Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pet Peeves #1: Anime

Since they've been making literary criticisms over at Action Skeptics, Good Math, Bad Math, and probably lots of other places, I might as well do my sharing of whining and moaning about problems with the things I love. The topic today is clichés and such that I'm sick of. I'm fairly anime-oriented in this one, but some of these things are pretty universal:

1. Let's save the world! I really hate it when the stakes start inexplicably going up to that level. Saving a city, kingdom, or space colony is good enough. No need to get absolutely everyone involved.

2. The power of universal positive thinking: It's mostly in kiddie anime, but it occasionally leaks out into other things to my annoyance: Everyone in the world gives their positive thoughts, power, whatever to the heroes who use that to vanquish the villain.

3. Power level 10^42: Dragon Ball Z is obviously THE biggest offender. As I see it, character power curves are supposed to level off. At that point, conflicts are supposed to get more innovation-oriented: The latest villain has some gimmick that makes him hard to combat effectively. The heroes' job is to figure it out and overcome the problem.

4. I'm THE hero! The rest of you are just extras!: I hate it when a series picks one character to do all the big heroics while the others helplessly watch. If you've got a team of heroes, they should work together. The new guy is entitled to shine just a little more, but each person should serve a purpose other than buying time for the alpha character to arrive.

5. I'd like to thank all the little people for doing nothing: Just once, I'd like to see the nameless soldiers of the JSSDF kick the monster's keister without help from the über-mechs piloted by kids with nothing but spunk.

6. Über-mechs piloted by kids with nothing but spunk: Whammy: I tend to dislike the idea of super-mechs when you've got a world full of mechs. If they're super-prototypes secretly built by elite organizations, that's fine. If there's a mech shop around every corner, you'd expect the gap between production models and super-duper prototypes to be much smaller. Double-whammy: Kids shouldn't pilot mechs so easily. If the kid was genetically engineered, born, and raised in the military to fight, I can deal with that. Some middle-schooler climbing into a machine he's never seen before and gaining instant top-gun status not so much. He should have trouble just looking for the ignition key.

7. Pink explosions: Seems to be a recent phenomenon in anime. I know the big orange balls are unrealistic, but I'll take them over the pink explosions. Personally, I'd rather see something like a mech getting swiss-cheesed by shells, or maybe one big hole in the pilot area followed by a limp fall.

8. Sentient, silent mechs: If a mech is sentient, it should have some way to communicate beyond sometimes getting stubborn when someone other than The Chosen Pilot tries to operate it. Organic and magical mechs get more leeway on this front.

9. "Energy": DBZ's another big offender, but not the only one.

10. "They thought of themselves as gods.": Often used to describe the ancient extinct civilization that made The Big Mistake. More likely, it was just a bunch of people complaining about how long it takes to teleport to work plus a handful who tinkered with something new and didn't have enough failsafes.


Infophile said...

Heh, when I read the title I thought you were going to say that Anime itself was one of your pet peeves.

But anyways, once you get into almost any show deep enough you can spot a formula for it. Anime is particularly bad as so much of it follows the same formula.

Don said...

I've noticed that no country seems to rival Japan, or even come close, for sheer creative output. So much anime and manga, all over the place. Tokyo hosts the world's largest comic convention, Komiket, and it sees over 100,000 attendees every year. San Diego comicon can't touch that.

With such a huge volume of anime, it seems that the "90% of everything is crap" rule is made extra noticeable. I love anime, and I've clocked many, many hours of it, but most of it is absolutely terrible. A pet peeve of mine I wonder if anybody has noticed: anime that is really good until the ending. Sometimes the last episode, like Eva. Sometimes it goes from awesome to crap in the last 2 minutes, like Last Exile.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Oh no! I haven't finished Last Exile yet!

But seriously - do you suppose anyone would actually think of themselves as gods? Oh, sure, the occasional wacky Go'auld, but even most of them knew better. Or is this for certain specific values of "gods"?

Infophile said...

But seriously - do you suppose anyone would actually think of themselves as gods? Oh, sure, the occasional wacky Go'auld, but even most of them knew better. Or is this for certain specific values of "gods"?

It might be more along the lines of "playing god." That is, tinkering with aspects of nature some morally judgmental person believes shouldn't be tinkered with.

Anonymous said...

The easy way to avoid those pet peeves, of course, is not to watch shonen.

Of course, watching other genres has its own pitfalls. After watching Ah! My Goddess, for example, I have to face the reality that I have no chance with mortal women, and by extension would have even less of a chance with a goddess.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, pretty much spot on. Even some of the series I really liked do these things. (The entire second half seems devoted to Neon Genesis Evangelion. ;))

But the best series are blissfully free of this stuff, like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. (Hmmm...)

Bronze Dog said...

I love Neon Genesis: They do a good enough job to get away with the cliches. Thought-controlled mechs help out the pilots, for one thing, and Shinji's inexperience and immaturity get him into a fair bit of trouble. (But, as pointed out, the end of the series doesn't fit.)

Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo are very high up on my list.

Don said...

I find that anything Shinichiro Watanabe is associated with (Bebop, Champloo) is pretty good. Full of style and flair and just a hint of anachronism. He really pulls of strange concepts like jazz-noir in space and hip-hop samurai. He's kinda like the Miyazaki of anime TV series.

Bronze Dog said...

If there are any gods out there, Miyazaki is one of them.

Infophile said...

Don't forget about Excel Saga, I believe he was involved in that as well (as a character, no less).

Anonymous said...

"Don't forget about Excel Saga, I believe he was involved in that as well (as a character, no less)."

The common mistake. Nabeshin, as the character is called, is the avatar of Watanabe Shinichi - not to be confused with Watanabe Shinichiro of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.

Infophile said...

I suspected that might have been the case; I just considered it too unlikely to have two anime bigwigs (and Nabeshin has such a big wig) with such similar names. Ah well, I stand corrected.

But this doesn't take away from the fact that Excel Saga rock1

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