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

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neoanarch

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Dec 11, 2005
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The people calling Serial Experiment Lain a good show I will fight you in a bareknuckle internet fight over that. Terrible terrible show. Wait,no. I am a complete idiot for some reason I get Lain and Elfen Lied mixed up in my head a lot. One is the biggest pile I've ever watched the other I keep putting off.


I just rewatched Mushishi though, and it is simply incredible.
 

FoxSpirit

Junior Member
Sep 27, 2006
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The people calling Serial Experiment Lain a good show I will fight you in a bareknuckle internet fight over that. Terrible terrible show.


I just rewatched Mushishi though, and it is simply incredible. Listing them together is a travesty to the latter.
Explain.
Because you disliking the show doesn't make it "terrible, terrible".
 

Kimawolf

Member
Sep 15, 2012
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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.
People like pandering though. Have you seen how popular Game of Thrones is? Or Spartacus? I promise if that shit faded to black on every sex and tits scene it would not be as popular. Hell some anime would fit right in on cable because they cram some of that shit with over the top violence just because. So I wont believe folks dont like pandering, because they do.
 

Chake

Banned
Jan 24, 2013
867
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Berserk + Studio Bones + HBO.

No cuts, not fillers, and from the start of the manga.

Problem solved, free of charge.
 

Abounder

Banned
Jun 6, 2013
6,889
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Animated TV is not an easy sell for critics. Not only are those shows designed to sell merchandise but episodic content like most anime just eats up too much time for too few clicks for a reviewer

If anime TV or animated TV in general wants to be taken seriously then they need to deliver cinematic experiences on the quality of the "Mr Freeze" episode from Batman
 

Wiktor

Member
Dec 27, 2004
17,252
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I wouldn't say anime is as a whole inferior to live action TV. It is indeed inferior when it comes to pure drama. But in genre shows anime has been a lot better than regular TV for a long long time. It's not even a competition. Same with romance.
 

Vermillion

Banned
Mar 13, 2011
21,186
0
0
Attack on Titan gets by because of its super interesting premise, the actual writing and characters fall into many standard shounen trappings and tropes.

See, I feel like Attack on Titan gets close and then subverts many tropes, but not in an extreme way.

Off the top of my head:
The badass isn't 100% emo, and obviously cares for the people around him. Plus, he's relatively talkative.

Power of friendship is bullshit. In most shonen anime, trusting in your friends doesn't get them all killed
.

That's not to put the show as some gold standard or anything - just addressing that in particular.

Also, I'd like to put FMA: Brotherhood up as a show that was interesting to me on multiple levels.
 

whatsinaname

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Feb 13, 2009
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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.

I don't even understand your "challenge". Personally I think Ghost in the Shell has, stylistically and thematically, done more for the visual medium than anything Breaking Bad or Sopranos or Battlestar Galactica has done*. They felt like good character studies and nothing more. Their being "masterpieces" depends on whether the characters click with you or not.

Your posts seem to carry a tone of close-mindedness to Anime. And this is coming from someone who wouldn't call himself an Anime fan. I have maybe watched 4-5 anime series to completion.

*I should state that my opinion on Breaking Bad and Sopranos and BSG is only based on their first seasons because I wasn't interested enough to finish watching the rest.
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
Jun 18, 2009
62,408
10
1,115
Paranoia Agent did air in the US, but I'm curious how the reception to Paranoia Agent would be if it aired now and not in 2004. I think internet media criticism has come a long way since then and there might actually be a reaction of "holy shit this is good"

I mean, it wouldn't break into the mainstream mainstream, but it might break into the geek mainstream in a way that anime hasn't really done in ages
 

Cheesyhobo

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May 4, 2007
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Paranoia Agent did air in the US, but I'm curious how the reception to Paranoia Agent would be if it aired now and not in 2004. I think internet media criticism has come a long way since then and there might actually be a reaction of "holy shit this is good"

I mean, it wouldn't break into the mainstream mainstream, but it might break into the geek mainstream in a way that anime hasn't really done in ages

If you put it on Adult Swim, it would fail again. I don't think there's a market for shows like that in the US on television, honestly. People can barely wrap their heads around experimental live-action, let alone anime.
 

