You Shouldn’t Base Your Opinion Of An Anime On Anything BUT The Anime

This should be an obvious point, and yet I notice that everyone is still making this mistake, so I’m gonna keep hammering on it.

There’s been quite a few anime controversies that I’ve been ignoring as of late from the MAL scandal a few months back to the Crunchyroll one regarding…well…being Crunchyroll in general, and one of the few that I’ve been happy to never read is the situation regarding Fuuka. According to what I’ve heard, the anime has been getting a lot of flak for changing the source material so that Yu favors Koyuki first, only for them to break up in the penultimate episode because quite frankly their chemistry was about as exciting to watch as the 50th Let’s Play of Super Mario World, and Fuuka not getting hit with a truck when she was supposed to a few weeks back. No doubt the flak comes from people who hated the truck twist and wanted anime-only watchers to suffer with them. For all of the problems Fuuka has as a TV show, that shouldn’t be one of them. Sure I knew about the twist beforehand and wanted it to happen as well, but I also wanted Big Order to not be shit, and look how that turned out.

But really, while it is questionable why they couldn’t just rewrite the characters’ personalities to be less aggravating if they were going to go that far, Fuuka shouldn’t be derided for something that nobody who went into the anime without researching the manga would be aware of. It’s the same bullshit that happened with the Clannad movie way back when that first got subbed in 2008 and how people who hated the show didn’t watch it while people who liked it thought the changes killed the many episodes of “characterization” that made the anime so great. Nothing but a bunch of comparisons to something that no one who only watches anime would know and isn’t even guaranteed to translate well if they did it your way because anime is a different medium from manga, just as it’s a different medium from books and video games. What works in one form doesn’t necessarily work in another. The Fuuka manga is not the same as the Fuuka anime. And despite both shows coming from Seiji Kishi, Danganronpa 3 is not the same as Danganronpa: The Animation.

Is it really a wonder why I never read manga, light novels, or any other original source material? Why I never read a single post that Sakugabooru writes? Why I pretty much ignore MAL, ANN, Crunchyroll (bar streaming), or any of the big anime sites? Why I never research who makes what for my season previews and only pick what I watch based on the summaries and what genre it is? Because anime is not supposed to be about the creators, the circumstances, the behind-the-scenes, the fandom, and all that other shit. You know what anime is supposed to be about? The actual anime.

That may seem obvious at first glance, but then that begs the question why the fuck does “studioism” exist? Why do people hype up some acclaimed manga or regular novel getting an anime? Why is it that every time a Gen Urobuchi show gets announced, it gets hyped up to hell? Why am I seeing posts describing all the high-profile female directors in the anime industry, none of which I should point out made a single one of my favorite anime (mind you, I haven’t seen Koe no Katachi as of this time of writing)? Well okay, the last one I don’t mind so much because female focus in the industry is kind of shit, and while I’m not exactly a feminist myself given how I never put effort into supporting their cause, I’ll gladly cheer those activities on from the sidelines. But don’t go telling me to pay attention to whoever made the Yuri on Ice show when I’m not even bothering to watch the PVs to Yuasa’s new stuff, okay?

I mean let’s look at my favorite anime list for just a moment. With the recent inclusion of Scum’s Wish (yeah I know it’s not finished yet, but it’d have to end really badly to not be rewatchable at this point), there’s like twenty shows on there and ten movies (including Cat Soup) as of this time of writing. All of them were directed by males and the writers attached to them is mostly a sausage fest too. Hayao Miyazaki, Shinichiro Watanabe, and Masaaki Yuasa are the only ones on there who’ve made at least three anime I’ve considered rewatchable, and with the exception of Mushishi/Aku no Hana, the rest are from talented directors who I only cared about for one product. Don’t like any Kou Matsuo anime or anything produced by Dogakobo aside from Natsuyuki Rendezvous. Couldn’t give a fuck about any of Osamu Dezaki’s non-Clannad stuff like Rose of Versailles or Aim for the Ace. Aside from Eden of the East, Kenji Kamiyama is just there to me. And while I do like Tetsuro Araki and am eagerly looking forward to more Kabaneri, the only anime of his I consider rewatchable is Guilty Crown.

