Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Things I Hate About Anime

I began watching anime in 2004. For the first three years of my hobbydom, my viewing habits consisted of marathoning series over weekends and breaks. Watching on an episode by episode basis was unheard of. There were a crapload of older series I had to catch up on, and for the longest time, I didn't know what the hell fansubs were. It's now been a couple years since I've last marathoned a series I haven't seen before (though I still marathon older favorites like Giant Robo and FLCL all the time whenever I'm back home from college). So, for nostalgia and laziness' sake, I decided to try and get through Eureka 7, seeing as its episodes are streaming through ANN right now.

It was a fucking struggle, I tell ya. Getting through those episodes was more grueling than a workout, except a workout would've actually been helpful. What a goddamn waste of time. Despite all of its eminent audience acclaim, dazzling animation, and sky-surfing robots, my experience was derailed by the fact that Eureka 7 contains or has reminded of some of the cliches/devices/tendencies from the medium I abhor the most. These include:

The Getting Caught Fantasizing/Daydreaming LOL moment-
A classic, tired attempt to elicit some laughs, or maybe even some pity for a particular character. Not funny. Just pathetic. Yes, people fantasize/daydream all the time while talking to themselves, but we usually notice it when somebody, especially when the person of interest we are fantasizing/daydreaming about moves right in front of us. I know animation, hell, film period, is a medium of exaggeration, and there's suspense of disbelief and all that crap, but with how often it's used, I've had enough of this "human awareness fail"-dependent humor.

The Incredibly Forced Crying/Tearing Up moment-
Happens in anime like it does with kids. You see it coming from a mile away. It's telegraphed by every movement...and yet you can't stop it! Shit, people cry, but they stay silent a lot of the time too. It also would help if the voice actors didn't sound like whimpering goats every time they did it. Then again, I would sound like one too if I was told to cry on the spot for something I don't really care about. The Incredibly Forced Crying/Tearing Up moment is closely related to...

The Deeply Emotional Pan To the Sky Visceral Scream moment-
To write the perfectly generic Deeply Emotional moment, follow these steps:
1) Supporting character is mortally wounded after a Heroic Sacrificial Action.
2) Protagonist rushes to character's side.
3) Supporting character utters Last Words.
4) Supporting character coughs up blood and dies.
5) Protagonist remains in disbelief and begins crying.
6) Pan to the sky for the Visceral Scream of dead character's name.

Props to Kenji Kamiyama and his fellow writers for making fun of this pattern in the first season of Stand Alone Complex.
The end of Gurren Lagann's eighth episode is one of the more tolerable and effective death scenes that I've seen because the Last Words and Visceral Scream have been removed. Why can't other folks follow suit?

Saying a Person's Name During Conversation moment-
"I...I just don't understand anything anymore. Life...has become so confusing."

Awkward as hell. Doesn't help when the names are really strange. But hey, for all I know, maybe this is normal and I'm outta the loop. Enlighten me here.

Not endemic to anime by any means, but it appears all too often to rob our poor little 2-d constructs of more relevant and valuable dialog. I cannot count how many times in Eureka 7 people started going off about trapars, skyfish, and coral. Look, they're trippy and colorful and that's nice, but when the concepts are horribly inconsistent and can be surmounted by the Power of Love, there is no need for that much time to be spent on establishing them. Keep the concepts consistent, or better yet, keep it in the hard sci-fi world where this shit is actually paramount and belongs. The only anime "technobabble" I've genuinely found interesting, so interesting in fact that I hesitate use that ugly word in association, is from the Ghost in the Shell-verse.

I hope to dear god that these things eventually die out. What was once barely palatable has become vomit-inducing. In a nutshell,

P.S: If any of these have some more properly accepted names besides the random nonsensical jumbles I came up with, definitely let me know.


  1. Maybe because it's been a few years, but I don't remember daydreaming and technobabble being an issue in Eureka 7.

    And didn't you like the technobabble in Lain and Ghost Hound?

  2. We weren't really shown the daydreaming from inside Renton's mind, but there were numerous points, especially at the beginning of the series, where he is shown thinking and talking to himself, only to have Eureka or one of the monstrously annoying "Kids" appear in front of him. Our opinions may very well differ on the technobabble.

    You're right. I loooved the technobabble in Lain and Ghost Hound because of how well-thought out it was.