No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
Best Animation Style Ever

Firefilm | 5 Mar 2012 16:00
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Dan:Holy balls, do I have a lot of explaining to do! No time to explain about the points, just assume points were awarded based on solar flares.

First off, between the metric ton of comments on the forums, and the plentiful posts on the Facebook portion, I have been suggested a lifetime's worth of anime to watch. I want to thank you all, and to let you know I intend to try as many of your suggestions as I can.

Secondly, many of you have tried to decipher why I don't like anime. Frankly, I've never been that clear on what exactly bothers me about it, but honestly the postings you wrote have helped me a great deal in narrowing it down. Let me share my revelations.

Batman: The Animated Series is clearly a western animation, and one of my favorites. So I will use it as the prime example of all that I like of that medium. On the other side of the table I will use Afro Samurai. Why that choice, you ask? Three reasons; It's got an American actor dubbing it, so the translations should be accurate, it's more recent, and I watched it over the weekend so it's fresh in my mind.

Why do I like Batsy? With a modicum of background knowledge on the character, you can watch any episode, jump in at any point, and understand exactly what people's motivations are and why things are happening. The episode "Heart of Ice" won an Emmy, and elevated Mr. Freeze from a paltry ice villain into the layered wonder we know today. If I suggested that episode to you, all you would have to do is watch it; no need to watch an entire season or read a comic book to prepare yourself. One of the bigger problems I have with anime, a problem I didn't see Afro fixing, is that you can't just jump in. You either start from the beginning and watch an entire season, or you have to ask 15-20 questions of someone who did before you have any idea what is going on. "Why does that guy have a bear head on?", "Do the headbands have magic powers", "Can anyone else see that crazy guy talking to Afro?" When I say I hate anime, one of the reasons flashing in my head is that it has a very steep time price for entry.

Many people have corrected me in my statement that Aeon Flux was anime, rather that it was made in the USA. I regard anime as something that looks like anime, not something that was made in Japan, so I stand by my statement. However, why do I dislike that look? Well, back to "Heart of Ice", we see Mr. Freeze having goggles. And yet even with a heavily synthesized voice and a lack of view to his eyes, those unblinking red dots convey a cold sadness that speaks volumes. Back to Ol Afro Jackson, we keep getting these close-ups on people with overly drawn, hyper-realistic faces and eyes. There are so many lines drawn, and so many veins in the eyes, one gets lost trying to figure out of the character is in pain, happy, or was just thrown out a spaceship airlock. The stupid bear-head character does have unblinking eyes, but it just ends up looking out of place. So when Aeon Flux comes along with the same thousand-vein-bulging eyes, I tend to turn off.

Sometimes when I try to watch anime and I don't understand something, I will ask "Why did that just happen", or "What does that mean?" The answer may be valid, but more often than not, it's just "Because it's anime." That is unacceptable to me, and Bats has never caused me to utter those words. Why does Mr. Freeze have red circles for eyes? "Because he's wearing goggles." Why does he wear goggles? "Because he is in a suit that keeps him cold so he can stay alive, there was a chemical spill." Done, and Emmy-award winning. Why does that guy have a robotic bear helmet on? "Because ... well you missed that episode, but he was a kid ... he got beaten ... the bear represents ... because it's anime."

So those are some of the reasons I don't enjoy anime, and I hope that you now realize that when I say "anime", what I mean is any animation that harbors these qualities. Some western animation gets lumped in there (12oz Mouse, some episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, etc.) There are eastern animations that don't have these qualities, though I have yet to see them personally. I don't judge anything I haven't seen, and stated as much in the episode.

Ever since I started leaking my opinions about anime into episodes, people have wondered what my gripe was. We thought an episode explaining it would be good, but honestly our debates are completely improv and I didn't explain myself as well as I should have. From time to time I will let you guys know what I think of the suggestions you gave me, as I have time to watch them. Maybe we'll even return to this debate topic in the future. Maybe ...

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