Messofanego

Banned
Oct 31, 2011
46,356
1
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UK
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I have a feeling most sci-fi fans have watched or at least heard of Ghost in the Shell. It transcended otaku and geek audiences, and the more realistic character art style probably eased the transition.

Oh yeah, anime would be much improved and taken more seriously if it was nothing but wall-to-wall violence like in the 90s or people staring at their navels like in the 2000s

Well, yes now you get it!
 

Jex

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Nov 16, 2009
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What the medium needs is a show on the caliber of The Wire/Sopranos/Breaking Bad that can demonstrate the medium can not only produce something competitive with live action shows, but actually surpass most of them as well. There has yet to be a show like that for the entirety of TV anime's existence. In fact, it can even be argued that TV anime hasn't even yet produced a show equivalent to the role that the Larry Sanders Show played in the early 90's that spurred the cable TV renaissance a decade later.

For a start, that's hyperbolic in the extreme. Mediums aren't in competition with each other to justify that they're better than each other, and the rules of any said competition wouldn't necessarily be "who can be the most like popular Western TV". That would be like saying live TV is rubbish because it's produced nothing on the level of FLCL or Mononoke. That's a really weird way of looking at it.

Indeed, some of the most (commercially) successful anime in America have been successful because they aren't like Western TV e.g. Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Gundam Wing etc. In relation to critical success, there have been plenty of anime titles released over the years that have garnered critical acclaim.

Moreover, you seem to be judging the medium of anime by how well it fails or succeeds in the West when practically no-one in Japan cares how their exported cartoons fair in some minor Western market.

Talking about "Anime that's as good as Breaking Bad" is like talking about "The Godfather of Videogames", it completely ignores the innate qualities of the medium itself.
 

gibi

Banned
Nov 5, 2013
100
0
0
Satoshi Kon is/was the only one capable. Miyazaki is overrated. And Watanabe? Really? lol the fanservice alone will keep poeple from taking his anime seriously.
 

FoxSpirit

Junior Member
Sep 27, 2006
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Even Disney can't make people take animation seriously.
Because all their animation is targeted as "wholesome family entertainment"??

Also, don't be impatient, the time will come when animation will be legitimate. With every coming generation it gets better. I expect in 30 years or so animation will be a much more respected artform than it is today.
 

RatskyWatsky

Hunky Nostradamus
Feb 27, 2010
40,307
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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, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Luther, Orphan Blacketc.), let alone one that meets or even exceeds certifiable masterpieces like Breaking Bad/Sopranos/The Wire/Deadwood, etc.?

Game of Thrones isn't even that great. Six Feet Under is a certifiable masterpiece on the level of Mad Men/Deadwood/The Wire though. Anyway.

There are plenty of great anime shows out there, certainly, but nothing that you can really equate to any of the shows listed. Why? Because they're in different mediums (not to mention different genres). Just as there isn't a "The Wire of anime", there also isn't a "Legend of the Galactic Heroes of live action drama" or a "Citizen Kane of videogames" or a "Watchmen of literature" or whatever. It's pointless (not to mention juvenile) to try and compare or equate them because they're in totally different mediums.
 

Lafiel

と呼ぶがよい
Feb 20, 2009
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If anime TV or animated TV in general wants to be taken seriously then they need to deliver cinematic experiences on the quality of the "Mr Freeze" episode from Batman
Are you serious? I mean hate to sound mean here but in the western television arena - Book 2 of Avatar the Last Airbender says hi.. and do I need to list all the anime series that were mentioned before? ;p

Batman TAS is genuinely great though.
 

