I think I watch a lot of anime compared to the average. But I don’t remember a lot of it.
There are some celebrated moments that I will likely never forget. But for every one of those that I came across I would have walked tens and hundreds of miles of mediocrity; hours spent in front of some treadmill TV anime or another. It isn’t that I don’t remember what I saw, but it all blurs after a while.
Perhaps that’s why I started to blog–to capture that initial reaction and post-game summaries. That aside, though, I think it goes to why you watch a show and why not. Some anime are compelling page turners because while you are watching it, you are fulfilling its purpose of entertaining you. But how “deep” does this kind of entertainment get?
Of course, I think we need a wide variety of anime that entertain us in different ways. Nadesico is still my all-time favorite anime because it’s entertaining in many different ways, even if some of them are extrinsic (as in it’s something that I bring to the table). It’s fun to go all fanboy on a show with depth and cleverness.
But a cursory search of my own recollection reveals that some craptastic anime also get nods, too. Cyber Team in Akihabara, for one. The stock footage of the transformation scene is burned in the back of my mind like a cheap CRT display at a department store, running 16 hours a day for years on end. Akahori Hour Love Game’s Love Pheromone is another example of the same, except that one is just LOLOLOL. But you probably won’t find other famous bits like “Pipipirupirupipipirupi” or “Hairdresser Lady vs. Outsider Criminal” in my mind, at least with a cursory search. Maybe I should just say, “I hate you, Akahori Satoru, for wasting my time and memory?”
Of course, the emotionally-charged scenes tend to stick. I, and many others, recall End of Evangelion for that reason. Millennium Actress was another one of those personally. I still remember my first trip with Magic Knight Rayearth. I’m not sure why that was so emotive aside from its crack-cocaine nature on minds unprepared. Cowboy Bebop was also full of these moments.
The real lament comes when I remember all these above-average affairs that just didn’t quite translate into timelessness. Ifurita’s performance in the original El Hazard OAV was probably the most superb, if still unmatched by later efforts, but can we say the same about Speed Grapher‘s Suitengu? We can agree that by 1987, Priss Asagiri was a special kind of heroine, but can we say the same about Robin Sena?
Especially when it comes to mecha anime in the post-Evangelion world. There are so many interesting pieces (Argento Soma, Betterman, Neo Ranga to name a few) but only a few of us will even care about them in relative to the rest of the world. Those in the know will keep looking for more of the same, but the impressionable mass of people will likely to skip and move onto the next fan clamoring.
And fan clamoring is, indeed, where it’s at. Suzumiya Haruhi was by all accounts a fairly normal (save for a couple not-so-special exceptions) anime airing in spring of 2006, with very little hype before its debut. It was a perfect storm by all accounts in how it took the fan scene. Why do people watch Naruto again? Why do people care so much about it?
If anime is a dialog between anime creators, maybe this would all make sense. But in some ways it is, and it it still doesn’t. I suppose it’s probably better to say that some anime is a part of an ongoing dialog, and others are just marketing tools to sell franchises and move books; still anime creators may nonetheless choose to do something interesting in their limited capacities. Cheers up to Tsuyokiss, Gun Parade March, and Shinichi Watanabe!