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The Atlantic- Can Shinichiro Watanabe Make More People Take Anime Seriously?

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Jul 20, 2009
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It's hardly even taken seriously in Japan. Why the fuck would it be taken seriously over here?
Because:

"An animator like Daisuke Nishio, for example, who directed the hit Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z series, is not considered an artist like Miyazaki, whose drawings have been displayed in museums in Paris."

Aka, it's a bizarre article with an absurd question picking one of the worst ambassadors possible, but it brings up the fact that at least in the US, adult comedy animation is generally accepted but no other genre can be shown outside of the toonami ghetto.
 

Slamtastic

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Samurai Champloo and Bebopa re some of the best things I've ever seen. I can't wait for this!

Space Dandy is nothing like those shows. It is a straight comedy, almost like the typical Adult Swim original fare with little regard to logic or continuity in favor of humor. People expecting otherwise is the whole cause for the backlash and arguments over it.
 
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This article isn't a bit helpful. For starters, it uses the usual suspects (Miyazaki, Takahata, Watanabe) without even making mention of other worthy directors who lack attention (Yuasa, Dezaki, Oshii, Yamaga, Koji Morimoto, Nagahama, Nakamura, and definitely none of the experimental or even idiosyncratic animators). It then starts wondering if a show taking cues from Space Adventure Cobra—itself a breeding of Western source material into something Westerners can get more out of—can get the rest of the world hooked on Japanese animation. We've already had Cowboy Bebop do this and little has changed since. And the answer so far has been no, which goes for all kinds of native media inherently tied to their culture (most folks don't even think about watching any Ozu aside from Tokyo Story!). People in the United States can't be bothered to investigate their own melodramas—they certainly won't see the small, important details in Japanese melodrama and non-genre works either. Ultimately, everyday Japanese working people have more opportunity to play games on their mobile devices than have their schedule dictated to them by TV networks; anime's become a limited market even in its home country.

Some of the most interesting anime productions are distributed as OVAs or anthology features, too, many of which are from earlier eras in the industry. Going back past the '80s, trying to get a mainstream audience to watch vintage anime like Little Norse Prince and the original Osumi episodes of Lupin III is a lost cause, partly because the animation can look so different and because there's no magical aura to these works. Early Disney movies are influential to the point that they've defined the animated film market ever since! There's a variety of interesting Japanese cinema released every year now, including feature-length anime, but we don't even have that kind of climate yet. Challenges abound with getting people to accept animation for its strengths and weaknesses, rather than simply using the medium to inexpensively produce quirky sitcoms that would work better live-action. My hope is that movie critics will increasingly reveal and champion more and more diverse anime as years go by, as that's what has worked for movies for a long time.
 
Oct 8, 2009
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Space Dandy is nothing like those shows. It is a straight comedy, almost like the typical Adult Swim original fare with little regard to logic or continuity in favor of humor. People expecting otherwise is the whole cause for the backlash and arguments over it.

yeah I just saw first episode.


what. the fuck. that was way to self-aware. NOOOOOOOOOOOO

I've been waiting for a cool story show, with good art and awesome characters for so long!
 

ucdawg12

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what's wrong with evangelion?

hm. i don't know what the article is asserting well enough to really make an informed statement. when someone says, "anime needs a work like tv's "the wire" and "breaking bad' ". i am not sure what is exactly being said. as i think from what i've seen in threads comparing the wire and breaking bad, fans of both see them as two very different things, almost incomparable. as two different styles or something. so what do they have in common with each other than they don't have in common with evangelion. and to really talk about this you'd have to be a fan of all three so as to distinguish why. obviously if you don't like evangelion but like the other two you could dismiss the comparison as saying, "because eva sucks." i am not necessarily trying to argue eva belongs in there, but i am more trying to understand the argument and the distinction for why it is wrong for eva to be included.

maybe it is universal appeal. perhaps audiences with more conservative tastes (i dont mean on the political spectrum) would be able to appreciate the wire and breaking bad but not eva. for instance i turned my parents on to the wire and breaking bad which they now love but i don't think they'd like eva.

maybe it is the fantasy element? could eva and game of thrones be comparable? could one argue that GoT could be on (or relatively close to) the level of the wire and breaking bad? if not, again, why? i am still not sure what delineates those two from others in this discussion as breaking bad seems much close to GoT in style than the wire which is not meant to disparage it.
 

