Review: Ghost Stories

Honestly, just never let these guys make up their own dialogue. Things just get…strange.


So…Ghost Stories.  The franchise has one of the strangest trajectories of any anime I’ve ever seen.  It comes from an older book series from Toru Tsunemitsu and recapped, well, stories about ghosts.  Simple as that.  Then the franchise spun into movies.  Family friendly horror movies.  I…don’t know what they were thinking there.  Fast forward to 2000.  The series continued into an anime aimed at children and came from fairly strong pedigree under the flag of both Pierrot and Aniplex.  Both have large franchises to their name with the former producing well-known shonen demographic anime such as Naruto and Bleach and the latter producing the Full Metal Alchemist franchise.  So we have the stage set for another franchise to come in.  But it never did.  The reasoning appears lost in time but production ended after 20 episodes.  I’d hesitate a guess that there was intention for a franchise given the episodic nature but I have no proof of that.

This is where things take a turn for the weird.  Most series just die at this point but not Ghost Stories.  2005 rolls around and ADV Films, against all expectations, announces they’ll translate and release Ghost Stories.  That isn’t strange enough for this story and they basically received full artistic licence to do whatever they felt with the anime, barring a few exceptions (thanks for the link Wikipedia.  It’s a good listen.).

And with that in mind…the anime becomes a pure and raw “abridged” series.   My writing isn’t entirely clear, but abridged series are a complete parody of their original material.  All officially produced through a dub.  Experiments in this field exist previously, most famously in Samurai Pizza Cats, but I can’t think of an instance where the company licensing out basically signed off on all the changes made by the dubbing organization; most translations go the other way.

As the video link above notes, this anime became a strange mix of ad-lib dialogue, anime tropes, and black humour.  All the major voice actors received writing credit for this anime primarily because the script basically didn’t exist until recording.

The basic framework of my reviews kind of fail at covering the basic concepts for reviewing Ghost Stories and I’m only reviewing the dubbed version.  Let’s try anyways though.


The dubbed narrative retains the same framework as the original version of Ghost Stories.

Ten-year old Satsuki Miyanoshita is moving into a new town.  Her father, for whatever reason, decided to move back to the his wife’s home town.  Well, ex-wife I guess seeing as she died.  Anyways, the Satsuki and her younger brother Keiichirou meet the next door neighbour, a ten-year old boy.  He’s Hajime Aoyama and it turns out he attends the same school (and is in the same class) as Satsuki.  Due to a very strange and awkward occurrence with Satsuki’s family cat (Kaya), Satsuki, Keiichirou, Hajime, and his friend Leo end up heading into an abandoned schoolhouse before their first day of school.  There they meet an older student from the same school, Momoko Koigakubo, and the five proceed to explore the abandoned school.  That’s when they find ghosts.

Turns out Satsuki’s mother spent far too much time of her childhood fighting ghosts and trapping them in…things.  And these things are now getting destroyed as the town undergoes renovations.  But hope isn’t lost as she left behind a diary full of pretty pictures and a description of how she captured each ghost.  It’s through this book that they defeat their first enemy, Amanojaku, and capture him…in the body of Kaya.   Now it’s up to this intrepid group of five, and occasionally Amanojaku, to save the town from the other ghosts roaming the city as they are slowly awoken by the loss of whatever was holding them down.

I’m not sure how many cliches there are in that above paragraph but I’m far too lazy to count.

It’s quite obvious based on the open-ended nature of the narrative above but the entire nature of this series is entirely episodic; every adventure pretty much opens and closes within the span of 25 minutes and you know every villain (well, ghost) will appear and defeated within the same length of time.  You could view episodes 2 through 19 without any clue to proceed and not get confused in the narrative.  This gives the distinct impression that Ghost Stories originally came in as a filler based franchise: that they could produce an endless stream of Ghost Stories episodes with no conceivable end.

There’s not much else to discuss in narrative…so I’ll leave of this section for dialogue choices.

It’s pretty much like this.

The dialogue…well, like the image above describes, it’s black humour.  It lives and dies off cross the concept of comment decency.  A good number of punch lines purely run off the idea that these are ten-year old children.  That piece of dialogue?  It’s actually in the dub and is certainly on the tamer side of things Hajime says.  Let’s put it this way: Mel Gibson had an infamous rant about Jewish people.  Greg Ayres, who voices Leo, expressed displeasure that production wrapped up a couple of weeks before the dubbing sessions ended since they could have referenced it during that last episode.

Not only is the humour dark but it targets everybody.  Racial humour, homosexual humour, sexual humour, religion…all it’s acceptable and utilized in the series.  And they cross the line on it several times.  It should go without saying that anybody offended by any type of humour probably wants out right away.  Ayres in that other link that there were some topics they weren’t touching…but those are pretty limited.  Almost everything’s a target.  This aspect begins taking over more and more as the series progresses.  The final 5 episodes don’t bother with a censor for swears and the script has a tonne of fun with that.

A lot of humour also exists from references to then current American culture; the dub occurred in the summer of 2005 and the anime will routinely show this.  The 2002 Hollywood movie Signs gets routine mention and references as does the Bush administration (US president in that time period) at the time.  You might be hard pressed to catch every joke if you are not acutely aware of American culture at the time.  Signs, for example, might be difficult to understand since not everyone is aware of the movie’s existence of the often mocked nature of the aliens in the movie.

There’s also a segment of the dialogue which exists to poke fun at Ghost Stories‘ cliche filled narrative.  Characters routinely point out similarities between ghosts they are facing and more common and well-known media pieces.  For example, they draw connections to The Ring and The Grudge several times.  This anime actually utilizes fourth wall breaking a great deal and characters routinely reference episodes (and at one point even their two-dimensional nature by claiming they are breaking the third wall).

I must also express a little softness to some general humour.  The concept of lull destruction exists and they utilize it often when the dubbing team adds in dialogue to screw around with the seriousness of a scene.  One scene has a ghost levitating up some stairs.  The original version treats is completely serious with nothing but music and sound effects.  The dub instead has the ghost shout “Wheeee!” as it climbs.  It’s absolutely unexpected but a great piece of humour and adds to the overall fun of the anime.


This is even harder to write that the above.  The characters are intentionally flat and they even reference any time a character actually changes in any way.  It goes along with the entire package of parodying the typical Saturday morning series.  Every character also plays off a specific quirk and exaggerate it to no end.  Hajime being perverted, Leo being Jewish, Keiichirou being completely dumb, and Momoko having an absolutely unshakable faith in anything Christian…the script throws them all together into some strange concoction of character iteration with humour spitting out the sides of it as they attempt to navigate the episode.  Satsuki is the closest thing there is in this anime to a “straight man”…the character others play their insanity off of to highlight their insanity.  She also has her eccentricities and limits to her own sanity but the most common jokes with regards to her either highlight the other characters’ nature or play off the shock factor of her being a ten-year old girl saying fairly…adult things.


The animation is…not good for lack of a better term.  It keeps fairly standard practice for the early 2000’s era but also utilized a lower budget than other anime and the effects are quite obvious.  I would have guessed the series as around 1996 to 1998 based on the animation alone.  The style is very consistent with mid-to-late 90’s animation in terms of shading and it uses a lot of distance shots and faces turning away from the screen in order to reduce the animation load.  It’s also quite obvious that they used a great deal of model work while animating as character end up in completely awkward positions throughout the anime.  The dub naturally lampshades this.

Actual line: Oh damn anime! Look what’s happened to my eyes!

There are some good moments despite the above commentary.  Later episodes got higher attention to animation and there were some moments when it even exceeded my expectations for the era.  Not only do the monsters begin taking on more horror-based appearances but they become more fluid and uncanny.  This is certainly another reason to hold out for the later episodes while watching this anime…the jokes get looser and the animation better.

Sound/Music/Voice Actors

There’s very little sound.  Very little.  You got me?  I counted probably 7 or 8 pieces that they recycle throughout the anime and one of them is a simple copy of the Psycho “scare” chords.  The pieces feel very reminiscent of 90’s anime and might even remind you a bit of how other Saturday morning series utilize music.  It’s not a great mix and it wears itself thin while you walk through 20 episodes.  There’s nothing groundbreaking and honestly doesn’t assist the anime in any way.  Though it does benefit the anime a bit since the dialogue does point to the sound.

The opening is another one of those many fairly staple and cliche openings.  Grow Up by Hysterical Blue.  It’s a light pop piece which follows many traditions of younger target anime and focus on the same topics we frequent in such pieces: optimism, hope, change…simple topics and easy ones to relate to at that.

I can’t tell if it was intentional but the closing actually get better with the comedic dub.  Seriously.  It’s literally titled Sexy Sexy and it would be silly of me to not point out that the lyrics do not disappoint in the least.  I can think of few reasons for its original usage and it fits the dubbed version way better as some kind of slight shock value as a completely out-of-place piece of music.  It’s kind of catchy though and the distorted guitar chords remind me of Boney M‘s Rasputin for reasons the completely escape me.  That’s probably a good thing all things considered since it does just add to all the insanity in this song.  I wouldn’t try to dissect why this is…it makes no sense to me either.

Neither the opening nor closing use any good quality of animation.  The closing in particular shows the 90’s level of closing animation laziness and just pan slowly through a larger image.

Honestly…I can’t say anything about the subbed version of this anime; my entire reasoning for watching Ghost Stories is its parody dub.  But expect a completely different anime (not necessarily better) with the subbed version.  I’ve heard another company did a serious dub of this anime so that might be worth comparing…and I might watch this anime in a serious form some day…but the viewing I had can only be completed through the dubbed version.

