Friday, April 7, 2017

Disappointment in Modern Anime

It surprised me that I've never written an article about this. Whenever I'm confronted with the question of "What animes are you watching?" and such I always have the same reply, "Me and anime broke up. She said somethings, I said somethings and we decided we were better off seeing other people. We got back together around Death Note, and that was great but we knew it was only temporary.". I say that a lot but I never elaborated on that and in this article I'm going to talk about my issues with anime as it stands now and what is exactly up with my old flame.

Let's go back to the beginning. I remember back in the early 90s on some long forgotten channel, I used to watch anime, at the time however, I wasn't aware that it was "anime", they were simply cartoons, cartoons with interesting and mature themes I couldn't quite grasp but cartoons nonetheless. My brother and I would send an evening watching things like "Robotech", "Dragonball", "Sailor Moon", "Guyver", "Speed Racer", and so on and they were just cartoons.

Fast-forwarding a lot, Toonami was ruling the roost when it came to exposing people to anime, however my brother and I were ahead of the curve. While everyone was still watching "Dragon Ball Z", "Gundam Wing", "Sailor Moon" & "Poke'Mon". My brother and I were on to other things "Ah My Goddess", "Tenchi Muyo" (not "Universe"...never "Universe"), "Trigun", "Ramna 1/2", "Evangelion", "Devil Hunter Yohko", "Burn Up-W" (a personal favorite), "Ninja Scrolls", "Ninja Resurrection" and probably the best anime ever written "Golden Boy", "Akira", "Serial Experiments Lain". Not exactly hard hitting stuff but at that point in time anime was still this very unknown subculture that people were quite tapped into yet and it was still very much a thing only my brother and a handful people we knew were privy to.

Still easily my favorite...

Anyway, after anime going mainstream becoming I started looking for the animes that weren't mainstream. I turned my attention to manga and started reading limited series (ie, manga that were completed or had an end date established), the reason why was because I had grown tried of nigh endless sagas and I wanted to see an end game in sight. "Lament Of The Lamb" & "Battle Royale" were my first manga and I enjoyed them greatly. Next up was "Boys Be..." & "Blood Alone" and while I discontinued "Blood Alone", I never the less enjoyed it. What I found though was that there really wasn't an anime similar to these to that grabbed me the way they did. Not even the animated "Lament Of The Lamb" grabbed me the way the manga did.

What I'm saying is that the anime out there didn't catch my interest. I may have enjoyed "Bleach", MAY have had it not been for certain circumstances which I won't get into, but suffice it to say, I found "Bleach" pretty derivative of "Dragonball Z". Ichigo is Goku, Uryu is Piccolo, Renji is Vegeta, the story arc where Ichigo and his friends have to go to The Soul Society to save Rukia was basically The Planet Namek Arc in "Dragonball Z" with the Gotei 13 acting as The Ginyu Force. "Naruto" just never interested me, not saying anything bad about it because I know next to nothing about it (except Gaara's cool, Rock Lee got some eyebrows on him, and Tsunade can get it...what?). However I was tired of anime that featured characters with super powers and such.

The only two characters worth a damn in "Bleach"

"Death Note" was what I was looking for in an anime. My goodness, I cannot say enough good things about "Death Note". Unlike the previously mentioned animes, "Death Note" was insanely simple and yet EXTREMELY complex. The characters were amazing, the story was intense and the way it was told was down to earth while maintaining the fantastical element of such an object as a Death Note. I adore "Death Note" (as if you didn't notice). I wanted more anime to be like it, "Death Note" was a solid detective story from start to finish that didn't become anything else and didn't stumble into what I call "animeness".

One of the most chilling & yet satisfying moments in anime ever

What is "animeness"? Animeness as I define it, is taking a simple and interesting concept and needlessly convoluting it to the point where the concept isn't interesting anymore. The greatest offender of this is "Deadman Wonderland". Words cannot express how disappointed I am in "Deadman Wonderland". If you're not familiar with "Deadman Wonderland", the story is this, Ganta is a high school student who is the sole survivor of his entire class being massacred, he is framed for the massacre in a kangaroo court and sentenced to a prison called Deadman Wonderland, where convicts are forced to perform in lethal attractions as it doubles as a theme park (the audience is unaware that the people are actual convicts and are actually dying). Ganta is a small guy, extremely soft-spoken and gentle to a fault, so already he's outside of his element and he's in prison.

That sounds amazing! And the 2 episodes were gut-wrenching, Ganta is such a sweet kid and you're really hoping for him to come through okay. The plot I just explained to you by it's self sounds friggin' amazing, doesn't it? But alas, suddenly Ganta is able to manipulate his blood into a weapon because he possess the branches of sin...and ugh...animeness, adding more where more doesn't need to be added. I was SO disappointed. I wanted a story about a fish out of water, a good man trying to clear his name, a protagonist who you could cry with because you recognized you'd do the same in the same situation and you'd be dead almost immediately. Of course, the animeness gets MORE convoluted to the point where I rolled my eyes as I read the plot. For such an amazing story with so much going for it, they screwed the pooch with this one.

My immediate reaction when I found out where the series was going

All of this to say, I'm incredibly afraid to watch any new anime. That's ultimately what it is. I hear people extol the virtues of "Attack On Titan" & "One Punch Man" and I'll admit, "One Punch Man" got me interested but I'm terrified it won't be good and it'll fall into the realm of "animeness". I'd like to get back together with Anime for a little bit, but I'm worried out time together won't be a good as it was when we had "Death Note". I'm interested in "The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya" (mostly because I have a crush on Haruhi Suzumiya and she's been featured in my banner a number of times), "Highschool Of The Dead"  (for the plot...what?) and "Daily Lives Of High School Boys" looks hilarious, "Urarara" looks good as well. Maybe I'll just pull the trigger and watch one of these but I'm just scared of disappointment. Having watched or attempted to watch "Deadman Wonderland" really reminded me why anime and I broke up in the first place but I'm hoping we can hook back up. Here's to hoping, catch ya'll on the flip-flop.

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