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Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

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  • Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

    Widgets Magazine
    You hear it at the start of every season where there’s a vocal group of fans who once again proclaim that there’s nothing good out there this season and anime just isn’t what it is from its golden years, which almost invariably come down to when that particular fan got into anime. Having been watching [...]

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    Anime is not a right. It is a privilege, a consumer product, art, work for hire, a luxury, a hobby, entertainment.

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  • #2
    Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

    Is it the preponderance of focusing on middle school kids who are overly sexualized?
    Since it's suggested, yes, let's go with that one. If they were all the usual bildungsroman that stories of that age time frame have been mining in fiction since the dawn of time (many still are, and sophistically so, like Flowers of Evil this season) that would be one thing. But it's so much now simply the overly sexualized high school show of a decade ago shifted two or three years younger. For some reason. (Or all the usual ones attributed to Japanese society and anime/manga specifically.) Unfortunately there are already enough overly sexuallized sixth graders bumping up into the middle school shows, so the shift to elementary school kids probably isn't far behind.

    Aside from moral objection I don't intend to judge whether these are good or bad shows, or that they are, as a group, singularly what is wrong with anime. Overall, I think anime is doing just fine, there are still a lot of new shows I enjoy as much as ones from fifteen years ago, and I recognize and accept the cycles of the medium. To me, anime still seems largely what it was in the 80s: male fantasy, sex and entertainment rolled together. For some time it was fantasy and sci-fi with scantily-clad girls, more often now it tends to be grounded real-life shows with scantily clad girls. The modes have never really changed, just they way they are presented, which is akin to complaining (as many do hand-in-hand with this subject) about how the animation looks. But there are still enough shows on the fringes pushing in new directions, or reimaging past directions, every season, that I can never really despair. (Until I burn out again for some time period; knowing that as a natural cycle, too.)
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    • #3
      Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

      ^ Yup, this.

      I'll also add incest fantasies as something that's wrong with anime. I have zero interest in watching any of the ~monogatari series ever since my University's anime club put the infamous "toothbrush scene" on the projector for all to see, without a second thought to how it might make the attendees feel. (Because of that, and a few other reasons, I no longer attend that club. Greasy people are greasy.)
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      • #4
        Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

        Nothing significantly wrong that I can see. My collection is far more diverse today than it was 10 years ago when all I cared about was science fiction and giant robots.

        The objectification of middle school girls is hardly anything new and I doubt it will seriously escalate beyond that. It's been almost 20 years since Gainax twisted our morality with Rei and Asuka. If that's what's wrong, we should have spoke up sooner. Not that I'm one to talk, what with my avatar and all.
        Avatar: Misaka Mikoto, the Railgun. Level 5 Electromaster and Ace of Tokiwadai Middle School.

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        • #5
          Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

          I'm not sure if this answers your question directly, but I believe that most of what is "wrong" with anime stems from fear. Fear of doing something different; fear of alienating your built-in audience; fear of foreign markets; fear of losing money on a project. While those fears are understandable, after all, anime has become, first and foremost, a business, with artistic considerations largely secondary, but the relationship between companies that produce anime and the fans is a two way street, and some of the fans have me baffled. Those cookie-cutter light novel/dating sim adaptations and pedo-bait "comedies" continue to be produced because fans keep buying them season after season (though I may be guilty of indulging in shows that I know aren't worth the time, yet continue to watch), while largely ignoring shows that have something to say, whether it be about society or whatever, because they take the viewer outside their comfort zone, which is why I applaud Hiroshi Nagahama for eschewing the manga art style for his adaptation of Flowers of Evil, and creating something that makes the viewer feel uncomfortable, without resorting to something that might feel like a cheap trick. I also see the disappointment people express in the seasonal Crunchyroll threads with short-form shows being licensed, and have to wonder, "Do they think if they hadn't licensed those 2 or 3 four minute shows CR would have been able to afford a show like Jojo or Nekomonogatari?" I guess what I'd like to see more of is things like the Young Animator Training Project, with an option to launch a television series, but that may be asking for too much.
          Last edited by EyeOfPain; 05-02-2013, 05:23 PM.
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          • #6
            Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

            Besides nostalgia glasses, Sturgeon's Law applies to anime just like any other genre: "90% of everything is crap."

