Coal In Your Stockings: Why Contentious Moments in Anime (sometimes) Suck

[gg]_Chuunibyou_Demo_Koi_ga_Shitai!_-_07_[C4BA1D17].mkv_snapshot_21.01_[2012.12.13_10.30.48]

KyoAni deems Chuu2 “not moe enough”; manipulates fanbase feels with unnecessary melodrama

Yeah, I have my own impressions, opinions, and interpretations of anime, and they’re apparent in each caption of each photo. I find making an actual “top # anime” thingy sort of dumb because all the readerbase cares about is whether their favorites exists on my list or not. So, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking on my behalf. What I am going to talk about, however, is a bit rant-y. Bear with me on this one, because I’ll eventually get to the point, but if you’re expecting more than a mere list of favorite anime of 2012 then that’s what you’re going to get.

No matter what the cause of each turn of events, there exists many moments in this year of anime that, by culture or by circumstance, make the entire anime “bad” or “shit”. I think those are strong words, so I just use the words “controversial” or “contentious”. In case you haven’t realized by now, I’m talking about the moments strewn about this year’s variety of anime where, by some reason or other, people choose to drop the show. I seem to have been watching a lot of series this year where either people drop it (for reasons of varying quality) or become disillusioned/unimpressed by its ending. There’s a myriad of reasons why people wouldn’t want to watch a show any longer, and there are also good reasons why people don’t like where a show chose to go. My point here is that I find those reasons flawed, and that I’m equally guilty of doing this exact same thing for other anime.

Nazo no Kanojo X

Studio Porn greenlights Weird-Ass Shit X; thousands gag in horror

The most preliminary transgression is the premise. We look at those quarter-paragraph preview charts that come out every season, and the staff that are behind those anime, and make the conclusion of which ones to watch. Choosing not to watch shows because of time constraints is completely understandable, but rejecting a show because you’re averse to the premise is not. If a person does decide not to watch something based on this, they must understand that they are not going to have an educated opinion about the show, much less a correct one.

However, we are no strangers to complaining about shows we don’t watch, and it’s incredibly easy to do when internet anonymity is ever-present in the anisphere. I don’t know if Sword Art Online is really that bad because I haven’t seen for myself. Yet, given all the bad opinion juju around it, does that stop me from thinking that Sword Art Online is a bad show? Of course not. That’s just how I end up thinking about it because other bloggers trash this show so much (and probablymaybe for good reason aw shit I’m doing it again sorry).

I wouldn’t say jumping on the bandwagon like this would be bad, because it’s not, but it’s unfounded. As easy as it is to disregard this, I think that people should at least watch the anime in question instead of letting other people watching the show shape your opinion like a game review does. I mean, most of the time you’re not even paying for the experience (other than the time needed to watch or if you’re weeaboo enough to, like, buy discs), so it wouldn’t hurt to just develop a better opinion by watching the anime.

Ano-Natsu-de-Matteru-Ep-1-Img0034

Cheap fanservice infiltrates Ano Natsu’s first episode; apocalypse and crippling disappointment predicted

Then the first episode of the anime lets you down so hard that you cannot imagine it getting any better than what’s presented. This is because either it didn’t turn out to be what you expected or it was precisely what you expected and just wanted a reason to stop watching. Again, I see this every season and there’s good and bad reasons attached to them. At this point, a viewer now has an incomplete opinion of the show. It’s a step forward from not watching the show at all, but it’s still not enough to have a sound opinion. First impressions hardly make for review-worthy sentiments.

See, there’s this magical thing people like to shove in your face called “the rest of the anime”. If you drop an anime by the first episode, you are still free to speculate and predict the outcome of the anime but your opinion is not equal to the people who actually watched the anime in its entirety. There will be those who try to convince you to keep watching, to persist with something you are against, because of some bullshit like “It gets better, I swear!”. Such opinions are free to be categorized into the “useful” and “useless” bins of your mind, and in the end it’s your own choice whether or no to continue. You are free to do that. And you will be missing out.

