So, there’s a post idea making the rounds. The idea is simple: List and explain ten unpopular anime opinions you hold. I found out about it at Anime Yume, but it originally came from somewhere else.
And so, I present to you the list, in no particular order.
1: Innovation is overrated.
Much of the praise surrounding shows like The Flowers of Evil or films like Redline is related to how they tried to do something “new” or “experimental,” and I respect that. However, I ultimately think that far too much focus is put on nuance or innovation, and that in the clamour for anime that does something “new,” there’s a loss of appreciation for quality, and in the end, quality is what matters. When the nuance wears off, a work will have to stand on its own and if it can’t stand on its own quality-wise, it’ll be forgotten about, and rightfully so.
2: Sales numbers matter.
A lot of people are put-off by mentions of how well any given anime did market-wise. They say that sales numbers don’t equal quality, that high sales don’t signify a superior anime. I agree with that sentiment, but it’s often used to dismiss discussions involving sales numbers, and that’s bad. Sales numbers matter. It’s important to have quantifiable metrics in an industry that produces an end-product for consumers and while, yes, anime is art, it’s also important to remember that anime is a product of an industry, meant to be brought to market and sold. Low sales numbers might not signify a bad anime (Stella C3-bu was great, but sold very poorly), but it does mean something, and identifying that something is a very important discussion to have.
3: Most dubs are fine.
People like to compare the English dubs of anime with the original Japanese performances, and I think that’s a little unfair. The language can be translated, but there’s no real way to translate a performance. Are there dubs where the cast obviously didn’t even try? Certainly, and this was especially true way back when. Most modern dubs, however, are at least passable. Few will ever be at, say, Cowboy Bebop level, but most are just fine.
4: “Tropes” are a product of the way we think about things.
There’s a lot of complaining about “tropes,” “archetypical characters,” etc. (Especially in the moé debate.) This is misguided. Categorization is a heuristic. It’s a way we break down complex concepts (Such as the specifics of an instance of a particular trope or character archetype) into simpler concepts (The “And I Must Scream” trope or the “Tsundere” archetype, for example) to make them easier to think about generally. They’re not 100% accurate to every specific instance, but they were never designed to be accurate to every specific instance.
5: Elfen Lied was a solid show.
But the show did a remarkably good job at addressing its central theme and even used its gratuity to its advantage to really drive home the point it was trying to make. Some parts were so visceral that I found them genuinely difficult to watch, and that almost never happens for me. The show gets a lot of crap for its violence and nudity, but that’s all in service to a theme, and it’s important to keep that in mind.
6: Besides being a really good anime, there’s nothing otherwise remarkable about Cowboy Bebop.
For all the praise it gets, Cowboy Bebop doesn’t have much going for it. It’s a great show, but it didn’t really accomplish anything besides being a great show. It didn’t launch a franchise like Gundam, or change the course of anime like Evangelion. We don’t hear about Post-Cowboy-Bebop anime. It didn’t even launch much merchandise. Yet somehow, this stand-alone show managed to hit it really big in the fandom, and that perplexes me.
7: Sekai Saionji, not Makoto Itou, is the reason why all the bad things in School Days happened.
Don’t get me wrong: Makoto made a whole lot of stupid decisions and is a pretty disgusting individual, however, none of that would have happened if Sekai hadn’t, halfway through helping Makoto date Kotonoha, decided to seduce Makoto. Thus set in motion the series of events, since Sekai proved to Makoto that it’s easier to just get sex from random girls around the school. The fact that she expected him to stay with her is laughable, since their entire relationship is based on sneaking around behind Kotonoha’s back. She created that monster.
8: There’s too much focus on stuff that isn’t the anime in anime fandom.
Wake Up Girls discussions turn into Yamakan discussions far too often. The entire hype surrounding Space Dandy was based on Watanabe being the director. We get anime criticism that talks about how Show X was “made to sell figures” or about how Show N’s character designs are “dakimakura-ready.” None of this is particularly useful or pertinent to the anime itself. When the question is, “Is the anime good?” talking about stupid crap the director’s said in the past, or about how the show was designed to sell things serves no one. Anyone can look up a show’s director, or can look at a show’s promotional material. How much does any of that really matter as far as the anime being good or bad?
9: Aniplex of America knows what they’re doing.
Scenario 1: Aniplex has carefully examined the anime market in the US and has priced their releases at a price that they believe the market will bear, marketing their product toward a hard-core, collector anime fan audience. They’re marketing toward people who buy this stuff because they want to own it, and I mean really want to own it. They’re not marketing to people who just buy whatever anime looks good every once in awhile. They’re marketing to people who spend money on anime, and are willing to drop over $100 on a show they want to own. Naturally, the Japanese parent company has some say in the pricing structure, especially with Blu-Ray (Reverse-importation concerns and all), but AoA knows the market and knows what they’re doing in it.
Scenario 2: Aniplex of America is completely beholden to their Japanese parent company, must do everything they say, and makes no decisions of their own with regards to pricing. In this case, Aniplex (The parent company) is pursuing a sales model similar to the one used in Japan, in which case complaining definitely won’t help anybody.
10: It’s impossible for fanservice to “detract from” a show.
People talk about how “X was good, despite the fanservice,” or how “The fanservice was distracting in Y,” and I wonder where people are getting the idea that anime is manufactured in parts at different facilities and then bolted together and released. The fanservice isn’t created independent of the rest of the show. It’s there because it was meant to be there. I mean, it’s okay to not like fanservice, but don’t pretend that it just showed up uninvited and started wrecking up the place. The only thing that fanservice being “distracting” means is that the viewer is too easily distracted by sexuality and quite frankly, that’s a personal problem, not a deficiency in the show.
So, readers! Agree? Disagree? Have some controversial assertions of your own? Drop a comment!