Mikuru’s wink! There’s too many of them. How many you ask? Well Impz if I took a piss out my window I would hit 300 of them. Yes, I need that flame thrower and an air strike!
While most of blogging community has passed judgment on KyoAni’s recent Lucky Star and announcement of Clannad I think that it does indicate something tangibly larger. KyoAni is undeniable one of the better known studios and has many accomplished series to its credit. As such the studio stands at the apex of its power and can in my opinion further the media or simply go on producing series that appeal exclusively to the current audience.
Hopefully they will not be resting on their laurels and simply tout past successes while milking the die hard fans for decades to come like Gainax. It does stand to reason that currently anime and animation at large is not taken terribly seriously. While it is appreciable that animation has its own category for awards and such, the separate category also indicates that few if any series or movies have enough traction to compete head to head within a single genre.
It really says something that in the West only Ghibli has achieved notoriety out side of the Japan. Such is their success that it has been argued that they are indeed separate from anime in general. While anime has migrated to outside of Japan in increasing quantities, that is no guarantee of quality. The fact that anime is so closely associated with Hentai outside otaku circles indicates that there is a long fight ahead to gain mainstream acceptance.
The gate has been opened once again. Perhaps KyoAni will lead the way. There studios can find a new destiny.
The larger question that arises out of KyoAni’s path is if any anime studio can further push anime into a more serious art form? Should studios take creative risks or settle for more sure ways of commercial success? Should anime become a media that has credibility outside of the otaku community or should it remain the purview of the initiated? If anime is to become a more serious media what needs to change? What needs to be kept? What issues continued to be ignored?
What will be their legacy?
Impz’s view on the matter
Them snowmen look like piles of chewed bubblegum. Heck the whole picture is so ugly I hereby declare this a modern art master piece. Also you have some nerve trying to slight Nayuki like that, Impz.
To me, I feel that Kyoto Animation has treaded a very safe path in the series that it has done. Let’s look on the themes that it has covered and you have to say that it’s pretty mainstream themes that is more based on cuteness rather than a serious art form. The thing with anime is that the strong Hollywood influence meant that the biggest market often thinks of the anime genre as a children’s art form. Even Ghibli is not exactly targeting the adults, but more on the child-like mysticism that is well animated by them.
In that way, they are not exactly mainstream for the American average audience, but more toward young teenagers and young kids. Do remember as well that Ghibli productions in the United States did not do very well, as much as people might hyperbole the effects. They do not even hit anywhere in the top rankings of the week gross earnings in the box office in the United States, much less for anything else. The figures are in the database of imdb and honestly, Shrek 2 (considered to be a wild animation hit made in the USA) box office earnings of close to 400 million dollars dwarfs it. There is almost no means of comparison for profit.
It is perhaps overly idealistic to think of anime ever gaining mainstream acceptance. The artwork style is non-mainstream in nature and no different treatment or style will ever allow it to be considered a more serious media. If it is a serious media, the part on realism has to be adopted and I do feel that the whole part about realism, not only the story but the character design and the likes, will detract the whole creativity bud of anime.
I mean, if every single anime character is not cute, has only black hair and have really flat chests instead of those deliciously huge ones that fanservice loves (since Japanese people generally only have small chest sizes), I doubt that it will really be anime, only animation to the common anime fan. I will not like it, I think. I might be severely wrong on this and I will beg for more expertise in this area of scope.
In my opinion, it is perhaps wishful thinking to think that Kyoto Animation can bring anime to mainstream. If Ghibli cannot do it, Kyoto Animation might have a problem. It is also important to note that the cultural difference inherently in Japanese animation continues to be a barrier of entry. If anime cannot even be truly mainstream in its home country, the possibility of a culture different environment accepting it as the mainstream media is a joke indeed.
Crusader’s view on the matter
Nothing to add…nope not a single tear, but damn was that close.
Kyoto Animation has thus far treaded a very safe path, however it is part of an entire industry devoted to churning out anime. With globalization I do think that anime will have to evolve to make it at the very least more appealing to a non-Japanese audience. I think that anime is at the position where the video games once were. Initially it was a more fringe media that gained enough traction to generate huge revenue streams. I think that if Japanese studios want more money the will have to make it more compelling.
Otherwise it will eventually be surpassed by other forms of entertainment. While Ghibli has not garnered the profit margins of other animated works such as Shrek, Hollywood has much greater clout globally and can distribute its works to a larger market. Thus far Spirited Away was released in five territories compared to the possible 35 that Hollywood has focused on. Even if the profit margins can be disputed it should be noted that Ghibli has won recognition in the West for their work.
Grave of the Fireflies (not really meant for the kiddies eh Impz?) for example is considered to be on par with Schindler’s List in the terms of leaving a very strong impression. As an anti-war film it is vastly superior to the drivel that Hollywood spoon feeds audiences. I have met servicemen who did do tours in East Asia in the 1980s to the present and many of them were exposed to anime and were short lived fans until raising a family and working in the real world got in the way. I’ve met many older servicemen who ask me about Naussica of the Valley Wind and My Neighbor Totoro. For them to even recall and have fond memories of such works is something of a feat in itself.
