Pointless Debate #18: Representative Anime

There is a point to this screenshot...I promise

In the middle of a rather typical night shooting the breeze on Twitter, the subject of some sort of warfare between lovers and haters of moe came up. Not particularly having any sort of agenda on this debate, someone posted a link in it was argued that the likes of Cowboy Bebop had been glorified to such an extent that anything they believed had a similar quality with moe elements (Strike Witches in their opinion) because the latter is more typical.

This moved me onto the point of this post. In light of the revelation that something considered high-quality is not considered typical of the anime viewing experience, if one was to think of a truly representative series that represents everything coming out of Japan what would it be?

There are undoubtedly a number of ways of answering this, so I’m going to address it from the point of view of someone trying to introduce someone to the medium.

The Personal Starter

Why not start with the same thing that really got me kick started into all of this, in this case Macross Plus.

Positives: Dub is reasonably good, action scenes are excellent, great if the other individual is a fan of action in general, length is reasonable

Negatives: May not care for action at all, Unlikely to see this level of detail in more modern series, the music will seem far more important that it really should be

Overall Prospect: Confusion

The Classics

Another option would be to utilize some of the more widely acknowledged classics (Evangelion, Rurouni Kenshin, Cowboy Bebop, Rose of Versailles, etc) to see if this hypothetical individual would like anything.

Positives: The odds that they will hate anything are fairly minimal, if they stick around they should find something they find appealing

Negatives: Some character designs may appear dated to the point of absurdity, “Why are they using guns in space?”, expectations may be raised much too high for them to watch anything made in the last 10 years

Overall Prospect: Disappointment

A More Cynical Take

One could also take the view that modern anime is endlessly devoted to appealing to the sexual impulses of young men, and caters to those who are up very late at night. Therefore, it is only logical to take a look at some of the more representative shows in that time slot.

Positives: Bonus points for honesty and bravery

Negatives: Needing to find a new friend, forever destroying the opinion of Japanese animation in the eyes of another person, possibly being arrested on child porn related charges

Overall Prospect: Loneliness and Despair

Now an explanation that is as left field as this scene

I might be a little pessimistic when it comes to all of those ways of trying to introduce anime to others, but I’m going to continue along this path anyway. In trying to come up with something that is currently airing now that represented everything at the moment, I could look no further than Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!

It would be easy to dismiss this considering I have only watched the episode while drinking penguins and cats, but I think it truly is representative material. It is completely derivative of the genre of the moment (risque sibling relationships à la Kiss x Sis, Yosuga no Sora, Ore no Imouto…), does not hide the fact that parts are intended to sell DVDs, pushes seemingly contradictory traits onto all of the main characters and it has character designs that reflect the level of exhaustion the low-paid staff had to deal with in creating it. That is definitely a cynical view on things, but I think it represents the state of an industry desperate to cling onto whatever money it can get from a shrinking base.

So, it may be a tad unreasonable to try to force something to be representative of a larger whole. Anyone who wishes to try can do so in the comments, obviously, and I would very much welcome it.

12 thoughts on “Pointless Debate #18: Representative Anime”

  1. Well if it didn’t have to be a currently airing series and just a recently aired one I might say that Angel Beats could be pretty representative of a lot of what’s found recently. Of course with a cynical bent because it devolved into a mess from its promising beginnings. But what introduction to anime could be more representative than a series that starts with a great concept only to fall apart?

    Wow, your cynicism has really gotten to me, lol. OniiKoto certainly has some representative elements if you’re trying to take a quick snapshot of the industry trends right now. Incest being big recently, stalker girls, tsundere, trip to Akiba episode, censoring to get people to buy the DVDs, etc.

    1. That was mainly what I was going for is the quick snapshot. On Angel Beats, I immediately thought of an industry that didn’t realize it was already dead, and then falling all over itself to try to make itself have meaning only to fail at it.

  2. That conclusion is not very fair, as it choses a show representative mostly of the worst parts of anime on TV right now, and I think that representing the moment means representing good (because IMO most anime are good right now, and IMO that’s the worst show on TV). If anything, the show that epitomizes current anime trends is Kore wa Zombie Desu ka.

    1. I knew my conclusion probably wasn’t very fair unless everyone was entirely jaded. I think there are a lot of good shows on right now, they just happened to be bankrolled by the terrible. That said, I wasn’t terrible convinced by Kore wa Zombie based on what I have seen of it.

      1. Regardless of whether you’re convinced, I probably better represent the tastes of anime fans in general and I like it decently enough lol. But it is a perfect poster-child for current trends.

      2. Such is the reason for putting this in the Pointless Debate series. Nothing here really matters at all. I could point at DVD sales, but that’s horribly misleading anyway, but I just wanted something to start a conversation.

  3. Representative of what?

    Otaku tastes? General TV broadcast audience taste?

    There’s a difference here. Go check out Awesome Engine’s year-end posts to see what anime looks like every year. 2009 has the thinking behind the post series.

    http://www.awesome-engine.com/2010/03/06/what-anime-actually-looked-like-in-2009/
    http://www.awesome-engine.com/2010/12/20/what-anime-actually-looked-like-in-2010/

    It kinda looks the same, year after year, minus the robot shows.

    1. I was thinking that Scamp’s historical season previews would be a much better source for that. Just doing it on a year-by-year basis isn’t going to see wide disparities in taste. Sure, that argument just obliterated my whole post, but that’s why I write here and nowhere else, but I digress.

      General TV audiences in Japan especially aren’t going to have drastic changes in taste (aging population mainly), but when the subculture runs out of ideas then there’s a real problem developing.

  4. What I find sad, is, all I have to see is a picture of an anime, then I’m like “oh, no not another prepubescent girl anime.” I don’t even bother. I feel like all it’s doing is encouraging pedophilia.
    Please, I want to go back to mechs, teen /adult years, and monsters. Of the current season, Level E, Hourou Musuko – Wandering Son, Saint Seiya, The Lost Canvas, are the ones I watch. I’m still clinging to old stand-bys like Bleach and Naruto. I’d give anything, if another Cowboy Bebop type were possible. Till that happens, I’ll bring out Bebop, Outlaw Star, Full Metal Panic, Witch Hunter Robin, etc……………………and hit play again.

    1. That’s a fair enough philosophy to have on things. If I had stuck to my early genre favorites, I’d probably not be watching anything new. If only it weren’t for that harem show 10 years ago.

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