And with the exception of Araki, I didn’t know who was behind Clannad: The Movie or Eden of the East or Natsuyuki or whatever until long after I’ve seen those anime. I watched ’em during a time when I didn’t pay attention to staff and just thought they looked good. In fact, most of those anime are considered their weaker output by the vast majority, although that’s a different issue entirely. But of course, when I became a blogger, I wanted to fit in more with the writers I admired so I always highlighted key members in my previews in order to attract more attention. Unfortunately, that conflicted a lot with what I really wanted and it took me years to figure out why: because watching an anime purely for its potential is like dating someone purely for their potential (i.e. complete bullshit). So I eventually stopped and it lead me to decent times from unexpected sources over the last two years, as well as new favorites like Concrete Revolutio, the Danganronpa franchise in general, and Scum’s Wish. The last one, I should point out, is based on a manga that a lot of people told me was crap and directed by a talented dude whose works I’ve never enjoyed in the past.

There’s nothing wrong with getting interested in an anime’s potential the same way there’s nothing wrong with trying to ask someone out because they look cute. On the flipside, there’s nothing wrong with ignoring an anime because it doesn’t look appealing the same way you ignore that one girl because she’s ten and you don’t want to be assaulted by the neighborhood watch after they learn online that you’re a registered sex offender. And no, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with doing research on a show beforehand or having favorite directors or anything. But I draw the line at the point when you can’t separate the creator from your opinion of the show (have you guys seen me mention Seo Kouji in regards to Fuuka ever since it aired?). When you ignore a potentially fun time or keep on a massive trainwreck for very superficial reasons that have nothing to do with the subject’s true self, that’s not being fair to them, and it’s not being fair to you either. Yes I’m watching Fuuka myself, but unlike real people, anime don’t have feelings, so I feel no guilt for sticking with a show I know is bad solely for the blog.

However, I definitely am not mad at Fuuka for ignoring a potentially idiotic train wreck that exists in some alternate form. I’m mad at it for being a boring show with shit animation, cut-and-paste characters, lazy fanservice scenes, and a lackluster plot that doesn’t have anything to do with music and is basically Scum’s Wish with all the good parts removed. Anyone, whether they read the manga or not, can see that this show fucking sucks. I don’t care why Diomedea decided to change the story this way, and quite frankly I don’t want to know. How would that change my opinion of Fuuka in any way? And supposing it did, that would be for a very shit reason, like breaking up with your girlfriend after learning she was a former drug dealer from a third-party who either confused her for someone else or isn’t that same person now.

Learning she’s a former murderer is definitely something that should be looked into, sure. But last I checked, nobody has actually suffered any physical harm from watching an anime, let alone died. Well, except for the thousands of people who experienced seizures after watching that Porygon episode from Pokemon, I mean.

Minor Quips

  • Granted, it is very hard to not recognize a visual novel adaptation and who’s behind it due to their distinctive art (or in the SciAdv series’ case, their distinctive titles), but I’ve already gone over how I don’t completely give up on those shows in the past.
  • I like to think of the changes to Fuuka as punishment towards manga readers who couldn’t stop spoiling that plot twist like an over eager girl who just learned her best friend is about to get engaged.
  • You’ll notice I no longer have any Satoshi Kon anime amongst my favorites. That’s because his stuff hasn’t aged well story-wise.

12 responses to “You Shouldn’t Base Your Opinion Of An Anime On Anything BUT The Anime

  1. I don’t see what’s wrong with it if it’s about an anime that hasn’t been released yet. You have to decide what you’re going to watch somehow, and there’s nothing unreasonable about thinking “oh, this show was made by someone who made something I liked in the past, maybe I’ll like it too.” If the question is “why is someone telling me about this” it’s probably more because they care about it based on the material they have to work with more than that they have some completely arbitrary reason to want you to care about it.

    • Also, I personally prefer my method of just reading the “not quite accurate” summary on those previews. I don’t like to look up who makes a show until after I’ve seen a few episodes in order to avoid pre-expectations. Which is incidentally why I don’t go out of my way to watch movie trailers.