Antiochus

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Jul 14, 2010
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I don't see that happening anytime soon, seeing as there isn't even an anime as good as The Big Bang Theory, let alone The Wire. Not to mention that the best Japanese voice actor is a hundred times worse than the worst American TV actor.

The Big Bang Theory part is most certainly hyperbole; there are some shows I've finished where they are certifiably on another level than the average American sitcom. What is apparent however is that the "statistical" median/mean anime show appears to be 1-2 standard deviations lower than a comparative American primetime network show. From your VA point, you have also touched an important issue that is not often recognized: namely that TV anime has a whole host of obstacles and barriers built inherently in its production process and the physical medium itself that would cripple any live action show. The average TV anime starts off with severe handicaps that any ubpar Western live action show wouldn't even dream of facing. It's one thing that anime fans could use to their advantage in debates like this. But that's another story.
 

Antiochus

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Jul 14, 2010
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Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Show me the equivalent of that. Well thought out, has a diverse cast with people FULL of proper goals, motivations, issues and personal problems to resolve. It has plenty of good twists, drama, deaths, it does not go on longer than it is supposed to, and it makes sense all the way till the very end. Turn the discussion around, show me the US equivalent of that. A show that knows when to go out, one that does not get twisted by rating changes and schedule problems, where the main characters do not get hanging in the air like a broken thread of events like Supernatural's Winchester boys have been doing for what...5 years now?

There are plenty of great shows in both ends of the spectrum, and that is what matters. What I am arguing is that the approach to storytelling is, for the vast majority of anime/american television is *fundamentally* different.

One wonders if you have access to basic cable, or if you bothered to finish any shows on there in the last 10-12 years.
 

kunonabi

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Dec 2, 2010
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I think the only show I've been able to get non-anime types into was Monster. My dad actually liked it quite a bit.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,789
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1,160
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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.

This is my completely serious ballot for TV show of the year in 2013:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=93801615&postcount=157
An anime series is my #2.

But for every Justified, there are fifty Dads. You can't pretend that American TV doesn't have shit either.

I will say though, anime television's big problem is that it needs to appeal to nerds. In the same way that every video game is made for 18-34 year old boys who like to shoot people in the face or stab them in the neck, anime is also made for an audience of 18-34 year old nerds who like seeing half naked girls. But even though GTA and CoD are the big sellers in video games, that doesn't preclude good games like Gone Home or Brothers from existing. The same is true with anime television.
 

Droplet

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If there are people out there who believe that American television doesn't cater to its home audience in the same way that anime will cater to the Japanese audience, you are sorely mistaken. The two are very different mediums, and are likely to convey things very differently.

My thought is anime's strengths over live action tv are these:

1. The ability to portray very ordinary events as extraordinary through the manipulation angles and space, and artistic impressions of characters and actions.

Hyouka shows interactions between the two main characters in very fanciful ways.

This is a show about people playing a sport called karuta in which you hit cards when people read poems.

2. The capability to produce fantastical and supernatural settings while still being able to deliver a story can still be worldly. I think a lot of live-action series are pressured, probably do to budget concerns (fantasy shows are expensive) to be this kind of great, epic thing, and while some anime like to aim high, I think the best ones tend to stay grounded in their themes.


Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a story about a boy fighting a galactic war with flying octopi in space, who then falls into a wormhole and ends up on a fleet of ships, which is actually a town because Earth is now covered in water. It's about self-determination and what the individual means to society and civilization as a whole.

The Eccentric Family is about a family of shapeshifting raccoons that take on human form and cope with the death of their father after he is eaten in a hot pot. It's a show about how groups integrate with their surroundings and how families support each other as they do so.

