You may be wondering precisely why Impz has linked to an image of a girl with a fish. You may not be – you might have just assumed that it’s the kind of kooky thing that Impz would do. If that’s the case, then you may as well just be on your merry way.
The more observant amongst you may have, infact, noticed that it’d be rather hard for Impz to link to a post that is actually referring back to a post that Impz would have been in the process of writing. If you were a computing device in an old science fiction movie, you would presently be in the process of overheating due to the bizarre twist in logic involved. Otherwise, I just curse your Victorique-esque powers of deduction, having no doubt figured out that this post was amended post fact.
This is kind of what you’d call something coming back to bite you on the arse. Honestly, I’d thought this post had been long forgotten, but alas, I’ve been proved wrong. It’s a post I’ve regretted making ever since I actually posted it – not necessarily sentiment, but certainly the amount of hyperbole I imbued the post with. Thinking back, I think I was just really, really annoyed having completed some show people were praising the writing on, only to find it completely underwhelming (I think it may have been Starship Operators, but I’m not certain), and needed to vent about it.
Bringing this back up is particularly bad given that I’m in a pretty good place with anime recently, and I think at the moment is pretty much in the best place it’s been in a long, long time – there’s a lot of good shows floating around these days.
Anyway, the body of the original post follows. You can read it if you really want to. Realising how painful I find this to be, I suspect you will. Bah ^^;
Original title: Anime Sucks
No, this isn’t one of those “giving up anime fandom” posts. In this weeks Animenano podcast they answered a question of mine in which I stated that most anime was, in fact, awful. I figured the statement was probably worth some explanation.
I do, genuinely, believe that most anime is pretty bad. I think those who don’t admit this fact are deluding themselves, and I think those who manage to convince themselves that anime is somehow better that everything which comes out of the Western entertainment industry are pretty much insane. When it comes down to it, most anime shows are really badly written, and most of them get away with it simply because they are anime.
Look at things this way – what kind of reaction would your parent or non-fan siblings have to a lot of the shows you watch and enjoy, even the ones you would categorise as “good”? If you were being honest, you’d probably admit they would cause a whole lot of cringing, eye-rolling and laughing at the writing. The fact is that most anime shows get away with things which would cause any western show to get a critical mauling, and sometimes have a complete lack of internal logic. They simply do things they wouldn’t even consider doing in any other medium.
As means of an example, I was watching some Kaleidostar the other day. Kaleidostar is predominantly set in America, but being a Japanese show everybody – even when no-one Japanese is around – speaks in perfect Japanese. I guess if you wanted to you could take the assumption that whenever you hear anyone speaking Japanese they are actually speaking English, but then you get to the episode where they visit France. Pretty much the first thing which happens is them trying to get a taxi, but in true comic fashion the taxi driver can’t understand them, because they don’t speak French. I guess you could probably forgive this, though I’d debate the chances of any taxi driver working near a major airport not speaking a word of English. What makes it worse is that everyone else we meet over the course of the episodes in France can communicate with them perfectly – even the drunkard old ex-Trapeze instructor. It just doesn’t make any sense at all.
That’s not really a great example, as its not as if Kaleidostar is a show people would actually take all that seriously, but its the kind of thing all anime is littered with. Us people who watch anime simply accept these things. To a certain degree, I think this kind of thing is part of the reason a lot of us like anime, and part of the reason a lot of anime shows continue to be bad is because they continuing doing things like the shows people watch, which were in turn pretty bad.
A lot of fans often seem to find it odd that people outside of fandom seem to rate things like Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell so highly when they consider it pretty averaging compared to Super Highschool Comedy X, but really its not that surprising. The fact is, these shows aren’t assuming the viewer is a fan, and they aren’t written to that audience. They are written with the assumption that normal people might actually watch them. Shinichiro Watanabe, the director of Cowboy Bebop, admitted in an interview once that the reason he got into anime was simply that someone told him that it was easy to become a director. The fact is, he just wanted to direct stuff, and if it wasn’t anime he’d be trying to find some other way to direct movies or TV shows. Ultimately, he probably doesn’t have enough of an attachment to anime or manga to produce stuff overly pandering to that audience, and its reflected in the final shows – they are things you don’t have to be a fan to appreciate.
Conversely, most the shows us fans watch are things targeted at anime fans. Aside from those fans who start young enough to not know better or simply never grew out of western cartoons, I think most anime fans go through a progressive change in their acceptance of the conventions they are built on – most fans won’t have started watching the otaku shows. They’ll have started watching Ghibli or Bebop or Satashi Kon or something else which, by western media standards, is actually a well made show or movie. From there they’ll probably find something similar but not quite as good – it’ll have some flaws or oddness to it, but nothing they can’t accept. After seeing a few shows like that, they’ll end up watching something of the next quality tear down, and if they aren’t put off at any point then they’ll come to expect the kind of things anime throws at you what they wouldn’t expect elsewhere.
I think the ultimate truth is that the best anime simply isn’t as good as the best live action productions – either in or outside of Japan. The fact is that, whilst I’d probably end up watching the anime in preference, anime just doesn’t come near the quality of work being produced elsewhere. I don’t disagree that 90% of everything is crap, its just that I tend to feel that if I applied the same critical eye I apply to US movies and TV to anime that even 90% of the good shows are crap. That isn’t to say there aren’t shows which are good – there are, and there tends to be a few shows every year like Paranoia Agent, Bebop or, at a stretch, Haruhi (I’m not going to give you Air, and certainly not Kanon, though), but its a vast minority of shows which don’t have what would be considered crippling flaws outside of anime.
Not that it particularly bothers me, and anyone who knows my viewing habits know I love pulpy trash like My-ZHiME and Gundam SEED Destiny. GSD in particular gets increasingly awful as it goes along, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying it. Hell, the only reason I tolerate Kannazuki no Miko is simply that its so bad that it makes me laugh. It’d also be hypocritical of me to be condescending to other anime fans given how much of the stuff I watch myself, but I have to admit that even for me there is a whole level of shows I consider as being below me what a lot of people enjoy. There are just some anime conventions I’m not willing to let slide ^^;
Coincidently, I think part of the reason that so many movie spinoffs of popular shows end up being unpopular among fans is that they simply try to actually be a decent movie – the producers so often seem to fall into the trap of assuming that they have to do something big or grand what appeals to people other than the existing fanbase, and as a result end up with something which has a completely different tone (or Aura of Crapness) to the original work. This just results in something which neither fans or the general audience can really accept, which is just about the situation most anime movies find themselves in – they aren’t good enough to be good, or rubbish enough to be interesting, just tedious.
Anyway, this has been a long, rambling post without any real point to it, so I guess I’ll just end it here without having made a coherent argument.