The voice actors themselves are very much the standard cast for ADV translations of that era: Hilary Haag, Chris Patton, Greg Ayres, Monica Rial, Luci Christian, Christine Auten…it’s very much a tour of the cast they had at the time.  The length of different voice actors for this series is immense though and it’s almost worth a tour just to see who was likely on staff in ADV at the time.  I swear all the available staff at ADV were eager to get in on the project because of the loose production style…the list of recognizable names goes on for a while.

The quality of the dub is fairly standard but shows a lot of life and enthusiasm; it’s very clear that a great deal of dialogue game through ad-lib performance and the voice actors appear to appreciate this aspect greatly.  Namely, they appear to enjoy mocking many of the tropes they as anime fans recognize through their typical assignments.  You can almost hear a small feeling of joy as they spit out a funny line they would never otherwise be allowed to say during production.  Hearing Vic Mignogna say (and I’m quoting here) “Let’s see…purple for your hair.  Can’t tell that this is a goddamn anime” is perfectly delivered and it’s very clear Mignogna really wanted to use the line.  I almost feel it’s worth the price of admission just to hear the voice actors have fun with the project.


Everything lives and dies off the dialogue.  This is the aspect ADV could adjust and therefore the entire nature of this dub works through it.  None of the original series actually mixes well and this doesn’t change in any variety for the dub.  So the dialogue happily creates jokes out of the different parts it’s given to create a humourous experience.  The original script (and therefore the animation) creates some visual jokes but most of it still comes from the updated script.

Why Watch

There’s a very clear and obvious reason you’d want to watch Ghost Stories: you want to watch humour based anime which parodies cliche anime and doesn’t take itself seriously for more than three consecutive seconds.  You also aren’t offended easily (or can tolerate jokes similar to the western animation South Park) and laugh at such humour.  Or maybe you just want to learn about 2005 American culture.

Really, that’s the only reason to watch.

Why Not Watch

It’s actually quite simple to list reasons why you wouldn’t want to watch Ghost Stories as well since the entire series is very simple in premise: you don’t like offensive humour.  Simple as that.  If you don’t like the idea that there are jokes about Jewish people, Japanese people, sexual humour…the list goes on.  Anyways, you’re probably better off skipping if you don’t like any of the above in an offensive manner to the point where its inclusion would destroy any fun experience.

Additionally, you might not want to watch if you’re the type who insists on catching each joke and aren’t entirely familiar with USA in 2005.  I’d also then recommend you never watch Airplane! in that case.

Personal Enjoyment

This anime fell up my alley quite well.  I grew up on the dubbed version of Duel Masters.  This anime straddled the line between a serious anime about cards and a parody like Ghost Stories.  I loved this series as a child and I’ve been looking for a similar series for a long time.  Ghost Stories satisfied that itch quite well.


Boogiepop Phantom is anime set out to continue its unique narrative style in animated form.  And in that regard, it does that very well.  It uses a vignette style narrative to follow a story and connect two of its light novels.  Heavy on psychology, suspense, mystery, and character mentality sharing, it emphasizes the key points of the light novels.  Viewers interested in these points will have a great experience I believe.  Conversely, having no interest in these traits will make the anime tedious at best.

Overall Rating

Ghost Stories ended with a 5.10/10 on my spreadsheet.  Given I use 5 as average, this ranks as average.  But I think this is an example of where marking schemes fail; many of my categories failed to even qualify as relevant aspects of the series.  Character depth, effective plot, engaging villains…none of this is relevant when the entire series aims to make its viewers laugh. I feel it’s absolutely pointless to discuss ratings much as a results and instead just consider it for what it is: a series with fairly offensive humour that will be incredibly funny to some and less so to others for all the reasons listed previously.

IARP’s Results – What Can We Learn?

I’ve been holding onto this one for a while as I’ve been thinking about how to approach this subject.

The International Anime Research Project (IARP) released the results of a three fandom research project over the summer of 2014.  It analyzed three groups of individuals: anime fans, fantasy sports fans, and furries (individuals interested in the anthropomorphization…or simply put, individuals who find interest in giving animals human-like traits.  The research project also lists zoomorphization, or giving humans animal-like traits, but I think they’re fairly close and if you’re reading this definition, I think it’s unlikely this distinction would help at all). The project conducted a survey consisting of thousands of individuals to determine any relation between the three groups.

Now, as a warning before going forward, I base the rest of this article on the assumption that the findings are correct.  I would hesitate to ever state this as I don’t want to trust a single source when looking at groups.  However, this group also is one of the few to conduct studies across fan bases and I’d suggest that my commentary are purely speculative based on these limited results.

You can read the report yourself, and I actively encourage you to, but the basic results are as follows:

  • “Furries” declare themselves transgender way more often than other groups.
  • Ranking the three groups in terms of descending percentage to declare themselves heterosexual, the order is sports fans – anime fans – furries.
    • Similarly, you find an order of anime fans/furries – sports fans when it comes to asexuality, with the slash representing statistically similar results.
  • The sample populace is overwhelmingly white.  This seems to hold for all of their samples.
  • The vast majority of anime fans who participated in this survey online identify as being single.  The rate is about 78% to an approximately 50% mean for the other groups.  They also qualify as far lower in education than “sports fans”.  However is more likely an indicator of age; anime fans are much younger than the typical fan of other groups.
  • Anime fans are left-wing atheists in political terms, leaning in both these directions compared to the average.
  • Online anime fans do not greatly associate themselves as artists or writers.  In fact, the latter is lower than that of sports fans.
  • There is no structural difference between anime fan groups and other fan groups for entitlement (that is, expectation of what the creators owe them).
  • Anime fans identify themselves as slightly “nerdier” and more introverted than other fan groups.
  • Anime fans tend towards engagement in fantasy activities than other groups.  That is, activities which allow for escapism.  Playing a video game, watching a movie, and reading novels all qualify.

Anime Stereotypes – Do They Actually Hold?

So one of the first things to think about when reading these results is how society typically views anime fans; the difference between the two can reflect misconceptions.

The common stereotype I hear is the “obsessive lonely loser”.  This stereotype typically describes the fan as an individual who would not fit in ordinary society; they are socially awkward and use anime as an escape.  This is primarily the western media standpoint.  I’d even argue that there’s some sort of pride ascribed with the stereotypical fan.  An excellent post from study of anime outlines this notion very well.  I’d encourage you to read that post as well as I’m only glossing over the key details but the social spread of a meme known as “Don’t worry ma’am, we’re from the internet” in which portrays fandom as a heavily obsessive society.  That is, it generates humour from the extreme nature of cosplay when contrasted against the absolutely normal reaction (“Don’t worry” and implying this unusual activity is normal in that society).  If you’re looking for other words, it’s that the contrast in the calming reaction in the text and the absurd situation generates the idea that these fans are conducting something completely normal in their minds and that their society is extremely different from the viewer’s.  A further and more negative read could suggest that these individuals do not fit in any other society but the one shown.

This common line of thought isn’t one that sticks to anime in specific but often associates itself to any activity that society perceives as somewhat “geeky”.  I mean, if we consider the common joke lines about Star Trek fans, for instance, a societal stereotype often interacts in the same manner.  A fairly popular North American sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, utilizes this to the hilt; the usage of Star Trek references (or any other activities commonly associated with geek culture for that matter) typically utilizes as a method of negatively portraying the characters.  And, as you’d likely guess from my above comments, lumped right in there is anime (according to Google and the ensuing YouTube link):

I’d argue this stereotype isn’t exclusive to anime fans as a result.  It is a prevalent opinion though.

So, what do these results do?  Assuming they’re correct (something I’ll do throughout this article), it shows where the actual fans who declares themselves part of the anime fan base deviates from stereotypes.

Let’s consider the first part of the description: obsessive.  The notion that anime fans are obsessive.  This part is quite universal between different aspects of the world, that major anime fans fascinate themselves with the medium.  It’s unfortunate, but there’s no way to observe this using the data presented.  At least, in my mind.  There are certain viable routes to consider this notion, such as observing spending habits or time management, but none of the above are effectively reflected in the IARP’s results.  One question asks about the quantity of videos and DVDs the subject owns, where anime fans hold a substantial lead on other groups.  However, this absolutely expected as anime is an entertainment industry which utilizes this technology (the release even mentioning this concept).

It is quite possible to make an argument on the idea that this study would argue against the notion of anime fans as obsessive: they are not self-described writers nor artists and therefore aren’t as interested in generating media over their pass times.  However, I wouldn’t agree with this assessment as it assumes that these are the only vectors for obsession.  Just watching more and more anime, for example.  Or writing long posts about anime.  Wait a second…

Now for the second part: lonely.  This poll overwhelmingly shows that anime fans are single.  But, as mentioned above, this is likely an age issue as respondents for anime fans were by and large much younger than the other groups.  So, let’s try other variables which are less age dependant.

The major aspect that peaks my interest is the “belonging” statistic and I would argue it contradicts the assumption in this stereotype.  This value, of course, relates to how strongly the fan attaches themselves to the fan community.  This statistic is much lower than I would expect a “lonely” fan to report.  The value reports that anime fans do not feel the need to associate themselves with the community.  In fact, the biggest motivator is entertainment according to the study.  I would even further that with another idea: entertainment is a likely motivation for a lot of anime fan’s activities.  Anime fans engage in the most fantasy activities and likely engage with them as an entertainment medium.

Finally, let’s look at “loser”…the notion that anime fans have no life and are overall “messes of a human”: unhappy, bitter people who escape via anime.  The result in this study is that there’s practically no backing to this notion.  This is because, while there is a distinct trend with online anime fans bucking the trend of having statistically significant differences in self-esteem and life satisfaction (both lower than other groups), the second polled anime group, individuals from an anime convention, have no trend against other groups.  As such, it seems impossible to draw the conclusion that anime fans, as a group, are “losers”.

