Anime Decade: From Japan Cool to Cooling Off

Posted by MattAlt 
Very slowly, Mr. Roger.

And Rev. Sanjeev? I can't think of anything more appropriate...provided you bring back the bigger 'do. ;)

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[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Sanjeev (Admin)
Oh, no doubt.

That said, however, I just went back and checked out some wedding pictures of a ceremony I presided over a few years ago...and I was rocking the slick-back sheisty preacher look.

In a sense...that seems more appropriate! :P
hillsy Wrote:
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> Very slowly, Mr. Roger.
>
> And Rev. Sanjeev?

That's The RIGHT Reverend Sanjeev to you.

More serious than thou
"If lovin' the Lord is wrong, I don't wanna be right!"

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[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
MattAlt (Admin)
One ray of sunshine for the anime industry: a government subsidy to train key animators.

[altjapan.typepad.com]
"One ray of sunshine for the anime industry: a government subsidy to train key animators."

Maybe, though I see fans creating there own animation as the future. This has happened already.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
MattAlt (Admin)
Fans have been making anime for decades (see: Daicon Film, etc.). It's an interesting phenomenon but not particularly relevant to the discussion at hand, which is about how professional animators can't earn a living in the anime industry today because production committees strip studios of their revenues.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/07/2011 10:47PM by MattAlt.
During the economic boom period, was the pay for animators higher or was it that they could get paid well elsewhere and still work on anime? I know Ichiro Itano was also a truck driver (or so I heard).

Didn't I ask this once before?

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
MattAlt (Admin)
During the economic boom period (or "the bubble era" as it's known in Japan) a vast amount of money poured into the anime industry from American companies that produced Saturday morning cartoon fare. Stuff like G.I. Joe, MASK, Captain Power, Pole Position, etc., etc. was designed and largely animated in Japan because the weak yen made things so much cheaper there.

That money allowed studios to kick off the OVA boom, but when it dried up in the early 90s there wasn't much to replace it, and the studios have been suffering ever since. Japan's far too expensive to outsource animation to anymore, so American companies turn to cheaper solutions in Korea, China, and SE Asia instead.
I recently re-watched Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance. This time it was high-def instead of a grainy bootleg streamer. I had already found it to be superior to the original series, but on the second viewing I really enjoyed the visuals. And I picked up some new motifs in the story.

Buried under the mounds of "fan service" within Evangelion is a hidden love letter to otaku. Not necessarily a romantic one, but an expression of deep concern based on affection and sympathy for the demographic. Characters within the drama express various dimensions of OTAKU and these become points of departure for exploring their weaknesses and character faults. This type of driving tension presents an amazing subtext as some characters will surmount these dimensions while others will succumb to them. And at most turns we hear characters commenting directly on them. That's some heady shit.

The new Evangelion is explicitly urging otaku to grow the fuck up, get the fuck out of their caves, don't give up on life, and start engaging real relationships. Or suffer the consequences.

Good stuff.
Gcrush Wrote:
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> The new Evangelion is explicitly urging otaku to
> grow the fuck up, get the fuck out of their caves,
> don't give up on life, and start engaging real
> relationships. Or suffer the consequences.

That's pretty much what the Evangelion TV series did with the ending, though, didn't it?

(Why is that refrain from "The Wall" running through my head right now?)
Roger Wrote:
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> That's pretty much what the Evangelion TV series
> did with the ending, though, didn't it?

I'm not saying that it didn't, but I always heard the live action misdirection at the finale was a budget-and-plotting catastrophe more than a stylistic thing. Personally, I didn't really care for the grinding pace and unlikable characters in the series because it felt like I was living out some one else's high school experience. That made the ending felt like being "rewarded" with a meaty dick-slap to the forehead instead of a cap-and-gown.

My memory of the series has faded a bit, but the movies seem vastly superior in every respect so far. Their time-compression as cinematic events means that the characters have less space in which to become grating despite manifesting the same character flaws (and delivering the same commentary on those flaws). I don't remember the dialog from the series, but in the film you have adults literally telling the kids things like, "You two will have to learn to get along with each other," and, "You can't let things like that hold you back." Framing it within a film makes it so much tighter and clearer. The "Grow-Up Otaku, Please!" subtext is more coherent and readable.

The compression also has the up-shot of making their motivation clearer in many cases. For example, it no longer seems like Shinji is running away for vague reasons that happened episodes ago; instead, his second flight from NERV is more closely linked to a very recent argument with his dad - making it an impulsive, hot-headed reaction rather than an apathetic slinking away. In other words he's showing backbone instead of cowardice. The effect to me was much improved over the original - while the atmosphere of the setting is still apocalyptic and confusing at times, the direction is more hopeful and less nihilistic. So far.