Kyuur

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If all anime got dubbed at the same time it was being created in Japan like with Space Dandy, it would be more popular over here. There are plenty of quality shows that come out, but nothing but mainstream hits television over here and the rest is only bought by hardcore fans or watched online.
 

Defuser

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Can anime be taken seriously? Hmm...

Well 'm still waiting for my FMA Brotherhood collection to come in the mail. :p

I consider myself an anime fan, but most anime looks way too generic. it is true that there aren't that many anime that can garner a whole lot of attention, especially worldwide. There are only so many Evas, Death Notes, FMAs and Attack on Titans.
You call yourself a anime fan but watch only the most overhype animes and dismissing the rest of the other good shows.
 

Epcott

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Create something provocative, air it primetime on a major US network.

Then again, probably wouldn't work since networks have a hard time getting viewers for their normal shows.
 

The Technomancer

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You call yourself a anime fan but watch only the most overhype animes and dismissing the rest of the other good shows.

Okay, sorry, this has been bugging me every time it happens: IMO being a fan of something just means you like it enough to care about it. I don't think it means you have to express any kind of devotion to it, especially when its something as broad as an entire super-genre.
 

Doran902

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I thought Monster was on the level, they are even making an HBO series based on it.

Freaking amazing show. Problem with that show is 99.9 percent of people, even anime fans, don't know it exists.
 

Moral Panic

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I doubt that that's the primary problem. As I see it, anime currently has two major problems:

a.)There are good, thoughtful shows produced every season. I know this even if I don't manage to see most of them. But good lord is there also a lot of cliched and downright stereotypical stuff coming out these days

b.)and the stigma of anime in the cultural consciousness thanks to the stereotypical stuff means that those "good" shows aren't enough. Anime needs something really transcendent to force its way into the zeitgeist.

Yep. So much stuff like KILL la KILL bringing the art-form down. Anime will be accepted when it finally decides to grow up, and throws away the pandering crap that is holding it down.
 

Necrovex

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Oh...this article decided 'Kids on a Slope' doesn't exist. Space Dandy is apparently Watanabe's third anime.
Fun read besides that and the writer not knowing Miyazaki revoked his retirement plans a few days prior.

Aku no Hana is another anime that can be consider mature. I finally had the chance to watch through it, and it is so bloody amazing.
 

Skinpop

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Really?

Reminds me of that time Showtime made a series based on Death Note

;)

I wouldn't hold my breath for that to happen though. Still bitter about preacher...

Personally I couldn't care any less if anime is embraced by the general public or reaches acceptance among renowned critics. People are idiots and if their only rationale for dismissing anime is because it looks childish to them I'd rather let them continue on their path of ignorance than start a holy war.
It's not like anime is worse off artistically because it isn't totally out in the mainstream, in fact I'd argue the opposite.

Yep. So much stuff like KILL la KILL bringing the art-form down. Anime will be accepted when it finally decides to grow up, and throws away the pandering crap that is holding it down.
It's not like there's only one type of anime and that we can't have both, I'd even go as far as saying that whatever you don't like or feel is missing in anime there's probably a few good anime series that provides that thing you feel is lacking. I like a lot of anime precisely because it's as far away from american television as one can get, including quirks meta culture and all that.
 
Oct 19, 2007
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Any mature anime that becomes popular among adults in the west would just be viewed as regular animation and the stereotype around anime would remain. For example the Ghibli films were never really marketed as anime nor do I think a lot of people viewed them that way. Similar to comic book movies as well. Marvel is at the height of its popularity yet most adults aren't running to their comic shop.

Anyway, I would say anime's best shot for larger acceptance would be for Netflix to finance a series specifically for the west. You put an original series up next to House of Cards or Orange is the New Black and I bet people would give it a serious look despite their opinions on anime in general
 

Zoc

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I'm a long time anime hater who's always made an exception for Miyazaki, and only MIyazaki. Animes that I've seen made by other people always had the same problem that Japanese movies in general do: they have only a weak connection with reality. The people making them seem to have been inspired not by their experiences in real life, but only by their experiences watching other movies and animes.

