Sunday, September 8, 2013

How Anime Died ... For Me

This isn't game based, but it's something I've noticed a lot recently and it might relate to why I can't find enjoyment out of games like Kingdom Hearts or any Final Fantasy that isn't Final Fantasy 3. However, keep in mind I'm not talking about single films like "Howls Moving Castle," I'm talking in the vein of Death Note, Code Geass, Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist etc.

I've Seen It All Before

It's disappointing to think about, but once I've completed one anime I've basically got a blueprint for how the following series will go. It's one of the shortfalls of animation in general. Repetition is difficult to avoid. I feel like every scene I've ever seen in every anime I've ever watched is a direct clone of another scene from another anime, and it's a strange feeling of Deja Vu and nausea. 

I've already seen the hero shove food into his mouth at mach speed I've seen the clash in the sky, I've seen the pointlessly long opening and closing credits, I've seen the quiet girl who seems to have the same archetype in everything, I've seen the perverted side character and the guy whose art style is slightly different from everyone else's just because. I've seen the confident hero, and cocky anti hero, and the two dimensional villain. I've seen the half naked women bathing in the hot springs, the obvious fan service, the low budget inspired slapstick, the over dramatized groups of thugs that appear perfectly okay with being cannon fodder, the bath scenes, the contrived and convenient methods of bringing back dead characters, the same exact sword sequences, and the heavily choreographed yet still incredibly repetitive fight sequences, the two dimensional characters that stick around forever.

Swords will always lead to this

I've seen it all before. A lot of these tropes are used in film and games as well, but the issue here is repetition. In film people have inspirations that vary from one another. Different styles of conveying different scenes, this is because there are multiple things about film that are actually difficult to replicate. In anime, it's the exact opposite. Mouth movements have been standardized to a single sound to allow for flexible dubbing and due to the detail in the art and animation, studios benefit from retrofitting previous animations with new coats of paint. In fact, Disney is famous for this.

Disney animation takes a long time mainly because a vast majority of classic Disney movies use actual footage that's been traced over frame by frame. Though an impressive finished product, it makes for an impractical way of animating, so they simply re-skin scenes they feel they can use again.

Just a small example

Anime, while not traced over found footage, goes through the same constraints. Unlike Disney movies, however, anime needs to continue to be produced on a frequent basis, mostly lasting to the point of convolution and overstaying their welcome. Because of this basic need for frequency in production, cost effective measures need to be taken, I.E standardized design. 

Design suffers for cost efficiency and become generic

I have to say, I can't necessarily blame the studios for cutting these corners. Anime is expensive to produce and I like to think that the main reason for cutting costs for production is mainly to allow those who work on it to earn a fair living wage. Still, when all is said and done, it's repetition that killed anime for me. There are still shows that I vastly enjoy. I enjoy the nostalgic value of Dragon Ball Z, and the choreography and concepts of Naruto. I enjoy the idea of Death Note, and Cowboy Bebop. I can enjoy Rurouni Kenshin and Ghost in the Shell, but all the interesting concepts explored by these shows lose their value as their stories drift on past their glory days. While Naruto begins as a fascinating take on ninjas and the use of elements, it quickly drifts into mindless caveats and convoluted situations. 

So perhaps it's more than just repetition. It may also be an overstaying welcome. Where most TV shows have learned this lesson the hard way, anime has not. Few animes offer proper closure because they go on seemingly forever. Although this may not count, Avatar: The Last Airbender is my favorite example of a show ending in it's glory. It was a great show, never stale, great animation, and most of all it knew where it was going. It offers closure. I know Avatar is a 'cartoon' not an 'anime.' So? It does what most anime should do, and it does it well. Not to mention cartoons often last longer than animes do. How long has The Simpson's been on again?

Too long, yet still not as repetitive as One Piece 

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