  2. I really dislike it when people tell me I need to read the manga after I’ve disliked an anime. Regardless of whether tha manga is good or bad isn’t going to change my opinion of how bad that anime was. And if the anime doesn’t finish because you have to read the manga to find the end I’m definitely not on board with that.
    But I think for some people manga comes first and then if they are interested enough they try the anime and if that’s how they want to enjoy it, good for them.

  3. The whole “only focus on the actual anime” has merits, but there’s nothing wrong with investigating the creators beforehand. If you want to learn about things like directing styles, writing habits, or animation methods, knowing who create what is necessary. I don’t think that researching really harm your judgement that much. I can like James Cameron’s Terminator and hate his Titanic film just fine. I also like Gen Urobuchi’s Kamen Rider while disliking Madoka.

    And that laser-focus on the work itself simply did not work for other mediums. For medium as ancient and big as book or theatre, you must use recommendation from others and looking up authors’ names. Not doing that and you won’t finish until the next millennium. Hell, trying to watch all the films produced by all the major nations this year alone is difficult enough. Anime is pretty unique in that you can actually watch everything.

    Another thing: the fandom’s aggressive devotion to source material is funny. It’s a very modern phenomenon. Nobody complain when masterpieces like The Iliad or War and Peace haven’t got a single faithful adaptation. And yet anime fans act like somebody muder their parents when Tokyo Ghoul went off the rails.

    • but there’s nothing wrong with investigating the creators beforehand

      Like I said to T.E.P., I address this in the third-to-last paragraph. It’s only when you can’t separate the work from the name that it becomes a problem IMO (I think Seo Kouji’s manga are shit, but the anime guys had a chance to fix his flaws, they took it, and the result ended up really boring). My actual practice of avoiding research is due to how I have done the very thing I’m complaining about in this post in the past, and it’s easier to stay on a diet if you don’t have cake in the fridge. I certainly don’t want Sakugabooru to shut down just because their way of looking at anime isn’t the same as mine. I’m too small-time to do that anyways, plus I don’t want to be like Snob and his anti-Crunchyroll videos. Why he even cares, I have no idea.

      That said, I will roll my eyes if a season preview (either in post form or tweet form) worships the creator over what we know of the actual content. I mean I’m sure Miles from Crunchyroll will enjoy Sakura Quest fine, but I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a workplace anime or if it’s because he just loves PA Works in general.

      And that laser-focus on the work itself simply did not work for other mediums. For medium as ancient and big as book or theatre, you must use recommendation from others and looking up authors’ names. Not doing that and you won’t finish until the next millennium. Hell, trying to watch all the films produced by all the major nations this year alone is difficult enough.

      Yeah, I can’t really ignore who makes a movie or book or whatever given how their names are front and center on the cover or in the trailers The same is true for video games to an extent, although very people in that profession get recognized anyways.

      Another thing: the fandom’s aggressive devotion to source material is funny. It’s a very modern phenomenon. Nobody complain when masterpieces like The Iliad or War and Peace haven’t got a single faithful adaptation. And yet anime fans act like somebody muder their parents when Tokyo Ghoul went off the rails.

      Let’s not forget that the original novel for Battle Royale was pretty crap. Funny how the fans always seem to conveniently forget that.

  4. I agree that you shouldn’t base your opinion of an anime series/movie on anything but that anime series/movie. For example, I don’t get people that judge the quality of a work based on how close it follows the source material, or based on the past accomplishments of the guy directing it.
    On the other hand, saying that “anime is not supposed to be about the creators, the circumstances, the behind-the-scenes, the fandom, and all that other shit” is just narrow minded.
    Anime can be about whatever you want it to be. Just like everything else, there’s no correct way to enjoy it. If someone enjoys an anime series or anime in general for a specific reason, there’s no reason why they should stop doing that.

    • On the other hand, saying that “anime is not supposed to be about the creators, the circumstances, the behind-the-scenes, the fandom, and all that other shit” is just narrow minded.

      I think it warps people’s judgment. Also keep in mind, I’m referring to the actual anime. Not anime research or anything like that, where you’re required to know that stuff.

Speak Up

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