Good afternoon, Scratchi-verse!
I have a confession to make. There’s a secret that I’ve shamefully kept from all of you for years on end. As an animation fan, it’s plagued me for years. As a person, it eats at me every day, causing a deep void to endlessly widen in my soul. But, you know what? I’m tired of remaining silent. I’m tired of living in fear, and I’m REALLY tired of letting it control me. So, today, in hopes of fixing the problem and finally being free, I’m going to just come out and say it, finally seeking the help and guidance of you, one of our many excellent The ScratchPad readers:
My name is Tomato Surprise, and I hate anime.
It didn’t always used to be this way. For most of my life, even as recent as a year ago, I loved anime. I’d be lying if I proclaimed myself to be super-involved in the nexus of anime back then, like fellow ‘Padders Don East and Sketch. That being said, I regularly watched and wholly enjoyed anime such as Death Note, Dragon Ball, Bobobo-Bobobobo, Fullmetal Alchemist, and YuYu Hakusho. I have fond memories of all of these shows, and their influence on my writing is both unquestionable and unmeasurable. That said, in the past few years, every anime I’ve tried has turned itself into a kind of supernova, burning brightly in initial episodes, only to eventually collapse into a dusty black hole that does absolutely nothing, short of boring me to tears. (Every image in this post, by the way, comes from an anime I’ve tried in the last three to four years that has followed this pattern.)
But, rather than just swear off anime altogether, as I’ve been tempted to do on more than one occasion, I’m writing this post, a last desperate plea to get me onto the anime bandwagon. To that end, I’ve decided to pinpoint where exactly my hatred of anime stems, in hopes of being healed of this unfortunate habit. I’ve managed to boil it down into five key points, so let’s take a look at those below.
1. Anime Is Derivative
To me, most of the anime I’ve seen is eerily similar to its competition. From my cursory knowledge of the medium, the genre that most frequently makes it to the United States is one called shonen. Shonen anime, like Naruto, Dragonball, One Piece, and Soul Eater, usually focuses on a mostly-male cast, with one or two female protagonists, having to battle some grand force of evil after being granted a fantastic power, which will gradually increase over the course of the show. To expect much more than that, beyond a few well-written filler arcs, and, if you’re lucky, some crude character development, is to be let down. Some shonen, like Death Note, manage some pretty intricate character development, but they’re more of an exception to the rule, in my experience. Even the much-touted One Piece is little more than an accumulative spree to gain members for Luffy’s pirate crew. The characters in most shonen can be boiled down to simple archetypes, and any attempt to add depth to them in the form of backstory usually is a case of “too little, too late”. I like my characters to be rich and nuanced, and in the anime I’ve sampled, precious little of that quality can be found.
So, with that said, you might believe that anime moves generally quicker than Western animation. However….
2. Anime Is Slow-Paced
Q: How many Dragonball Z characters does it take to change a light-bulb?
A: Just one, but it’ll take about six episodes.
While that’s a very funny joke, it also exemplifies a huge problem with anime. It’s slow. Immaculately, unapologetically, and invariably slow. Even the tiniest of plot advancements, such as the fight with Buggy or Captain Kuro, can take anywhere from two to six episodes. And it’s not just One Piece either. This is the one complaint on this list common to every anime I’ve ever seen. Things take way, way, way too long. Not only does this bore me as a viewer, but the prolonged busywork of the story saps saps any emotional impact the story has. Plus, this means that…
3. Anime is Long
This complaint is partially due to the last one. Since anime is super-decompressed in storytelling, it’s also LONG. Some series, like One Piece, Death Note, Soul Eater, and even my favorite anime YuYu Hakusho, easily crack and even surpass fifty episodes. With a schedule like I have, it’s hard to find the time to delve into a series for the long term, especially when it has already finished its run and isn’t in syndication. Even when this isn’t the case, and it is rerunning, the run-time of an anime is simply too vast for me to think about it week-to-week, and to gain any desire to come back to it once the credits role. Of course, this is only one reason why…
4. Anime Is Inacessable
Recently, with series like Evangelion 1.0, Gundam 00, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood ruling the roost of popular anime titles, a significant trend has arisen in anime: the reverberation of past stories under a new continuity, universe, or other reboot. While these new spins on old nostalgic treats may please a hardcore otaku, they leave newcomers like me with a tailspin and a mad headache. If I, for example, wanted to watch a Gundam series, where am I expected to begin? There are at least fifty Gundam OVAs, series, movies, and other miscellaneous media bits, and looking at them as an outsider makes me feel like a two-year-old looking at my brother’s Trigonometry homework. If anime wants to expand beyond a niche market, it needs a clear and well defined jumping-on point. Why, you ask? Well, to put it bluntly…
5. Anime is HUGE
Out of all the points I’ve listed so far, this one is probably the most inescapable. Anime, while not necessary popular, is huge. Numerous. Plentiful. Whatever word you want to use, there’s no escaping that there’s a LOT of anime out there in the world. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad. Some of it is Ikki Tousen. As such, it’s entire possible, even very probable, that I’m totally wrong on most counts. But, y’know what? Proving me wrong, that’s not my job. That’s yours. Here’s the deal: over the next year, I’m going to be attempting to regret every word of this post. I’m attempting an experiment of sorts, and this post is nothing less than the entire jumping off point for a good part of next year’s The ScratchPad post. That’s right. I’m going into the world of anime, whether I come out alive or not. But, before I do that, I need your help. All week, here on The ScratchPad, my fellow contributors will try to break me in to the weird and whimsical world of anime. Then, on January 3rd of 2011, after our holiday hiatus, I intend to announce a pretty big project.
To help that big project, however, I’m going to need you to do a couple of things. First, spread this post around on Twitter, Facebook, ToonZone, and WordPress. The more people that leave comments, the better this will work. Secondly, leave a comment detailing what YOU think of this post, some anime you’d want me to try, and why you’d want me to try it.
Until then, though, I’m Tomato, and I’ll see you next week.
Response posts: Sketch, RacattackForce, ToonFaithful, and Don East