3. The format allows for stories to be told in very compact forms. There isn't really the necessity to be renewed for new seasons, and very few shows outstay 2 seasons (although there are a few actions series that go on for much longer), so plots are often able to be resolved quickly and concisely. (no images for this, it's pretty much everything)

Just for reference, I'm pretty sure none of these are shows that are considered "classics", and they don't normally fall into the usual recommendations people will give when somebody asks for a show when they aren't familiar with the medium. But for me, these are shows that represent a lot of what only anime is able to present well (and, well, they're recent so I remember them). Sure, anime has its tropes, but I could definitely say the same for Western television. And just like it's not true that every Western show is going to follow the same tropes, that's also true for anime. It's just much, much easier for a Western audience to swallow the tropes of a Western show because the audience is Western. I'm not going to start picking at the difference between Japanese and Western cultural values, but they're there, and I think it'd be really unfair to compare two different mediums that serve to express them.
 
Jul 30, 2008
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Just for reference, I'm pretty sure none of these are shows that are considered "classics", and they don't normally fall into the usual recommendations people will give when somebody asks for a show when they aren't familiar with the medium. But for me, these are shows that represent a lot of what only anime is able to present well (and, well, they're recent so I remember them).
The Eccentric Family has grown more and more on me throughout the year. It went from a great anime to my favorite anime of 2013. I'm confident anyone who enjoys drama could watch and fall instantly in love. Everything about it is mesmerizing, enchanting, interesting, etc.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,789
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If there are people out there who believe that American television doesn't cater to its home audience in the same way that anime will cater to the Japanese audience, you are sorely mistaken. The two are very different mediums, and are likely to convey things very differently.

My thought is anime's strengths over live action tv are these:

1. The ability to portray very ordinary events as extraordinary through the manipulation angles and space, and artistic impressions of characters and actions.
2. The capability to produce fantastical and supernatural settings while still being able to deliver a story can still be worldly. I think a lot of live-action series are pressured, probably do to budget concerns (fantasy shows are expensive) to be this kind of great, epic thing, and while some anime like to aim high, I think the best ones tend to stay grounded in their themes.

3. The format allows for stories to be told in very compact forms. There isn't really the necessity to be renewed for new seasons, and very few shows outstay 2 seasons (although there are a few actions series that go on for much longer), so plots are often able to be resolved quickly and concisely. (no images for this, it's pretty much everything)

Just for reference, I'm pretty sure none of these are shows that are considered "classics", and they don't normally fall into the usual recommendations people will give when somebody asks for a show when they aren't familiar with the medium. But for me, these are shows that represent a lot of what only anime is able to present well (and, well, they're recent so I remember them). Sure, anime has its tropes, but I could definitely say the same for Western television. And just like it's not true that every Western show is going to follow the same tropes, that's also true for anime. It's just much, much easier for a Western audience to swallow the tropes of a Western show because the audience is Western. I'm not going to start picking at the difference between Japanese and Western cultural values, but they're there, and I think it'd be really unfair to compare two different mediums that serve to express them.

To play devil's advocate here, the strength of Hyouka comes from the character dynamics, which is why the visual Chitanda-isms drop off by the time the school festival rolls around.

There are advantages that having a formless camera brings - in your Chihayafuru example, you have shots are are essentially from beneath the floor pointing up. It's probably possible to do that in "real life" with transparent glass and whatnot, but it'd probably be prohibitively expensive.

But in the end, writing is still king, and when most anime is beholden to some source material, then you get tremendous pacing problems that make a show like Chihayafuru almost insufferable to watch.

There's also a difference in business model. American television is made to be syndicated - the money comes from trying to hit a number so that they can sell the show to a package to be run in strip syndication. Anime television is made to be aired at 3am and serve as advertisements for the manga/light novel. The money that an anime makes comes directly from direct sales of discs and the ancillary benefits that having an anime brings to the "mother text". For the original animes that do get made, the risk forces them to focus only on a 12-episode run in order to avoid situations like Fractale where the show only sells to a thousand people. For a hit like Girls und Panzer, they are already planning a movie and presumably a second season.

In a way, it's just like HBO in that respect. Well, it's like what HBO wants you to believe anyway - that they renew a show at the very last minute in order to reward audience loyalty.
 

