpt in the first episode where the characters (no, just Kujo) are in a school.  The remaining almost 3 episodes is spent on a boat.  Pashmina afghans can be purchased after episode 3.

Yumekui Merry falling into this list is, yet another, invalid placement.  I mean Merry is somewhat overbearing, sure, but Kujo isn’t really useless by any means.  He has some yet unconfirmed power that we can’t explain.  And it’s not like he constantly gets pushed around.  He’s there, in the action and pushing character toward doing what they should be doing.  And the school setting is just a moot point.  So much more time is spent in the dream world than in the school setting, that it’s just getting old reiterating that just because there are schools in the show doesn’t mean that the backdrop and setting of the entire show is at a school.  In fact, if I recall, episode 3 didn’t even really have a school setting at all, and if it did, it was just them leaving school at the beginning of the episode.

Classifying Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? into this pattern must also be a joke.  The show itself is a joke, so I guess that would make a little more sense.  All the girls in this show are overbearing, but it’s done for humor.  Masou Shoujo girl makes only one meal and expects zombie boy to eat it all.  Necromancer girl is a kuu(zombie boy imagines)dere to a funny level, and Vampire Ninja girl is an over-the-top tsundere who keeps calling zombie boy a piece of shit.  But zombie boy is far from useless.  If anything, he’s the only person besides necromancer girl who has done ANYTHING in this show, which I guess, by extension, means necromancer girl has been the only one to do anything, but that’s a technicality.  School setting, sure.  But really this show is about going over the top and criticizing the trends in anime.  I didn’t watch it thinking that at first, but after deciding that that was the direction the show was going in, I started to like it a bit better.

Overall, I’m just tired of this type of broad generalization, especially when it is so unfounded.  Some critics, including myself at times, can be so quick to judge something that they don’t even give it a chance to qualify itself.  My thoughts?  Sankaku Complex obviously googled images from the shows and picked the ones that best fit their theme of “ALL ANIME HAS FALLEN INTO THIS PATTERN, PROVE ME WRONG I HAVE PICTURES.”  Well, I think I’ve provided solid enough evidence to refute the point.

 

EDIT:  It was brought to my attention that the original source for this image was 2chan.  My points still stand.

Genres and Misplacements

First of all, I’d like to get out what brought me writing this.  A silly recommendation on myanimelist.net:


Now normally I just take bad recommendations like this on MAL in stride and let it go, but this one is just absolutely off.  Oh, how much this is so far off on so many levels.  But seeing this has made me question anime viewers, in general.  Personally, when I watch a show I try to place it in a genre so I can compare it more easily to other works of its type.  Doing so also helps me to avoid shows that don’t fall into genres that I like.  That being said, I will always give a highly rated or heavily consumed show a chance because obviously if the show is liked by many others, there must be something right going on in the show for at least one demographic.  But this kind of blatant misplacement of genre is absolutely mind-boggling to me.  I mean, I wouldn’t recommend:

to someone who liked:

though, the relationship is a lot closer than Cowboy Bebop to Full Moon wo Sagashite.  (Master/Servant relationship with mild and heavy fanservice elements, respectively)

The point I’m trying to make here is that these kinds of generalizations get anime thrown where it doesn’t need to be.  We see anime that are intended for shoujo thrown in shounen/seinen buckets and all because at least a minority (I’m guessing a small majority) of the anime consumer base does not understand the culture, at all.  In general, anime these days falls into ABOUT 8 genres:

  • Shounen
  • Shoujo
  • Fantasy
  • Moe/Ecchi/Comedy
  • Action/Seinen
  • Hentai
  • Drama
  • Horror

There are, of course, some intermixing between these genres, but you don’t see anything wildly different being mixed (though Code Geass does a great job at mixing quite a few of these).  It just makes me sad when I see people that blatantly disregard all of these genres, or misplace them.  I’ve seen both in massive amounts.

I guess what I’m getting at is that anime culture, at least in English speaking countries is highly populated with people who seem to just watch anime without critical thinking.  I think it’s important to the culture and to anime itself to watch shows with these genres in mind.  A good show will normally break from the constraints of these genres or introduce a new sub-genre.  For example, the mecha sub-genre never would have been popularized if not for the works of Gundam and Macross.  One of the major things that people think about anime today when first asked (and with limited knowledge) is “Giant Robots,” and that’s merely a sub-genre of action.  But you don’t see mecha mixing with shoujo (once again, Code Geass was originally shoujo and converted to something different when mecha was added) because that would be a misplacement.  There’s just a generic formula that a lot of people seem to be disregarding or are unaware of.  Without it, anime isn’t really anime so much as it is a set of unrelated cartoons produced in Japan.