HAI HAI HAI KAWAII DESU CHANNNNNNNNNNNNN
Oh screw me sideways, enough of that weeaboo shit.
Annoying greetings aside, hello Internet! Daniel here. I’ve been on a indefinite hiatus for 3 months now, and looking at the anime roster I have now, I was blown away! Imagine the sheer amount of 3 months’ worth of raw, untouched anime, just waiting for me to sit down and to behold the mythical awesomeness that is anime.
Anyways, a lot of things happened in the anime community when I was away, most notably the ruckus due to the casting of Scarlet Johansson as Mokoto Kusanagi. For those who do not know, Mokoto Kusanagi is the main character of the popular Ghost in the Shell franchise.
And apparently, casting an A-list actress who’ve played many independent, strong female roles and have starred in many critical acclaimed movies as a prominent, independent and strong female lead from an anime is unacceptable. All because she is not Asian.
Bollocks. EFFING BULLSHIT.
I’m Asian, and I don’t give two shits about Scarlet Johansson being cast as an Asian anime female lead. I mean, I don’t see the Russians kicking up a fuss when she, an American who was their greatest enemy in the Cold War, was cast as the Black Widow, originally a Russian KGB agent that was created DURING the Cold War. Right?
Plus, only the name was Asian. The character had an android body, remember? In fact, it was never clear in the first place, whether she is truly human or not, which is the whole point of the franchise, so why all the fuss?
So in light of so much such meaningless criticism that has been dished out, I’ve decided I would like to talk about how anime has changed and how much it has “deviated from its roots”, and answer the age old question that has been debated for years.
Does New Anime Sucks?
There was a time when anime was this mystical Japanese medium that got everyone talking. Back in the 80s and the 90s, it gave us magnificent, epic cyberpunk masterpieces that ultimately inspired big-name Hollywood filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and the Wachowski Brothers. Anime like the aforementioned Ghost in the Shell and Akira were revered and awe-inspiring, as people really admired this new way of expressing the impossible through the means of animation, even until this very day.
It gained a mass following in the West among the then young adults. It also expanded its fanbase to a younger audience with long running shounen series, starting with the popular DragonBall and subsequently, DragonBall Z series.
There was also Studio Ghibli, the brainchild of a certain Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, which gave us fleeting dreams about other worlds, impossible landscapes and surreal stories that were inconceivable yet all the more believable at the same time. The film Spirited Away, directed by the afore-mentioned Hayao Miyazaki in 2001 was the first ever (and only one so far, if you don’t take into consideration Big Hero 6, which originated from Japan but produced by American studios) Japanese animation feature film to win an Academy Award.
Studio Ghibli, and its founder Hayao Miyazaki were the people who gave many of us, regardless of nationality and age, pleasant childhood dreams about faraway worlds. However, the same person who single-handedly pioneered the anime industry and penetrated the Western market, the one and only Hayao Miyazaki, also recently criticized the “dire straits” the anime industry is in.
He said, and I quote:
“You see, whether you can draw like this or not, being able to think up this kind of design, it depends on whether or not you can say to yourself, ‘Oh, yeah, girls like this exist in real life.’ If you don’t spend time watching real people, you can’t do this, because you’ve never seen it. Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves. Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know. It’s produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans. And that’s why the industry is full of otaku!
The words coming from the lauded director rings sharply in many anime fans’ ears and minds, not only were the words extremely harsh on the industry, it also reflects poorly on the fans.
“Just to make sure, but you guys do know ‘otaku’ is a pejorative term, right?”
Nowadays, it is becoming more of a pain for someone to publicly announce him or herself as an anime fan. The last time I told someone who is not an anime fan that I am one, she instantly looked at me as if I was some sort of freak. I could still remember her first question after, which is:
“I thought anime was perverted?”
And I made the stupidest mistake of blurting out, “Yeah, you could say that.” Everything else was history, as she proceeded to avoid me like some exhibitionist stalker for the rest of my life.
Now, truth be told, some genres of anime are actually quite perverted. I mean, let’s be honest for a second and stop averting our eyes from the cold, hard truth. Pockets of anime community here and there on the Internet are PRETTY perverted.
As evidence, I came back to this admin page after 3 months and was horrified to find that my daily webpage views were buoyed by Internet search keywords like, “sex me with my teachers” and “rin tohsaka eroge”. I mean, seriously, WTF people?
To make matters worse, the anime community on the Internet had to take illustrations of an English teacher by the name of Ellen Baker from a Japanese English junior highschool textbook and make them into hentai. For goodness sake, these kids are 9-13 years old! And I’m not even getting close to the amount of hentai derived from popular anime and manga characters floating around in the far reaches of the Internet.
