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Posts Tagged ‘Anime’

If you were alive and in elementary school in 1997, chances are that you were a part of the Pokemon craze.  You watched the show, played the Game Boy, and collected the cards.  Heck, you (like me) probably knew the PokeRap by heart.  Even to this day, a good majority of you can and will recite the theme song at the drop of a dime.  And we all know the basic gist of the story.  10 year old Ash Ketchum sets out on a journey to catch all (originally) 150 (or 151 if you count Mew) and become a Pokemon master with his partner, Pikachu.  On the way he finds and travels with some friends (Misty and Brock…also Tracy for some time until Brock returns) and continues battling and catching pokemon in hopes of becoming said Pokemon master.

 

This is another one of those ongoing, never ending series.  Obviously Nintendo knows what they’re doing.  Pokemon is one of their largest and most popular franchises and when something makes money, chances are that the franchise won’t come to an end until it fails to create a profit.  Now I’ve already done the rundown on the issues of having an ongoing series in this post.  So I’ll do my best not to reiterate anything that’s already be stated there.  But Pokemon comes with it’s own host of issues.  And the fans have their own host of issue as well.  For now, I’ll start with the fans…

 

There’s an understandable lure that nostalgia has on our memories.  Try thinking about something you loved as a child but haven’t seen in years.  And look at a newer variation of it that has a new host of characters, settings, and challenges.  Perhaps even a completely different art style.  Somehow the newer version doesn’t look nearly as good in your eyes because you had such a strong love for the older version.  This is the appeal of the first generation of Pokemon to fans of the series.  The more Pokemon designs they created the more they dislike the designs of future generations.  Gen. 2 was still fairly decent.  Gen. 3 was okay.  Gen. 4 was bad.  And Gen. 5 was despised.  By time the generation for the Black and White games came out, fans had convinced themselves that the older designs were tons better than the new ones.  That Nintendo needs to stop creating pokemon designs because the new ones are absolutely terrible.  They’ve convinced themselves that Gen. 1 was the best because all the designs were based off of real animals and/or mythical beasts.  This logic fails miserably.  Because nostalgia seemed to block out such Pokemon like Grimer, Muk, Ditto, Magnemite, Magneton, and Porygon.  All creatures based off of immobile, non-living objects and all from the first generation (by non-living I mean non-organic, flesh and blood beings).  What’s the difference between a magnet creature or toxic waste creature and a gear or garbage creature?  Or even an ice cream one?

 

As for the series, the problem it has is repetition.  Constant repetition.  Nothing completely new has happened in the story in years.  Every time Ash ventures to a new region, he drops all the Pokemon he had except Pikachu, obtains a new starter Pokemon, and sets out to gather all the gym badges and fight whatever leagues there are.  All the while Jessie and James continue to try to steal Pikachu nearly every episode and fail every time.  If you started from episode one, you know the basic story for every season following.  Story is important.  While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a small bit of repetition in a story, when the entire story repeats itself that is a story failure that should have been fixed in the pre-production phase.  Or the alternative is to just end the series.  Once you find that there is nothing new you can do with your story, that’s a sign that the project should end.  Let the series end with a bang rather than drag it out until you’ve wrung everything you could from it.  Because at a certain point, the audience will slowly fall away.

 

But in the end, it just comes down to money.  For all the faults it has as a television series, Pokemon is brilliant when it comes to merchandising.  All the creatures they can make toys and stuffed animals off of, all the games they can make, all the shirt and product designs…it’s a cash cow.  And Nintendo’s out to milk Pokemon for all they can get.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to be a fan and attempt to “catch ’em all”.  How about you?

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Well all know them.  The popular anime series that continue running for hundreds and hundreds of episodes due to the popularity of the series.  Perhaps the creators intended for such shows to be shorter but as the series grew more and more popular, they had to cater to the needs of the public.  And what the public wanted was more of the series.  Or perhaps the plan was to have an ongoing series from the beginning.
These shows tend to be guilty pleasures for a lot of us.  We all know someone who’s a large fan of Bleach, Naruto (I lump Shipudden and Shounen Hen in this group), or One Piece.  We get hooked on these series early, become invested in the characters, and put in considerable time following it that perhaps we feel that we must finish the series…or at the least follow it as long as we can until we completely tire of it.