They may be serious and they may be made with skill and imagination, but as long as they primarily build on other work, respond to other work, or even subvert other work, they won't have any way to move people's emotions that isn't merely an unsatisfying shadow of the original work. The Wire/Sopranos/Breaking Bad are all excellent examples of dramas that didn't just remind you of other TV shows you had seen, but rather reminded you of your own life, or people you know, and made you think of them in new ways. That had a powerful connection with reality.

The only director of anime that has ever had that power (as well as the only Japanese director of any kind of movie since Kurosawa died) is Miyazaki. He gets that connection with reality so, so right. I recently saw The Wind Rises in the theatres and it really drove home how well Miyazaki understands people, the way their decisions and personalities affect their lives, as well as how the people watching his movies will respond.
 

Ninjimbo

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I only watch anime pretty casually, I'm usually a few years behind from the current shows airing and I've always been more of a comics guy in the first place, but even I can see that there is a ton of great non-pandering bullshit that gets released every single year. Whether it be movies, OVAs, or proper television series.

It's ridiculous. Planetes, Baccano, Gurren Lagaan, Mushishi, Kaiba (hey, I thought it was imaginative), BECK, Dennou Coil, Michiko to Hatchin (okay, the story is pretty average, but the animation is definitely above average and it's not everyday that you not only have a female lead, two at that, but a show that is set in South America, much less Brazil. And the soundtrack is great), Kids on the Slope, Tatami Galaxy, so and so forth. I could just keep going, but that is a pain in the ass. And that was all television series by the way, I didn't even touch all the great movies like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time or 5 Centimeters Per Second.

And, with the exception of maybe Kaiba and Michiko, that's all just the well known stuff.

Is there a stream of seedy stuff that gets released for some sketchy niche primarily based in Japan? Yeah, of course. That's all what people on the internet seems to focus on. Rarely anyone seems to make even the slightest effort to look away from that stuff to see all the great things that are released pretty much every year. I did, and look at all that shit found! I still have to work my way back to the great stuff from the 80s and 90s!

Also people need to stop bringing up Cowboy Bebop. Yeah, that's also one of my favorites too, fellas, and the show was pretty much what made me curious about what else anime had to offer (well, that and FLCL). But that shit was 16 years ago this April. Stop clinging so damn hard to it! Hop off Spike's nuts!

Anyways, my point is the good shit exists. And I want to make it clear I'm not defending the trashy shit the anime industry poops out on a regular basis so they can bleed rich japanese social recluses dry with merchandising. Fuck that. But it's not like what they do have any effect on us, so who cares. Support the good stuff, say your piece about the crap and move on.

And I no longer know what was my original goal with this post!
I like you.

This is a poorly thought out article. It's basically an essay version "Space Dandy will save anime."
 
Sep 11, 2011
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The people making them seem to have been inspired not by their experiences in real life, but only by their experiences watching other movies and animes.
Even Kurosawa took most of his influence from John Ford. And there are plenty of genre movie directors who filmed certain stories out of personal connection, often because genre tropes and structure can make a story's message more potent. I definitely see why people don't have any interest in the works of strict craftsmen, but we are the product of our experiences, which include media influences too.
 
Feb 28, 2009
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The only director of anime that has ever had that power (as well as the only Japanese director of any kind of movie since Kurosawa died) is Miyazaki. He gets that connection with reality so, so right. I recently saw The Wind Rises in the theatres and it really drove home how well Miyazaki understands people, the way their decisions and personalities affect their lives, as well as how the people watching his movies will respond.

Which other anime movies/series have you seen? People will tell you Hosoda is just as good on that front.
 

Ninjimbo

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The only director of anime that has ever had that power (as well as the only Japanese director of any kind of movie since Kurosawa died) is Miyazaki. He gets that connection with reality so, so right. I recently saw The Wind Rises in the theatres and it really drove home how well Miyazaki understands people, the way their decisions and personalities affect their lives, as well as how the people watching his movies will respond.
This isn't anime related, but how can you not mention Hirokazu Koreeda as a director? That guy's movies are incredible.
 

