Bristle’s Babbles #5 – ‘The Savagery of the Modern Anime Community’

NOTE: Old post, sorta rambly. Also, my perspective is different on this issue today.

Let me begin by saying this isn’t intended to be cynicism, but rather displeasure towards cynicism. The Anime community pretty much as a whole has become extremely jaded and miserable, to the point Anime loses a bit of its flare as a unique and somewhat pulpy art form because of the attitudes of many who are deeply into it. So many people dedicate most of their lives to Anime not for the experience but for the gratification of “good taste”, as bragging rights that allows them to throw around buzzwords like “pleb” and to look down on others for having what they believe to be inferior tastes.

One of my main problems with these mentalities is the standards they force on themselves that they actively struggle to maintain even when they look absolutely ridiculous and have to resort to obnoxious sarcasm. One of these is when it comes to English dubbing. English dubbing has come a long way in the last couple decades, to the point it’s become a professional industry with experienced and recognised voice actors. Besides the majority of Sentai Filmworks’ dubs and a chunk of Funimation’s dubs it’s pretty consistent in quality what you get. There have been plenty of dubs that have been able to match the original Japanese version in quality, and even some that have surpassed it. Despite that the easy access to subbing means people are berating dubs as all being inherently bad. If you go to any 2 minute trailer previewing an upcoming English dub you’ll be certain to find comments along the lines of “MY EARS THIS ANIME IS RUINED FOREVER”. A two minute trailer isn’t going to sell you very often on its voice acting, that’s common sense. It gets even more ridiculous when people complain that the dub is going to be censored. 95% of English dubs are uncut these days. This is 2014, not 1995. It gets even more nasty when the person argues that every Anime is an extremely rigid and delicate artistic vision that is inherently worse when interpreted differently. As Johnny Yong Bosch said once, dub voice actors are “voice ACTORS, not voice IMITATORS”. For better or for worse, you’re going to have to simply accept that the majority of English dubs are going to have a different interpretation of things to the Japanese version.

Another thing which bugs me is the “moeshit” stigma. Moe Slice of Life shows are mostly seen by self-proclaimed elitists as pandering cash cows no better than your average Harem. Not everything is for everyone, but almost all slice of lifes have undeniable charm. K-ON!, which tends to be the number one victim of the stigma, is a series I can honestly say from a critical perspective was a very good series which concluded on a very simple but moving note. The aesthetics and presentation aren’t simply flashy and high-budget in these shows, there’s always a great sense of atmosphere in how it’s presented that displays a great deal of heart being put into it. Even when these shows have every intention to pander to sexual frustrations, the beauty is that it often allows you to interpret it as simple whimsical innocence, and while it’s merely an interpretation it’s still something valuable you can take out of the shows. I really don’t think moe deserves to be as big a target as it is, there have been far more tasteless trends to come out of Anime.

As an aspiring critic, though, the one thing that bothers me most of all is when shows with profound artistic value are shoved aside as pretentious dribble. Neon Genesis Evangelion is one such victim. Neon Genesis Evangelion, all long explanations and interpretations aside, is a series which is meaningful because it perfectly represents the introverted Otaku audience through its protagonist Shinji and uses him to challenge their attitudes for the sake of showing them how to better themselves. As most of you will know that message has been lost on a lot of Anime fans and Evangelion is generally seen as nothing more than “a dark mecha with a crybaby protagonist”. Any qualified film or television critic would tell you it’s not really very difficult to understand or very challenging to appreciate as a whole. If you honestly think it is then you wouldn’t be able to last 30 minutes with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even people who like Evangelion get the wrong idea. They like it for being a “dark mecha”, and ended up hating Evangelion 3.0 because they saw the bare bones of what the original Evangelion was and didn’t get it. For more on that, it’s worth checking out this article here (http://wrongeverytime.com/2014/02/10/once-more-with-fury-rebuilding-evangelion/). It’s not just Evangelion. Aku no Hana’s brilliantly disturbing presentation was a laughing stock for a week or two when it came out, and Tatami Galaxy is often called “endless eight for hipsters”. I’m not defending the fans of moe or more artistically deep shows, fans from both categories are often at each other’s throats with the rubbish complaints I mentioned.

There’s a lot of Anime fans who are constantly outspoken but just don’t have much general critical sense, and they come in so many different varieties that I could stay here forever if I listed all of them. In general, I think many Anime fans just have bad attitudes. I say this as a fan of Anime who loves watching it and discussing it, and while it seems unlikely I hope things get better in Anime communities.

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