 

My guilty pleasure series is Detective Conan, a 617+ episode series about a high school detective (Shinichi Kudo) who is poisoned while spying on two men in black.  The poison backfires however and the result is that he is turned into a child and uses the alias “Conan Edogawa” so that no one (including his friends) can figure out his real identity.  Though along the way a few people end up finding out and of course his family find out.  As this post’s purpose isn’t to review the series in full, I don’t need to write a full description.  I’m just using this particular series as an example to show the problems that can happen with a long running series.

 

Detective Conan started off on at a rather steady pace.  And for the first 50 or so episodes, you can visually see the story going somewhere.  The basic gist of the story is that “Conan” (Shinichi) continues to solve various crimes in hopes that he picks up clues about the “Black Organization” and their drug, APTX 4869.  It’s a rather straightforward plot.  But the main issue is that the series continuously veers further and further away from the plot in order to drag the show on and on.  The smartest decisions they’ve made are to strategically insert nibbles of actual plot into the series when the series begins to veer too far away from the plot.  This keeps the audience interested by reminding them that they haven’t forgotten about the main plot.  It just takes a bit of time to get there.  The other smart decision is to insert something unique and interesting such as the London Arc or the recent insertion of a new detective named Sera into the manga.  This reminds the audience that the story can still be eye catching and interesting even when the main plot seems so far away.  Not to mention the addition of Sera spiced things up quite a bit.  As she’s a sudden addition and I want to know how her character will progress in further chapters.

 

But there is a grave downside to this as well.  While inserting nibbles of actual plot into the series is a great idea, the mistake with Detective Conan is when they do insert actual plot into the series, they quickly yank it away within a few episodes.  Right when you think the show might be going somewhere, it doesn’t.  Doing it a time or two is fine.  Just so long as it actually fulfill what it sets out to do.  But after 617 episodes, nothing has still happened.  They haven’t gotten any closer to defeating the Black Organization.  They haven’t gotten very many clues on the experimental drug.  Nor are they any closer to restoring Shinichi’s body to normal.  In fact, many of times I completely forget that Conan is Shinichi.  If you can delete a good majority of the series and leave just the parts that contain details that pertain to the plot, it’s a good sign that most of the series is unneeded.  Granted that would mean cutting some fun cases, but I would rather have the show (and manga too) continue to follow a plot rather than having cases that have no purpose.

 

I’m no storyteller.  In fact, writing stories is a weak point for me.  And I understand that writing long stories is easier than writing short ones.  It might be a normal thing for storytellers to write long stories in the beginning.  But part of the story writing process is cutting and editing out unnecessary details.  Getting rid of the parts that do not help further the plot.  And somehow this editing process was forgotten.

 

The public always knows what they want.  And the media should take into consideration what the public does want.  If they don’t, then their show, comic, song, etc. won’t be a success.  But don’t forget the integrity of the story in the process.  Don’t sacrifice what’s good to appease people.  If you have a good product, you will find an audience for it.  And just because a product has a large audience doesn’t always mean the product is good.  There’s nothing wrong with having a longer series.  But if you find that the show you’re making is more “filler” than plot, perhaps you should take a better look at your scripts and see if there’s anything your show can do without.

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There’s something that I notice at anime conventions and it’s that there is a silent disrespect and hatred for the furry fandom.  It seems some “otaku” place themselves on a pedestal over furs.  I understand that at an anime convention it is conventional for people to cosplay as anime characters.  So furs that dress up as pokemon or digimon or any other creatures related to an anime series are generally left alone.  But there’s a silent double standard in the anime fandom and it’s that you can costume as any character, anime related or otherwise, but god forbid you fursuit as your personal character!  Or god forbid you sell “furry”/anthropomorphic art in artist alley.  People will talk about them behind their backs as if somehow they are greater than the other person.  And this isn’t just limited to the furry fandom.  Anime fans get their fair share of hatred.  Anime in America is thought of as a fad that will disappear in time.  People who like anime are thought of as immature or “wannabe Japanese” people.  God forbid a person shows a genuine interest in the language or culture as well as likes anime.  They will be thought of as a “weaboo”.  And what about sci-fi and comic book fans?  Their like of cosplaying as their favorite characters at conventions is always fodder for late night comedians to poke fun at.  They’re thought of as the 40 year old, overweight virgins who will never get a girl because of his “insane” interest in Star Wars or Superman.  Yet there still seems to be a ranking system of fandoms within fandoms.

 

But does no one ever notice how fandoms always overlap?  Anime fans have their conventions.  Furries have theirs.  Heck, there’s even a convention for Power Rangers fans.  And comic book fans have Comic-con and other variations like C2E2.  And sci-fi fans have their conventions.  For every fandom you can think of, there is a convention for it somewhere in the world.  But for the purposes of this entry, I’ll only be focusing in on connecting anime, comics, tokusatsu and furry.

