There exist people who don’t like JoJo’s. Allow me to explain that later.
I mentioned before that choices in anime club are preferably geared towards what is entertaining versus what is boring. Spring 2012 would tell us that Jormungand would be preferable to Sakamichi no Apollon because the former is inherently more exciting to watch. It tells us that Space Bros. would take us by storm through its sheer novelty and how we as adults could somewhat relate to the not-so-grown-up attitude of Mutta. Mysterious Girlfriend X would be met with little understanding, maybe some gags here and there. What decides this, though? From what I have observed, the ideal show for this anime club is a show that:
- Has little to no fanservice
- Gives people an excuse to laugh, whether justified or not
Of course, when the opinions of others are also involved in the club, finding shows is hardly a unilateral action. When it comes to the opinions of other people, what criteria do I choose from when looking at what anime to watch? Well, that goes into a territory called the “No Fun Zone”, and let me tell you all about it.
- You don’t talk about the “No Fun Zone”.
- You don’t talk about the “No Fun Zone”.
- You can’t leave the “No Fun Zone”.
- While in the “No Fun Zone”, you must defenestrate your personal tastes in anime.
- Attempts to leave the “No Fun Zone” result in immediate and loud complaints concerning your supposed tastes in anime.
- You do not know that you’ve entered the “No Fun Zone”, and subsequently relinquished your tastes in anime, until you are already in it.
- Complainers get to retain their tastes in anime like it’s their property and stuff.
And so on and so forth. How far do you think we should take into account the tastes of other people when deciding as a staffie group what should be shown? I honestly don’t know the answer right now, given recent events. Actually, this issue has been an aspect of anime club ever since I came to attend this place. The pervading sentiment for the last year or so is that we should be watching the newest anime to come out of Japan, not unlike what we as anibloggers do now. Some consideration is put into showing anime from the past, and it’s always been a sentiment that I share wholeheartedly, but this is how the club has operated for the longest time and they would be hard pressed to change that model. Until this week happened.
Let us talk about another member of the anime club, this one being a woman. She’s one of the few people in the club who do not like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Naturally, like anyone else here would, I asked why. Was it the shallowness of its themes? Was it too dumb? Because like it or not, JoJo’s does draw a lot of its entertainment from being outlandishly dumb. It’s merely a question of whether or not you can appreciate the dumb. But no. That’s not why she doesn’t like it. Her problem is that she can’t handle the violence, which is fair. You can’t expect everyone to be jaded towards gore, censored or not. This is also one of the reasons why we did not end up watching Psycho-Pass too. Actually, the violence in Psycho-Pass came second to what seemed to be a more pressing issue to her, which was rape. So, we ended up dropping Psycho-Pass not because it was violent, not because it would become entrapped in Butcher Gen conventions that we’ve all seen before, but because there was rape.
If it sounds like I disagree with that sentiment, I don’t. I think it’s valid, and I think it’s a serious concern. What I also think, however, is that most of these types of situations can be also be diffused as a non-issue when the narrative ends up not pursuing it. Everyone remember how the first episode of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun went? Yeah, she was all over that one too. I hesitate to say that she’s a feminist, because there are certainly more traits to feminists than merely thinking about a woman’s well-being, but I can definitely say that her opinion is one that I wish I had for the club. She may be ruining other people’s fun by disparaging what we end up watching every now and then, It’s not like I don’t agree. She isn’t contrary to us because it’s fun for her. Since she’s been around for a while, probably longer than I have, I like to believe that she has the club’s best interest in mind when saying that shows like Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun are bad to watch because they promote bad themes. Her criticisms are more focused on the content of a series rather than their entertainment value, so that means that most of the anime we end up watching end up as a no-no. I used to think that way, so I could identify… but that was when I wasn’t an officer. When you get into a position like mine, there’s a lot more to be thinking about than what she worries about. Hell, the criteria I outlined in the beginning of this post is moot if I take her completely seriously.
Maybe I get a bit on edge when she says things like this because I made the effort to pick out shows. And if it’s any indication by now, what I choose does not necessarily reflect upon my own tastes and desires. I’ve already said that Winter 2013 anime sucks, but because we’re stuck choosing shows from that criterion I have no choice but to keep going. To clarify, though, her suggestion to us doesn’t consist of “watch only good anime pls”, and if I connote anything to that extent that’s really not what I mean. She’s fine with things like JoJo’s as long as there’s other things to balance it out. If we pander to otaku, we must also pander to fujoshi. If we must cater to those who love violence, make the effort to watch things that are less offensive to balance it out. It’s a valid suggestion and we’re thinking of implementing this by next week. Watching older series was an issue because the president prioritized watching newer series over older ones, for no reason other than to stay current, or “fresh” as he might call it. This often led to leaving a bunch of shows imcomplete with each school year, in favor of catching up with the newest thing. Honestly, when we look for quality series, that’s a risky gamble in and of itself. It would make much more sense to just to show something that’s already known as good by a fair amount of people.
Then again, this is just one woman and a couple of other people on her side making this complaint. Out of maybe 25-30 people who frequent the club. How far should her opinion change what has been relatively successful? I still think things can and should change, because honestly most people who go to anime club don’t care whether something is new or “fresh” or whatever. Technically, we don’t even need to show the fanservice-y anime if we don’t need to, because the otaku group is just as small, but that’s not what I want out of this club. I’ll explain this with another post sometime in the future.
- Thinking about it, how would an actual feminist survive anime pop culture? That shit is sexualized and misogynistic to the point of ridiculousness. I also think it can make rash judgments on anime such as Psycho-Pass or Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun just because they use the concept of rape as a plot device. This particular woman doesn’t watch new anime on her own time, so she’s somewhat immune. It’s just unfortunate that a majority of anime that ends up being screened in anime club seem to promote these kinds of themes relentlessly, every season, perhaps every year. Being Western fan of anime is suffering.
- As much as it doesn’t have to be this way, I wish I could share her opinions on what we show in club. Thing is, since she said that she doesn’t like what we have been showing recently (which is heavily influenced by yours truly), it’s kind of a smack to the face. I try to think about what’s best for anime club, yes, and I also want to implement her complaints somewhere along the line. It kind of sucks, I can only access the majority of what people want by denying my own preferences.
- We’re still watching JoJo’s until the end, because damned if we don’t end up finishing a single anime series this year.