Thursday, January 11, 2007

Clearing things up...

Since "retiring" from blogging two months ago, I've seen a couple of posts pop up that referenced my blog or that dealt with some things I said. One in particular brought a flood of visitors, Stripey's post. Curious to see what had caused all the fuss, I dropped by Stripey's blog and checked it out. What I saw was, I felt, a misinterpretation of what I had meant to say in my final parting words (the "last post" I ever meant to write for this blog). Please read the post on Stripey's blog before you read my response, which is below in italics. This should clear up, once and for all, what I was trying to say in my parting shot.

Oh yes, and for those of you who stop by to read - I do still check it for comments, and will respond to you if you comment on a post, no matter how old. I am not back to stay, however - I mean this only as a means of clarifying what I said before.

It's disheartening when I read the comments I've seen here in response to Stripey's post, because it's obvious that no one has really given the issue much thought. It also saddens me to see my "last words" being so misinterpreted.

Before I tackle the misinterpretation, I would like to address a few of the "backlashes" I saw in this post against what I "said." Keiichi, the comment right above mine, suggested that typically people who have been watching people for approximately 4 to 5 years find that anime has stagnated, and suddenly begin to dislike anime based on shows only from that time frame. As I've been watching anime for the past twelve years, and have watched shows from the 70s and 80s to present, that obviously does not apply to my case. dsong, dyw1988, and plenty of others raised the valid point that there has "always been bad anime." I don't disagree with this. However, I have seen very few shows this decade that can compare to the "golden age" of the 80s and 90s in terms of quality of storytelling and thematic maturity. There continue to be good shows, but I'd say that there are good shows in spite of the state of Japanese Animation, not because of it.

From here I'd like to move onto what I believe has been a misinterpretation of my post. Many people took a look at the single statement, "anime has stagnated," and given that it was taken out of context assumed that it meant that the writer must have certain qualities (i.e., not that much "experience" watching anime) or must not notice certain generalities that anyone with half a mind can observe (i.e., there are always bad shows). However, my point in my final post was that anime has stagnated for me. Specifically, for me. Two things happen, both of them very personal - I had watched so much anime, and in particular so much mediocre anime, that it burnt me out, and I felt like I was investing too much time in the medium and not leaving enough for other areas of my life that I feel are much more important.

This is why it was so important to read the post in order to understand what I was getting at. In the end, anime is a hugely personal entertainment medium. It caters to individual fantasies, and makes you believe that you are the center of the fantasy (exemplified by harem anime). This makes it very difficult to "dialogue" on anime the way you might a good fiction novel, or the way you would a great movie. You wrap so much of yourself into the story and the characters that you feel like you have your own private world with these people, and it's something that others can't take from you. This is why anime is so addicting, and why people who enjoy it tend to watch so much of it. Who doesn't want their own special world that others can't even comprehend or touch? We can share it to the extent that we say what characters we like, or what particular moments touch us, but we can't really share the depth of feeling that draws us to anime because it's something that lies deep in us, something that we let few people touch.

I could spend a long time arguing about why anime has stagnated in the terms that everyone else seems to have assumed that I meant, but I think it's more important to address what I really was trying to get at. Seeing that I've had so many visits from this site because of that post, I wanted to at least try to clear some of these issues by making a comment, and then posting this comment on my blog. I hope that it will become clearer what I meant to say, and what I didn't.


At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,

My apologies for any distress my post caused. That post was never meant in any way to belittle your anime tastes/pedigree. It began as a personal exercise to crystalise my views on the issue of anime stagnation. Most of the discussion that followed took a life of its own and focused on the generalities of 'anime stagnation' rather than "Michael's brand of anime stagnation".

I believe it was not the commenters' intent to attack your post or you but to vocalise their views on their personal interpretation of this issue just as you have your basis in justifying anime stagnation.

Still, I thank you for clarifying your thoughts. Hope you rekindle your anime flame soon. :)

At 4:44 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Thanks - I hope my comment/post didn't come off as being too aggressive. I didn't want to keep getting visitors who would come in with faulty preconceptions about what views are on this blog, and what it's about. So I thought I ought to explain things a bit more fully.

Anyhow, thanks for even considering the stuff I wrote here worthwhile enough to post about it. I really enjoy reading your blog, and I'm glad the feeling was mutual.

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering what blog to visit in my boredom when yay! I saw a new entry in your RSS feed. =p

I had just finished scanning through all the comments in stripey's blog, and it made me a little sad. To tell the truth, I had read the post a long time ago, but never took it seriously. Why? When I saw AIR on number 1 spot, I immediately cringed. I don't want to belittle AIR fans (or Stripey), but if that was the first one recommended to me
I'd be turned off from watching more anime. The show was boring I couldn't even finish it. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Stripey's watched more anime than I have, I know. But still...again, sorry.

Perhaps, the desire to watch shows of 'substance' is an effect of my age too. As we age, I guess it is normal for tastes to change. If I count my elementary school days, then you could say I've been watching anime (though not continously) for decades. Surely it would tire old-timers to see similar stuff all over again. And since I've seen crappier animation before, the superior visuals of today's shows don't always count as much to me. So I'm not easily swayed with 'oh this looks so much better!' arguments.

The other thing was, I don't share the fascination with harem shows either. That was what made most of the comments invalid to me, in my opinion. Perhaps my opinion could be invalidated too, because I am more a fan of mecha shows. I think if the presence of a lot of popular/successful harem anime is a sign of anime not stagnating, for me that has the opposite effect. On the other hand, shows like Mushishi and Honey and Clover have made me believe that even if there's thousands more harem anime shows out there, there are shows that can still cater to my tastes and entertain me. With that, I can keep on watching anime.

But I have this feeling too, that one day, anime might also 'stagnate' for me. I'm just hoping it's not this year (and I've been very careful not to watch too much anime and suffer burnout in the process). I want my blog to be able to celebrate it's first year anniversary lol.

I guess that's all I can write for now.

At 4:46 AM, Blogger Michael said...

hayase, thanks for dropping by, it's great to hear from you.

Yeah, reading all those comments was quite frustrating, which led me to compose my response in the first place.

It was really weird - the "stagnation" really just hit me suddenly. No real buildup, no feelings of, "eh, this is getting boring." It felt akin to slamming into a brick wall, like I had reached the end of how far I could go with anime. I still watch it, an old series every once in a while that I loved, maybe an episode of a new season, and of course my favorite movies (Jin-Roh, Ghost in the Shell) and series (Samurai X, Cowboy Bebop, etc.). The only thing is, I don't blog about them anymore.

Thanks for stopping by again, maybe one day my flame will rekindle and I'll come back to the blogging scene. And if that happens, you can take me out of Blogger Emeritus.

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the problem with anime today is not the source of the art itself as much as the fact that so many people think that they make work that is just as good. Take a site like deviantART where everyone and his/her mother think that their doodles from 'you can draw anime!' books are as note worthy as Akira. In many ways that site has caused a lot of visual artists to look down at anime and manga in general. Thats one reason I left deviantART for Myartspace and Artwanted because you don't run into legions of people on those sites thinking they are the next great master.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Anonymous: I agree that many people think they are just as good, while putting forth less effort, than animators/storytellers of the past. It's sad, because they don't realize their full potential in doing so. And having been a member of deviantArt, I can certainly respect your decision to leave it.

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Anime is inspiration, which boost creativity .

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