 

There’s one thing that all these fandoms have in common and it’s that they’re more alike than their fans would like to believe.  I’m a new fan of Japanese tokusatsu and an old fan of anime and furry.  Japanese tokusatsu and anime are easily connectible as they’re both forms of media that come from the same country.  Not to mention series like the Super Sentai series and Kamen Rider can sometimes read like a live action anime.  But where does furry fit into the scenario?  Very easily.  In the furry fandom, many anime series tend to be very well loved because critters are the focal point of a few popular series.  Pokemon, Digimon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Wolf’s Rain are four of the most popular.  Animal and/or shapeshifting characters from other series are equally as popular.  Ein from Cowboy Bebop, Mokona from just about everything that CLAMP has made, or some two of my personal favorites, Spinel Sun and Keroberos from Cardcaptor Sakura.  As for furry-type characters in tokusatsu, you’ve got anything from Godzilla to the more animalistic yummies in Kamen Rider OOO (IE: the bird type yummies created by “lost” Ankh).

 

What about a connection between American comics and Japanese comics (manga)?  At it’s simplest, comics and manga are both stories told through image and text.  Nothing more, nothing less.  People seem to think of anime and manga as a genre of it’s own without realizing that just like American comics and animation, Japanese media is separated into genres such as shounen (meant for boys), shoujo (meant for girls), action, horror, comedy, “mahou shoujo” (magical girl), psychological thriller, and so on and so forth.  There’s a good chance that if you have a genre/subject that you like in American comics, there’s a manga out there that you might enjoy as well.

 

I don’t have to do a rundown of every detail of every fandom to show the constant overlap between them.  My point’s been made just fine.  People have different interests and sometimes those interests collide.  But if there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that we’re a part of the fandom(s) because we have similar interests to others and we want and need to have people in our lives to share that interest with.  We come together, cosplay and support one another in our endeavors because it’s fun.  And in the end that’s all it ever needs to be is fun.  There doesn’t need to be any ranking or comparing ourselves to one another.  We don’t need to shun a person expressing being a furry at an anime convention or being an anime fan at a sci-fi convention or a comic book fan at a furry convention.  Because when you get right down to it, that person also shares your interest.  Or else they wouldn’t be there in the first place.

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I have friends that like this series and this seemed like something that would be right up my alley for shows to watch.  It has animal transformation which is a subject that I’ve found fascinating since childhood.  So I figured that I would give the series a shot.

 

So I watched episodes one and two.  And these two episodes, while they were adorable, had major flaws that I could particularly overlook.  One of my pet peeves in a series is when major plot points aren’t fully discussed head on.  And a major plot point in this series is the creation of the Mew Mews.  You have two high school students (Ryou Shirogane and Keiichiro Akasaka) who somehow spearhead this large plan to infuse specific people with the DNA of endangered animals.  Now before I really get into this any further, let me say that parts of these things are explained readily.  Like the necessity of the Mew Mews, why it is that Ichigo was infused with the DNA of the Iriomote Cat, and what needs to be done to save the world.  But who are Ryou and Keiichiro?  Other than two high school students.  Why are high schoolers in charge of such important power and information about aliens?  And what is it about the DNA of the Ichigo and the other Mew Mews that makes the prime targets for having their DNA infused with animal DNA?  Also why are aliens on the earth?

 

My guess is that all of these things will be explained later on in the series.  Which I can accept.  Sometimes it is better to hold off on an explanation because perhaps it aids in the plot somehow.  The do explain what the aliens are and what it is that they do.  Just not how the aliens got their or how long they’ve been there.  It seems to me that this is something that’s important and should have at the least been touched upon mildly in the first episode.  And the detail about Ryou and Keiichiro is admittedly a nit-pick.  High schoolers are typically the major players in most anime series.  Taking upon jobs that no regular high school student could ever take on.  And being a scientist and holder of some secret knowledge about aliens is something that you will not see high school students doing.

 

Will I continue watching this series?  Yes.  These are just my initial impressions of the series and it would in no way be a fair assessment of the series to just leave it with the first two episodes.

 

(Admittedly while I was typing this I looked up information on some of the characters and did learn the answers to some of these questions, thus potentially ruining some surprises in the series for me.  But I’ll continue to look on the series and will assess it fairly after watching the other 50 episodes.)

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