I Hate Homework Anime
Recently, someone told me that she likes Anime and Manga because they are avenues for limitless imagination, and without rules.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing, because my own experience is utterly opposite: Anime and Manga are quite possibly the least creative, most rule-infested genre of art. I can speak with some authority on this subject because I've lived in Japan (the home of anime and manga) for seven years.
In fact, I OWN some rulebooks about manga and anime, despite avoiding that genre with the same dedication with which a diabetic avoids sugar. I've also watched interviews with manga artists as they discuss the rules of manga/anime, and hung out on a Manga-for-artists website before discovering DeviantArt.
Consider the following rule set, and ask yourself a) is it true? b) what sort of stifling rulebook and lifestyle forced these artists to stay well within the rules, only trying to break away from the pack by taking the rules of cuteness, sexiness, violence, and good-versus-evil to a new extreme?
The whole genre has become a breakfast, lunch, and dinner diet of pure sugar and saccharine, or leftovers drowned in ketchup and served up by marketing weenies who're too afraid of losing their jobs to break the rules.
Mang and Anime have become formulaic in how they abuse the reader's sense of cuteness, sexiness, adrenalin rushes based on violence, and so on. Here are the rules of this soulless "art" form.
Let me describe some of those rules that are stifling creativity in anime:
1) "The Wink". For some reason, a huge percentage of anime cover-art in recent years includes the main female character winking. I have no idea why it's become a standard rule, but there it is.
Try this experiment: Visit this anime/manga website e-shuushuu.net/index.php?page=… and cruise around for a minute or two. Count the percentage of female characters that wink. Compare that to the percentage of male characters that wink.
2) Good characters will be handsome/beautiful. Bad characters will have some physical defect such as a scar, obesity, unusual body proportions, etc.
3) Big Eyes. Good characters, both guys and girls, will have eyes so large and watery/glassy that they must intersect behind the character's too-small nose. No wonder they're constant crying -- having a pair of eyeballs that intersect like the olympic rings logo must be painful. Conversely, evil characters will have normally proportioned eyes with a tendency to squint.
4) "Chibi" characters will have bodies with these specific distortions (similar to the "cute" proportions of a baby): big head, big chest and belly. Short arms and legs. Ultra-small hands and feet. Here're some tutorials: www.polykarbon.com/tutorials/c…chibiland.windy-goddess.net/ho…
5) Good characters will be followed around by hyper-hypercute loyal "chibi" pets www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/ebaysup… that are somewhat alien, sentient, and not particularly good speakers.
6) No character will resort to therapy, objectivity, mediation, trials, laws, or understanding. Instead, they will refuse to think about anything but how to punch, kill, and have sex with their opponents. Ummm.... not usually in exactly that order.
The love of democracy and peace will not come up-- instead, it's all about inherited power, princess-this and king-that, and bloodletting as the road to "good" guys' victory. Yup... the best parts of civilization somehow stand in the way of a typical manga storyline.
In romance stories, the male and female lead characters will either be insanely devoted and selfless to the point of standing out in rain and snow in front of their beloved's house until the coroner comes by and says "I don't DO wooden indians. Got any REAL dead people around here?", or obtusely selfish and subjective on a level that would get even a 3-year-old spanked and sent to her room for some alone-time. Both extremes are somehow considered sexy and romantic.
7) Swords are preferable to any other weapon. 2nd most popular are laserlike weapons. (Swords must be larger and heavier than the human body holding them.)
8) Female lead characters will look like 10-year-olds with Dolly Parton's thoraxic stalactites. Think "Barbie(tm), 10 years old" but with the 20-year-old Barbie's plastic boob job. www.legnome.fr/bd.html
Or, occasionally they'll be normal-looking beautiful children of prepubescent age, but engage in an adult romance at an age when real boys and girls think the opposite sex is "yucky" and "has cooties". (Somebody call the cops and child welfare services!)
9) Battle Dress: Women and girls will wear a minimum of clothing, even when going into battle with sharp knives. Their preferred battle uniform will have massive shoulder pads but bare thighs, abdomen, knees, and biceps. Yet, somehow, no bad guys ever chop at that thigh and arm skin-- it's always unscarred. (Bad guys, on the other hand, are only allowed to have X-shaped scars, and always on a cheek or through an eyebrow.) Footwear will be either childish or sexy-impractical (barefoot or high heels, for example), never sensible choices for running across broken terrain.
Their preferred non-battle uniform is the Sailor Schoolgirl uniform of Japan with a bare navel and ultra-short skirt (e.g., Sailor Moon), and a mystery wind that always flips their hair and one corner of the skirt, even when the characters are unconscious, lying on the floor in a windless room. Second-most-popular is some sort of revealing age-inappropriate swimsuit, even when attending military formal meetings.
Warrior-girls elpinoy.deviantart.com/art/the… wear lots of swishy stuff like sleeves, ribbons and hair -- perfect for getting caught on things, blinding the whirling warrior-girl, and generally getting in the way.
10) Male leads will be troubled, sexually attracted to the nearest cute female character, and physically either follow the "cute" rules or have www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda… tiny heads and waists but massive shoulders created by plastic surgeons with unlimited access to www.bens.at/images/S850.jpg football shoulderpads. Male characters' hair will be stuck forever in the "big spiky hair" mode. Even typhoon-force winds and jumps into lakes will not affect mens' hair spikes.
