Memory Problem & The Disposable Nature of Anime

Robotto no Houkou

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!

6 Responses to “Memory Problem & The Disposable Nature of Anime”

  • Adun

    I have the exact same problem. I watch a fair amount of anime and I tend to forget a lot of it. I guess my motto is “Watch all, then forget”. Though there are quite a number of genres, each would have to leave a very good impression for me to remember. But of course series such as Nadesico and Cowboy Bebop still remain in my mind since they are mainstream animes that I have viewed many times.

    But even if a anime series has left a good impression on me, I still tend to forget about it, e.g. the old Kanon series was my favourite over all, yet I forget what happens in parts. Though it’s probably a sign of me losing my memory.

  • omo

    Yea, exactly. Lots of good old shows that I forget. Macross Plus, Gilgamesh, Now and then, Here and there…lots.

  • Skav

    Well, I’m not sure the “disposable nature of anime” is involved.
    I had the exact same feeling with books, read hundreds, and everything seems blurred now, even the masterpieces. Actually the “multimedia” nature of anime tends to give stronger memories than the pure imagination I get from book reading.

  • omo

    I’m not sure either. But I’d say even a lot of the masterpieces were disposable entertainment at first. A lot of William Shakespeare, for instance. So let’s leave that aside.

    But I do get the feeling that a lot of anime out there are the watch-and-forget kind of thing. They’re meant to entertain for the moment and not leave the viewer leaving thinking about it.

  • TheBigN

    It’s a bonus when you can also get people thinking about something you’ve done, but what does it mean for the company that produced the anime, other than feeling pleased that their effort ended up holding people’s attention more than expected?

  • omo

    I’m not sure. In a sense fan clamoring is just that. It increases their economic bottom lines in many ways. But on the other hand some works are very mentally inquisitive but are NOT popular, so it’s hard to say in those instances.

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