To summarize, I think it’s absolutely unfair for this long-held stereotype by the general of society as an accurate depiction of anime fans.

Of course, anime fans also typically hold stereotypes of other anime fans.  I won’t bother actually going into them in great detail, instead going for a simple overview, and looking for any connection to these results.



Other Points of Consideration

This comment struck me heavily.  I’ll quote it very specifically as I think it’s worth reading:

Interestingly, the online anime fans reported slightly lower life satisfaction and self-esteem scores than members of the other fan groups. Psychological research on coping, resilience, and well-being has long suggested that having a social support network – family and close friends who are there for you, is a one of the most significant predictors of well-being. In above results (#11), it was shown that online anime fans have the smallest percentage of friends who share the same interest. This may suggest that online anime fans may rely less upon the other members of the fan community for social support, whereas, for furries, convention-going anime fans, and fantasy sport fans, they may be able to draw upon the fan community for social support, leading to greater psychological well-being.

This creates some interesting implications.  Remember previously that the study rejects the notion that anime fans are stereotypical “lonely” individuals.  However, the isolation for online fans from individuals who share similar interests may be problematic.  It’s very noticeable that anime fans interviewed at conventions are quite satisfied and are no different from any other group noted.  Where this gets real interesting though is when crossed with a later graph depicting the expected disapproval levels and likelihood of discussing the topic with their fan identity.  In particular, I’d draw attention to how internet viewing anime fans vary from convention going anime fans: both have similar expected disapproval ratings yet convention going anime fans appeared more willing to discuss the topic with others and, combined with the above suggestion, might suggest correlation.  But please note: this is not causation.  It’s a phenomenon reported in this study and that’s it.  It’s an intriguing result though and would require further investigation.

There’s another stereotype about anime fans that I didn’t want to touch before because it fits better here, and that’s the notion that anime is purely only sexually driven.  I know I rag about fanservice and my typical dislike of it, but I’ll also defend anime from this criticism.  Fanservice, in my mind, is of very minimal in relation to the fan base’s mind.  Are there fans who love it and fans who might watch anime purely for that reason?  Of course.  But look hard enough and you’ll find any number of stupid things.  4% of Americans believe in Lizardmen while 5% believe Paul McCartney died in 1966.  And I think this study reflects a key here: while there are some, well, unusual individuals in the world, most anime fans aren’t terribly different compared to other fans.

Actually, that bears repeating, in case it wasn’t apparent to readers (though, who am I kidding?  Most of you are probably also yourselves): Most anime fans are pretty much normal people.  They aren’t sexual deviants interested in their “2-D Waifus” only, they aren’t pedophilic (though I guess that study never did look at that…), they aren’t social shut ins, they aren’t even the commonly stereotyped losers.  No.  They’re just normal people.

And, if nothing else, I hope people who read this study feel the same.

Despera’s Rejuvenated Hope

As is quite obvious, I’m a pretty big fan of Serial Experiments Lain.  Heck, I named the entire blog after it, right?  So I doubt anybody finds surprise in the fact that I’ve been eagerly awaiting any available news on Despera.

For background, this was only the second time that all three main producers of Lain, character designer Yoshitoshi ABe, writer Chiaki J. Konaka, and director Ryutaro Nakamura, reunited as a group.  The setting greatly calls back to their work on Serial Experiments Lain as well with character design and setting all drawing a great deal of comparison.  The anime sets itself in alternate history in 1922.  A girl named Ain lives in Tokyo.  She is a technological wizard and produces incredible electronic devices (such as early computers) despite having absolutely no experience or knowledge of electronics.

That’s Lain on the left, right? I’m pretty sure it is. Wait…her name is Ain?

The project first appeared in 2009 but went on hiatus as Nakamura’s health deteriorated in 2011.  He later passed away in 2013 from Pancreatic Cancer and the status of Despera fell into the wind.

To my great excitement, ABe announced that the project would resume with a new director.  Actually, he announced it in 2014 but major news stations (such as the one I linked to) picked up on it only recently.  I just mentioned how obviously excited I am for the project as the setting and design make it an interesting and unusual work, being alternate history and all.

But I asked myself “What will change without Nakamura?”.  His presence or lack thereof will create a different dynamic during production and my thoughts led towards the idea that his absense will change the final product.  I approached this from the motion of asking what each of these three main players provide using Serial Exepriments Lain as a base.  To directly repeat what I said above, the staff originally included character designer Yoshitoshi ABe, writer Chiaki J. Konaka, and director Ryutaro Nakamura.

ABe, as I’ve mentioned previous, has an incredibly different artwork.  You’ll likely note the eyes in his work first and foremost.  They present unusual detail of the iris in extreme closeups and that hasn’t changed based on the concept art of Despera.  In the ’90s, he utilized a large amount of two-tone eyes at a time where this was less practical.  His latest character design work to see animated production, Welcome to the H.N.K., creates spectacular shades in the eyes with a level of detail that I’d argue would rival the best production value in the industry.  I’m not sure if it’s a demand to utilize his work or if it’s just coincidence but this always pops up when he’s either the original character designer or the character designer.  Whatever the reason, I would expect nothing less if he’s in charge of character design once again.

Strange isn’t it? This seems normal today but was quite an detailed aspect at the time. Man, I feel old.

But another aspect is likely a dark design as well.  Few of ABe’s works are entirely pure and positive in nature.  Many involve unusual mystery or utilize an offsetting/disturbing juxtaposition to make them feel less than normal.  Even when he’s working on comedy, it’s a dark comedy.  The only exception to this count is NieA_7, which Wikipedia even goes as far as to suggest was only done to “cool off” from the dark world of Serial Experiments Lain (as much of the staff joined to work on NieA_7).  It’s likely, since this sounds like a production of his creation, this streak will continue.

Shifting gears, Konaka’s works are greatly Lovecraftian and cyberpunk.  He’s even written a little for the Cthulhu Mythos (a collection of semi-connected narratives which work operate around the works of H.P. Lovecraft).  He directed Digimon Tamers and even write the 13th episode of the second season of Digimon; is appropriate named The Call of Dagoman (a play on The Call of Cthulhu, one of Lovecraft’s most famous works).  I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now but the entire episode is one long homage to that short story.  I bring this up so you kind of get an idea of what he is as a writer.  This would also be a great time to mention that his hands are almost always at the steering wheel of these types of narratives.  Narutaru, which I’ve previously reviewed, might not be the best work I’ve seen but it is a work that extremely well points towards Konaka’s interests.  But he’s also a huge fan of cyberpunk.  I mean, he did work on Lain, right?  These two are the typical front of his work.  But whatever his work, Konaka consistently deals a dark tone.  Even Digimon Tamers, which is likely his most famous work outside of Lain, can get quite dark since it deals with topics such as death.  And recall that the demographic is likely elementary aged children.

Finally, we come to the missing individual.  I’m not sure what to say about Nakamura.  His work is all over the place but they come out well from the director’s stand point.  There’s little I need to say about Lain or Kino’s Journey as they carry around a lot of sway.  One thing that does stand out there is that he almost has an artist’s eye for detail.  It almost gives me memories of Stanley Kubrick…I guess for reference, Kubrick was a photographer before a director and almost all his films had insane levels of detail.  He was a perfectionist but almost everything he did either surprised those in the industry he portrayed by showing a level of detail they didn’t expect or had revolutionary effects.  And that’s a similar sense I get from Nakamura…that every scene he does has animated purpose sometimes to fulfill an aesthetic beauty that I’m not sure many past animators can appreciate.  The selection of still frames I can recall from his prolific list of work solidify that in my mind.  In fact, further research indicates that he started as an animator.  This leaves me no doubt that some of those rare details seen in his work stem from his history, his past as an animator.

But where does that leave Despera?

I will suggest though that much of what makes Serial Experiements Lain unique likely transitions over to Despera.  ABe and Konaka also worked on Texhnolyze together, a project with similar style to Lain.  The concepts of it being a heavily dark and psychological anime will persist.  The animation quality likely holds steady and presents some extreme details in areas that it’s likely unexpected to carry depth.  I’m not sure if it’ll have the same attention to other details though.  There is no announcement on the replacement director as of yet so it’s impossible to “add on” the skills of the new director.  All I can say as of right now is that they might be hard pressed to find someone with that attention to animated detail.

But…of course, I’ll watch it anyways.

A Beginner’s Guide To Anime

I know this really isn’t my typical posting material but I thought this was interesting and useful stuff.  Hey, I’m a person who used extracurricular projects in grade school as an excuse to submit documents full of the history of anime.

I’ll keep this as more of a “what you need to know” than a true and working history of anime.

So, What IS Anime?

Well, we’re already in a bit of trouble.  “Anime” in Japan is basically an informal term for “animation” in the same way “sports fan” is short for “sports fanatic”.  So technically, if we use Japanese definitions, anime is just animation.

But I’m guessing you aren’t looking for that type of description, are you?  Well, to much of the world, anime refers to Japanese animation.  This differentiates itself from other types of animation such as those produced in Canada, USA, and Europe (often designated “Western Animation”) or China, South Korea, or the rest of Eastern Asia (“Eastern Animation”).  By definition, this basically limits anime to Japanese products.

The anime industry is quite large and operates on the order of billions of dollars (USD) per year.  It does a great deal of business within Japan but is something of a niche industry internationally.  As an example, some viewers from around the world called ex-Japanese Prime Minister Tarō Asō an otaku (more on this later).  Yet the popularity of anime doesn’t permeate as well.  Most common knowledge of anime alludes to either well-known younger audience series such as Pokemon or…well, hentai.  These two traits pronounce themselves within the common state of many cultures and is probably the only widespread exposure of anime to the world.  Further to the point, the world recognizes these aspects to such a degree that popular culture can reference such traits.

