Criticism and Analysis As A Part Of The Western Anime Fandom (rant)

You know what I personally love about Anime as a medium? The variety. It seems to me that there are a wide spectrum of shows with massively different messages. I would posit that this is partially due to the heavy amount of adapting when it comes to ANime production. Only one or two people have to work on a Manga or Visual Novel or a Light Novel and as such it’s much easier to keep a singular or maybe dual vision intact in the core of your project. This is unlike cable television where getting a singular vision on any project is a rarity.

Like anything there are advantages and disadvantages to this. On the one hand artists have less people interfering with their vision and this can lead to great things like Steins;Gate. On the other artists shit ideas can be left unchecked, think the Star Wars prequels as a rarer western example of this.

Along with this wide range of shows comes a wide range of criticism and analysis. This is a natural thing for any artform, people know what they like but often want to know why they like what they like. Those who don’t possess or use analytical skills on what they watch or those who wish to hear another perspective will flock to critics. And usually critics have a big effect on how things are made. If a number of big critics pan a movie like Batman v Superman and praise the Marvel cinematic universe it leads to things like the Suicide Squad reshoots that added in more humorous scenes. Movies and TV are a collaboration between art and business in which almost always the business takes precedence.

So with this power these critics can dictate to a degree what entertainment is like, by proxy the audience dictates the sort of stuff that comes out. Sure not every movie is good but there’s a reason we get 3 marvel movies seemingly every month. It’s because people go to watch them.

But when it comes to Anime there’s a bit of an issue with this, specifically within the western fanbase.

Western Anime critics have almost no influence on Japanese entertainment trends. Studios have to cater to their main demographic which 99% of the time is Japan. So what do critics do in this situation?

At this point their role is not to shape the Anime that come out but to try and shape people’s opinions about anime only. Think SAO and it’s perception before and after DIgibro analysis. It really doesn’t matter what westerners think of the show for the most part, as long as it’s popular in Japan it will continue to be made and make it’s way to us for the foreseeable future.

Digi’s analysis showed what was wrong with the show. It gave people who didn’t like it but didn’t know why a reason and ability to vocalise negative opinions on it. Those that still liked the show now had to defend their stance on it. At a certain point there was nothing anyone could do to change the new split perception of the show, an analysis of the second season was for the most part pointless. It wasn’t going to change people’s opinions about the show all that much nor was it going to impact how the show was made. This isn’t about whether Digi was right or wrong in doing this, I honestly don’t care but it’s more about this mob mentality this can create.

When attacking a studio or show makes little difference the audience turns it’s attention to the critics. Because we can see real results in doing so. People seem to subconsciously try to align their tastes with their favorite anime critics even when their tastes may not fully align. I can attest that I myself have done so in the past. I latched on to Digi because of his ultra positive reception of Psycho-Pass but now I realise I don’t even fully agree with his analysis on the show itself let alone everything else he reviews.

But when you idolise the opinions of others like this any attack on them becomes an attack on you and as such you strike back. I’ve seen countless arguments in comment sections where it is clear neither side has even watched the show they’re arguing about.

Analysis should be about finding both the good and the bad in any given show. I have negative things to say about Psycho-Pass and positive things to say about Eromanga Sensei. It seems however that Anime discourse is at a stage where a show is either amazing, awful or just OK and not much inbetween. It’s less and less an actual discussion about what makes a show good or bad but more so a competition to see who has superior taste, something that’s itself pointless due to the subjectivity of it but I digress. Instead of trying to come to understand why our peers like or hate something that we don’t we just naturally assume they’re wrong.

For ages I thought that those who didn’t like Psycho-Pass just weren’t thinking about it hard enough or were at least seeing something different in it than I. But people can see exactly what I see in something I love and hate it for those exact reasons. It’s hard to come to this conclusion and even now when someone hates on the show my instant reaction is “What is this idiot talking about?” and I have to try and catch myself.

I really don’t care that we criticize critics or that people engage in pointless bickering, you do you. But what I hate is that this sort of stuff comes in between the ACTUAL FUCKING ANALYSIS OF ANIME.

