6/25/2007

State of Anime 2007

What is eternity doing tonight? has become Mega Megane Moé. For the latest posts, please change your links accordingly.
Now I'm sure you'd like a nice fluffy rankings post where I rank Kanon girls using numbers with extreme prejudice, or maybe a nice sugary post with heart-meltingly adorable Tsukasa Stop-Motion (tm), and I suppose, so would I at this rate.

But those are saved for times where the internet actually allows me to upload pictures at a speed faster at which North America is moving away from Europe, so for now, it's time for another discussion post.

Well, there's Yuki in a ponytail in any rate, for the Obligatory Picture.

Although, I must say, these are very interesting posts to read and write. The deep posts that blogs like That's Not Kanon and Cruel Angel Theses (not paid advertisement, but might as well build up a blogroll, hehehe) are always a refreshing change from the usual moe-fest. Or is it? Both are good in its own way.

But the topic for today comes from a forum I visit that's normally associated with racing games like Gran Turismo. There's a small anime community there too, just one giant thread but it's still there. Recently the question came up, "What anime era are we in today?"

It's an interesting question, perhaps because I don't really know the answer myself; if there is one straight answer. Of course, I'll do my best after the jump to give my view on the situation; or at least go wildly off topic with interesting observations.

It's hard to define anime eras, at least from the perspective of a person like me who only seriously started watching a year ago. What would define an era? Is it a specific show? A type of show? Both?

Perhaps it's better to not have anime 'eras' but anime 'trends'. It certainly seems that there are specific trends going in anime.

Ren'ai, aka 'visual novel' or 'dating sim' games, are becoming, at least to me, more prevalent in anime in the 21st century. They make for good anime a lot of the time, for many reasons. Many of them stem from eroge roots, where fanservice is already rooted, so a fanservice anime can be easily crafted (see: first half of Shuffle!). But on the other hand, ren'ai also frequently have very deep stories despite (or without) the sex, and are great 'reads' that can be turned into great 'watches' (see: Kanon). And thirdly, there's frequently a good reason for viewers to tune in, since ren'ai frequently have many paths that can be taken, avoiding the 'chosen girl' trap that, to me, plagues a lot of anime. (see: Shuffle! again)

So, how many of these anime are there? Let me count the ways...

Key and Type-MOON have had a lot of works animated, such as Kanon, AIR, ONE, Clannad and Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and Kara no Kyoukai.

There have been a lot of single anime from other companies as well, such as To Heart 2, Shuffle!, Tokimeki Memorial, and the upcoming School Days. I'm sure I'm missing many in the middle as well.

But this could just mean that ren'ai anime are becoming a staple genre for every anime season, just as random anime (Lucky Star, Doujin Work) and mahou shoujo anime (Nanatsuiro Drops - although this was based on an eroge) seem to be very common. And there's always a market for more questionable anime, wink wink.

It was brought up on the forum that this was an era of 'moe', but this doesn't seem right to me, personally. 'Moe', at least with my loose definition of it, is something that is prevalent in many shows, yes, but it's one of those things that you wonder, when was it NOT a 'moe' era? Cuteness is something that appeals to both side of the spectrums, is it not? Certainly, there is a lot of moe in this era, but is there more of a focus on it than before? That's debateable.

But on that topic, it might be very right as well to call it a 'loli' era, as has been brought up on the MT forums. The spectrum has tilted towards a different sense of barely legal, one of height rather than cup size. There's at least one 'token loli' in many shows now; Konata in Lucky Star; Ayu in Kanon; the imouto in Haruhi; Primula in Shuffle!; loli-in-a-box-and-maid-outfit from sola; the list goes on.

But, that's not an end-all list there. All the anime there share the same characteristics; aside from being watched by me, they're mostly ren'ai or vaguely serious anime.

Perhaps an anime era could be defined by shows as well; the big shows, the ones that everybody knows and has watched. What would be the big shows of this era? Or last era?

Cardcaptor Sakura, from popular (i.e. AnimeBlogger) sentiment, seems to be one of the older icon shows. It's one of those shows for everybody; even though it's aimed at young audiences and a bit predictable, it still has some serious overtones, some adorable - moe - content, and yes, some yaoi.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is this era's superstar as well, almost unquestionably. It's reached meteoric fame in Japan, and in the US it has a strong fan following as well. It's one of the Big Shows.

But certainly it's not just Haruhi that's big. There are other defining shows as well. On the shonen side, perhaps Death Note, even Bleach or Naruto. This is where my analysis will fall flat, as I have not experienced a lot of these anime still. Do these other anime define an era? Does the era define them? It's tough to tell.

Perhaps it is like my AP US History teacher said, in that it is too early to define eras and define the greats yet. Only time will tell, time will clear the subjective and leave the objective. Perhaps let's seal the time capsule, and come back in 2010, 2015, 2020, and see if Haruhiism, sad girls in snow, and lolicons still have the capability to rule the world.

It'd be a great yearly feature, wouldn't it?

-CCY

4 comments:

It's much easier to define an "anime era" by the year rather than the shows because that would cause a rather big... controvery. Esspecially in Haruhi's case.

btw, Yuki in a ponytail is hot. And I never said Yuki was hot in my whole entire life. Maybe I have a ponytail fetish after all~

Good point on that. But how would you divide it by the year? Still you'd have to cut it off at a specific point somewhere, right? Unless you're just talking about dividing it by decades or fixed time dates - but then that misses, I think, the point of sorting anime into periods with specific characteristics. Or something like that.

On a lighter note, though, I hope that at least, you have adored Yuki in some way over the course of SHnY, otherwise... :P

MushroomSamba said...
June 25, 2007 at 7:15 PM
 

"Perhaps it is like my AP US History teacher said, in that it is too early to define eras and define the greats yet. Only time will tell, time will clear the subjective and leave the objective. Perhaps let's seal the time capsule, and come back in 2010, 2015, 2020, and see if Haruhiism, sad girls in snow, and lolicons still have the capability to rule the world."

Although it's generally not considered good practice to observe something so large in scope with your nose pressing right up against it, determining the "defining" anime or trends of the current era seems like a rather plausible feat in this case. One would almost have to be blind and deaf not to be aware of certain elements that are especially common and popular in anime these days.

Like you've suggested, this era may very well belong to the invading flood of loli and moe trends...and, quite frankly, that disturbs me. It's sad to think anime constructed of only fluff and moe can sustain such success these days, and that most otakus can actually live off a strict diet of it.

Also, concerning currently-airing shounen titles such as Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece: You don't have to worry about analyzing them since they aren't exactly qualified as "defining" or unique to this era. The trend of long-winded crappy shounen series have been immensely popular since the dawn of time, and, unfortunately, will most likely continue until the earth explodes.

I've probably pissed off enough people already, so I think I'll stop there. I just hate to think that this era could be heralded for something so shallow and, when considering loli-phelia, just plain creepy.

"The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is this era's superstar as well, almost unquestionably. It's one of the Big Shows."

Its not a Big Show, its only a BIG MEME, nothing else to it.