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Anime and Me

So it’s 8pm and I haven’t written a thing here today. Let’s remedy that.

I could easily paste a past post from my Facebook notes, and while I’m considering doing that for tomorrow’s post or Thursday’s, I didn’t feel like doing that quite yet. Instead, I want to talk about my experience with anime.

I like anime. I quite like the stories, the animation is on occasion brilliant and it’s already filtered by the import culture so that good stuff has a reputation over here. If it’s filler or the fifteenth harem series released this week, you already know by the time it reaches you. As a guy who likes anime, I talk about it often. I’m a big and vocal fan of some of the works within the entire form of media that is anime. Saying something is anime is like saying it’s American television or Norwegian cinema to me–it’s just a place and how the story is told.

Yet still, when I tell a person I like anime, half the time they ask me why I watch tentacle porn. Or tell me how “they just don’t like that stuff”. Or “it’s just not their thing”. These people then go on to make fun of me for liking bubble tea (I don’t), ask me why I’m a pervert (funny–one of the girls who called me a perv was a furry), and generally treat me like I have a second head and at least four contagious diseases.

But there I go, demonstrating the problem before I get a chance to elaborate. Anime isn’t harem series and it isn’t tentacle porn–just like not all North American media is sitcoms or pornos. Anime is a medium like books, in that both anime and books can be stories related to anyone of any age for any purpose. Often, that purpose is plain entertainment. You know, the reason we make all media.

You can have simple love series, heady psychological drama, stories about growing up and becoming who you were meant to be–and you can have all of that with the backdrop of giant robots if you want. But the fact is, any series, OVA, comic book doesn’t have naughty tentacles solely because it’s from Japan.

This is why those people baffle me. When I hear that someone “just doesn’t like anime” but religiously attends movies or reads books or watches American cartoons, they’ve said out loud that they don’t like a story because it’s from Japan. And then, from what they continue to say, I get the implication that all they’ve ever meant is “the Japanese are all perverts, and therefore their media is inherently inferior”.

Moreover, I don’t know if I can publish this. Everything I’ve said so far comes off as a ranting screed against people who may have legitimate reasons to be disinterested. It could be that the culture is too far removed from theirs for them to relate to it. It could be they haven’t heard of the western influenced series like Cowboy BeBop, and have only seen the scare reports they run on the news. It could be that they see any animated series as inherently childish or not directed at adults, but mentioning that the shows can start at rather mature and actually get rather violent leads them to say “see? just like the rest of it–bloody tentacle porn”.

There I go again. You know what? It’s time for the other side of this post.

I used to be one of those guys who just wasn’t into anime. My only exposure as a child had been Pokemon and Digimon. I would watch the occasional purely filler episode of Dragonball Z at another kid’s house. All I saw were filler episodes. Poorly animated, poorly written–I mean, when you’re eight years old, which would you rather watch: South Park or Pokemon? Thought so.

It was some time last year. I wish I could be more specific. In any case, over the intervening year, my friend Chad had finally broken me down into watching Neon Genesis Evangelion. He was all “one of the best of all time”, “the Watchmen of anime”, “be prepared for the last two episodes, cos they’re kinda dense”–after a while, I asked him dub or sub and torrented the sub.

My first anime torrent ever was a DVD-rip sub, .avi format. Looking back on that and comparing it with the dual-audio, higher definition release I have now, I sorta cringe. A year later and it’s now a habit of mine to get dual-audio fansubs of everything I’m even interested in. It’s funny.

Anyway, I was at Eva. I don’t know what everyone else had as a gateway to anime, but this was mine. Let me tell you, it was like reading Watchmen without knowing who Superman or Batman were. I was thrust into a genre I had never heard of, and not at the shallow end either. I spent the first few episodes just slogging through it, trying to figure out why the hero was a wimp and why everything was so angsty and the fights were never the focus. I sailed right through it to the ending without catching several important facts. To tell you what I missed would be to spoil the series, but it was about as big as watching all of Lost without knowing who the Dharma Initiative were and how they were related to the Others and missing every twist after Season 1.

To put it bluntly, I have no idea how Chad put up with my incessant “WHAT WAS THAT” and “Didn’t she die?” and “what mind rape?”

By the time I’d finished that one, Chad was talking about this new series. It was in its second season at the time, but no one had known it was going into its second season, when the first one just started airing all over again. When an episode popped up where none had been before, the internet apparently went crazy. Then another popped up. Then, the next week, one just like it. Then another one like that. Then another one.

Chad told me about it after the fourth. My first two anime series were, in order, Neon Genesis Evangelion and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. That is like watching Sin City and Spy Kids one after another. And while Eva was what got me actually watching anime for the first time, Haruhi is what made it stick. If KyoAni had never epically trolled their own fans, I wouldn’t be downloading Rah XephonHe is My Master, or Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot and Marple currently.

If Chad hadn’t been around, I wouldn’t tear up at the words “Don’t believe in me who believes in you; believe in you, who believes in yourself”.

But I also wouldn’t have to deal with asshats making fun of me for liking cartoons about tentacle rape.

So, as you can see, my thoughts on this entire field are kinda really mixed. I know I don’t like people who toss any medium out without trying any of it, no matter whether it’s books, movies, television, comics, video games or foreign versions of any of the above. But at the same time, I recognize that being angry at them and posting douchey missives online is the wrong way to approach the problem.

Overall, if those dicks won’t even try an episode of Cowboy BeBop, I think I’m allowed to get mean. And by mean, I mean slightly impolite with comically exaggerated accusations of racism to match their legitimate yet equally inflated accusations of Japanophilia.

What Joe is Trying to Say Is: Don’t throw it out, even if you’ve tried a lot of it before. 90% of everything blows, so who’s to say the parts you were trying weren’t part of that 10% that should appeal to you?

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Categories: Anime, Not-A-Reviews Tags: , ,
  1. Daniel Molloy
    August 27, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I do not actively avoid anime, in my high school years of renting far too many movies I would usually pick up at least two anime movies, *movies*, a month. I remember my brother saying he watched a few series but I remember looking at the files and seeing giant numbers in them and reading about tennis series that are like, 300 episodes long.

    I shall use the LOST argument I use, I don’t know if I have that much time to climb this mountain. I have less and less patience for things that are over 24 hours long and most anime seems like that. If I had a week where I had just had a surgery or somthing I’d watch EVA, I’m not against it, just seems like a lot to absorb.

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