Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I believe that anime is an artform - Otaku Thoughts #57

As a male anime fan, I do appreciate looking at pretty anime girls.
The reason why I retweet cute anime girls from these series that I don't connect with, is because, as an aspiring artist, looking at a well-drawn female form is incredibly valuable to me.
So then, how come shows like Eromanga-sensei don't appeal to me very much? It has pretty girls. Well-drawn ones, in fact.
Well, it's because I also appreciate it when a story treats its audience as people who want to consume art, not just petty fanservice and dick jokes.

If a show wants to make dick jokes, it better go all the way and be frickin Panty and Stocking levels of raunchy, or get the hell away from that kind of material because it feels so very out of place.
Should every anime strive to be the best show ever? Of course not. In the end, it is first and foremost, entertainment. But to just waggle a cute girl doing a cute dance in front of me with absurd plot devices and conveniences doesn't entertain me... it only insults my intelligence. I'm not claiming I'm smart, but I want to become smarter, or at least watch things that can surprise me on an emotional level if not an intellectual one. With Eromanga Sensei, we're only getting more of the same, which is why I'm baffled as to why the show is being treated as 'good'. I know why it's popular, but people genuinely think that this is a good slice of life anime with interesting characters and unique spins on the "incest is wincest" cliche. Unfortunately, I can't buy into this hype; as I discussed over text with a friend, "I watch it to get to know the characters so that the hentai doujinshi are more satisfying."
Because reading the hentai doujinshi of the cute girls presented by these generic light novel adaptations gives me more enjoyment then the insipid shows themselves.

You see, when it comes down to it, you just have to ask yourself: 
What is anime to you?
Because, is it purely escapism? Is it something to "turn your brain off" and watch cute girls accompanied by a vapid plot and forced melodrama? 
Is it just "stupid fun"?
On my Twitter profile, my bio says, "The medium of anime has so much potential." That is something that I keep in mind as I watch anime. I want to feel something on an emotional level. I want to think on an intellectual level. 
I want something genuine.
My rating system has "Enjoyable" as the lowest form of a "passing" grade for anime. I'm going to be honest here: the Enjoyable rating isn't a truly meaningful score. If something is only enjoyable, it can be considered equivalent to "stupid fun". There are some exceptions; Lunar Legend Tsukihime made me feel on an emotional level, but there were too many flaws to call it truly Wonderful, for example. But, that is the exception, not the rule.
Ever since my highly hated Eromanga-sensei Ep. 3 Live Reaction was added without my permission to a reaction compilation video, people were calling me a "hater". And it has caused me to ponder: do I just hate fun? This is a question explored in Digibro's "Turn your brain off" video, but I'd like to give my own perspective on it.
It's true, that I shouldn't expect every anime to make me feel something, or to change me, but... I don't think that means I should lower my standards.
I want that feeling of awe. I want to connect.
Anime that is "otaku-bait" or pandering to the horny male otaku audience, with moe lolis and a blank-slate main character, or a bunch of lesbian high school girls/gay ice skating men, filled to the brim with every fetish and body size imaginable, with enough melodrama that I begin to laugh at the forcefulness of it all... Well, this is what is generally considered to be "fun". 
But I'm not having fun. Because it feels so very trite. It feels meaningless. To enjoy such a thing, I really would have to sit down and stop trying to connect with it, because it won't connect with me on a human level, but only a superficial one.
A meaningful show, one that perceives anime as a real art form, would have characters that aren't only archetypes, but real people. Not literally, of course, but they would feel as if they were real people. They would have their appeal, they would have their flaws... you would get to know them as a real friend. Or, as an intimidating enemy, if they are the antagonist. You wouldn't be able to sum up all of their complexities in a couple of words, or even sentences, because they'd be... complex.
There wouldn't be a grating soundtrack that obnoxiously overbears the voice acting or begs you to laugh or feel... In a genuine anime that actually treats the viewer as someone mature with standards for works of art, you would have a soundtrack that carries a scene, that compliments it, rather than competing with the other aspects to force you to "feel" something. It would work with the other components, and it would still be able to stick in your mind after viewing the anime. Just from hearing the music on its own, you would get goosebumps on your body as you remember a character or a scene that connects with the song... that connected with you.
The art and directing would make you tear up from its artistic brilliance, or make you shout in anticipation from the badassery of it all, or make your heart flutter in warmth from the utter love and passion that the artists forged into it.

I love anime.
I love it when a "fun" anime is more than just "fun".
I want to feel something genuine when I watch anime, because I got into anime with Fullmetal Alchemist showing me what kind of amazing potential this medium has in store.
This is why I'm getting tired of the same old moe cliches. Haruhi Suzumiya, an anime over a decade old, has more originality in its opening episode than most modern anime have in its entire 12 episode run.
The general anime community thinks of anime as a meme. 

I believe that anime is an artform.


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