Why are there so few taking a scalpel to numerous Anime and trying to explain why they’re so great? Someone like SuperEyepatchWolf does this fantastically. His content is mostly about trying to get people to watch stuff that impacts him and potentially have it affect them in the same way. When it’s negative it’s usually from a place where he wants to like something but can’t, his videos on Berserk for instance. Of course negative criticism is important but I think that it only works when it’s used in conjunction with positive criticism.

You see critics blatantly ignoring positives in shows they don’t like or glossing over problems in their favorites because their favorites can’t be flawed. Instead of making things so black and white why not talk about why an issue that plagues a show you like and a show don’t destroy one and not bring down the other?

Again I don’t really care what anyone does but in my perfect world anime analysis is, you know, about anime analysis. For every time a critic has pointed me towards a great show I can only imagine how many times I missed out because they couldn’t make a video or blog post about a certain show because of the potential back lash they would get. Once one person says a show is bad it becomes so much harder for someone to say it’s good.

I don’t even really know where I’m going at this stage, this is all just stream of consciousness. I should wrap it up here.

This isn’t meant to be an indictment of anyone but more of a personal observation. I want the fanbase to be about analysing things but that doesn’t mean everyone does. Time will tell what people want from their anime critics.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

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What’s With The Obsession With “Character Development”? (Rant)

There are a lot of things critics will tend to point to as integral facets of making a good story. Three act structure, a resolute ending, believable characters etc. The list of these things is fairly long and isn’t universally applicable.

But one that gets brought up constantly is the idea of character development. Critics will complain often when there isn’t enough of it insisting that characters must grow and change over the course of a series. Okay, but why?

Before even answering that question you must know that “character development” can be an ill-defined and oft misused term (I’ve probably done so myself). I find it tends to be used to mean how a character grows and changes whereas it was originally meant to be more all encompassing meaning how the audience develops a connection to a character when the audience fills them with depth and personality. Not specifically change even though that can be part of it. I’ll be talking about the common usage here.

You want believable characters and also want them to change drastically, I’m sorry but most of the time those two things are mutually exclusive. In the real world people don’t tend to change very much in adulthood but in shows it’s taken as a given.

The only time I think that a majority people change drastically is in adolescence more specifically between the ages of 13 and 16. This is part of why many slice of life shows are set in high school the characters are so malleable because in reality their personalities are not fully formed. It’s this sweet spot of an age where ones personality is solid enough to make for a somewhat consistent and interesting character but still has room enough to change in significant ways.

So when shows with Adult characters get this criticism thrown their way I never quite understand it. Is it not interesting and consistent characters that grab our attention? Part of what makes characters so interesting to me is that I can imagine what they would do in any given situation because they are of course consistent

Then of course there’s the train of thought that characters must specifically “grow” and become better. This is even more ludicrous to me. In adulthood significant change tends to come from life shattering events and the change is rarely ever a good one. In Psycho-Pass for example Kogami becomes a much more cynical and twisted person after the death of his enforcer and friend Sasayama under gruesome circumstances. I get change like this it makes sense to me. And when a similar thing happens to Akane she just becomes even more resolute in her personality not letting it change her for the worse. What I wouldn’t get is a character going through that and coming out a “better” person.

I also feel that sometimes people get change confused with gradual relation. Let’s take Uraraka from My Hero Academia. In one episode we find out that the reason that she wants to become a hero is to make enough money to support her family. Uraraka of course has not changed, this has been her motivation from the start but even so I’ve seen this praised as growth of her character.

At the end of the day this whole idea is a confusing mess. The use of the term has been skewed in a way that makes it confusing when used analytically. And specifically the idea that a character growing or changing is needed for a show to be good or is somehow more nuanced when it’s included does not sit well with me. If your best friend became a different sort of person tomorrow would you still be friends with them? Who know your relationship would certainly change though. You’re friends with them because you like who they are so if who they are changes so does your relationship.

I don’t even know at this point, ranting takes it out of me.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

Some Critics Need To Stop Acting Like Bad Morals = Bad Art (Oh You Know It’s A Rant)

(This one gets a bit messy but I hope I got the point across)

I’m sure you’ve heard something like this before from critics of any form of media. “It’s too mean spirited”. “It’s just cruel”. “It makes me sick”. Et cetera Et cetera.