[Mazui] hyouka

Expert analysts rate Hyouka’s locked room mystery “obvious/10”; fans berate Chitanda Eru for being retarded

It’s by no question that people watch the anime they are interested in because, well, they find the content interesting. maybe you’re drawn to the action and the adventure and the dynamic camera angles, or you require some feel-good optimism and a couple laughs after a hard day. Maybe it’s because you need to find characters to relate with. All these motivations don’t exactly gel with a show’s premise, so the show’s efforts to entertain said motivations are wasted. Mystery shows are routinely dropped because they don’t tickle our left hemispheres enough. A few panty shots or bathroom mishaps are all it takes to write off a show as “immature” or “generic”. Someone steals a kiss and all of a sudden the shoujo genre has hit the deep end.

First episodes and first impressions toy with our perception. They mess with our expectations and tickles at our pessimistic tendencies. Yet, when it comes to finding the entertainment needed to sustain themselves, first impressions are key. If the first episode matches your interests, your expectations, keep going. If it doesn’t, there are two choices: find something to like in the later episodes or abandon ship immediately. It all depends on what your interests are. Additionally, it also depends upon how far you’re able to go with anime that don’t match your interests.

[Commie] Tonari no Kaibutsu - 01 [54AC9DBF].mkv_snapshot_05.59_[2012.12.16_23.47.06]

My Little Rape Controversy; Haru/Shizuku becomes “rape culture” posterchild

What do I find interesting in anime? Drama. Lots and lots of drama. The very thing people stopped liking anime for this year. Granted, there are different lines where people substantiate their tolerances for drama, but my tolerance levels are off the charts. So far off that I could finish Black Rock Shooter without a single emotional damn given yet without any offense taken at the same time. Likewise, I am no enemy to controversy either when it comes to events both within and surrounding an anime. I also think that I’m a minority on this. Anime characters routinely bawl their eyes out and anime fans rage about how unnecessary it is each season and I’m just sitting here masticating my popcorn.

See, I like drama because it accelerates certain aspects of a character, namely their motivations and personalities. Sometimes there’s a subtle, slow-burning, controlled atmosphere that slowly eats away at each character. Other times it’s a full-blown wildfire of emotions that’s too intense to keep track of. I would guess that the latter is the one that people like the least. However, I appreciate both these types of drama.

Additionally, I think there’s merit to appreciating what an anime tries to do. I say this because no matter how good or bad an anime gets there’s always a story or two to tell. With that, each story has themes, values, and sentiments born from each character so that you can identify with their struggles. The degree of complexity that each character possesses these values is widespread, enough to value them in degrees of volume. This character is “shallow”, and this one, in comparison, is “deep”. However, no matter the depth, each character serves a purpose in the story. Each struggle demands that certain measures must be taken to help them develop the way they are meant to, the way the story means them to. My attitude towards anime is to find out exactly why the story goes where it decides to go, to look at it with an unbiased, yet supportive view.

[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_08_[h264-720p][5BBFA947].mkv_snapshot_04.47_[2012.12.19_23.11.07]

Anisphere’s jimmies rustled over Shinsekai Yaoi; two boys frenching trumps queerat warfare for “reasons to drop”

It comes natural to me, to be supportive when I try to look at situations in anime analytically. If you’ve taken any course in your academics that has the word “appreciation” in it, you’ll understand that enjoying something stems from understanding how the system works. It comes from taking what’s given and working with it, trying to figure out why the story must go in a certain direction. Don’t confuse appreciation with being unbiased, though, because I certainly still have opinions in terms of quality and execution that are more defined and certainly closer to being extreme. But I see stories as (mostly) of great significance. Yes, there are the interesting stories and the boring stories, good execution and piss-poor execution, but taking apart the pieces of an anime and examining how they’re developed is a whole different evaluation of its own. It’s rewarding when the story and execution is good, and laughable (yet still existent) when they are not.