El Sloth

Banned
Dec 13, 2009
20,257
1
0
I used to love anime. This Moe shit has turned me off from the genre as a whole.
Then stop seeking the crap out! Jesus, what the hell are some of you people watching? I feel like I must be living in this fantasy world where I can make an effort to watch non-shit shows and actually find non-shit shows! I do the same with everything else! I'm supposed to be the sloth here!
 

whatsinaname

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Feb 13, 2009
11,854
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Then stop seeking the crap out! Jesus, what the hell are some of you people watching? I feel like I must be living in this fantasy world where I can make an effort to watch non-shit shows and actually find non-shit shows! I do the same with everything else! I'm supposed to be the sloth here!

I used to like British music. This dubstep stuff has turned me off from the genre as a whole. Now I just play video games.
 

GSG Flash

Nobody ruins my family vacation but me...and maybe the boy!
Jul 7, 2004
14,838
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I think Dragonball Z is the closest anime has gotten to being taken "seriously" (Cartoons, in general, don't get taken seriously). Even the jocks in my school used to watch DBZ(and it's really the only anime that I would ever watch).
 

Jex

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To play devil's advocate here, the strength of Hyouka comes from the character dynamics, which is why the visual Chitanda-isms drop off by the time the school festival rolls around.
Right, although I think the writing of Hyouka is heavily complemented and enhanced by the visual direction. Then again, strong visual direction certainly isn't unique to anime.

What is unique to anime is, you know, that it's animation and the near limitless freedom this brings to telling a story visually.
 

Durask

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Feb 6, 2012
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Just as there isn't a "The Wire of anime", there also isn't a "Legend of the Galactic Heroes of live action drama" or a "Citizen Kane of videogames" or a "Watchmen of literature" or whatever. It's pointless (not to mention juvenile) to try and compare or equate them because they're in totally different mediums.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is basically a costume drama/period piece with sci-fi trappings so IMHO not a good example. ��
 

RatskyWatsky

Hunky Nostradamus
Feb 27, 2010
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Legend of the Galactic Heroes is basically a costume drama/period piece with sci-fi trappings so IMHO not a good example. ��

Well, I haven't seen it but I saw people mention it a bunch in this thread so I figured it would be a good example. Guess not. The point still stands though.
 

firehawk12

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Sep 10, 2007
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Right, although I think the writing of Hyouka is heavily complemented and enhanced by the visual direction. Then again, strong visual direction certainly isn't unique to anime.

What is unique to anime is, you know, that it's animation and the near limitless freedom this brings to telling a story visually.
Sure, and as someone who thinks that Gravity is the greatest animated film ever made, I understand the power of the non-physical camera.

But I just find it amusing that the best part of Hyouka is the school festival, and people like it because it's full of life - which is something you usually can't do on a television 2am anime budget, but you could easily do with live action actors and decent direction.

Still, when anime is good, it's good. You can't make Monogatari in live action. Well, maybe you could, but it would look like shit. Even Game of Thrones looks like shit, and that's probably one of the bigger budget shows on television right now.
 

Jex

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Sure, and as someone who thinks that Gravity is the greatest animated film ever made, I understand the power of the non-physical camera.

But I just find it amusing that the best part of Hyouka is the school festival, and people like it because it's full of life - which is something you usually can't do on a television 2am anime budget, but you could easily do with live action actors and decent direction.

Still, when anime is good, it's good. You can't make Monogatari in live action. Well, maybe you could, but it would look like shit. Even Game of Thrones looks like shit, and that's probably one of the bigger budget shows on television right now.
It's actually pretty interesting to compare the cost vs quality of settings in anime vs live action television.

In anime you can have a fantasy setting for the same 'price' as a school setting. Meanwhile in live action you can go and shoot a city full of thousands of people for nothing, but creating a believable fantasy setting is very expensive.

This fundamental difference certainly influences the kind of works that can appear in those respective mediums.
 
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