OK. What’s the problem with that?

I find this argument against something being a good piece of art somewhat ignorant if I’m being perfectly honest. If you want to say something is not in your tastes that’s fine but calling it bad because it makes you feel that way is outright wrong in my opinion.

So I’ve talked about this before in my post about Koi Kaze that people don’t want art that elicits certain emotions. While I don’t agree with this sentiment I can understand why people may not want to consume a piece of media that makes them feel unpleasant. But a lot of critics throw out those aforementioned phrases as if they’re indicators of quality, as if every piece of art need toe the lines of their ideals.

For instance I have a fairly pessimistic view of life and people, I think lowly of most by default someone must do something in order to gain my favor. No one has to subscribe to this notion if they don’t want to, I’m not asking them to. But when I say I don’t like shows that are overly happy I make it clear that it’s just my opinion. When I say I don’t like Clannad’s happy ending I mean that I didn’t like the fact that it was happy not that it didn’t do being happy well. Those are two different questions.

So really what made me want to write this was that I just watched a top 10 worst anime list on Youtube. Made by PhantomStrider and someone from Anime America, I didn’t actually find myself too annoyed at the list, mainly because I hadn’t seen any of the shows on it. When PhantomStrider gave a disclaimer of how his top 3 had some grotesque content and to turn away if I was squeamish I knew something was up.

They began talking about the top 3 titles with very little mention of actually quality just talking about how “violent” or “grotesque” the content was. And that’s all well and good but will you please tell me if that was handled well?  Something being violent or grotesque or in any way against your moral code does not make it bad art!

It’s as if people like this think that just because a topic is considered taboo that anything that explores or includes it is wrong. Why is Eromanga sensei bad? Is it because the main sexual interest is 12. Yes and no. It’s because the fact that she’s 12 is just self serving. If you were to give me a well handled show where having a female protagonist be so young was the point then while I wouldn’t agree with the morals that may entail I could respect it as an accurate representation of that side of humanity.

Because at the root of this problem I think is the fact that a lot of people don’t want to admit this dark side of humanity exists. Look having art including dark and taboo topics does not necessarily mean you endorse those things by watching them.

Art is meant to express complex emotions that we are not able to communicate using words alone and a lot of those emotions are dark and disturbing whether or not you admit it. It’s like the people who rip Eminem (disclosure I’m a huge fan of his) solely for what his music is about (as opposed to how well he tackles any given topic), generally violence and murder. Without even taking account of how he used this image to play the public like a fucking fiddle let’s consider the content.

Now I will you give you a warning not to listen to this in public or not at all if you can’t handle dark themes. The song Kim of the Marshal Mathers LP is a song about Eminem murdering his wife, her boyfriend and step son. Is it pleasant to listen to? Hell no. Is it anything other than a psychopathic fantasy? Of course not. But if you were to say this isn’t an accurate representation of how some people feel like going out and doing to others your wrong. It is an accurate representation of what Eminem may have wanted to do and that in itself is art. It’s very dark and disturbing art but it is good art.

I could go on and on with examples but I’d go on forever. The point is that far too many people (in my estimation) see taboo topics or detestable morals in things and act like that makes it bad art. Superman shouldn’t not kill people because it makes him a bad role model or anything like that, he shouldn’t do it because that’s not Superman it’s a different character.

If you don’t like any given type of content that’s absolutely fine but don’t act like somethings objectively bad just because you don’t agree with the content.

I hope you enjoyed this rambly rant, if you did please follow the blog and leave a thought or two in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

Why Charlotte Is The Worst Anime I’ve Watched (Rant)

What is the worst anime I’ve ever watched? It’s a question which I pondered for quite a while. Is it the show that gave me the least (probably Infinite Stratos). Is it the show that I found to have the worst characters? Or the worst art? Or the worst animation? Or the worst [insert thing here]? Or a combination of those things giving an average worst show?

No. To me the worst show I’ve watched is the one that inspires me with the most rage, the one that inspires the most hatred. It’s like the opposite of watching a good show, when I finished Psycho-Pass I was left with an empty feeling. I wanted more.