Necrovex

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I'm a long time anime hater who's always made an exception for Miyazaki, and only MIyazaki. Animes that I've seen made by other people always had the same problem that Japanese movies in general do: they have only a weak connection with reality. The people making them seem to have been inspired not by their experiences in real life, but only by their experiences watching other movies and animes.

They may be serious and they may be made with skill and imagination, but as long as they primarily build on other work, respond to other work, or even subvert other work, they won't have any way to move people's emotions that isn't merely an unsatisfying shadow of the original work. The Wire/Sopranos/Breaking Bad are all excellent examples of dramas that didn't just remind you of other TV shows you had seen, but rather reminded you of your own life, or people you know, and made you think of them in new ways. That had a powerful connection with reality.

The only director of anime that has ever had that power (as well as the only Japanese director of any kind of movie since Kurosawa died) is Miyazaki. He gets that connection with reality so, so right. I recently saw The Wind Rises in the theatres and it really drove home how well Miyazaki understands people, the way their decisions and personalities affect their lives, as well as how the people watching his movies will respond.

You really should give Satoshi Kon and Hosoda a go. The former had many brilliant films, and the latter created the best film of 2013, Wolf Children.
 

The Technomancer

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I'm a long time anime hater who's always made an exception for Miyazaki, and only MIyazaki. Animes that I've seen made by other people always had the same problem that Japanese movies in general do: they have only a weak connection with reality. The people making them seem to have been inspired not by their experiences in real life, but only by their experiences watching other movies and animes.

I'm not an anime hater by any means but this...this is interesting. There might be something I agree with here, although I need to think about it more
 

Zoc

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This isn't anime related, but how can you not mention Hirokazu Koreeda as a director? That guy's movies are incredible.

The name didn't ring a bell, but then I checked IMDB and you're right, he is great. I saw "After Life" when it first released but I haven't seen any of his subsequent movies (I live in Japan now, and for years I couldn't watch Japanese movies because they weren't available subtitled and I didn't speak the language). I'll have to watch them.

Thanks to others for the other suggestions, I'll look at them. I'm always eager for good new things to watch, but with Japanese movies and animes, it's particularly hard to find the good stuff hidden in the crap. I'm not necessarily an anime "hater," I just happen to hate all the non-Miyazaki anime I've ever seen (so far).
 

Epcott

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Stream it on Netflix.

If it is good, word of mouth works wonders.

The usual dere-moe-harem-pansu stuff need not apply.

Ha ha, true, I couldn't picture that primetime.

But yes, I think it would make a better statement and have more exposure primetime, as opposed to watching it Netflix. Networks tried this in the 1990's: Batman TAS primetime, Fish Police, Capital Criters. Hanna-Barbera did the same in the 1960's-1970's. Its not a new or radical idea, aside from it being anime.

In an awesome alternate reality, procedural shows like GITS SAC and Psycho Pass would be right at home on NBC or CBS next to the likes of CSI and Hannibal. Sakamichi no Apollon would be on WB, given their history with teen dramas, right next to Supernatural The Animation. Space Brothers would be on ABC (or ABC Family).

Then perhaps studios could get better funding, that is, in this awesome alternate reality that never will come to be.
 
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I'm a long time anime hater who's always made an exception for Miyazaki, and only MIyazaki. Animes that I've seen made by other people always had the same problem that Japanese movies in general do: they have only a weak connection with reality. The people making them seem to have been inspired not by their experiences in real life, but only by their experiences watching other movies and animes.

They may be serious and they may be made with skill and imagination, but as long as they primarily build on other work, respond to other work, or even subvert other work, they won't have any way to move people's emotions that isn't merely an unsatisfying shadow of the original work. The Wire/Sopranos/Breaking Bad are all excellent examples of dramas that didn't just remind you of other TV shows you had seen, but rather reminded you of your own life, or people you know, and made you think of them in new ways. That had a powerful connection with reality.

The only director of anime that has ever had that power (as well as the only Japanese director of any kind of movie since Kurosawa died) is Miyazaki. He gets that connection with reality so, so right. I recently saw The Wind Rises in the theatres and it really drove home how well Miyazaki understands people, the way their decisions and personalities affect their lives, as well as how the people watching his movies will respond.

