I actually had this whole other post written about something a lot more popular than anime and then realised, as soon as I’d written it out that I was feeling a bit lukewarm about it. That it wasn’t as good as I’d initially thought and that I was craving something that resonated more with me.
Now, there’s a real stigma with liking anime in popular culture, as if you can’t get to a certain age and actually be a fan of it anymore. That there comes a certain time when you grow out of it (unless it’s Studio Ghibli which seems to transcend all rules about that). Not that everyone feels like that, most of my close friends watch anime and know that it’s like most artforms, that you have to struggle through a lot of not great stuff to find the real gems that are hidden there. Still it amuses me the idea that people still have about it.
I was talking to a friend about it this weekend just gone and she adamantly insisted that she’d never like it, based on the assumption that all anime was like Naruto or Dragon Ball. Not to say that there isn’t large swathes that bear a lot in common with them (beware any shonen anime should you not like these) but it’s a little like saying you don’t like Disney movies because you’re not a fan of Family Guy, that’s the disparate nature of anime. After all the word simply denotes any cartoon made in Japan or in a Japanese style.
It’s even become remarkably common for Western cartoons to use Japanese style animation or in some cases, such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, to actually employ Japanese animators. RWBY, one of the most successful titles to come out of Rooster Teeth, modelled itself on anime and worked really well, both in terms of story and animation (though the limited budget initially does mean the art style does suffer a little).
Now, I realise that I might be biased, in terms of the art style, as many of the cartoons I grew up with as a child had Japanese animation, even if they weren’t ‘anime’. Many cartoons that came out of DIC Entertainment were animated in Japan, as the company was hoping to save on costs that having an American animation team would incur. This meant that lots of my favourite childhood cartoons were ‘anime’, such as Captain Planet and the Planeteers, The Chipmunks, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Inspector Gadget, and The Care Bears. So I’ve got some serious nostalgia for Japanese animation, even though I didn’t realise that it was until very recently.
Now, I’m not here to say that everyone has to like anime, if you’re insistent that it’s not something you’d like or that you don’t want to read subtitles, that’s your choice and I respect that, but I’d be tempted to say that you simply haven’t found the right one yet. That there’s one anime out there that will be more sparkly to you than you could possibly imagine.
I was lukewarm about it for a while, I watched some episodes of the BIG animes, the ones that now, twenty years on, people still talk about and none of them had really reasonated with me. Then I sat down and watched all of Hikaru no Go in a week (not quite as quick as Nathaniel, who watched the whole thing in 4 days). An anime about a small boy destined to be a Go prodigy who becomes haunted by the greatest Go player in history. I loved this so much that my cat, Sai, came by his name from that show. Watching that, made me realise that I hadn’t given it enough of a chance and I went looking for more.
It’s not to say that I’ve loved every anime that’s come across my path. There’s a lot that leave me cold and there’s a lot of tropes in anime that make my bash my head against a brick wall, but the ones that are good, are worth all of that. It helps that I generally like the way the stories are told, more so in shorter series where there’s less filler and fight scenes don’t last for six episodes, because there’s no dead air. The pace is fast but in a good way. There’s anticipation, but it’s not overly drawn out. The dialogue is worthwhile and nothing feels rushed or forced when it’s good.
That brings me back to what I had initially written tonight. I was going to write about a new teen movie that’s out, one that I did like and did leave feeling warm and fuzzy about, but not in the same way something like Ouran left me. It’s a bit unfair to compare a TV show to a movie, but ‘Your Name’ which came out a couple of years ago resonated more with me as a love story, even though it did have some problematic elements.
So I suppose this is my suggestion that perhaps if you think you don’t like anime, or that you won’t like it, that maybe you just haven’t seen the right one. Maybe there’s one out there that’s worth an explore. After all, this blog never would have existed had I never watched Bungo Stray Dogs.
Just make sure to watched the sub.