When I finished Charlotte I had an empty feeling too but this time I wanted less. I wished I could take back watching the show. I would have rather sat in silence for the four hours it took to watch if it meant that I could scrub my mind of the experience.

Many people will be surprised at this answer. It’s ~an 8 on MAL. It’s not nearly as *objectively bad as other shows, in fact in parts it’s quite good. (* not the myth of true objectivity but the general consensus of objectivity)

Let me explain why Charlotte is the worst with the wonderful land of metaphor.

I’d Rather You Look Me In The Eye When You Kill Me

Let’s compare Charlotte with maybe the most *objectively bad show I’ve seen, Infinite Stratos. Charlotte wins in every category. Characters, art, animation, music, story, you name it it’s done better in Charlotte. So how can I in good faith say Charlotte is the worst show?

Well if you haven’t seen Charlotte and have made it this far then let me say it’s entirely on the finale. Imagine your favorite two season or 22-24 episode show. Imagine the first 12 episodes were the same as they are in reality and then the entire second half was condensed into just one episode. How pissed would you be? I think the answer is very. Well this is what Charlotte seemed to do, packing an entire seasons worth of story into 20 minuets of screen time. It leaves this incredibly unsatisfying taste in your mouth, the story you’ve been enjoying up has been flipped over and unceremoniously fucked in the ass. On top of that there’s no chance of a sequel to rectify things, the story is sort of done.

Let me put it this way. Let’s imagine that IS (Infinite Stratos) and Charlotte are both blind dates. You end up going on 12 dates with IS and 13 with Charlotte, one for each episode.

You go on your first date with IS and she spits in your face. Second date she spits in your face. Third date she spits in your face and tells you to eat a bag of dicks. By the twelfth sate you’re either not expecting this to go anywhere or you’re a masochist. So when she takes out a knife and stabs you in your chest, you’re either not surprised or delighted.

You decide to stop seeing IS after the twelfth date (or perhaps you really are a masochist and went on to watch season 2).

So on your next blind date you meet this beautiful girl called Charlotte. You start talking and find out you have a lot in common. She’s funny, she’s smart, she likes [insert fetish here].

So you decide to go on some more dates. Each time is good, not all of them equally good but overall the time you’ve been spending with Charlotte has been great. If you were to put an arbitrary number on it maybe you’d give it an 8 or 9.

You go out on your 12th date and somewhere in the back of your mind you remember the whole stabbing incident with IS, you shiver. But nothing like that happens. You’re starting to think long term with Charlotte, introducing her to the family maybe moving in together.

Then you get to your 13th date. Charlotte is late. Very late. You’re beginning to worry. But then you hear her sweet voice behind you saying “I’m here!”. And then, before you get the chance to turn around, she stabs you in the back with a blade twice the size of IS’s.

You’re in pain and understandably devastated. How could she do this to you? You never saw it coming. You feel like an idiot for thinking about the future with this girl who was clearly just toying with you for what seemed like an age. All of your good memories with her are now tainted by this final one.

So which one of these two experiences was worse? Sure on average your dates with IS were worse but you were expecting as much. You’re barely going to think or talk about her other than whenever your mates go “remember when you dated [insert trash anime here]?” and you just try to shrug it off like the cool dude you are.

But with Charlotte you’ve been emotionally scarred. She has changed how you look at woman, you’re always wary that any girl you meet could be the next her. She’s the one you’re going to rant about to your friends and family. She’s the one that will leave you wondering what could’ve been. She’s the one you’ll be angry with long after she’s gone.

The bastard who stabs you in the front is better than the bitch who stabs you in the back.

The worst anime is the one that falsely promises it will be great.

I hope you enjoyed this rant on Charlotte, if you did please leave a like and follow the blog below.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

Hanasaku Iroha: Why I (Usually) Hate Shows About Friendship And Growth (Rant)

I just finished the first episode of Hanasaku Iroha and while I liked it quite a lot, I get the feeling that the rest of the show might not live up to it. Now I have heard very little about it so I might be wrong about this but I feel like the only direction for this series is upwards, that things can’t get any worse for our main character. If this series is about human connection or human growth on that level then it probably won’t resonate with me.

