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.
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
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
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
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.