11) Successful TV anime will sell something violent or hypercute, and cheap and valueless, like Dragonball Z and Pokemon trading cards or My Little Pony pink pony dolls.
12) Successful TV anime characters will mutate into slightly different-looking characters if their popularity continues past the 3-year mark. This is to force fans into buying version b, c, d... of the doll, poster, gameboy, and trading-card crap that they already regret buying. Four prime examples would be "Pokemon" (additional character sets), "Ultraman", Power Rangers/Gao Rangers, and "Kamen Rider".
13) Nobody's a democrat. Hence, nobody questions the wisdom in letting a child www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/anime2/… lead an army www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/anime2/… because of inheritance or the orders of a god/king/princess/queen/prince. Likewise, nobody questions why an inexperienced, unelected "good guy" or patently evil character is permitted to be a "prince/king/princess/queen" with immense political power. Even the successful outcome of a story will not lead to the victory of basic democratic ideals.
14) www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/anime2/…www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda… No matter how heavy and big a sword looks compared to the character wielding it, the character can whip it around faster than a feather on a rocket, and never tires of carrying it. Neither do the characters fall over, or have any problem with the damned things banging against their legs and backsides as they climb, ride, walk, sit, or squat over latrine trenches.
15) Female lead characters will have the musculature of a kitten or a veal calf, and yet be able to leap tall buildings and carry a sword that outweighs her. The weighty sword will never cause her to lean nor her arm to tire. Take a look at these perfect examples.
First, a pink-haired, prepubescent, pedophile posterchild with a sword bigger than her leg (from here at DeviantArt): www.deviantart.com/print/20942… Heck, she even has the "mystery wind" and "long flinging hair to tangle herself in"!
Second, a pencil sketch of a clearly undermuscled little kid with a sword bigger than her whole body: www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda…
16) "Elves" and "Faeries" are normally proportioned people, except for ludicrous pointy dog ears that stretch out at 90% angles to their heads, like wilting & poorly glued-on Spock ears.
17) Characters will have unexpected and unnatural hair colors. Teenagers will have white or gray hair without attracting scorn or comment; any character may have green, blue, or violet hair. The only possible explanation for this phenomenon is that when all your characters are beautiful and stylized in exactly the same way, hair color, wardrobe, and pets are the only way to differentiate between them.
18) "Evil" characters will have sharp canines...twice the usual number.
19) Eyebrows of boys under the age of 7 will be permanently angry/concentrating. On handsome strong lead characters the eyebrows will be so immobile and inexpressive that one wonders if they're concrete, bo-tox, or mannequin parts. On handsome androgenous/effeminate male romantic leads, the whole face will be basically a woman's face with a man's spiky or emo haircut. images.google.com/search?q=boy+manga+characters&um=1
Conversely, all good girls' and womens' eyebrows will always be up in the middle and down at the sides, like the eyebrows of bewildered puppies looking plaintively at the sky.
20) Male evil characters (never male good guys) are permitted to have a purple/violet color scheme, even to the point of wearing violet lipstick. They will also talk in lisping high-pitched voices. This is to trigger the neanderthal audience into a homophobic revulsion against the bad guy. Likewise, bad guys are frequently overweight, drooling and ugly. Heroes, conversely, must have idealized physical proportions & avoid messiness. Yup... anime/manga are fueling our most shallow prejudices.
- Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
- Watching: The Daily Show / Jon Stewart
- Playing: DVDs while drawing magazine illustrations
- Eating: almonds and berries-- healthy snacks
- Drinking: purple carrot juice
I hate anime. I certainly like some, but the medium on average is trash pandering to lonely otaku and pedophiles. The industry underpays everybody within it, and even the voice actors (who’re paid a kingly sum in comparison to the animators) go through terrible abuse- some report being in the recording booth until their throat bleeds.
On the business end, the majority of the money is focused not on the actual show itself, it’s focused on the merchandise and Blu-Ray boxed sets. This often results in merch that’s pretty damned creepy things, like the scads of bikini-clad figurines of the (fourteen-year-old) cast of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The content of the anime itself varies insanely- sure, there’s certainly good and trash TV, movies, videogames, albums, and the like per season and quarter, but the merchandise focus and lower budgets found in anime result in an insanely large range of bad to good. One show last year, per one man’s analysis of an episode, contained roughly six minutes of animation in a 22-minute episode. The anime was about a tweenaged girl in (romantic) love with her oblivious brother.
I’m not opposed to shows tackling taboo and bizarre topics, but many of these aren’t pursuing these transgressive premises and themes for artistic or intellectual reasons, they’re doing it to get an audience of people who’re turned on by the premise. Without even getting into the literal softcore genre aired on television called “ecchi,” the sexualized and merchandise-focused nature of most anime is like a dark, R-rated mirror of eighties Saturday-morning cartoons; a low-budget, cynical product made to sell the attached figurines and play sets, not to make quality content.
However, despite my criticisms, I still have hope for the medium. There are legit great works there, as in any other, and the transgressive nature of the shows does mean that one could make a show tackling challenging and experimental themes and get a wide platform for release. One of the most popular ever, the aforementioned Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a show chock full of symbolism, character studies, and is a deconstruction of 90% of the genre- and this series is hailed just as much as the series it tears apart, with a reboot series continuing to this day.