Why Does Anime Get Its Own Name?

Anime distinguishes itself from other animation groups, and therefore commonly requires distinction from other animation, because of a commonly noted difference in animation style; anime is quite often easy to separate from other animation because of a difference in artistic choice.  Again, these are extremely pronounced and leads to easy recognition in popular culture.

Previously, on Dragonball C

The most recognizable attribute of anime traditionally lies in facial features; large eyes, great attention to hair style, and decreased focus on other aspects typically herald anime.  It would come to no surprise that writers of a basic general tabletop RPG rule set called it Big Eyes, Small Mouth as that description fits much of the facial experience in a nutshell.  A major exception to both of these rules is Hiyao Miyazaki’s work, which emphasize more natural designs in both aspects.

Also, yes, this is probably a better character than the one she's based on.

Incidentally, this is not a real character…but was the first example I found. It follows typical convention.

Additionally, exaggerated expression typically associates itself with anime design.  To be honest, this is where you find most parody and recognition of anime tropes in non-anime environment.  Typical facial emotion reflects the emotion of the individual to an extreme degree; faces are blue and eyes blank when shocked or cheeks flush to a bright red when embarrassed.  TVtropes has an entire section’s worth of tropes about Japanese visual effects.  This anime aspect is absolutely iconic.  It’s probably also very easy to tell from the below images, but anime has a long streak of using non-traditional hair colours as it sees fit; it is common to use blue, green, pink, or purple hair.  Additionally, extremely unusual hair style is typical in series which focus less on realism; the character in the sequence, for example, has twin tails the size of her head.

I’ll go with…happy?

That’s certainly happy.

But character design alone isn’t where anime varies from other animation groups; anime focuses greatly on the detail of backgrounds.  When compared to other medium, anime typically reflects a high quality foreground and background.  I’d even argue that high quality frames is a hallmark of anime and it’s one of the rare mediums where compiling an all-star animation team together will reflect in an all-star animation product coming out extremely visually impressive.  I’ll stop it at that though as I think further description would only invite debate and hurt feelings by one person or another.

What Makes Anime So Popular?

This is a good question, isn’t it?  Above are reasons what makes anime different from other animated shows, but doesn’t necessarily contribute to what makes anime popular.

A major part of my reasoning is that anime taps into unexploited markets.  That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s just say this: it has audiences which don’t have a show otherwise.  If we focus on the Western markets for a second, a list of all animated television created by Western markets consist primarily of episodic television shows aimed at younger audiences (ex – Spongebob Squarepants) and episodic comedies that focus on older audiences (ex – The Simpsons).  Saturday morning cartoons and sitcoms, effectively.  Anime, by comparison, offers media for different audiences…so much so that there are entire loan words for the different target audiences (more on that later!).

Let’s just use the above anime as examples.  They both aim at older audiences than the typical “Saturday morning cartoon” and offers a non-comedic animated experience not found in the sitcoms; one aims for teenage viewers and the other at a mature audience.   They also contain aspects unlikely in other genres: one has an incredibly difficult to define genre (and is probably one of the top examples of a non-genre specific franchise out there) while the other is a psychological murder mystery.  Or multiple murder mystery.

Now, I can’t fully generalize; neither of my statements regarding Western animation or for anime fully describe the situation.  However, this is a terrific starting point for observing what makes anime unique at the moment.

So, I think the simple answer to read here is “because anime provides an experience they can’t find elsewhere: different combinations of demographics and genres that they cannot find in other animated media”.

Okay…where else can you find this?

What Are Anime’s Demographics and Genres?

I figure this is the obvious followup.  I’ll provide some basic descriptions below, though they hardly do any of them justice.

Common Anime Demographics

Each of the commonly used anime demographic names are directly ripped from the Japanese equivalent.  Remember that these are generalized demographics and anime tend to blur the line of which demographic they aim for.

  • Kokodomomuke.  Approximately stands for “intended for children”.  This typically is a little younger than the above mentioned “Saturday morning cartoons”.  A commonly known example, though probably still not entirely accurate, is the Hello Kitty franchise.
  • Shonen.  Target demographic is approximately preteen to teenage boys.  Anime with this demographic in mind likely cover the majority of your anime memory as it typically encompasses the often translated anime…Pokemon, Dragonball, Naruto, One Piece…most of those anime typically fall in this range.  But that’s the lower end of the spectrum.  One of the above anime also aims for the shonen demographic.  Incidentally, the shonen demographic is also the largest demographic in the anime market.  Shonen anime typically consist of more idealistic anime, have a mix of comedy and action, and focus on topics such as internal drive and ability…though these are a generalization and hardly the rule.
  • Shojo.  Target demographic is approximately preteen to teenage girls.  Anime aiming for the shojo demographic vary a bit from the shonen and typically focus a little more on the emotional aspect and a little less on the action.  That isn’t to say that there isn’t a mix of both (bear with me for a sentence or two as I get to addressing that) but that there’s a stronger pull on the emotional side than the action.  TVtropes provides an anecdotal example: if you have two main characters who are obviously mutual love interests, a shonen demographic anime more likely ends the series with the two characters falling in love while a shojo anime may make the relationship build earlier and focus on the relationship changes and struggles.  The most common example of a shojo oriented anime is Sailor Moon, though like the examples above it deals with a younger aspect in this audience.
  • Seinen.  Target demographic is, you guessed it, adult men.  Anime for this demographic begins to branch out far and wide, no longer tying itself to the typical action and idealistic roots…though, and I sound like a broken record, it might not tie itself to those roots to begin with.  Two common directions for seinen demographic anime include a dark and edgy version of shonen demographic anime or to turn for cute escapist characters.  The idea of a less black and white morality often begins the blur between a shonen and seinen demographic anime.  The ever common “gateway anime” Attack on Titan, for example, states a shonen demographic despite being brutal.  But the direction of escapism appears much easier and presents itself in a distinctive manner.  Seinen demographic anime also aims at areas the shonen demographic didn’t ever go in terms of experimental concepts.  Anime such as Ergo Proxy, Elfen Lied, Ghost in the Shell, and this blog’s namesake Serial Experiments Lain on the darker and experimental sides while CLANNAD, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica fill the other (the last of the three going on both sides of the spectrum)
  • Josei.  Target demographic, again easy to guess, is adult women.  Like all the above, the definition is somewhat vague.  They tend towards the same path of shonen to seinen demographics and open the doors on morality and idealism.  Recent trends include focus on daily life, homoerotic themes, and a darker look at romantic aspects which shojo anime typically either ignore or gloss over quickly.  A well known josei demographic series is Loveless, as is Eden of the East to my surprise.

Common Anime Unique Genres

Below is a list of genres that tend to stay inside anime more than others.  You’ll likely find examples outside anime but they are likely less numerous.

  • Harem.  A harem anime typically focuses on a main character and a wide swathe of viable love interests.  This most typically uses a set up of a male protagonist surrounded by an incredibly large number of female characters as love interests.  It’s so commonly accepted in this role that many call a female protagonist with a large number of male love interests a “Reverse Harem” anime.  It is rarely played as a dramatic situation, though there are exceptions.  A harem anime typically uses the protagonist’s situation as comedic bait.  Because the audience typically has the same gender as the protagonist, the supporting love interests often provide fanservice (see below).
  • Magical Girl.  Magical girl anime, as the name suggests, features magical girls as main protagonists…young girls which use magic.  That’s it.  This wide open concept actually makes it open for practically any combination of demographics listed above.  The varying amounts of action against relationship against everyday life focus easily cover all the above demographics.  In fact, while many consider magical girl anime a realm only for female audiences, the most famous recent examples of magical girl anime target male audiences.  The most popular genre of magical girl anime utilize a formal similar to superheroes and have villains which the protagonist magical girl fights.
  • Mecha.  Mecha anime simply utilize mecha.  That’s a roundabout description…so let’s describe mecha.  Mecha are robots, in essence.  Mecha often divide into two categories: super robot anime and real robot anime.  The former focuses on the robot as an extension of the robot’s controller (pilot).  By comparison, real robot anime typically have mecha which are much more expendable and reproducible.  In essence, they are weapons.  This vague overview of mecha anime allows for it to slot in combination with almost any other type of genre and target any demographic…though it lends itself very well to action heavy anime.
  • Slice of Life.  Okay.  Fine.  This really isn’t anime unique but it has a strong sway in anime and a great deal of slice of life content comes from anime.  Slice of Life anime are anime which focus on…well…life.  Following along the life of a protagonist.  School settings are quite popular for this type of anime as are coming-of-age narratives.  This type typically pushes away from action-heavy sequences and focuses on interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts.  An extreme interpretation of slice of life can create entire situations without conflict at all and simply focus on the lives of the characters instead of a grand narrative.
  • Yaoi.  A subset of romance anime which focus on romance between male characters.  The typical audience for yaoi work is a female demographic with there being further distinction for male/male romance anime for male audiences.  It’s kind of hard to describe yaoi as a genre (at least in the Western definition; Japan uses the term much differently), so I might just leave at this: there is a great variety of yaoi content from stereotypical romance that you’re probably thinking about to extremely dark and disturbing material.  This would deserve its own post to describe…so just take away the basic idea of what the term means and not the implications and subtleties of the genre itself, something that’d take far too long to explain in a post introducing anime.
  • Yuri.  A subset of romance anime which focus on, you guessed it, two female characters.  Like yaoi anime, there is a tendency of female demographics more than male demographic though there are are more pronounced male demographics in certain yuri anime.  Again, please note that the twists, turns, and history of this term is far too complicated for an introductory article…so focus on it as female romance.  Wikipedia contains articles which go into far greater detail on yaoi and yuri anime.

