I'M FAIRLY TOLERANT WHEN IT COMES TO CRITICISM AGAINST ANIME, BUT...Yeah, I'm a fairly jaded anime fan whom still likes plenty of anime but the fires of anime fandom don't burn nearly as brightly within me as they did in the mid-1990s, when I was still fairly new to anime as an interest, and, as a result, I'm generally not bothered at all by criticism of anime from the usual suspects, not that there's the widespread backlash against anime in general people predicted round about the time Pokémon became popular with the kiddies since, aside from a few "breakout" kiddy TV franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon and, to a lesser degree, Dragonball Z, anime fandom in general remains a "niche" thing in North America, at least with adults. For example, as you may recall, I found the heated, nasty, fanboyish invective aimed against some hapless woman in Washington state named Julie McBride-Wyatt far more annoying than the actual column she wrote in which she criticized Cartoon Network's airing of the offbeat anime series FLCL, mistakenly noting that the cartoon was rated TV-PG when it was actually rated TV-14, though, as I found out, the online edition of TV Guide had made the exact same error, leading me to suspect that Ms. McBride-Wyatt accidentally got the rating from there and there was no intentional lie as part of TEH CHRISTIAN CONSPIRISY TO PUBLISH TEH FALSE INFORMASHON TO PROVOKE TEH BACKLASH AND GET TEH GUVIRNMINT TO BAN TEH ANIME. Even if she had wrong intentions, basically it was a medium-circulation, uninfluential newspaper and pretty much no one noticed this thing outside of Tacoma other than online anime fans.
Also, I have some degree of sympathy for Berit Kjos, of Kjos Ministires, a Christian page full of conspiracies regarding the United Nations and the "New World Order", since she also has an Anime responses page which she put up in 1999 in response to people writing her about Pok�mon and other anime at the peak of Pok�mon's popularity. She fully admits she doesn't bother watching anime in order to criticize it, she just keeps the page up and misguided anime fans insist on writing her, even though she doesn't even know 90% of the anime you mention and will only pick your letter apart, putting in bold those key passages of your letter which reveal how much you've been influenced by the one world government messages inherent in all anime, whose scripts are all written at UN conferences which promote teaching new ways of thinking and conflict resolution in schools, or something like that. (Okay, I'm being a bit facetious with that last remark, but not by all that much.) In short, anime fans, want my advice? Don't bother writing her, you're wasting your time, you won't get her to budge an inch, and your confrontational tone, as well as, very often, your questionable spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills reflect poorly on us anime fans in general.
Anyhow, what I wanted to tell you guys about last night was this one letter from a From Todd H. which goes far beyond normal criticism of anime into "making stuff up" territory.
"I have been aware of anime/manga for some time now. I, too, had what could be called a "phase" where I would occasionally watch some of it. I also, unfortunately, watched some of the darker anime that is circulating."
Okay, so far, so good. I'm not particularly into the overly dark stuff either. I didn't care for the final three episodes of Narutaru (the anime based on the manga by Mohiro Kitoh which was retitled Shadow Star in English) much at all.** Just one problem here. Don't say "I, too, had what could be called a "phase"", that's just "I had a phase" with unnecessary padding. What else would you call it?
"I have read through the comments posted on crossroad.to, concerning anime/manga. I have to say this about most of the readers comments DEFENDING anime/manga: Do you (anime/manga fans) not realize that you are replacing life with this anime/manga hogwash? Going into excruciating detail about some FICTIONAL cartoon characters as if they were real?"
Umm... no, I'm not replacing life with anime and manga. They're just silly cartoons I enjoy, some with deeper artistic pretenses, but most are just goofy fun or straightforward "pulp" action. I have in-depth knowledge about a few series, but, for the most part, I don't share my complete wisdom with others, and the only thing I go into excruciating detail about here in this blog are my shopping trips to downtown Montreal, heh heh. Some people get more "active" with their fandom than I do, making costumes and going to conventions, but that's just a small part of their life. I see anime fandom as a pastime, no better or worse than most others. And, yes, most anime fans are fully aware that anime is fictional, well, aside from historical anime, so there's no need to put "fictional" in caps as though it's some sort of shocking revelation.
"Don't forget, that anime/manga is directly associated with the anime/manga that portrays girls AND women as throwaway toys, only good for sex and abuse? I have seen some of the most brutal of the anime in years past, and, technically speaking, ALL anime/manga is of the same roots. You can't have one genre of anime, without realizing the extent and brutality of the others."
Umm... well, the nastier hentai and ultraviolent stuff is associated with the rest of anime in that they're all animated cartoons done in Japan primarily for a Japanese audience. Aside from that... erm, since when did a few bad examples of a specific medium taint the entire medium? Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and Generally Horny Hospital are all movies... I don't think the value of the first two are invalidated by the fact that Generally Horny Hospital is also a movie. And I don't even understand the meaning of "roots" here... Kiki's Delivery Service and Cowboy Bebop and Super GALS! are all "rooted" in the most vile anime like Urotsukouji? That's just wacky. I think you can have genres of anime with genres you like and genres you don't. There are plenty of genres I don't care much for myself, with sports anime being towards the top of my list.
Really, with "roots", you could at least claim that *much* of anime is "rooted" in Shintoism or Buddhism. (Not *all* anime, though, since ninety-nine percent of the time, an "all" statement will invalidate whatever your point is as it's easily debunked by finding examples that aren't the way you claim.) You'd score an easy point with Berit, and I would be unable to disagree.
"Anime is MAINLY for adults, evidenced by the storylines."
