Posted By Russ on February 8, 2013 at 10:00 am
I revealed my not-exactly-secret-but-not-previously-bruited-about taste for anime a couple of months ago. By “anime” I very specifically exclude garbage that people think of as anime, but isn’t — crap like “Transformers” and so on. Kiddie cartoons. Feh.
Now, there are kiddie cartoons that can be classed as anime — Gigantor, Speed Racer, etc. — that’s how I got my start — but that’s not where my interests are now. I’m interested in the stuff that’s oriented towards adults** — dramas, primarily, though there is a good bit of comedic stuff out there, as well.
It’s not all robots*** and Godzilla-like monsters, either. “Mundane reality” dramas are common, but there is also a major set of what might be called “slightly alternate realities” — stories set in a world that is almost exactly like the present, but with one or two underlying “what ifs” that alter the universe in enough of a manner to allow for the story line. For example, in “Idolmaster Xenoglossia” the world is basically the same as now… except the Moon has disintegrated, thus setting the premise for the story.
And there are the ones that make people wonder “what the heck is wrong with people in Japan?” Titles like the fairly stupid Samurai Pizza Cats, the too-hard-to-describe-in-one sentence Oh! Edo Rocket, or the mind-bending (and hilarious) FLCL.
The ones I find most interesting, however, are the “slice of life” stories, or the historical dramas, such as Kids on the Slope, about a reclusive guy getting out and making friends through the medium of music, or Intrigue in the Bakumatsu, a drama set at the end of the era of the Shoguns, when westerners began having a significant presence in Japan.
Anime, in short, is much like any other visual medium. It’s got drama, comedy, horror, suspense; there’s bad anime, there’s good anime — and there’s great anime. It is, I think, the most imaginative thing going.
You’re free to disagree, of course… while you enjoy the next Hollywood blockbuster based on a board or video game. I hear that based on the box office success of “Battleship,” the military drama “Stratego” will be coming to the big screen, to be followed shortly by “Hungry Hungry Hippos” and “Connect Four.”
One side benefit of anime fandom is exposure to some pretty good music that one here in the US almost certainly would not otherwise hear. There is, for instance, a song I’ve come to like quite a bit, Kouya Ruten (which translates as “The Vicissitudes of the Wilderness”) by what I am led to believe is a group of some renown in Japan, FictionJunction, featuring singer Yuuka Nanri:
[Lyrics and translation can be found here.]
One need not understand a word of Japanese to appreciate the music. It has a classically Japanese feel to it, while retaining a goodly amount of popular appeal. The video kind of tips that off — notice the switching back and forth between classical and modern settings and garb. And the choreography? Pure classical Japanese.*****
My to-do list is rather long, but looking for more from this group is on that list.
* “Entertain Me” (if Google Translate is to be believed)
** “Adult” content — the X-rated stuff — is a sub-genre of anime called “hentai.” Sorry, gang; it’s not my thing.
*** Not all… not even most… but rather a lot of robots. Tech is a Very Big Deal in much of the genre.
**** Which I liked so much I bought the DVD set.
***** Hey, just because I was a Korean linguist† doesn’t mean I ignored everything else.
† No, I can’t understand hardly a word of “Gangnam Style,” except that he seems to be looking for a certain kind of woman.