On “Knowing Anime”

oka_oh_by_g0069-d399djzFor a long time anime acted as a media bridge from one culture to another. In a way, it still is. However, as it has increased in popularity, its place in western culture has been neatly fit into specific “marketable” media niches. Before the internet boom of the 90s-2000s, this niche wasn’t completely formed and the edges of what was marketable in the west was still being explored and experimented on. Now that the target anime niches of fantasy, gaming nerd culture, tear-jerking rom-coms and the edgy sometimes raunchy “adult” anime has been found, the experimental, deep or thought provoking anime being brought out is extremely limited. This is the reason why…

“Knowing Anime” back then is different from “Knowing Anime” now.

When I tried writing a new top anime list on this blog, I found the task borderline impossible because of how much “Knowing Anime” has changed over time. For this reason I resorted to writing a list based on what I would consider the different ages of anime that I witnessed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are people whose anime knowledge goes back further than mine and people whose knowledge has only just started. However, it seems a lot more difficult to recommend people new to anime that they should watch older series than it is to recommend veteran anime watchers newer series, although that can also be very difficult. I say this because, as someone who backdated their “Knowing Anime” before going forward, I consider myself one of these veterans, and it’s because I’m seeing repeating premises within these narrowing marketable niches, it makes being convinced to watch them a bigger challenge for people newer to medium. Which means…

I_79986e_2933010“Knowing Anime” back then is no more legitimate than “Knowing Anime” now.

Because the anime is very different, “Knowing Anime” is also different. I can honestly say that my anime knowledge now is limited to a filtering system I like to call: ‘Only watching what’s considered the most popular series of a season’, which for some would not be considered as: “Knowing Anime,” and that’s fair enough. But if I could make one suggestion it would be to try doing what I did and backdate some of the anime you decide to try; what I consider as “Classics”. If not to find out why people claim you don’t really know anime, at least watch them to see how the medium become as popular as it is today. When it comes to influences, there’s a saying in both science and fiction writing that goes: “Author’s today are standing on the shoulders of giants.” I believe this also applies to anime. Yet…

f0807688Why doesn’t “Knowing Anime” make newer anime any better?

There are so fewer good new anime now because of the very phenomenon I mentioned above. When a marketing niche has been distinguished all that can be done is pump out a slightly different version of the same shit because they know it will make money. I like to call this the Cloning Effect – like popular exotic foods becoming fast food chains. Although this can polish certain genres and tropes to a mirror shine, it forgets the experimentation and depth that drew people to the medium in the first place by latching on the to coat-tails of anything successful that came before it. My hope is that instead of going the way of fast food, anime goes the way of music, an offshoot of counterculture used for the very point of going against the grain of what’s marketable. The downside is that, like film, this new wave will become a marketable genre in itself until it can be limited to an extremist niche. Concluding to my final point…

tumblr_muitjriCAe1shc3x3o1_500Your “Knowing Anime” will always be destroyed by capitalism.

There is no better way of explaining this pattern better than the meme: “AAAnd it’s gone!” because whatever you like about anime will be refined out of existence until reaching the widest market of people and the trends they enjoy has been made into an exact science. Through this process, what made anime special to you will become watered down version of what makes anime entertaining for everyone. In the end, I think this is the cause of what is known as the “Anime Hipster” phenomenon. Not aging, not nostalgia, but simply the feeling of watching what you liked about a series being simplified for the masses to the point that you can only scream, “I THOUGHT WE HAD SOMETHING SPECIAL!!!”

This entry was posted in Anime, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to On “Knowing Anime”

  1. JekoJeko says:

    All popular mediums recycle themselves, but in the internet age the ‘veteran’ of anime often ends up watching more of it that their experience really warrants, which only stops them further from enjoying the generic when it’s well-produced. Take some people’s criticism of Kabenari; if you’ve watched every zombie flick known to man, is it really fair to mark it down for not satisfying your itch for originality?

    The thing a lot of these ‘veterans’ need to get is that anime is not only made for them. The industry wants new people into anime, and so even if [insert MMO battle fantasy harem] it’s just like that one you watched that you think ‘spawned the craze’, if it’s /functional/ in entertaining and getting people new to the genre into it, then power to the producers! Mainstream art celebrates functionality before experimentation, and it should. The latter has always been, in a popular theatre, to facilitate nuance and evolution for the former.

    • Lazarinth says:

      Are you saying that they shouldn’t be so cynical despite their cynicism having a tangible source, that being the longstanding observation of this recycling?

      • JekoJeko says:

        Basically, the great critic of old could distinguish bad, repetitive and boring remodelings of a genre without going on a false rhetoric about ‘originality’ or inherent failure in remodeling in the first place. Art is imitation; we just need to infinity good kinds of imitation, and not be cynical about imitation itself.

        Soaking yourself in too much of ‘bad’ imitation make sit harder to feel what good imitation is any more, because you start to tire of the original model.

    • Lazarinth says:

      That wasn’t really the point I was trying to make but I see why you’d think so. This was a critique of anime being narrowed into niche markets, of which this “recycling” is a root cause. I don’t mind the recycling itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s