So, when a scene like the ones presented in this post happens, should it change my opinion of the anime? The shock of drama or a fascinating development elicits a myriad of reactions, yet at times it causes some to reject the anime because of how much it changed. Would it be allowed to feel this way? Yes! Sudden developments are inconsistent, come too fast, ruin our enjoyment. They ignored our expectations! They betrayed our expectations! It’s probably management’s fault that they had to rush some drama or shock value into the story because they were running out of ideas. Emotional tension is unfounded. Dumb. Crying is also dumb. ANGST. Stop it, anime. STOP IT.

By the way, I still think you’re allowed to feel indignation at these turns of events. I just think that people don’t look hard enough into a scene to recognize its significance. But I can’t ask people to “try harder” because that’s insulting and kind of unintelligent to argue. It’s frustrating, honestly.

Sakamichi_no_Apollon_Ep11_Left_Alone_[1080p,BluRay,x264,flac]_-_THORA.mkv_snapshot_17.21_[2012.12.28_07.26.33]

Director Watanabe Shinichiro wanted for sabotaging Kids on the Slope; motorbikes and cars ready to pursue suspect

All of this really boils down to one of my long-standing ideals for media consumption: if you’re going to have an opinion about an anime, take the time to digest the entire thing actively. Find the themes, the character motivations, how everything interacts with each other… things that foster some intellectual discussion besides “this anime turned to shit because bad characters and bad plot and other sophomoric bullshit I won’t expound upon 1/10”. I can guarantee you that these are not hard to find, you just need the motivation to find them. I don’t care if people disagree about a show’s quality; I just care if people have a good reason to think that. It’s an issue of conduct, of respect, so that when disagreements do happen we know that both parties are viewing the situation at the same level.

Again, this is an ideal I have. Few will really listen to all this jargon, and no one is going to follow this down to the letter. However, I wish for some of this to be understood because we’re going to go through another year of precisely everything I just mentioned… and it’s going to bring me down at times. Perhaps I’m being too harsh on the community because I expect something that is, quite honestly, impossible. I’m as guilty of these transgressions as any other ordinary anime fan. Yet, it’s hard for me to have these strong opinions about things like any other aniblogger because I tend to rationalize the shit out of every situation. That’s why I end up liking these anime with all these contentious moments. If you’re sharp you’ll also know that I don’t follow this mold either, because I’ve dropped several shows every season too, due to disinterest and other reasons I’m not keen on admitting. I don’t like that I’m a hypocrite, but I am one. Yet, at the end of the year, what may be considered the pieces of coal that the 2012 anime have given us end up being my greatest treasures of the year.

So, what stems from your disappointment, your disdain, your absolute aversion? Where does it come from? Does it burn slowly and perpetually like melted sugar? Is it a cold morning’s itch in a region where your hands can’t reach? Or is it as sudden and explosive as a meth lab mishap?

And are you ready to experience this once again in 2013?

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9 comments

  1. I lol’ed so hard at the picture captions. If some type of anime newspaper akin to “The Onion” ever becomes a thing, I think you’d be perfect for it. ;)

      1. Well, that didn’t work.
        Regardless, that site is incredible. Many thanks are given.

  2. I understand and agree with what you’re saying to some extent, but I think you might be taking it a bit too far.

    “[…]rejecting a show because you’re averse to the premise is not [understandable].”

    That just doesn’t make any sense to me. The burden of proof lies with the anime so if a show looks bad, I’m not going to take valuable time out of my day to watch it. At that point, it has to overcome my expectations and prove to me that it’s an enjoyable experience.

    You also talked about constructing your personal opinion based off of the popular opinion. This obviously has its flaws, but if you trust your sources, there’s nothing wrong with it. If ninety percent of reputable bloggers blow a show out of the water for the reasons I expected, that helps confirm my prior opinion. Obviously this doesn’t give me the justification to reassert that educated opinion as my own, but it does provide me with personal verification.

    “[…]they are not going to have an educated opinion about the show, much less a correct one.”