            We remember the 10% that was worth seeing, and forget about shows like Happiness! and Demonbane. (Apologies if you loved either of those for some reason.)

            It's nice to have shows with adults in them, like Black Heaven, Bubblegum Crisis or Zone of the Enders. But two of my favorite recent shows were Hidamari Sketch and K-On!, both in the usual high school setting. So I don't automatically dismiss the high school setting even if it gets more familiar and cliched every year

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            • #7
              Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

              It's hard for me to exactly pinpoint it myself (Even though I'm one of those people these days going "This isn't going to look like a very good season"), but one thing I'd have to say would be 12-13 episodes. The vast majority of shows these days are one single cour.

              Go back a decade and further and you'll see more than one cour was much more common than it is today. For many shows one cour is simply not enough time to truly flesh out the characters and stories when it's an adaption. You can get pretty rushed stuff when you try to tell too much in that small space like Arata: The Legend is doing for example. 5 episodes in, and they're already almost through all of the content of volume 3.
              Last edited by BigOnAnime; 05-08-2013, 02:18 PM.
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              • #8
                Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

                Originally posted by BigOnAnime View Post
                It's hard for me to exactly pinpoint it myself (Even though I'm one of those people these days going "This isn't going to look like a very good season"), but one thing I'd have to say would be 12-13 episodes. The vast majority of shows these days are one single cour.

                Go back a decade and further and you'll see more than one cour was much more common than it is today. For many shows one cour is simply not enough time to truly flesh out the characters and stories when it's an adaption. You can get pretty rushed stuff when you try to tell too much in that small space like Arata: The Legend is doing for example. 5 episodes in, and they're already almost through all of the content of volume 3.
                This is where I am. I really miss the days when the standard anime was 26 episodes. I really tend to prefer longer stories that take their time.

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                • #9
                  Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

                  Originally posted by _PS_ View Post
                  Originally posted by BigOnAnime View Post
                  It's hard for me to exactly pinpoint it myself (Even though I'm one of those people these days going "This isn't going to look like a very good season"), but one thing I'd have to say would be 12-13 episodes. The vast majority of shows these days are one single cour.

                  Go back a decade and further and you'll see more than one cour was much more common than it is today. For many shows one cour is simply not enough time to truly flesh out the characters and stories when it's an adaption. You can get pretty rushed stuff when you try to tell too much in that small space like Arata: The Legend is doing for example. 5 episodes in, and they're already almost through all of the content of volume 3.
                  This is where I am. I really miss the days when the standard anime was 26 episodes. I really tend to prefer longer stories that take their time.
                  It's a legit concern, and I share it. But single-cour shows simply replaced the 3-6 episode OVA series of 10+ years ago. So it's an old concern. But as there were well-told stories in that old, almost extinct, format, there are still well-told stories in the 13-episode TV format. The ratio to longer shows does seem higher now, however, and the stories that fall short in the briefer format are more glaring.
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                  Moderation: General Anime; English Track; Movie; TV | TFP Forum Rules
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                  • #10
                    Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

                    Originally posted by bctaris View Post
                    Originally posted by _PS_ View Post
                    Originally posted by BigOnAnime View Post
                    It's hard for me to exactly pinpoint it myself (Even though I'm one of those people these days going "This isn't going to look like a very good season"), but one thing I'd have to say would be 12-13 episodes. The vast majority of shows these days are one single cour.