That isn’t to say the show won’t be good but just that it isn’t for me. Sometimes I feel bad about this, what is it that’s wrong with me that I don’t connect to shows about connection? Those thoughts are usually fleeting, it’s a longing to garner a feeling that would be at odds with who I am.

I don’t like people.

I have a few very good friends but outside of those I know, I have no desire to be sociable with anyone. This is not to say that I wouldn’t get along with some people I don’t know, obviously at some point I didn’t know of my current friends but I will never get those people who are able to just get along with people regardless of how well they know them. I distrust people too much to ever want to get close to them, it’s a cycle in which I never want to get close enough to people to trust them because I don’t trust them. Most of my friendships are due to complete circumstance and literally nothing else.

So to begin with, I don’t enjoy the hanging around with friends or “slice of life” shows usually. A theme that runs throughout is that my favorite “slice of life” shows either deal with something else as well (usually death which I find fascinating) or flip the script on their “slice of life” genre trappings (a la GakkouGurashi). So from the beginning I’m less inclined to like these sorts of shows because I’m not a sociable person, socializing takes away time from doing something I deem important in my eyes.

Second is this idea of human growth. I don’t really believe it exists. To me the older one gets the less they change, once your personality begins to be set, that is the way you’ll be for the most part. You may endure slight changes in attitude but you’ll largely be the same. This is not general consensus of course, most people (I think) believe people are capable of change and good for them. I’m just a cynical bastard who can’t get enjoyment out of things that are meant to be uplifting. There’s an Eminem lyric from his song “Evil Twin” which captures my thoughts on this to a tee: “I believe people can change, but only for the worse”. That’s exactly how I feel, that lyric just popped into my head whilst writing this. I’m not a huge believer in human growth so watching shows about it don’t resonate with me.

I enjoyed Hanasaku Iroha’s opening because it was harsh. Ohana’s life is flipped upside down, strangers are harsh to her and when she expects her grandmother to be lenient to her just because they’re related she is anything but. The best scene to me is when Ohana’s grandmother slaps another employee and Ohana says that since it was her fault that her Grandmother should hit her to, her grandmother promptly obliges. The episode ends with Ohana crying whilst cleaning the floors. It’s a harsh dose of reality, something I love to see in shows of this nature. But that’s exactly what worries me, the only way for Ohana is up from here. She’ll probably start to get along with her Grandmother and roommate. She’ll eventually start to enjoy her new life. I’ve seen this type of thing before (see Kotoura-san). I really hope this show keeps up it’s harsh tone but I’m doubtful it can over 26 episodes. Who knows.

I hope you enjoyed this unscripted rant, if you did please like it and follow the blog.

Thanks for Reading,

Psychime

 

Inu x Boku SS: That Isn’t How Narcissism Works

Narcissism. It’s what jealous people call my ability to recognise my own greatness.

I started this show without much of an idea as to what it was. I knew it was made by David Production of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure fame but otherwise I had no expectations. So I watched the first episode to get a feel for it as part of my 2012athon. It gave me very little indication as to what to expect.

We spend the entire episode walking around our dorm room setting being introduced to characters before we get any semblance of what they’re about or why we should care. The series background is mostly set up in the second episode which means it’s very hard to care about the characters we’re introduced to even if those introductions themselves are mildly entertaining.

Except for one. Our presumptive protagonist Ririchiyo. She’s immediately given some background in the form of her own narration. She tells us of her “bad habit” of verbally abusing people, apparently she can’t control it. She then tells us of her backstory as a rich child who was never able to live normally with people either praising or lamenting her for her familial ties. She also has supernatural powers but the writers fuck that part of the narrative until the last 5 minutes, because the character introductions were so engaging.

It’s a backstory for and presentation of one particular type of character. A narcissist. She’s been treated special her entire life, had servants attending to her throughout her childhood, been treated as such due to her family name and in fact is literally special due to her powers. An environment that cultivates narcissists.

This of course is evidenced by this “habit” of hers, verbally abusing others, usually by implying they are beneath her. Also, when her dog, whatever is name is, swears loyalty to her without regard to her family name she notes how that she had always wanted someone to say such a thing to her and her alone. This is a fine and effective, if not very nuanced, way of setting up this type of character which, if handled correctly, could turn out to be a very interesting one.

There’s only one problem.