I'll put it a different way. The difference between the series and the film, and their ensuing subtexts, is the difference between a MOE fan's preoccupation with the trivialities of teenage girls' lives and how a teenage girl's father might address that same topic. The message Anno is encoding at present is more paternalistic and encouraging.

So far.
If a watershed franchise like Evangelion can mature to this degree, it speaks well for the potential of the anime industry to enter a new renaissance if the structural problems within it are addressed.
"That made the ending felt like being "rewarded" with a meaty dick-slap to the forehead instead of a cap-and-gown."

Wait....is this a good thing or a bad thing?

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[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Animators' Work Conditions Not Improving:

[www.animenewsnetwork.com]

IMO Even if anime were to die (not likely but still), I'd still would have DECADES worth of series to view plus manga/doujins/artbooks/fanart to look around.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/16/2011 11:22AM by Vincent Z..
MattAlt (Admin)
That's the spirit, Vince! So long as you're entertained, who cares about those pesky artists?
>who cares about those pesky artists?

I do. That's why I buy their stuff.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
[www.amazon.co.jp];

equality in anime merchandise
Sanjeev (Admin)
That looks like the Vincent Z snuggle pillow I'm knitting...
>That looks like the Vincent Z snuggle pillow I'm knitting...

Make sure it has a compartment for a tenga. XD

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
MattAlt (Admin)
We've gone from "Japan Cool" to "Cooling off" to... "Anime awkwardness!"

[www.washingtonpost.com]
I just like that the article mentioned Madoka Magica, which was THE best anime of 2011.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/04/2011 12:19AM by Vincent Z..
Wow. Possibly checking Con registrants against sex offender registries? Weirdness is on the rise.
repairtechjon Wrote:
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> Wow. Possibly checking Con registrants against sex
> offender registries? Weirdness is on the rise.

It's one of those things some of us thought might be a good idea some time back, as the flood of 14 year olds grew and grew.

But then it gets into such slipper slope land, as the sex offender laws make no real distinction between a 40-year old man raping 6 year old boys (we agree this is a bad thing, right?) and a 18 year old boy who sleeps with a 16 year old girl who crashed the dorm party.

One is a crime, not a doubt about it, a terrible crime and the other is...wow, what to call it, a mistake generated by teen hormones? The kind of thing that in the past the father of the girl would just call the father of the boy and let that father whup the kid's butt and it's over.

But all that you generally see is SEX OFFENDER!!! and everybody freaks.

I dunno, the process needs to be refined.
Quote

In his costume, Smith posed for photos and shook hands. People laughed. A young girl hugged Pedobear.

I think the solution for the perverts has presented itself already.

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
SteveH Wrote:
>
> But then it gets into such slipper slope land, as
> the sex offender laws make no real distinction
> between a 40-year old man raping 6 year old boys
> (we agree this is a bad thing, right?) and a 18
> year old boy who sleeps with a 16 year old girl
> who crashed the dorm party.

Hell, that 18 and 16 year old could be in high school together. They could be in a serious relationship. And on top of that, it's not just the defective statutory rape laws in many states that screw up the effectiveness of sex offender registration - it's the overuse of registration for fleeting, harmless crimes like indecent exposure or verbal sexual harassment (can't find the examples now, but I saw an article about this recently). This causes a failure to draw a qualitative distinction between offenders proven to be violent and offenders proven only to behave obscenely. As the overbroad use of sex offender registration continues, it will only dilute the significance of registration, and make it more difficult to protect individuals from violent sex offenders.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
[yaraon.blog109.fc2.com]

Oshii likes him some Madoka

probably because Kyubey reminds him of his dogs
"Mamoru Oshii, the director of GITS and member of Japan Media Art Festival's jury, talked very enthusiastically about the the way in which Madoka Magica gripped the hearts and minds of so many fans when it was being televised, comparing the stories ability to captivate to Evangelion. It’s one of many praises for Madoka Magica that highlight it as an important original anime."

"Madoka confirmed to be the winner of this year's Japan Media Art Festival."

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
Well, adult men ARE the main demographic for that kind of show.

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
[www.animenewsnetwork.com]

Even Kazuo Koike likes Madoka.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
Anime, the professional widow maker (if any of the animators were actually married of course).

[www.otakuusamagazine.com]
[www.animenewsnetwork.com]

Dear Oshii: retire already.

Also, anime has genrally been driven by merchandise. Back in the past, it was kids. Today it's otaku.

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I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/22/2011 01:16PM by Vincent Z..
MattAlt (Admin)
David Marx has posted a fascinating five-part series of articles on Neojaponisme that explores "The Great Shift in Japanese Pop Culture."

Otaku are the darlings of the "Japan Cool" movement. But Marx makes a convincing case that by catering to otaku, Japan is effectively destroying its ability to market itself abroad. Otaku are the only ones really spending money domestically now, yet by appealing to them Japanese companies diverge from tastes and values that can be easily exported overseas. As he puts it, 99% of humanity ISN'T interested in "chesty two-dimensional 12 year-old girls who grovel at their feet and call them big brother."

Part 1 contains links to the rest. All five:

[neojaponisme.com]

[neojaponisme.com]

[neojaponisme.com]

[neojaponisme.com]

[neojaponisme.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2011 01:44AM by MattAlt.
Not that I seek to discredit the entire article with one chunk but I'm still digesting everything. However I find this part kind of funny.

"AKB48 have also been extremely popular on YouTube, which skews towards a tech-savvy male audience in Japan. And yet a song like “Heavy Rotation”— at over 50 million views — has nearly one-third “thumbs down” votes. This is an extremely high amount level of dislikes compared to other music videos on the site. "

Who knew internet trolls had so much influence :x
MattAlt (Admin)
Wall Street Journal:

"The industry has become decadent and fatigued."

[online.wsj.com]
C'mon Matt, you gotta quote the whole caption for context :3

Now I'm a simple man who only gets his information from people smarter than myself (i.e. everybody :x) but while I appreciate the overview of how Japan arrived at its current pop-culture crisis I feel that a lot of what has been done is as it says just a way of adapting to the changes in the buying market. Yes anime in the past was less (or at least less overtly) otaku oriented, but even back when companies were licensing shows for pennies on the dollar how many of these shows left a lasting footprint on pop-culture? It appears to be only a handful of shows when you look at the big selling titles in America, which is the only market that matters. The big shonen titles are generally the most successful at bridging the cultural gap because there's nothing more universal than kid oriented power fantasies :D

Some of the problems are things affecting all forms of mass media. Video games have been a thorn in the side of toy makers since the success of the NES and today's Gibsonian future allows for every piece of media ever made to be readily accessed by savvy consumers. The other day I found myself marveling at the ability to watch "The Scarlet Claw" on an iPad where I could take the device and put it anywhere and still watch the movie. We may have to accept that the toy market will never be the same as it once was because as you once said, why bring your Gundams to the sandbox just to reenact Odessa when you can just boot up a PSP and play it in every single Gundam game ever. The toys are catering to the toy people because they are no longer the default plaything for youngins to enjoy their favorite corporate sponsored epic.

Japan is one of the foremost experts in the field of capitalizing on fads and creating disposable entertainment to shill the merch. One of the things that terrifies media creators and Japanese ones the most about the digital age is just how disposable (and interchangeable) these things can seem. The article does address this as being an issue. In America, we've taken the cheap route and simultaneously produced about 20 TV shows about people selling stuff to pawn shops because there's more money in to be made in dirt cheap television that has a lot of advertising than some thoughtful toy-shilling schlock. As noted by the wonderful people at the ANNCast, it used to be robot shows were the filler. Then it moved to harem comedies and finally this age of teh moe~ The soft power of the previous generation of anime seemed so real to us but in the end it felt like it was mostly transparent to the public at large.

Now I don't really follow a lot anime or the multitude of manga and light novels they are based on, but how many popular shows are really about young girls breathlessly cooing for their oniiiiiiiiiichan? In my experience most of the shows that are popular and move the most merchandise consist of largely female casts without a significant male character for self insertion purposes. Even Kaaaaaaaay-On seems to be about girls doing the mysterious things girls do while not playing instruments. Yes there are maid outfits and oddly framed scenarios of girls invading each others personal space but the nerds today don't see that as creepy. In fact it seems like a lot of shows of that nature garner a number of fans of the female persuasion because like my friend Bea once said, "girls like pretty things." Maybe the scary thing is thinking that some men are openly expressing their desire to just be one of the force of gals. I'm not denying the existence nor the influence of the creepy shut ins who extol the virtues of 2d's superiority to the 3d pig disgusting world, but maybe we can temper the current state of things into a force for profit... I mean good.

Like look at that Squid Girl. Some people insist this is moe, but I find it to be a genuinely entertaining comedy about a squid outta water. The titular character is a childish idiot but that's part of the humor. She's not about lusting after the male characters in the show and would rather focus her efforts on conquering the surface world like Keroro Gunsou. Of course she's very easily distracted by video games and the alien act of making friends and talking to people. Even the obvious self-insert otaku character (who is a girl so that makes it ok) is looked upon with mild confusion by the rest of the cast and her obsessive behavior is played for laughs. Yeah there's some callbacks to typical anime humor but it's done in a way that delights people who aren't in the know. I derive amusement from the older sister character's frequent use of NANTO SUICHO KEN (a most beautiful style) but others see it as just a cool running gag. It's less about the panty shot and more about staring down an aggressive cobra while shouting, "Come at me, bro!" Even the main character's strange verbal tic has been smoothed over into a pun-tastic English translation. Sadly the English dub is lifeless in the exact amount to suck the fun out of a comedy :<

With regards to the stratification of entertainment, even in the mighty games industry the fragmentation of tastes and appeals has forced the more niche genres back into the bedrooms of the independent programmers. The market is attempting to compensate these people for their efforts with varying degrees of success. Can animation production be successfully transplanted to smaller groups of talented people? Who is to say when doujin games have sapped some of that talent in what can be an equally viable medium like them Muv Luv games.

Anime is one of my hobbies and I sympathize with the plight of Japanese studios who have been strained past the breaking point to satisfy their awful lot in life (thanks Tezuka!). I don't wish a eugenics like culling of the heard as it means people would lose their jobs, but as Aquarion taught me, sometimes we have to fall completely before picking ourselves back up.


Now if anything of the above is stupid and boring, please enjoy this innocent picture of a little robot baking bread.


I didn't read the articles yet but

VF5SS Wrote:
>
> "AKB48 have also been extremely popular on
> YouTube, which skews towards a tech-savvy male
> audience in Japan. And yet a song like “Heavy
> Rotation”— at over 50 million views —

lol self-fulfilling prophecy title
is this ironic or just dumb

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
MattAlt (Admin)
I don't want to see Japan (or any country) pandering to the American marketplace but neither do I think moe is even what the vast majority of JAPANESE want. It is a purely economic-driven phenomenon, driven by the fact that the only way studios can make money is by selling DVDs. When that system crashes (as it eventually must in the era of digital content delivery) we just might see a big change in the type of content the industry is producing -- if there's anyone to keep producing it, that is.

A couple specific comments to yours:

"In America, we've taken the cheap route and simultaneously produced about 20 TV shows about people selling stuff to pawn shops"

Japan is way, way, WAY ahead of America on this. Seemingly 90% of Japanese TV consists of really crappy "variety quiz shows" featuring B-grade celebrities commenting over clips of footage from YouTube or something. I agree with what you're getting at here, but just wanted to give you an FYI.

"even back when companies were licensing shows for pennies on the dollar how many of these shows left a lasting footprint on pop-culture?"

This question misses the forest for the trees. Here's why: before questioning whether the average American fondly remembers the tuna scene from Robotech or whatever, you need to ask what the vast majority of young (ish) Americans associate Japan with.

The answer, of course, is panty vending machines.

But AFTER that, they think about giant monsters, giant robots, dudes in kaiju suits, transforming robots, spaceships, video-game characters like Link, Mario, Pikachu, the ever-changing Final Fantasy cast, etc. Japanese "tropes" have made a huge impression abroad even if people can't recall the name of your favorite anime show. And you'd be surprised at how many "civilians" know Ultraman, Astro Boy, Robotech, Voltron, Sailor Moon, Evangelion, etc. And Pocket Monsters. While that show/series doesn't exactly fly in the ToyboxDX demographic, it is a legitimate worldwide phenomenon that hits on so many Japanese cultural sweet-spots it isn't even funny: monsters, yokai, kawaii, etc., etc. Japan has built up a HUGE amount of "mindshare" and "intellectual currency" even among non-Japanophiles.

As the commenter Mbone put it in the comments to the third part of Marx's series, otaku "have created something truly special... but squandered pretty much the whole thing on images of little girls being brutally gang raped." True or not, that is the image most "civilians" will come to associate with anime if things keep up.
"otaku "have created something truly special... but squandered pretty much the whole thing on images of little girls being brutally gang raped"

But is that what you think most moe shows are about (putting aside hilarious doujins)?

But then I'm fine with the notion of Japan being a crazy pervert kingdom.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2011 09:20PM by Vincent Z..
Vincent Z. Wrote:
>
> But is that what you think most moe shows are
> about (putting aside hilarious doujins)?

Vincent, if you read Matt's whole post, it's obvious he's using that as an example of the average Westerner's view of anime. You're creating a straw-man of Matt's straw-man of a hypothetical American's straw-man of Japanese culture.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
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