Watch Monster and Space Brothers.
 
Sep 11, 2011
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The name didn't ring a bell, but then I checked IMDB and you're right, he is great. I saw "After Life" when it first released but I haven't seen any of his subsequent movies (I live in Japan now, and for years I couldn't watch Japanese movies because they weren't available subtitled and I didn't speak the language). I'll have to watch them.

Thanks to others for the other suggestions, I'll look at them. I'm always eager for good new things to watch, but with Japanese movies and animes, it's particularly hard to find the good stuff hidden in the crap.
Midnight Eye is the best online resource for Japanese films old and new. Most of their reviews are of contemporary works, but there are tons of great features and interviews focusing on the good side of Japanese cinema. Also, Hulu+ has an enormous catalogue of older Japanese movies thanks to Criterion's streaming channel, so there's plenty of Shimizu, Ozu and Naruse too.
 

Daingurse

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Some people will never, ever take anime seriously. Just like some people will never take cartoons seriously. Hell, some people in general don't take anything animated seriously, period. Their loss if you ask me. I've loved animation ever since I was a kid, still do, and probably always will.

Also, Shonen fans, watch Hunter x Hunter if you aren't already, you fucks. Too many people sleeping on that shit.
 

Ninjimbo

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The name didn't ring a bell, but then I checked IMDB and you're right, he is great. I saw "After Life" when it first released but I haven't seen any of his subsequent movies (I live in Japan now, and for years I couldn't watch Japanese movies because they weren't available subtitled and I didn't speak the language). I'll have to watch them.

Thanks to others for the other suggestions, I'll look at them. I'm always eager for good new things to watch, but with Japanese movies and animes, it's particularly hard to find the good stuff hidden in the crap. I'm not necessarily an anime "hater," I just happen to hate all the non-Miyazaki anime I've ever seen (so far).
Make sure to check out Nobody Knows. It's a story about a group of children who get abandoned by their mother. It's a powerful tragic movie, but it's beautiful in a lot of ways and the child acting is the best I've ever seen.

Still Walking and I Wish are great as well. The man knows how to depict families.
 

Byakuya769

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Episode 1 of Space Dandy has me wondering if it should be taken seriously. I enjoyed it, but not on a Champloo/Bebop level.
 

Kieli

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idk I'd kinda rather anime stay a niche/geekdom only interest

This is why localization of Legend of Galactic Heroes or even a translation of the novels will never happen. :'(

Edit: On hindsight, what I wrote in this post is completely non-sensical. Please ignore. :(
 

Romars202129

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Personally, I think anime needs to take the same steps comic books did to find legitamacy... And that is to distance themselves from the things that paint them in a bad light.
When you lump bebop in with all moe shite and children's shows, it's easy for even the most considerate critic to write off the entire medium.
But more on the topic of this article, the idea of Space Dandee establishing Watanabe's career or the medium in general is beyond naive. I mean, it's a nice dream, but you need to live in reality. This is more just the directors last day in the sun, and will probably go completely overlooked. Compared to Bebop and Champloo, the concept is way too niche. It's lovely that adult swim was wiling to toss them their backing, but I feel they won't get much out of it.
I'll certainly be watching, but I'm not confident too many will.
 

Antiochus

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Have you watched every anime ever?

No. But as an outsider, I have finished the most frequently talked about alpha series such as Samurai Champloo, Gankutsou, Monster, Evangelion, etc. My sentiments towards them is very similar if not somewhat more critical than what others have posted here.
 
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No. But as an outsider, I have finished the most frequently talked about alpha series such as Samurai Champloo, Gankutsou, Monster, Evangelion, etc. My sentiments towards them is very similar if not somewhat more critical than what others have posted here.

If you say so. I personally find Monster to be comparable to the American shows you listed, but that's just me. I'm not exactly a massive fan of it or what you listed, though.

Some people would say something like Mushishi can stand up there with the greats of live action programming in case you haven't seen that.
 

Antiochus

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He's saying that no anime has fit that role, not that no such anime exists.