Actually, that's a popular myth perpetrated by many well-meaning anime sites in order to counteract the perceived stigma in North America that cartoons are just for kids. The bulk of anime produced is meant either for kids or teenagers; I'm not ashamed to admit that I like many a kid's anime, like Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura or Kiki's Delivery Service, and even some of the more "fan service-y" stuff I like, like Tenchi Muyo, was intended for teenage guys, not adults like myself. The more mature anime series in Japan are, for the most part, aimed at quite a small niche audience of adults, often on cable or satellite speciality channels. We just get a disproportionately high amount of the mature anime released on DVD in the west, and, other times, people notice something in kid's programmes which would be considered more "mature" content in North America, with the most obvious example being the implied lesbian relationship between Haruka Tenou/Sailor Uranus and Michiru Kaiou/Sailor Neptune in Sailor Moon S, and they jump to the conclusion that the anime in question is meant for adults, when, in fact, all this indicates is that Japan has different ideas than Americans as to what is suitable to portray in children's cartoons.
"Some anime is just plain BORING."
No disagreement there. Like a lot of the anime that gets the most critical acclaim for example, heh heh. Or Saint Seiya. But... erm... boring is a subjective designation, and the anime which are boring don't invalidate the anime which aren't.
"Some is DISGUSTING.
Well, again, I can't disagree, though just replace "boring" with "disgusting" in the last sentence of my previous paragraph, and you get my point for this one too. Except, while "disgusting" is subjective, I would hope that most people reading this would agree with me that the Slayers scat doujinshi*** I discussed the other week is disgusting. Ewwww....
"ALL of it is like watching soap operas: The gullible and reality-denying individual treating fictional characters as REAL, hence the troubling trend of little kids acting like they are gods, superheroes, wizards, and animals."
Again, SOME anime are like soap operas, especially some of the more serious, relationship-oriented shoujo (girls) series like Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) or Marmalade Boy, and there are some soapish elements in series like Fushigi Yugi or even Super GALS!... but... erm... I have some wacky comedies like Adventures of Mini-Goddess and Project A-ko with no melodrama whatsoever.
Also, I suppose, if all anime disappeared tomorrow, kids would stop using their imaginations to pretend that they're animals or have cool magic powers or are superheroes? (Well, some of these people are against pretty much all forms of popular fiction, even Christian novels, and use the word "imagination" like it was a New Age plot.) And, while the vast, vast majority of anime fans know what is true and what is fiction, probably there's some fan out there whom believes his favourite anime characters are real, but, with that guy, his anime fandom isn't the problem; his problem is that he's delusional, and the fact that some anime fan somewhere has such psychological problems has nothing to do with the mental state of the rest of us anime fans. Like with all fiction, we suspend our disbelief (which I'm sure Berit would put in bold as though this is a novel concept imposed upon us by U.N.-trained educators and not the general basis for enjoying fiction) when we watch it, but we know it's just pretend. Pretending is fun.
"Even if there WERE such a thing as CHRISTIAN anime, the roots would STILL be there. One could not perceivably "christianise" something that is inherently evil."
Well, there are some Christian anime, like Superbook and the Old Testament-inspired In The Beginning, based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka. A handful of other anime actually have Christian subtexts... I'm thinking specifically of the first theatrical Patlabor film, directed by Mamoru Oshii, which had strong parallels to the Tower of Babel story, as well as the film Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer, directed by... erm... Mamoru Oshii, where the dreammaker Mujaki claims to be what tempted Eve in the Garden and what tempted Judas to betray Jesus. (Though I disagree that Neon Genesis Evangelion has a Christian subtext... it uses names and symbols from Western religions because they're cool and exotic from a Japanese point of view, but there's no deep point; the series is actually inspired by creator Hideaki Anno's depression somehow.)
"No matter how many of you DEFEND anime/manga, you NEED to realize that this genre of entertainment is nothing short of witchcraft, REGARDLESS of the messages/storylines presented."
But, anyhow, how is anime, in general, witchcraft, defined by my Oxford Dictionary of Current English as "the use of magic", which is itself defined as "supposed art of influencing or controlling events supernaturally"? So, merely watching an anime, any anime, even something without any supernatural elements whatsoever like Planetes, is the same as casting an incantation? You know, you could claim that Christians shouldn't watch *specific* anime like Kiki's Delivery Service, Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura since they contain some form of witchcraft, and, while I'd disagree since the witchcraft involved is merely "plot device" witchcraft, I wouldn't argue with you since that would be legitimate conclusion based on the actual content of those specific anime and not just a ridiculous generalization about the medium of anime in general, and, since that conclusion would be rooted in your interpretation of what is correct according to your faith, that would be fine with me. But, like I said, that's just a ridiculous fallacy that all anime is witchcraft.
The rest of his e-mail is religious arguments, which, like taste, are pointless debating, at least in a blog. I don't really have any conclusion here planned, I just hope you find my arguments destroy his, and, please note, this was very carefully written so as not to insult his or Berit's religious beliefs in general (though conspiracy theories are fair game as far as I'm concerned).
**The Narutaru series changed gears entirely and the final three episodes were an endurance test of seeing excessively brutal and horrific things being done to or perpetrated by children without much in the way of context provided, so it's almost like a cartoon for sadists who get off on seeing kids do nasty, nasty things to each other. Perhaps the context for the brutality is better covered in the corresponding manga chapters; I don't know, I haven't read to that point in the manga and I can't find any good Narutaru spoiler sites on the web. Now that I know the full context to the especially graphic sequence in volume 6, though, I can say it's no less disturbing. Anyway, I fully intend on discussing my specific problems with Narutaru episodes 11 through 13 at some point, but, until then, you can read some of my comments on the matter in this thread or in this thread (keeping in mind that I'm Kiyone on the AnimeNation.net board).
***Scat = feces-eating, doujinshi/doujin = fan-made parody comic, usually pornographic, not authorized by the creators of the series or the company which owns the rights.