What do you fight for? Why do you fight? What do you fight to protect?
An endless string of increasingly redundant and nonsensical questions, juxtaposed with extended scenes of capes flapping and spontaneous dust clouds: anime.
Anime, often ridiculed for its hilarious cliches and general lack of substance, is not actually limited by the stereotypes and the culture behind it. Of course, there is a plethora of tasteless detritus that falls to the conventions that the medium should actually try to avoid; yet, amidst the sea of garbage there are a fair few gems to be found.
Before getting into that, one may ask: “What stereotypes you nerd?” Well, the most well-known atrocities lie in the shounen genre, the most famous being the ‘big 3’: One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto. Now, while One Piece is legitimately good, one would never says its strengths lie in its repartee and cinematic direction; in fact, all of the aforementioned are guilty of having absolutely ball-shrivelling level dialogue at times.
I am of the opinion that ‘ultimate moves’ are created from the base of their accompanying speech. There’s no potential in any technique unless it has one of the following; an absurd amount of faux-science involving some reference to entry-level sciences; a rich history passed down through the generations; or a segue into the Japanese equivalent of a Rocky montage. Another crime of the genre, or perhaps anime in general, is the abundance of template characters. Be it your average female lead, devoid of any quality except a strong, yet inexplicable aversion to the male lead that somehow passes itself off as character interaction and development. Indeed, it seems that female characters in subpar animes serve to get themselves into ’embarrassing’ situations, have terribly contrived and annoying ‘catchphrases’ or verbal habits, or adhere themselves to the horrific moe subculture by being reserved and blushing incessantly.
These stereotypes are even more painfully apparent in the romance genre; it is truly woeful when a strong male lead is considered the anomaly. I am not asking to see a vicious rapist, or even an aggressor, but even the most lamented of internet scum have more backbone than some of these protagonists. However, it is through these stereotypes that they thrive, for their contrived interactions, the likes of which would never see the light outside of an LCD screen are, not as one may guess, a catalyst of the plot, but rather an extender. Many animes thrive off the hormonal rush that arise in elderly Japanese men and pubescent boys from seeing inter-gender interactions. But must they happen again and again? The approach is formulaic to say the least. It is but a vaguely connected sequence of events leading up to a love that may or may not be consummated; a fall into the arms of the other, followed by an ineffable silence and maintained position; an accidental glimpse of nudity; a situation that leaves them somehow the only two people in the immediate area. These are but a few of the rinsed and repeated, and sometimes it is only the setting and the hair colours that change.
Yet, is it also not true that western television has its share of stereotypes and hara kiri inducing dialogue? Of course, how else would one explain TV tropes? The parallels are obviously apparent, it’s just that exposure to anime for your average person is far more dominated by the terrible than western television. I will not deny that the conventionality for anime is far greater, and that a lot of it is fucking terrible; yet, to classify, or to condemn it to being a static genre is a travesty. Anime is a medium.
The conventions are rooted in all the wrong places, the classics have been supplanted by the trite. Anime’s strength as a medium lies in its ability to bring literally anything to the screen, Akira, Princess Mononoke, Kara no Kyouakai, and Mind Game are but a few examples that make use of limitless visual capabilities. Indeed, in a time where special effects were painfully out of place anime had the upper hand, there are some truly visually stunning classics. That is not to say anime can only succeed through the merits of its medium, it does not have limitations on dialogue, plot, or anything remotely close to affecting what one would consider a quality show. It is not even limited in its language or animation; First Squad, animated by the masterful Studio 4C, is originally dubbed in Russian; Tatami Galaxy layers its animations with photography and film. These are but a few examples to show the depth that such a medium offers.
Weaboos are still the unshaven underbelly of human society though.