Note that both yaoi and yuri sometimes refer to sexually explicit content when used in Western settings.

So…how many is that?

Common Anime Terms

I’ll just start by saying that there is no way this list is anywhere near “complete”, but includes terms likely required for conversation about anime.  Not all will become common language for different readers…I’d be pretty concerned about certain combinations appearing together.  You’ll also note that a lot of these are Japanese.  Please note that some of the terms either are not used in such a sense and that the definitions provided regards how this fandom uses the terminology.

  • AMV.  Abbreviation for Animated (sometimes Anime) Music Video, a (mostly) fan production which combines mixing songs and visuals from at least one anime.  The song does not necessarily need to (and often times does not) come from any of the anime footage used.
  • Baka. “Idiot”.  Kind of.  It has different definitions, but the one you’ll probably hear it in regards to anime is for “idiot” or “stupid”.  It comes as part of anime’s character design as irritable characters often repeat the term.  Also note: some fans insert this word into their everyday lexicon because of the easy substitution for non-Japanese words.
  • Bishojo (Bishoujo).  “Pretty girl”.  There’s not much else to the term itself.  Anime warps around it though and traditions regarding this style of character are evident.  Namely, this character typically defines more as “being cute” than outright sex appeal and is younger looking, typically cutting off around 20 years old.
  • Bishonen.  “Pretty boy”.  Now this gets a little more confusing than the above definition for bishojo as the term “pretty”, if you want to stick to English terms, doesn’t really vary between the two definitions.  A bishonen character is actually quite effeminate and, like the definition above, refers to younger caracters.  Well, maybe.  The term is ambiguous since some groups define it simply as “an attractive male character”.
  • Chibi.  Literally?  It means “small” and refers to smaller and cuter characters.  That said, it’s misused enough that you should know this definition: Chibi and the art type of super-deformed often intertwine.  Super-deformed is a specific anime art style which extremely large heads compared to the rest of the body.  In anime where the super-deformed is not the normal animation, this choice typically adds a layer of comedy and lack of seriousness to the situation.
  • Dandere.  A character which is particularly shy and not really social but changes to warm and friendly under specific circumstances.
  • Dojikko.  A cute female character who is particularly clumsy.
  • Dojinshi.  Independently published or self-published works.  In the realm of anime, this typically refers to manga.  Note that since this refers to any independent publication, professional producers can add to the mix.  Works may use original characters or act as fan fiction.
  • Dub.  Short for “dubbed voices”.  The translation for the work in question comes in the form of replacing the original voices with new voice actors to speak in the audience’s native language.  There are strong rivalries and debates between the value of a dub vs sub (below).
  • Ecchi.  Approximation of the English “H”, used to represent a halfway point between standard production and hentai (below).  In other words, the product has sexually suggestive material. That’s a vague definition and encompasses anything from fairly benign material such as sexually based humour all the way up to nearly hentai.  This weird and vague definition makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish between ecchi and full-out hentai.
  • Fanservice (Fan service).  The simple definition is T&A.  The more complex one utilizes the idea of sexual humour and/or titillation.  But that still isn’t fair.  The idea of fanservice is easy enough (“servicing the fan” and giving them what they want) but it’s another nebulous concept as some consider climactic and visually gorgeous fights fanservice.  The most typical usage refers to sexual fan service though…that is, having characters in sexually amusing or titillating outfits (in fact, I’ll even use “fanservice” to mean “sexual fanservice”).  A well-known example of this is younger female characters in maid uniforms.  Alternatively, fanservice comes in the form of active choices to have a “shot” linger on attractive body parts for far longer than necessary or gratuitously show sexually attractive images (such as panties on a female character).
  • Hentai.  Approximate translation definition: perverted.  Common definition: anime, manga, and video games (with anime design) which have pornographic content.  Funny enough, the word itself is actually quite non-sexually based and you could find situations in which to use it.  From what I’ve heard too, many Japanese individuals find it quite amusing that non-Japanese speakers use the word in such a way.
  • Hikikomori.  An individual who actively chooses to isolate themselves from society.  Such individuals may exhibit extreme antisocial behaviours such as rarely leave their living quarters.  The concept is closely tied to otaku lifestyle but I wish you recognize them as two different entities.  There is currently research investigating this phenomenon in Japan as it appears primarily as a Japanese issue (though countries all over the world report cases).  Hermits might be a possible equivalent…though not really.
  • Kuudere.  A character which initially appears cold, dismissive, and cynical but has a hidden warmer and friendlier personality when approached sufficiently.  I might get into this some day but the concept of the second part of this in dandere, kuudere, tsundere, and yandere characters may exist as a development over time as oppose to being “hidden”.
  • Manga.  Simply, Japanese comics.  That’s probably the easiest way to think about it.
  • Megane.  A term for male characters who wear glasses.  This would suggest usage because there is a glasses fetish market out there.
  • Meganeko (Meganekko).  A term for female characters who wear glasses.  Again, this relates fairly closely to glasses fetishism.
  • Moe.  Oh boy.  Well, I’ve written an extensive amount on the subject and even that definition of moe might not agree to the common usage.  Let’s just say it’s that “big brother/sister” instinct drawn from an innocent, sweet, or naive young character, typically female.  It’s a strange and nebulous definition, I agree, but it’s tough to really draw a straight and narrow definition.
  • Otaku.  Literally, “you”.  That’s the actual term.  Of course, the usage shifted to something along the lines of “obsessive nerd” a while ago.  The implication of defining as “otaku” is having an obsession with a given interest, defaulting to manga or anime without further description.  The origin of the term certainly doesn’t provide much help in this regard.  I would also suggest that the term, even if it has a fairly benign origin, can carry heavily negative connotations (such as “gamer” might on Western news stations in stereotyping towards angry 12-year-olds or a fan of murder simulators)…please be careful when using it.
  • OVA.  Acronym for Original Video Animation.  Similar to “straight to DVD/video”, this refers to animation released directly without a TV or movie theatre release.
  • Sub.  Short for “subtitled”.  The original voices remain and translation the translation comes via subtitles.  Much like I mentioned above, there remains strong debate between fans of dubs and subs.
  • Tsundere.  A character which initially appears hostile, irritable, and angry but has a more approachable and friendly personality underneath.
  • Yandere.  A character which initially appears warm and friendly but has a more destructive side underneath.  This description varies a little from the other [x]dere definitions since the character reflects the friendly aspect first.  Note that the last part is intentionally ambiguous.  A common example of the destructive personality is a violently controlling personality.  If that character is a love interest, the situation may be that the individual puts so much into the relationship that they feel they must keep that relationship in their ideal bubble and will do anything, up to and including murder (for instance), to ensure that it happens.

…We done yet?

Recommended “Gateway” Anime

What follows is a brief listing of anime which present an effective introduction to anime.  You could easily treat me like a drug dealer here as I attempt to push anime into your life.

As a general pick, I find Attack on Titan as the a commonly noted modern anime.  It’s got an unusual art style for anime, is somewhat bleak, and contains some lovingly animated scenes.  I’ve yet to fully watch this anime myself to please take my recommendation of it with consideration.  The Slayers franchise is an older anime that hearkens a bit more of what you might remember as “anime”.  It features around the concepts of a typical fantasy genre but plays with comedy a great deal; the anime reaches around for different aspects of both a serious action franchise and a wacky slapstick comedy.  It’s got a little for everyone through the episodes produced in the 1990s (Slayers, Slayers Next, Slayers Try) and might only concern you if you weren’t a fan of the animation at the time.

It’s possible that you’re looking for some good old high fantasy but Slayers isn’t your type of anime.  A little more towards the female side is Magic Knight Rayearth.  It pulls a fairly serious narrative and doesn’t differentiate between comedy and action episodes nearly as much…instead using it as a drip at certain points in episodes.  Want one with a little more seriousness?  I’m not sure I’d qualify it as a great anime but try out the cliche-filled Record of Lodoss War, an anime founded on Dungeons and Dragons principles (though I guess Slayers is what happens in such a world when the players screw around with the genre’s seriousness).

Or maybe something with just lots of fights and high-octane action is what you want.  Berserk‘s high violence should sate you.  Some low fantasy violence always helps.  Or maybe Black Lagoon, where trigger happy…well…probably isn’t even enough to describe it.

The slice-of-life genre becomes quite interesting in anime.  I’d almost imminently state Haibane Renmei.  It not only provides the off kilter idea of a slice-of-life anime in an entirely unfamiliar setting but provides an incredible adventure with the characters themselves as you discover more about the world thrust upon you.  Welcome to the H.N.K.! provides a much more comedic look at the genre.  I’ll warn that it’s dark in its comedy.  Wanna break your heart instead?  Try the Clannad franchise.  Especially the finale.

Feeling a little more sci-fi?  Well, I always find mecha recommendations fun.  The Gundam franchise practically covers the entire spectrum of dramatic mecha anime.  Here, take a fan made sorter to find a Gundam anime which suits your needs.  I haven’t watched it, but others throw Code Geass‘ name into this range as well.  Need something that makes you feel like someone kicked your emotions around and threw them way?  Fine.  Watch Neon Genesis Evangelion, a dark and fairly confusing narrative.  Again though, it’s stupid dark.  Planning for something for laughs and a space opera?  Martian Successor Nadesico.  I will warn though that its comedy typically plays around expected tropes so you might miss some jokes or fun moments.  From the “not really my type of anime but worth considering” list is Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan.  Take escalation to all new heights.

Of course, mecha do not comprise all sci-fi.  Ghost in the Shell is the iconic cyberpunk anime.  Of course, if you want one with about three pounds of introspection and much less action, have fun with Ergo Proxy.  Want to make it more impossible to understand but uniquely presented?  Well, Serial Experiments Lain works well.  Or, it confuses you the first time you watch since that’s kind of what I just implied.

