For my new feature here in the Kraken, I’ve decided to started to start documenting my masochistic affair with a game known to the rest of the staff as “Anime Roulette”.
Here’s how to play Anime Roulette:
1. Use the Crunchyroll, Hulu Plus or Funimation app on PS3, PS4, Wii or Xbox 360/XboxOne.
2. Pull up the list of all anime available on the app
3. Scroll fast enough to “outpace” the picture buffer, allowing you to select a random anime series.
4. Watch the first episode of the anime you’ve selected (if nobody’s seen it before), or watch a random episode (for difficulty +1).
5. Cry to whatever false gods you thought protected you.
I’d love to claim that I do this to find those “diamond in the rough” shows that I would otherwise have missed, shows that are worth watching. And every once in a while that’s true (I did discover Blast of Tempest this way). But the real appeal of this “game” is hate-watching a bad show and realizing that not only is the show bad, but that it represents of the aesthetic sicknesses unfortunately present in the medium as a whole. Or as Hayao Miyazaki put it, “Anime was a mistake. It’s nothing but trash.”
But then sometimes you stumble on something like Senran Kagura…
I can’t be mad at a show like that. It laughs at my anger. I can’t complain about the plot, because the show’s response is,
LOOK AT THIS “PLOT,” THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT!!:
Or as a good friend said recently while watching Absolute Duo (note: do not watch Absolute Duo), “The plot is ‘Shut up! Tits!'”
This is camp for our generation–a new form of media that requires the audience to be more media-aware (or hypertextual) in order for them to truly appreciate it. Modern anime is filled with Moe characters and stories, but they don’t exist in a vacuum. Anime creators often skip what in the past might have been considered important characterization or exposition, because they’re participating in a highly stylized and complicated meta-dialogue with their audience. Some of best moments in anime come from these Moe moments–but some of the worst, too. It’s all part of a beautiful, terrible, wonderful, awful, trashy trash tapestry.
I’ve been an anime fan since the late 90s, so I remember when this wasn’t the case. I remember anime before the term Moe and any of its three current meanings. I was an anime fan when fanservice (the sexualization of characters, and the shot composition/directing used to accomplish this) was more like its own separate genre, rather than its current status as the “background radiation” of the medium.
This column gives me a chance to explore not only the question of what anime has become, but also how it got to this point. Modern anime is profoundly inwardly looking, with most anime being based on comics or light novels (YA fiction) which in turn were written by fans of Japanese animation. I hope to use my extensive background with the medium to trace current tropes to their antecedents, as well as their larger meaning within the form.
And now, dear readers, I will begin to share with you my journey throughout this strange and mistaken land, finding new and great and horrible examples of “Animu Trash” totally at random for your shock and amusement. Together, every week, we’ll see if yet another series proves Miyazaki-san right or wrong. Is anime really a mistake? Is it nothing but trash? Find out below.