                    Go back a decade and further and you'll see more than one cour was much more common than it is today. For many shows one cour is simply not enough time to truly flesh out the characters and stories when it's an adaption. You can get pretty rushed stuff when you try to tell too much in that small space like Arata: The Legend is doing for example. 5 episodes in, and they're already almost through all of the content of volume 3.
                    This is where I am. I really miss the days when the standard anime was 26 episodes. I really tend to prefer longer stories that take their time.
                    It's a legit concern, and I share it. But single-cour shows simply replaced the 3-6 episode OVA series of 10+ years ago. So it's an old concern. But as there were well-told stories in that old, almost extinct, format, there are still well-told stories in the 13-episode TV format. The ratio to longer shows does seem higher now, however, and the stories that fall short in the briefer format are more glaring.
                    That's a good point. Plus, ten years ago, you wouldn't get things like "split cour" shows, which are preannounced as running for two non-consecutive cour. I'd also be curious to see if the lack of two-cour shows is made up for by the amount of sequels being produced. (I don't have time to do any kind of numerical or percentage comparison right now but I will.)

                    ETA: Yes, that seems to be true.

                    I compared Spring 2001 and Spring 2011 (simply because 2011 is long enough ago to give those shows a decent chance of getting a sequel by now).

                    32 shows premiered in 2001; 36 in 2011 (there were 40 on the chart but I could not find episode counts for all obscure and/or kiddy shows).
                    In 2001, there were 10 one-cour shows. In 2011, there were 19. Obviously a big jump.
                    In 2001, there were 12 two-cour shows. In 2011, there were 9. So it's rather interesting that, while it's true there used to be many more two-cour shows than there are now, they didn't make up the majority of titles back then.
                    There were 10 longer-than-two-cour shows in 2001 and 6 in 2011. There were also 2 shorter-than-one-cour shows in 2011 (these certainly would have been OVAs ten years ago).

                    However, sequels: 4 of the 2001 shows were sequels or eventually got sequels. But *12* of the 2011 shows were. So, while individual seasons today are comprised mostly of shorter-running shows, you may just have to be patient if you want longer shows these days. Likewise, I think OVA sequels were more common in the past and they would run longer. The typical pattern today seems to be one DVD-only episode as opposed to OVA series sequels.

                    (Obviously, Spring 2001 may have been a weird sequel-less season, plus there's a mix of kiddy and otaku stuff in here, some huge franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh etc. But I think it gives you a general idea of how things have changed in the last ten years. Also, I'm no statistician and I may have made a counting mistake! )
                    Last edited by _PS_; 05-08-2013, 06:54 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

                      Well many of the points that lead to consider anime dead these days with very few exceptions and works that are made by veterans from the 70s-80s i can simply say without passing judgement is that the elements that made me an anime fan 18 years ago i no longer find in new shows. That's why i have more time to watch/re-watch more shows from the era that i prefer which are more than enough to keep me happy for another 3 life times
                      Formerly "Mazinkaizer" at AOD

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                      • #12
                        Re: Questioning Fandom: What’s Wrong With Anime?

                        Perhaps what has down-aged the school stories (& sometimes resulted in prequels of earlier made ones e.g. Aika R-16, GiTS Arise) is the influence of interactive video games.

                        Anime was based on manga in the past, helping sell titles.

                        Toy marketing was another & bigger commercial reason. Gundam, Transformers and all robot shows.

                        Creators of the above, & those who worked their way up had a long ranging influence on anime, but they are being replaced by later generations who have a more modern background & have to sell to different expectations.

                        Older stories, animation quality apart, seem very dated. No computers, no cell phones, phone boxes & cards instead. 21st century home theatre expectations also have to be satisfied. Big effects, eye candy, surround sound etc. Big shiny style over substance wins.

                        So what can slice of life teen soaps offer? Sex always sells to someone. And violence. In the young there is the shock-horror factor, as well as tear jerking pathos, & youthful bravery.

                        In an age & society where childhood seems to be short, through life experiences & parental expectations, perhaps selling stories of fictional rites of passage & puberty has its place as a type of supplement for what is being missed in the rush to adulthood.

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