It could be that you want an adventure.  Not characters, but a journey.  Well, try the apt named Kino’s Journey.  It’s about a teenager named Kino and Kino’s motorcycle as the pair travel.  Or maybe Trigun…a space western at its finest.  Speaking of space and adventures, Irresponsible Captain Tylor qualifies as a terrific addition if you’re already looking for a non-serious space opera or just love space operas at all.

Or did you want magical girls?  Well, the genre rarely plays straight these days.  A more combat oriented magical girl anime exists: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.  Make friends by beating the snot out of them in combat more reminiscent of mecha franchises than magical girls.  An extremely dark look at magical girls also exists: Puella Magi Madoka Magica.  Just be warned, twice now, that it is very dark.

Enough seriousness though.  Do you just want to laugh at comedy?  Something of a complete and raw sketch comedy anime, probably closest to the zero continuity of Western animated sitcoms?  Well, I’d say Galaxy Angel comes close.  Want even less sense (if that were even possible)?  Try the high-energy Excel Saga, an anime where continuity itself is a character.  I’m not sure it’s for everyone but the anime never takes itself seriously for a second and doesn’t even attempt to retain any sense of holding to its source material or to the laws of the universe itself.  And, while I’ve never found it my cup of tea, Gintama counts as famous comedy.

Or maybe you just want to, instead of having any of the above, just watch the “moe” characters do cute things?  K-On! famously defined this area…actually, come to think about it, that’s actually probably all you need to look at here.

Maybe you just want to defy genres period?  Go with Cowboy Bebop.  Just do it.  The Haruhi Suzumiya franchise also blends so many genres together…you’ll just get lost trying to keep track.

Hideaki Anno And The Commercial Future

A recent comment by Hideaki Anno popped up in the news.  Now, this has also caused a slight amount of discussion.  I’ve copied it below if you don’t want to open a new link:

The Japanese animation industry has hit a dead end — it will be tough to escape unless we can make animation without commercial considerations. It may even be too late.

I haven’t seen a direct link to his comments so I’ll address the quote above.  I’m not sure whether or not a later interview addresses the exact same topics (as I note the difference between him stating it’s a dead-end in the quote above and how he refers to anime as breaking towards a recession in the second interview).

So, What Does It Mean?

As I read the quote, a major issue is the broad strokes that Anno speaks in.  I’m not sure if it’s as broad in the original quote as I haven’t seen it but I think it’s key to note how general Anno speaks.  It’s very, and I mean extremely, easy to get lost within the specifics of that sentence.  Pinning down the source of the frustration or the specific notion he speaks to is difficult and tenuous at best.  Anno, as I think most of us know, is a man with a great number of concerns and the one he highlights in his words is a steep task.  Deciphering meaning from such words is subjective at best I think.

My first question is what a “dead-end” represents.  Is it the end of the line?  A withdrawal from a peak?  A recession?  Or is it even about money and size of industry?  That’s a fairly blanket statement and the interpretation, while not a significant aspect to the quote, helps frame the rest of the statement.

The major aspect I’d focus on is whether the concern Anno raises is one of industry size or of commercial creativity.  I feel these are the two major possibilities when describing loss in terms of “dead ends”.  I would also feel though that the former is automatically removed because of the fact that Anno is encouraging anime without commercial consideration.  So, the first aspect is that he’s speaking of a creative dead-end.  Easy enough.

But that leads to an even larger question: what does the dead-end represent?  Is it a catastrophic failure or one of minor loss?  Of course, it’s fair to even question the relevance of such a question, but I’ve added it for completeness’ sake.

The interpretation I see is one of fear.  I think it’s fair to think of Anno as an artist first and foremost.  He’s a man who seemingly lashes out against fans, hates parts of the culture they attach to, and even take shots at some of them in his own productions.  Though he has made his peace with the otaku culture in recent years, he never really appears a fan of it or enjoys it himself…just that he doesn’t bitterly hate it.  The tone of his words combine with this ambivalence to create a real cynical look on Anno still…that he’s still only halfway attached to the field.

Attaching the analysis of his first few words and I think the statement is a very strong and pronounced concern with anime; Anno sees them heading for a cliff and is pressing for immediate action.  The statement at the end, that “it may even be too late”, reinforces that notion.

Personally, this comments here strikes reminiscent of many artistic individuals who look to develop and create new mediums.  The type of individual which never stays around after there is no new artistic merit left (well, in their opinion anyways.  I have different opinions regarding artistic form and originality that I may put in writing one day).  And I think this is consistent with Anno.  This is a man who does not work on a great number of projects and seemingly deliberately pushes everything he has a hand in different directions.  Or at least a more postmodern one.  Heck, I struggle to think of an anime he’s involved in which doesn’t use some bizarre surreal imagery at some point.

Moving on though.  This leads to the second, and probably more difficult to read, question: what are the “commercial considerations” to forgo?  What exactly is he warning about that threatens to suck the anime industry dry of the artistic merit?

And I think this is where knowing Anno’s background comes to assist the understanding.  He and Miyazaki, as I’ve noted previously, are seeming brothers-in-arms in regards to moe character design and their avid hate of it.  It’s unlikely, in my mind, that the statement and the seemingly significant presence of moe characters in modern and current anime remain unconnected.

Of course, this is only one possibility.  As I noted before, there is a further interview where he states that anime’s own success created an industry which is unsustainable economically.  This would stifle show quality and damage the further interest in anime until, in sports terms, it undergoes a full rebuild where it drops into obscurity, re-positions itself into a respectable medium once again, and comes back with a vengeance.

I’d personally be inclined to believe this second interpretation of the two I theorized.  It’s not secret that anime is struggling in the economics.  Salary is pretty much nothing and hours are insane so many of the claims Anno points at check out in a general sense.  The economics just don’t make sense for the animators.  You’re basically in a world where you’re doing your work because you like to do it for far too many hours for far too little money.  You can only expand so far until overworked individuals say enough and you lose talent at a painful rate.

(Side note: It’s actually kind of funny that one of the titles in an articles that I linked to in that Miyazaki article is “The freefall of Japan’s anime industry” given how I reference it in an a post about Anno’s concern with an industry ready to freefall)

And if we read more from this second interview, then Anno’s primarily concerned with non-standard anime production dropping.  I’ll quote a specific aspect that I think highlights his sentiments perfectly:

The lack of staff and finances has gotten to the point that people recognize they won’t be able to keep working as they are now. It’s not the kind of leisurely atmosphere that Japan needs to make animation. We can’t make animation at this scale without economic stability. When you’re working as hard as you can just to feed yourself, you can’t get joy out of your work. You’re more focused on your next meal. That’s the real problem.


I get the impression that the contemporary Japanese animation industry is running solely on the remaining fuel of the past’s enthusiasm towards animation. We need to be more flexible with our ideas, and think about how we can continue to make work that’s compelling. That’s what my project with Kawakami-san is all about. (source)

I feel a summary of Anno’s argument is: Anime is currently at a state where pursuit of maximum profits in conjunction with the current working conditions of anime employees will strain the network of employees beyond the breaking point of quality.  Anime’s production value will drop and result in uninteresting creations which will drive away fans.  This will create a dead end in anime and force a drop in the anime industry.

Such a statement follows each of the interpretations of Anno’s comments above and is consistent with his later comments.

But…Is It True?

This, of course, leads to the million dollar question which is lovingly listed above anyways.  Is anime heading down a spiral?  There are two moving parts to this question: the industry’s sustainability and the anime quality.

We first must look at sustainability.  There are two ways to observe this.  One is the company profits and the other is industry talent.  Company profits are likely consistent.  I’m not privy to much company information but I do not see many doors closing.  Sustainability at a corporate level, at least from what I’ve seen, is viable.  But what about for each employee?  I think this gets a bit more sketchy.  Anime industry, as I’ve always mentioned, is one of love.  I don’t think losing individuals is the issue.

The question boils down to the quality of anime as more projects come into production.  A helpful user once tracked anime by year.

Following a similar process, here are the data points I added for TV series for 2012 to 2014:

– 2012: 160 TV series
– 2013: 185 TV series
– 2014: 198 TV series

So there’s absolutely no question that we’re hitting unprecedented levels of new anime in production annually.  But the statistic we’re concerned about is employees per project.  And this is a point where I’m stuck.  I can’t find the number of anime employees by year.  And I think this is a major issue.  Since the start of that graph, the anime industry has undoubtedly grown and therefore there will be more employees to work with.  It’s not like there is a drop from 100 employees per project in 1996 to 25 in 2012.

But let’s say for the sake of hypothetical debate that it is true and that industry does not hire employees to keep the number of employees per project constant.  Is this impacting quality?

Well, I think this is a subjective question.  I certainly haven’t seen the unusual and interesting anime from before but I’m hardly a good source and I don’t think my familiarity with all modern anime is strong enough to make a real statement about changes today.

But what are your thoughts?  Are we heading towards an abyss and inevitable decline?  Or is this just the concerns of a man who might not have anything to concern himself with?

Anime and the World, Part 3: Animated Television

Anime has influenced the greater world of entertainment by its existence. I have previously noted this effect in the areas of live-action film and animated film.  This previous analysis, of course, ignores the most obvious (and in my opinion, the most important) influence: that of animated television.

I broke this post into sections based on the media’s origin area.  This lets us analyze a little further the origins of such development.

Note – A lot of my commentary comes from observation.  As such, I may state incorrect comments…it’s just what I’ve seen from different media.  Discussion is always interesting and I encourage responses if you disagree.