Not only that, anime nowadays contains more and more explicit sexual content compared to five to ten years ago. These shows actually sells and caters for the ‘otaku’ community in Japan. And I mean the ‘otaku’ in Japan who are so obsessed with the 2D world and anime, the NEETs, the weeaboos of Japan. I am not referring to the Western anime fans call themselves ‘otakus’. I mean, seriously, of all terms, why choose ‘otaku’, people? That’s like, so offensive and pejorative in Japan and you anime fans still call yourselves that. Seriously??
Due to all these negative views about anime, old-time anime fans were quick to shun the new anime community while nostalgically lamenting the state that the anime industry is now in, echoing Hayao Miyazaki‘s description of the anime industry.
This begs the question, does new anime suck?
If you dig deep enough, yes. Most of it suck.
And that’s not a problem, you see. I do believe that entertainment should be free of the political and social influences and entertainment should never be restricted to what people think is right or wrong. For every Cowboy Bebop, there is a Boku no Pico. In addition, when good anime exists, bad anime are bound to be plentiful. It’s like the Yin and the Yang, one complements the other whether you like it or not.
If you still think new anime sucks because it is becoming more and more perverted, then do take note, hentai existed even in the 80s and 90s. Here I would like to quote from Chris Stuckmann, one of the more prominent Youtube reviewers in one of his videos about old Japan animation.
I saw a lot of hentai VHS tapes (as a kid) at the comic store, and I went, ‘The covers look interesting, can I ha– Never mind, I can’t have that, can I?’
As you can see, anime has not changed much when it comes to R-rated nudity and graphic contents. Hentai wasn’t a new thing, in fact, it was there the whole time, and just because it is becoming more popular and easily available through the Internet doesn’t mean that you can use it to judge anime as a whole.
Most of us anime fans don’t watch that, though we’ve had some degree of exposure, no thanks to the World Wide Web. And a lot of people freak out simply because of the little exposure we’ve had. I don’t see anyone quit watching movies because of pornographic videos, so why should hentai affect anime fans?
Now, be it old anime or new, anime has been a great medium for storytelling, telling stories that live action movies wouldn’t be able to venture into. Even if some of the people at Hollywood really did attempt to adapt them into movies, more often than not, they would flop. Just look at DragonBall Evolution. In short, it was terrible.
From the old, gritty anime like Cowboy Bebop and Akira, to genre defining anime like Death Note and Clannad, to the more recent visually stunning and gripping Attack on Titan and Erased, they all have mind-boggling stories that could not be adapted in any other way. And for that matter, I wouldn’t have it any other way either.
And when we talk about animation, some prefer the old animation style, the cel animation technique where everything is hand drawn, to the more glossy feel of the current computer generated animation. I personally feel that both have their pros and cons. The old style have this grounded and gritty look, while the new CG animation is much more modern and refined, suited for a new age. Both, at their best, are breathtaking nonetheless.
So, does new anime suck? Yes. But, with that said, I’d say that old anime suck equally. I mean, have you seen some of the old anime? Most less popular ones, unlike Ghost in the Shell, were simply in it for shock value. With plotlines completely ripped off off Hollywood blockbusters and fan service that started it all, I wouldn’t say that all old anime is good. Most cannot be taken seriously or taken for anything more than it’s surface value. For an example of old anime like that, refer to my anime review of Genocyber. Shocking, I know, but thought provoking? I would disagree.
Anime had its ups and downs, but sometimes we find ourselves way too critical about entertainment. Why do we critique? It’s because we want it to be better, to be more refined, not simply to satisfy ourselves by badmouthing things we don’t even know or understand.
For example, the Ghost in the Shell live action movie hasn’t even been released yet, in fact, not even the trailer has been released. Yet, so many are making rounds exploiting weaknesses and finding ideas to bash it in. Why are we so quick to judge?
In a nutshell, I do not think criticizing new anime in favour of the old ones should be a thing. The same goes for the other way around, of course. When some tastes are not to our liking, we look away. Simple as that. We shouldn’t go into further detail to expose it, just because it exists and its existence errs you to no end. As for the question posed in the title above, should we even bother asking it?
Helpful feedback and constructive criticism is good, but meaningless criticism born from ill intentions shouldn’t exist. It doesn’t help the industry in the slightest bit, and everyone exposed to such criticism walk away with a lingering bad taste in their mouths.
Out of so many good things about anime, why only focus on the bad?
Thank you, people for reading through this incredibly long rant about anime, and if you are not bored of my writing about anime already, why don’t click here for some of my older reviews of anime?
I have a review in the works and hopefully it’ll be ready by this weekend. So till then, cheerio.