Both actually. It should be fairly incontrovertible that there has not been any TV anime since the genre's inception that both increased the scope, size, and diversity of their audience while also earning the respect of the broad Western hipster class. And on the other metric, I will merely put forward this challenge:

Can any anime fan here, with a straight face and mind, plausibly nominate a show that they consider to be an absolute equivalent in qualities to a well made American/British cable TV series (ex:Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, Boarddwalk Empire, Luther, Orphan Black etc.), let alone one that meets or even exceeds certifiable masterpieces like Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire/Deadwood, etc.?

I rest my case.
 

ucdawg12

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Both actually. It should be fairly incontrovertible that there has not been any TV anime since the genre's inception that both increased the scope, size, and diversity of their audience while also earning the respect of the broad Western hipster class. And on the other metric, I will merely put forward this challenge:

Can any anime fan here, with a straight face and mind, plausibly nominate a show that they consider to be an absolute equivalent in qualities to a well made American/British cable TV series (ex:Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, Boarddwalk Empire, Luther, Orphan Black etc.), let alone one that meets or even exceeds certifiable masterpieces like Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire/Deadwood, etc.?

I rest my case.

why not evangelion? i still don't understand why it can't be argued for other than personal taste which could argue with everything.
 

Pein

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Both actually. It should be fairly incontrovertible that there has not been any TV anime since the genre's inception that both increased the scope, size, and diversity of their audience while also earning the respect of the broad Western hipster class. And on the other metric, I will merely put forward this challenge:

Can any anime fan here, with a straight face and mind, plausibly nominate a show that they consider to be an absolute equivalent in qualities to a well made American/British cable TV series (ex:Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, Boarddwalk Empire, Luther, Orphan Black etc.), let alone one that meets or even exceeds certifiable masterpieces like Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire/Deadwood, etc.?

I rest my case.

mushishi, planetes, monster, bebop, moribito.
 

Violet_0

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Can any anime fan here, with a straight face and mind, plausibly nominate a show that they consider to be an absolute equivalent in qualities to a well made American/British cable TV series (ex:Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, Boarddwalk Empire, Luther, Orphan Black etc.), let alone one that meets or even exceeds certifiable masterpieces like Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire/Deadwood, etc.?

I rest my case.

yeah, that one quirky anime series that prominently features school girls
 
Jul 30, 2008
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Both actually. It should be fairly incontrovertible that there has not been any TV anime since the genre's inception that both increased the scope, size, and diversity of their audience while also earning the respect of the broad Western hipster class. And on the other metric, I will merely put forward this challenge:

Can any anime fan here, with a straight face and mind, plausibly nominate a show that they consider to be an absolute equivalent in qualities to a well made American/British cable TV series (ex:Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, Boarddwalk Empire, Luther, Orphan Black etc.), let alone one that meets or even exceeds certifiable masterpieces like Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire/Deadwood, etc.?

I rest my case.
Ummm....fuck yeah? With a completely straight face, I would like to nominate Ghost in the Shell SAC and Cowboy Bebop. Both of which I consider greater than most of those shows you listed.
 

Romars202129

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Both actually. It should be fairly incontrovertible that there has not been any TV anime since the genre's inception that both increased the scope, size, and diversity of their audience while also earning the respect of the broad Western hipster class. And on the other metric, I will merely put forward this challenge:

Can any anime fan here, with a straight face and mind, plausibly nominate a show that they consider to be an absolute equivalent in qualities to a well made American/British cable TV series (ex:Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, Boarddwalk Empire, Luther, Orphan Black etc.), let alone one that meets or even exceeds certifiable masterpieces like Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire/Deadwood, etc.?

I rest my case.

Berserk is pretty fuckin good. I would put it on the level of a drama. I started watching it right after my first viewing of the Wire, and have had similar good vibes from it. Not that I'd put in on the same level or above, or anything else for that matter, The Wire is god teir.
But I honestly might put it on par or slightly above Game of Thrones... which can be more than a little silly at times. Cough cough -mother of dragons- gag-
It's been too long since I've rewatched Bebop, but I've always held that in the highest esteem... though I'll admit with that one, it might be harder to view it as critically with my nostalgia glassed firmly on.
But honestly, you're putting dramas on a hella big pedestal.
 
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