THAT’S NOT HOW NARCISSISM WORKSvlcsnap-000022

I’ve spent my time thus far explaining how the shows portrayal of Ririchiyo in the first episode does a good job of setting us up with a narcissistic character. It’s a shame they contradict this WITH THE FIRST DAMN LINE OF NARRATION. 

She says that what she does in regards to her verbal abuse is a “bad habit”. Narcissists do not think like this. They are usually unaware of their own narcissism or (like me) do not see it as a problem. That’s sort of what narcissism is by definition, she wouldn’t see this as a fault. So when she goes around showing concern for complete strangers (which is not impossible for narcissists) and having such an insight into her own “problem” (which is) it directly contradicts the characterization of Ririchiyo I assume they want to portray. But I can’t be sure because they show two sides to her character that shouldn’t be able to coexist.

And remember that this is the only character that one would have reason to care about at this point, being that the only other character that gets much in the way of characterization along with a reason for us to care is a person who lives solely to serve her.

I’m two episodes in and I don’t care about any of the cast, I’m confused as to what the plot and themes are meant to be and the one character I could care about is 2 characters stapled together at the abdomen. If not for the 2012athon I would have dropped Inu x Boku SS by now. This show better step it’s fucking game up.

 

I hope you enjoyed this semi-structured rant, I’ve been a bit busy over the last couple days so writing became a bit more difficult so please forgive the shorter piece today. Please follow the blog below if you did in fact enjoy this.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

Bites The Dust Does Not Create A Paradox (A response to Kaleb I.A.)

Time travel is pretty straight forward am I right? Originally I found the concept difficult to grasp but then a version of me from the future came back and explained it all to me. Actually now that I think about it he didn’t explain to me how he found out about it though. Hmmmmmm……….

The Bites the Dust “Paradox”

David_Bowie_aka_Kira

I recently came across a video by Youtuber Kaleb I.A. entitled The Bites The Dust Paradox. Sorry, I couldn’t resist, but seriously this videoHe presents the general paradoxical nature of time travel, the problems that Bites The Dust causes because of that and then proceeds to explain it away with a multiple timelines theory, an arbitrary time travel explanation which covers most paradoxes.

He makes his explanation based on the idea of The Grandfather paradox making single timeline time travel possible. Let’s set aside the fact it’s Jojo and it’s all wonderfully crazy bullshit and the only explanation I need is that it was all Dio anyway. Let’s actually take this seriously for a moment. Is there a way that this power could work on a single timeline?

Let’s find out.

Killer Queenkiller_queen___jojo_by_11tsuna11-d910vnv

So what does Bites The Dust do? It kills anyone who finds out Yoshikage Kira’s identity and then rewinds time to a certain point and repeats except the deaths that happened before still occur regardless of how things happen differently in the loop. (E.g. Rohan explodes after finding Hayato after time resets he explodes at the same time anyway even though he doesn’t see Hayato)

Simple enough, right? Moving on.

The Grandfather Paradox

15-reasons-why-futurama-is-still-awesome_qufj

So this is the reason Kaleb said that there must be multiple timelines. The idea being that if I go back in time and kill my grandfather, how am I born to ever go back and do so in the first place. (The best explanation for this is the Futurama one where you actually end up being your own grandfather)

A simpler way to put this, if I go back in time and achieve my objective then I will have had no reason to go back in time in the first place thus making backwards time travel along a single timeline impossible. Well nearly.

The Automated Process

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Have you heard of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ?”

My explanation will not go into exactly how Bites The Dust could work, that’d be a rather long and complicated answer that would really only be speculation.

I merely wish to explain how I think multiple timelines are not necessary  for Bites The Dust to work. In the Grandfather Paradox our problem is that achieving our goal means we would never go back to achieve our goal.

But Bites The Dust has no goals of it’s own. It is an external automated process that can rewind time only back to the moment it decides to start a loop. This is crucial as going back any further would instigate the grandfather paradox but going back no further than the point of decision is theoretically possible. And given that no conscious decision has to be made in order for time to revert that problem is avoided within the loop itself.

And also it’s fucking Jojo it just works.

 

If you enjoyed this semi-improvised rant please like and follow the blog below.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime