The Otakusphere: Pacing Problems, cultural literacy and the evil that is Bandai Visual

So I’m back with another roundup on my thoughts on some of the big posts I’ve come across. Or at least posts that I thought were important. Well… maybe important is to big of a word. Perhaps, interesting?

Anyways, lets get on with it.

To be fair, I’ve had far away and no where bookmarked for a long time, but after reading this treatise on cultural literacy, I’ll definitely be checking back more often. I’m kind of torn on the whole thing though. To be fair, I’ve always been fascinated with how groups define themselves. Although I do have a sense the next post is going to contain references of how we as a subculture create our own myths and then create an in-group/out-group dynamic.

Also, it seems that reddit has an anime section. This seems like an awesome way to both build the community (if you’re one of those people who believes in community), or just get more hits on your blog (if you’re an attention starved blogger like um… yeah anyways.)

Only the Bitch Knows had a pretty fascinating post on Shigofumi (and Bandai Visual’s release on it). The first part brought up an interesting point about pacing, stating that slower shows are more complex. It’s not something I really agree with. I think slower shows have more of a chance for interpersonal drama and reflection, but if dot Hack is a horribly complex show, then I’ll stick to my “mecha-porn fests” (as Owen called them in this post)

All of that said, the real meat of the post revolved around Bandai Visual’s release of the show. Now in all fairness, I’m still not a fan of the idea of “buying to support the industry”. I’m a much bigger fan of the idea of “buying because you enjoy the show.” And while I don’t really like BV’s pricing structure, I have to say “not buying to punish the company” isn’t a really sound idea either.

And to finish it all off a man that needs no introduction, Owen S. wrote a really long diatribe on true tears. Now I haven’t seen the show. I don’t really have any intention of seeing the show. I’m still trying to catch up so that I’m even with all the people who’ve seen all of these show, and am a bit concerned about talking about stuff that is two or so years out of date.

That said, he made an interesting distinction about eliminating taste from judging whether a series is good or not good. Now since I agree that you have to take taste into account, I don’t think it’s a factor that can be eliminated because on some level you have to make a judgment about whether you think a show went far enough, did enough, was dramatic enough.

And that in the end is all personal taste.

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  1. I definitely think it’s important to understand a blogger’s taste in anime before knowing how to ‘weigh’ their opinions against your own. A good example is the current flavor of the month, “true tears”; the harem/school-romance fans are talking it up right now, like they did with “ef a tale of memories”, “school days” and even “elfen lied”, but I’m yet to see a review of it from a blogger who, like yourself, isn’t typically drawn to that genre in the first place. Much as the harem fans might love it, they are biased by their taste for that genre, so it’s hard to read into their hyperbole without a healthy dose of cynicism.

  2. @bateszi – The funny thing is that I’m almost tempted to watch these shows so I can give an outside opinion on whether they’re good or not. The harem genre all told has gotten kind of wierd from what I’ve heard about it. And by wierd, it seems like it’s not the same genre that was there when I originally started watching anime (back in *cough* 1996 *cough*).

  3. I don’t buy all this genre snobbery talk, but that’s just me. I’ve come to the conclusion that being so obsessed, or “intensely preoccupied”, if you prefer, with what it appears to be, as opposed to what it is, is a no-no for me.

    The thing with labels is that they’re useless if the disparity between shows are great. This works for the most part in a sea of indistinguishable shows, but bateszi’s lumping in of ef, School Days, and Elfen Lied shows how weak this viewpoint is in practice, despite it being ideal in theory. ef differs greatly from School Days in its approach, what they do, and what they say — even Elfen Lied as an example is bad since it isn’t at all in sync with what ef and School Days try to do respectively.

    A better example would be saying how all shounen shows are the same. Which is unjustified bullshit, I’m sure, since for every One Piece Naruto and Bleach out there you have dark horses like TTGL piercing their way to the heavens, etc. It would be like collectively lumping GITS:SAC, Ergo Proxy, TEXHNOLYZE, Haibane Renmei and Ghost Hound in a corner just because it seems difficult and hard to approach, effectively assigning it to the “mindwank” genre. Which is also a bad generalisation.

    What I’m getting at here is the idea that characters can be analysed separately from the show and it’s pretentious to think otherwise, since I deem it possible to isolate them from the genre that invites so much flak. I don’t buy hiding behind “personal tastes” as a reason for rejecting a show, since that implies that the genre itself is the one responsible, when it’s actually your own bias against things that makes it supposedly unpalatable. Watch it for the characaters, which, as I’ve written at length about, are more realistic than anything Square Enix ever tried to do, with both The Spirits Within and Advent’s Children.

  4. “Buying to support the industry” seems like a failing idea from the start. If what is produced (or distributed) isn’t appealing then it will not sell. Fansubs and illegal copies of regional DVDs are what are cutting into the profits of the companies, but what exactly can be done. Stopping downloads isn’t feasible. A new economic distribution and pay model, perhaps? … I’ll stop because I’m sure it’s been said already.

    As for True Tears, I’ve been saving Owens post for when time is more plentiful. I haven’t seen it either, but from what I know it seems to be worth the watch.

  5. @ Owen – On the face of all that, I agree with you. Genre is useful for providing a guide to what you may or may not like. Yes, to say that all harem shows are the same is “unjustified bullshit”. Much like saying all shounen shows are, or all mecha shows are.

    But the reason for genre is because those shows have similiarities. When someone says “slice of life”, I know it’s going to be a show without an overarching plot that focuses on the day to day aspects of life for a select group of people. That simply allows people to choose whether or not they like that type of show. Now that doesn’t mean said show is good or bad, but it does help people find shows that match their personal tastes. I could say the same thing about harem or “mindwank” or giant robot or anything other type of genre. What a specific show might do might be stellar, but like you said the genre does help in sorting out the mass of more generic titles.
    And I agree that a show can be analyzed outside of the genre. But I don’t think a show can be analyzed outside of a person’s individual tastes. Much like the myth of objective journalism, the goal is to be fair and to take those tastes into account. Then to provide a sound argument.

    I mean, hell, I liked the first four episodes of Air.

    @ j. valdez – Yeah, it just seems like a merry-go-round that we can’t stop until the industry decides what it wants to do. But I’ve heard that argument before (about buying to support the industry) and it just seemed flawed.

  6. @Owen: I’m tending to agree with iniksbane’s above comment, I don’t believe in objective journalism. If you happen to enjoy harem anime (which you do), you’re more likely to launch into hyperbole about harem anime. Fundamentally, “ef a tale of memories”, “school days” and even “elfen lied” are about the main character being surrounded by a bunch of adoring girls. Indeed, I’m the same with action/shonen-jump anime, there’s just something about the formula of certain genre that we love. So basically, if I said Monkey D. Luffy is the greatest anime character of all time, I doubt you’d take me seriously. But if you said it, I’d probably believe you 🙂

  7. […] other news, the discussion over at In Search of Number Nine and a later post by Cameron Probert reminded me that I should stick to […]

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