When I read a typical figure review at RIUVA, for example, I get bothered by the shameless, fiery passion some people get with whatever the latest polymer idol being reviewed. I think that’s just a fact of life. It’s like talking to some colleagues to kill time, and they go on about something you either dislike talking about or disagree–for example, “Jessica Alba is hawt.” But who am I to say no? I have my own eccentricities as well, and they’re probably less commonly shared than popular idols and actresses.
But what bothers me is how anime fans, by and large, falls into very predictable herds when it comes to “liking” a character design. The oldest memory I have of this was from Escaflowne, and this complaint repeats itself with Nobuteru Yuki’s other works. “Who cares about their noses,” I thought. My opinion of his stuff is pretty high–at least, until he started to recycle his Hitomi designs. Many of them looks full of life, and his faces are expressive because the various elements work together. That’s on top of the fact that his designs are more detail-oriented.
In the age of moe, inoffensive, cookie-cutter designs are the way to go. No one complaints about droopy eyes. Or lacking lips. Or having no nose (this one is kind of across-the-board). Or zettai ryouiki overload. Or having little detail on the rest of the character outside their hair and eyes. Gotta pander and make your show accessible, after all?
So when I tell people “Red Garden is gorgeous!” I actually get weird looks. Pretty? Yeah, it’s by far the prettiest anime this season (Kanon not withstanding). The colors are strong and that highlights its goth-emo tendencies (the Rozen Maiden team is on it, after all). The heavy lines, the angle used (most evident in those scenes when the characters walk down the hallway), the shameless pandering to mood with sweeping landscape shots of the upper east side?
Well, ignoring two very serious problems with Red Garden–its overly superficial take on American school life and excess emo–it has one very interesting packaging. As of 3 episodes I can’t say much about the rest of the show and the depth of it, but even now having seen episode 3 and by rewatching the first two, I am already picking up points of internal consistencies that I missed the first time around. It is meticulous.
But of course, God forbid the use of thick lines in character art in anime. Even more so having to animate something without the use of moe dynamics. I think it’s more than just preferences and eccentricities when something that’s honestly quality gets slammed for being different.
Rocking for Red Garden to Rock the Status Quo? Rock the LM.C!