I don’t want this blog to be an entirely negative experience. It’s pretty fun to poke and jab at the unsavory underbelly of anime and anime fandom, but at the end of the day, I do love anime. I wouldn’t know as much as I do about anime if I actually hated it.
So why should anyone like anime? It’s a question with a lot of answers, but I’ll just focus on the art in anime for this entry. I won’t even bother to give a synopsis of the shows I’ll be detailing because all that matters today is the art.
Starting with the screenshot above, I submit Tekkonkinkreet. This movie is full of amazing backdrops especially at its full 1920×816 resolution. Sure, the kooky character designs might throw some off.But it’s hard to deny that the background leaps off the screen. It’s filled with detail and care; it’s full of life. How many anime have you seen that doesn’t give a single thought to the world its characters inhabit?
Sometimes, it’s not just about panoramic city shots full of life. Animators need to bring emotion not only to their characters, but to the world around them.Sometimes anime feels dead and static because most shots are so devoid of complexity. And I don’t mean complex human drama, but the mere utilization of color and lighting to craft a scene that needs little words. Sometimes, words are a detriment. The love of movie should entail a love for cinematography. Animation is just another evolution of movies, but so many people forget the roots of film. They worry about the silly drawn out stories, the moe of the characters… they forget what movies, and thus anime, are supposed to do.You’re looking at 5 Centimeters Per Second, which I would recommend to anyone if they’re a true fan of anime. Even if you don’t like romances or character studies, forget about that. Just watch it for the love of the art, for the love of craftsmen who feel pride in their work. On a bit of a tangent, I’m amazed how far Makoto Shinkai has gone since making Voices of a Distant Star on his PC by himself and what he has done since then.
But it isn’t always about capturing realism. What animation can do that few movies can accomplish is the ability to render imagination on the screen. And I’m not talking about a bunch of monkey men flying around in the sky going pew pew while their clothes homoerotically falls off piece by piece. I mean true surrealism.But honestly, Mind Game deservers better than a screenshot. After all, from the pic above, what could you really tell about Mind Game? See it for yourself. Too abstract? Paprika won’t disappoint either.For the carnivalesque… or just for the unsettling shots for their atmosphere.
You might say, “But these are all movies. It isn’t fair to compare movies to broadcast anime.” And you’re right, movies have budgets that dwarf the anime we see on TV. But honestly, that’s not an excuse to put out shoddy work. Why must I be treated to cost-saving scenes like this
in my anime where important characters are rendered as practically stick figures when other anime can do this?If most studios can’t pull this off, then don’t. Practice some restraint–exercise some quality control and we might not be bombarded with so many subpar efforts. Who here has ever felt exasperation at watching your favorite characters degrade over time because studios farm out their work to lesser companies? I know I certainly have. I’d rather see nothing than a half-assed anime.
Anime is first and foremost an artform. There’s nothing wrong with engrossing stories or captivating characters, but it has gotten to the point where we care more about voice actors and packaged female qualities (moe) than the actual anime itself. This just fuels the need for animation studios to become sweatshops churning out cheap, ready-made anime by slaving artists. We’ve lost all distinction in anime–everyone looks the same. Slap some different color hair on each of them and call it a day.If you love anime, and haven’t seen any of the movies I listed above (I didn’t show off any Miyazaki movies because if you’re an anime fan and haven’t heard of Miyazaki…), I urge you to go out and watch them. Forget about the synopsis. Forget about whether or not the main character is moe or not. Forget about whether or not any of it is even cute. Just enjoy the visual experience. A lot more can be said about the stories and characters of anime, perhaps in a future entry, but for now, this is about anime as visual art. Be a real fan of anime, not just someone screams a “Kya~~~” at the latest Kugimiya Rie tsunderekko and fancies themselves a connoisseur of anime just because it isn’t Naruto.