South Korea

I’m guessing not too many of you would put South Korea as a major influenced animation.  As an exporter, you would be right.  South Korean originated media is far less common than other major players.  But the influence of the world at large on it isn’t negligible.  South Korea is a well-known animation exporter and as a result imports animation convention from elsewhere.  It’s likely you’ve seen the fruits of their labour too as South Korea animates a great deal of anime and western animation of extremely variant quality.  From the infamous Lost Universe train wreck of animation which infamously accumulated into the Yashigani Hofuru episode (an episode so badly animated that the Korean animated version is no longer considered canon) to parts of Avatar: The Last Airbender to holding contracts with such largely known franchises as The Simpsons, it’s likely you’ve seen South Korean animation before.  Well, the business of animating other group’s works.  South Korean animation, to no surprise, takes from this wide swath of projects.  South Korean animation typically utilizes equal amounts of anime convention and Western animation convention.

This is much easier to observe with examples.  First up is a new-ish series, Hello Jadoo.  I honestly haven’t seen much of this franchise but I’m sure the anime and Western animation influence leaks through screenshots.

I…don’t know what’s going on here.

These frames make the anime influence quite obvious in this franchise.  The super deformed and chibi style proportions, massive visual expression in the face, and very distinct foreground/backgrounds are all very systematic and integrated aspects of anime.  But it isn’t all anime: anime heavily relies on sharp contrasting angles.  You can see that in the first image.  Yet the second image falls more as Western animation.  And, much more to the compare to an anime, the show features simplified hair whereas anime gets a massive and well-known reputation for extravagance in that facial aspect.  Of course, this doesn’t suggest that anime purely lives and dies off complex and intricate hair, but that this is one of anime’s calling cards.

On the opposite end, we have Aachi and Ssipak, a totally not safe for kids animation.

I…uh…what the hell?

Screw it. My sanity just dropped.

These frames, especially the latter, call from Western animation greatly.  Again, simplified hair is a terrific indicator here.  The formation of the character’s mouth and nose as much more visible than in anime, well-known for understating both of these points (heck, the general rules anime style tabletop game named itself Big Eyes, Small Mouth) greatly reflect the Western animation side.  Yet signs such as the first frame also reflect the anime angle (with an image style used to the point of parody).  The mixture creates an interesting result and South Korean original animation works as a hybrid of both systems.


“Western Animation” Europe

The title is clunky, yes.  I can’t speak for all Europe’s animation though as I haven’t seen a great side of it.  I’m familiar with the side exported to North America and, as such, will speak to that.

The integration of animated media in Europe deals primarily with borrowing much of the style outright.  I’m not sure I can explain this phenomenon at any level as it always seemed strange to me.  At any rate, the influences are both visual and trope based.  One could consider this almost outright “borrowing” the entire medium of anime as oppose to really merging it with other aspects.  That said, it is never a 100% conversion and differences in style remain.  But, as I contrast later, the amount of anime dutifully brought into their animation, when called, is much greater.

French cartoon Wakfu first came to mind as I typed the above.

I’m pretty sure that orange haired guy’s a ghost. His absolute lack of pupils tells me so.

Not sure if Slayers food joke or bloodlust…

The show highlights that anime styled right right away.  Complex and unusual hairstyles litter those images.  And yet this not the only place where Wakfu keeps those roots obvious.  Character traits frequently note its origin.  The character I jokingly describe as a ghost above, named Sadlygrove, rolls many shonen audience anime together…he’s a book dumb, overconfident, fighter who charges in headfirst.  I’m not sure how many different young male anime protagonists that describes.  Then the character on the far left of the first image, Eva, is an extremely competent fighter who acts as the group’s sanity metre and holds a fairly traditional tsundere personality towards her love interest.  This, again, measures very well against common anime trope convention.

Of even more fame, and of personal connection to my own anime history, are the cartoons created by Marathon Media, another French company.  While Totally Spies their most famous production, I’ll focus on one I’m much more familiar with as I’m Canadian and the show had enough Canadian effort to meet CRTC requirements (also, it’s just a better example in some areas): Martin Mystery.

Marathon Media apparently does crossovers.  This is a Super Saiyan, right?

Marathon Media apparently does crossovers. This is a Super Saiyan, right?


Again, the anime influence should come through clearly.  Marathon‘s original signature style included a visual style very similar to common anime.  The characters reflect a high level of detail to hair, a common eye style (see the first image), and a tendency to turn to super deformed characters at the show’s sillier moments at rates not seen since Rayearth.  The second image has nothing on the rest of the show.  And much like Wakfu above, Martin Mystery utilizes fairly common anime convention for its target audience (younger males): slightly book-dumb hero and an irritable tsundere female lead.  Oh, not to mention a pure love of overplayed emotions such as gushing eyes.

But Martin Mystery also effectively highlights a deviation from the anime style.  It’s small and somewhat subtle but effectively reflects the small deviation these anime-styled cartoons contain.  The first image shows us an outline of a character’s face.  The chin’s style, one which points forward and with a high degree of sharp contrasting angles, is a visual style similar to more Western cartoons.  This actually lightens and becomes less notable in later seasons which indicates a shift towards a more anime specific art style.

To get a strong sense of this level of faithful following of anime convention, I’ll contrast it to American animation.



There is a great deal of contrast that animation from Europe exported as “Western animation”.  As I mention earlier, the approach is very different; USA approaches anime with an homage” mentality in mind in contrast to European “borrowing”.  The common aspects including satirizing the convention (such as gratuitous poor lip syncing) and integrating only certain conventions in.  An old example (and I’m sure you can tell by now that I love old examples) comes from Megas XLR.  You know, I feel kind of old as I can name this show very easily.

All the missiles is the best attack ever.


I find Megas XLR is the epitome of American animation in regards to anime as it represents the typical treatment of anime in these shows: the show utilizes elements of the style but not it in its entirety.  For example, the premise of Megas XLR is very much aligned with anime.  The basic concept is that the protagonists are defending Earth from alien invaders by use of giant robots.  Mecha in the animated medium is, by and large, still an anime narrative.  I made the description above so general that it actually could describe Evangelion.  Or Fafner.  Or most apocalyptic mecha anime.

But Megas XLR doesn’t take anything else.  It takes a primarily Western setting, namely New Jersey.  Also very evident is its more Western animation-styled art which gets even more evident when considering character designs (well, except for the female protagonist).  It also takes many character personalities with Western blends.  The male protagonist is Coop, a fat slob with no training.  And as far as I can remember, none of the above improve.  His sidekick, if you’d like to call it that, is another unemployed man with no real consistent positive traits.  These are characters fairly distinct from the traditional leading teams compared to anime.  Characters with such traits typically develop out of them, even in comparing a comedic lead.  The standard “lovable loser” that animated shows love tying themselves to shares change between anime and Western animation; the anime protagonist typically develops.  This provides most of the thrust in harem protagonists (and I mean most as there are exceptions) and provides the development of Shinji Ikari, probably the most famous “can’t catch a break” anime protagonist I can imagine.  Now, this difference’s existence could stem from cultural differences as Welcome to the HNK and Watamote provide examples possibly closer to the traditional Western animation, but then I’d consider that Western animation flavours itself in the routine comedy…the repeated episodes day after day.  Either option is quite possible and distinguishes itself from anime, a medium with more fluidity and possibly less episodic nature.

Which, of course, leads us to the possibility of more serious Western animation.  Does such a topic exist greatly?  It’s more difficult to find answers but this standard hybridization seems to exist.  I pulled from Xiaolin Showdown, a program oriented with a slightly-serious-but-slightly-children oriented show.

A similar situation appears where the show only pulls from aspects of anime.  As the second picture attests to, it also calls on the overreaction and visual comedy in anime.  This actually exists as the show’s standout in the regard (from what I recall – it’s been years since I’ve viewed the show).  Yet it also calls on more Western character development.  The characters fall into Western cycles, such as a man who typically doesn’t get upset unless you disturb his clothing, and an arrogant and haughty master of martial arts (and Asian to boot!).

Are their higher target audience examples?  The 10-20 audience typically encompass the focus audiences of the above two shows.  Well, less so.   Unfortunately, Western animation carries stigma of “child things”.  It’s rare and difficult to admit fandom of Western animation as an older individual.  It’s rare to break that stigma and the companies play up on it by rarely, if ever, testing mature Western animations.  It’s difficult to find comparable animation projects to some anime as a result.

Of course, all these rules are by no means hard and fast.  It’s very easy to come up with exceptions.  Franchises such as Avatar (well, the television series) and Teen Titans would contrast against the trends listed above, both being extremely similar in trope usage and animation style to more traditional anime.  Communities tend to acknowledge Avatar: The Last Airbender in this regard though and groups sometimes lump that fandom in with anime fandom.



And as the final topic, I want to bring the topic full circle and discuss how anime’s opening to the world influences anime.  Change in the medium is impossible to deny and it’s unfair to think of anime as only influencing and not influenced by such exchange.  Like many examples above, considering case studies are easier as, obviously, there are still no solid rules or total shifts…just examples.

The most famous I know of its Cowboy Bebop‘s premise, which borrows the Western genre very heavily.  This almost borrows completely from the USA styled semi-borrowing of style; Cowboy Bebop is carefully and meticulously anime in art form but borrows many narrative tropes from anime.  True…it hold enough different genres that one of them must have Western origins, but the narrative of an “old West” space narrative distinctly draws the “old West” part from American culture.

Probably of even more Western animation style though is The Big O.

Remind me to order lots of androids when they come out.