    Lets say somebody asks you to call a coin toss. You choose heads and walk out of the room. You later discover that you were correct despite the fact that your call was essentially guesswork.

    This might be incredibly oversimplified, but you can probably see where I’m going. Just because you don’t finish a show doesn’t mean your opinion on it is any less correct than your peers. It might be less reliable to a third party, but that shouldn’t matter to you.

    To sum it up, you’re completely correct about people asserting unfounded opinions, and it is a serious problem everywhere–not just in anime. At the same time though, forming a personal opinion based off of third party information isn’t really all that bad if the information has proven to be reliable.

    “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

    1. For the most part, I am taking it too far. I recognize that. I wouldn’t dream of making someone fly to the Middle East to experience war in its entirety, or send them back in time to see the atom bomb explode over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instead of just letting them watch the proper news source and read the proper material.

      I suppose my issues stem more from… frustration, I guess? To a person who watches anime mainly for entertainment value, most everything in my post is irrelevant. Seeking recommendations from third-party sources is quick and efficient. It saves time that can be spent doing more important things, and maybe a majority of people indeed have better things to do than just sit around and discuss anime. However, for the people that have the time and the dedication to give their own opinions about anime on the internet, I expect depth and a respectable amount of comprehension. That is a folly of my own. I can’t expect everyone to analyze anime to a certain depth, nor should I expect everyone to have the patience to wonder exactly why a certain scene did what it did or be familiar with certain narrative conventions that are learned in an advanced literature course. In fact, I shouldn’t even expect myself to figure out which person out of a strange variety of the anisphere population fits my made-up description.

      All of this culminates into this sneaky hate spiral that flares up everytime I wonder why bashing an anime without proper context can be so easy in comparison to actually watching it and forming an opinion from there. I simply find it hard to accept that people who bother to have their opinions heard don’t give the same amount of dedication to being fully researched on their own subjects. I haven’t even explained what I mean by “fully researched” asdfgawasdvawxk-

      I’m done. >:C

      1. Now that is something I can side with you on.

        I’ll respect one’s right to have whatever opinion they want, but as soon as they start pushing a misinformed assumption on me, I’m going to either tear them apart or completely ignore them. If someone wants to earn my respect on that level, they need to provide a justification beyond, “that’s how I feel.” I don’t need it to be eloquent, but there has to be something there to talk about and refine. Unfortunately, the internet rarely facilitates this sort of discussion.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

  3. Necro’ing this discussion to say that while it is frustrating to see people dismiss the merits of an anime without making a serious attempt to understand its artistic intent, it is something that we all inevitably fall into. When you look at the season chart and roll your eyes at the latest harem / cute girls 4koma / LN adaptation you’re being a biased jackass, obviously. Of course, it’s only ever a problem when someone prematurely judges something that you happened to put the effort into understanding, whether you ultimately liked it or not. But when both of you have the same kneejerk reaction, you just shrug it off and compliment each other on your great taste.

    Sometimes, people don’t WANT to put in all that effort to have an intelligent, literary discussion about anime. It’s frustrating, but I think it’s fine. The important thing is at least having the capacity to engage in anime in both a shallow and a deep way, and in acknowledging that we are all human and we’ll never be fair.

    1. Of course, it’s only ever a problem when someone prematurely judges something that you happened to put the effort into understanding, whether you ultimately liked it or not.

      Which makes it harder to convince people to watch certain anime, in my case. There are times where the reasons I like the anime are… exclusive to me? Is that the right way to put it? The best example of this is anime with ambiguous endings (Gainax endings fall under this category too), where it’s left to the viewer to make their own conclusions about the story. I love these sorts of endings, and others find it to be a bit half-assed.

      Sometimes, people don’t WANT to put in all that effort to have an intelligent, literary discussion about anime.

      Oh my lord with how discussion sections develop in college you have no idea how much this irritated me. I’ve changed a bit since writing this post, thanks to being subject to these precise viewpoints all the time in anime club, I’ve adapted slightly because of it, for better or worse.

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