This anime is very unique as it borrows heavily from the Batman franchise. I’m sure it’s plainly obvious in the image above but the male protagonist, Roger Smith, parallels Bruce Wayne in many regards.  Lots of toys, an insanely exquisite car, and a no guns policy.  Yup, that’s pretty much Batman.  The show as a whole is an incredible blend of the two styles, mixing the traditional concepts of anime (such as the female character above, R. Dorothy Wayneright, holding many traits similar to the ever-popular Rei Ayanami) but also giving a heavy Western animation and cultural injection.  Animation certainly borrows from both animation styles, giving Dorothy a distinctly anime image with a lack of focus on mouth or nose to contrast with Roger Smith’s hybrid appearance (borrowing heavily from the studio’s last project of Batman: The Animated Series).  Then there are the aforementioned Batman lines and the film noir influences with many of the artistic choices coming straight from this genre.

And ultimately, this is where I hope anime goes.  These hybrids, these mixtures of cultures, are some of my favourite media ever.  This reaching between styles gives wildly unique results and, while obviously not all of them well succeed, the uniqueness makes interesting results.  Experimentation, such as The Big O above, creates inventive media.

But I digress, this post intends to describe the different ways anime influences the world’s artistic choice in animated television.  The four focuses included animation from South Korea, select Europe (again, only the ones I’ve seen myself), North America, and Japan itself.  The  international exchanges create a straight up direct mixture in South Korea, gets some wholesale borrowing in some European animation, and creates a blend in both North American and Japanese animation.

As this writing project wraps up, I must admit that I never really expected to complete it.  There are so many different rabbits to chase in the discussion that I intentionally limited my writing and length to prevent posts of insane length.  This one is by far the longest (reaching around 2500 words).  I know I haven’t touched on a great deal of subjects here and maybe a further, more detailed discussion comes up in the future.  Until then though, I hope this sparks a little discussion on the influence (and future of) anime.

Self-Identity and the Nature of Fandom

Alright, I know I am in the middle of a series, but I really need to list discuss this as I’ve tried to write about this topic several times but trash it before completion.

It’s about how we, as fans, react to attacks against our beloved media.

Let me first start by discussing the notion of partisan politics (well, Wikipedia calls it “polarization”).  It’s a fairly complex discussion point but this is an anime blog not a political one…so I’ll try to boil it down for you.

Partisan politics is often defined as sticking to your party’s (or your ideological leaning’s) principles.  It is often looked at as an irrationality, a “with us or against us” mentality which puts it into terms of “with my opinion or against it”.  There is great scrutiny about what process dictates partisanship but it creates a clashes between different groups based on these leanings.  People identify themselves by their party and internalize the values of the party.  This makes any attack against that party a personal attack and creates a much more personal level to the situation.

The above paragraph is somewhat technical so let me supplement it with an example.  Let’s say I live in a country with only two political allegiance: Alpha and Omega.  I normally determine which party I vote for by checking my own values and deciding, based on that and what the parties stand for, that I am most in-line with being either Alpha or an Omega.  But my rationale as a partisan voter is different.  My partisan reasoning would be that I am an Alpha therefore I would agree with Alpha values.  Instead of defining my political stance according to my own beliefs, my beliefs adjust to the political party.

This is a major issue in regards to debating issues.  Filtering out information that is not advantageous to supporting the predetermined position is a major facet of this partisanship.  Of course, this is more than a little debatable but I’ll try keeping this simple and not spend the entire post explaining various factors I believe are at play.  We can certainly debate the meaningfulness of the effects at another point.  Anyways, as this partisanship and polarization becomes a major factor, a filter for information begins to form.  Put simply, the information beneficial to the person’s side reinforces their opinion and they remember it easier while they throw out contradictory information to their stance.  There’s a quote that I’d like to use for this.

Here’s how politics works. There are always two sides. Let’s call them the “reds” and the “blues.”

If you’re a red, the goal is to make the blues look as bad as possible. If you’re a blue, the goal is to make the reds look as bad as possible. If they do something good, you ignore it. If they do something bad, you let as many people know as possible.

Have they raised money for a mental health charity? Don’t report that! Did they kickstart a project to help young women get ahead in game development? Definitely don’t report that! Did one of them send someone a death threat? Stop the presses, we need to get the story out now!

It’s pretty much as simple as that when it comes to bias.  It simply boils down to cherry picking what’s retained.  And this obviously builds a major issue.  All information is information.  Data is data.  Facts are facts.  Losing sight of facts makes it difficult to make well-grounded arguments.  Extreme cases of this bias creates the loud and angry sides yelling at each other on TV.  Two sides that refuse to acknowledge the other side’s valued points. This is when things get scary as the opinion that the individuals generate is not founded in thought anymore.

Now everything I’ve talked about includes only politics until now.  But it’s very easy to extend the argument to other subjects…and that’s where I get scared.  It’s easy to shift the topics from political parties and hot-topic issues to that of fandoms.  Consider movies, video games, anime, or other entertainment areas for example.  To mirror my words above, I may normally determine where I stand on anime related issues by checking my own values and deciding, based on that where I stand on the topic.  However, if I’m partisan in this topic, my would be that I am an anime fan/not an anime fan and therefore I would take the stance of this nebulous group.  It’s a bit of a stretch but I believe that the issues that laden partisan topics rear their heads in entertainment topics…and, of course, it’s this topic I’ll focus on from here on out.

The biggest reason I think these issues could come up is because, at its heart, part of partisanship is the emotional attack.  That an attack on the stance is an attack against the person.  This is just as easy to manage in entertainment mediums as in politics.  Key political divisions include those which ask about morality: abortion, right to die peacefully, and topics of that ilk.  These topics get people emotionally involved and many consider them “wedge issues”, issue which end up dividing groups.  Connecting this back to entertainment, these topics already strike close to home: it’s an entertainment medium and the fans actively pursue it.  An attack against the medium easily translates as an attack on the person because of this close emotional tie.  Blinded vision takes the statement as stated above and sometimes removes the possibility of seeing the validity of the other opinion, a problem as the commentary may have good commentary in it.

An excellent example of that comes from the recent treatment of a CNN report about anime.  It deals with a recently passed law which does not extend towards the anime and manga industry.  Below is their video commentary.  As I still attempt to follow my site’s PG-13 general trend, I’ll make the same announcement news stations give: some may find the content offensive.

The article is poorly done.  There’s no two ways around it.  It’s sensationalist.  Many people will point out that the “explicit” material they censor is nothing more than a slightly violent cover.  A much calmer story about the loophole of anime and manga would suffice.  Maybe it’s just me, but this is what I expect out of traditional news sources these days…pure view bait.  Country doesn’t matter…views generate money and controversy generates views.

But this is where things take a weird turn for me.  Fans watch this article and spin it in directions that make no sense.  I’ll link one below.  If you’re The Anime Fan or one of his viewers, please note that I have the utmost respect for him.   I feel somewhat jealous that he’s comfortable voicing his opinions in a video as I kind of hate my own voice.  I get that this video is a rant and I understand the frustration.  I use his because another user linked the video to me in conjunction with the topic of the CNN post and I have a response from that topic on hand from that topic.

And I’ll take an excerpt from the topic I mentioned above.  I directly address a couple of points in this video and they seem to differ from the rant’s commentary.

[The Anime Man’s] claims don’t match the points in the article and he’s obviously ranting without fully determining how he should pick apart CNN’s article. And it is reactions like this that sometimes scare me. His points aren’t purely founded in fact – he makes connections which clearly don’t make sense if you watch the video. For example, [he] describes it as if the journalist claims there is something wrong with the Love Hina scene (a traditional hot tub scene – I don’t like fanservice and it’s not my cup of tea, but I have no problem with its existence). The reporter says nothing of the kind. He says, and I’m quoting here, “But these are not children and they’re not being r***d. There’s a big difference”. A simple cursory listen will catch that he doesn’t accuse Love Hina of anything like the material he has problems with. This is a sinfully painful inaccurate accusation for [The Anime Man] to make.

Of course, I’m not one to purely pick on one man here.  Everybody makes mistakes and I admit I have a large pile of error posts which I try to own up to when they show up.  Except the concern is the seemingly frequency of such errors.  A petition, actually, multiple petitions go into the method of painting CNN’s argument with a fairly broad stroke (I will say though that the final of the three petitions is fairly well-reasoned in the sense that they don’t focus on the “sexually explicit argument”.  It is arguable though since they never claimed the cover was really bad and even verbally comment “there’s blood there”.  Why CNN censored the cover is up to interpretation  It could be sensationalist or possibly just allowing it to air without issuing a “disturbing content” warning).

And it’s this side of interpretation differences that concern me.  To so degree, I think CNN has an actual story hidden behind the layers of sensationalism and silliness: that anime and manga were no covered as part of the latest law and that there are explicit imagines in some anime and manga.  Does it go much past that?  No.  But I think that argument actually exists.  I’m not sure I agree with it but I think there’s still the argument.  And my fear is sometimes that emotional investment and the anger associated with a personal attack on the hobby causes individuals to ignore that point and to simple build straw men that make it easier to attack the other position.
Let me state that, through all of this, I’m an anime fan.  I can’t think of any other way to describe a person who spends time dreaming about how anime influences the world, who blogs until the early morning about the nuances of anime, and spends an inordinate amount of time putting anime-esc characters in medium that may or may not be anime-esc to begin with.  Anime is part of my identity and it’s hard for me to imagine a world where I’m stripped of my favourite characters, shows, and music…all of which originate from anime or visual novels.  But I also want to keep open dialogue.  Ensuring that the correct statements transfer and that they are properly interpreted is key to understanding debate.  Using the CNN example again, I’m not sure that their point makes sense.  In fact, there are plenty of individuals out there who read it and got the correct statement and rejected it for different reasons.  But what I do want to see is that people interpret the commentary correctly before deciding on it.  A response that occurs because of the close emotional ties without consideration of argument and reasoning itself rarely helps.