Like any devotee of Haruhi-sama even my workstation has a wallpaper dedicated to her glory, and I do get comments from comrades who have some inkling of what anime is even if it just brings up Pokemon and Naruto. The most common thing I do find however is that while there are fully fledged otaku servicemen we have to all have to address the issue of Hentai at some point if not more often. While few servicemen are devotees of Haruhi-sama; many if not all servicemen have some knowledge of that which slew betamax.
I need some smoked cheese right now. ~Nyoro
Most anime series have to have many types of moe characters and the all pervasive panty shot, and this generates much more negativity outside of Japan. Anime may not be appreciated but the things it has helped bring over have colored the perceptions of Japan in the West. The Japanese School Girl is making headway as a symbol of Japan as well as the Love Hotel in the military since every serviceman who has been to foreign countries have seen many things as most of them take every opportunity to get off the base whenever possible. Since boredom makes for good sea story time the old sea dogs tell of the land of the rising sun and how very strange and quirky the inhabitants are. Since Hentai looks so much like anime for most people the association is strong no matter what a single otaku can say.
It says a lot when many servicemen and the general population that have seen a Ghibli film with their families fail to make the association with anime at large. Bring up the more moe or the more bishie character designs and the first thing that comes to mind for them is cartoon copulation. I would be lying through my teeth if I tried to argue that anime is different because of the compelling stories rather than the shifty concept of moe. I find that in anime the compelling stories are few and far between, while the moe harem is still ascendant.
It does not have to be this way. If a story can stand on its own there is no need to show panty shots every bloody minute. If Grave of the Fireflies was a live action film the story may have suffered technically, but because it was animated the message of one of the real tragedies of war, the dehumanization of a society, shone through. It hit the viewer with full force without bad special effects to generate laughs.
Anime can be a more compelling media if studios choose to make it such. The success of Shrek was because it appealed to both children and adults with out having to having human Fiona in the shower. As a comedy it was more subtle and smart than having a doormat with a nose bleed. There is material out there that is good and can benefit from animation rather than live action. Animal Farm could be animated and be no less critical of Stalinism and without any suspicion of CIA involvement. Even if Japan is devoid of compelling source material (it ain’t) using foreign works is an option.
Being serious and thought provoking, does not mean that it cannot also be commercially viable. I don’t think that anime fans should have to remain as a fringe element as a social group. If anime were to become mainstream we might one day watch a subbed episode on the same day it is broadcast. Perhaps we can have anime related products on store shelves at retail chains rather than having to go through specialty stores and having to pay for shipping. Heck even Eroge fans might get their
fap fodder crack beloved game at a Gamestop or EB.
Real clever Impz, you have just scuttled my argument and on an uneven keel no less, bravo. Why did I agree to this in the first place? I will remember this the next time I think about giving you any control over screenies and especially where they are placed…even if it is Full Metal Panic.
Say what you will about the benefits of not being mainstream, however bear in mind that being part of the mainstream is not necessarily a bad thing. In most countries the bigots, zealots, and pundits are considered to be fringe elements; being mainstream means that businesses have to really try and cater to you and bring you in as a customer against competition from other vendors rather than rest assured that they have a monopoly or oligopoly. Just imagine the savings, monetary and grief, of having Haruhi-sama, Mikuru-ran, Nagato-chi, and Tsuruya-san PVCs shipped by the container ship to a brick and mortar store nearby rather than a mishandled package.
For video gamers the windfall of being more mainstream meant that
Jack Thompson he who should not be named gets smacked around by the Florida BAR and judges actually reviewing cases rather than having ignorant lazy parents dictate everything in video games. It also meant that video games improved in many ways and the real cost of video games went down. Platform cycles created systems beyond the wildest dreams of early Atari 2600 players. Heck I remember breaking my piggy bank for getting my cartridges, and now I can got to town on games that I want when I want them. I have no desire to go back to the Atari 2600, paying through the roof for a cartridge, and trading away my wireless controllers. I think such a windfall might occur if the same thing happened for anime.
For this to happen I think that anime has to get better source material than Eroge, if not divorce it self altogether. That is not to say eroge plots are weak, but not every single game needs its own anime series. Thus far fanservice has done the greatest disservice for the media as a whole, and the otakus in particular. It is also rather damning that fanservice has come to mean superfluous shots that are sexual in nature rather than being an all inclusive term for things that make fans giddy (i.e. a Gundam reference). I resent being associated with Hentai lovers every time I watch a series that I like. There is no need for it if it is not necessary. Hopefully otakus are generally able to grasp subtlety and are able to read between the lines rather than needing a visual aid all of the time.
While the mainstream’s perception of anime has to change there is little that anime studios have done to make it more deserving of accolades rather than rude shock and indeed disgust. That is why Ghibli is largely considered distinct, they have done things that not even the die-hard EVA fan can claim that Anno has done. I am sure that even if anime died Ghibli would inhabit something greater than a footnote in film history if not continue. KyoAni does not have to make a movie, but it can adopt a more serious tone and source material where their technical elegance can still shine. Even if adopting better source material is not viable then at least do something better than the fan fiction-class stuff that is the average harem script.
Sure we can enjoy anime as it is now, but having something to tout as serious and compelling can only be for our benefit.
Lupus’s view on the matter
Osaka, and Azumanga Daioh, will never be dethroned as the queen of slice-of-life comedy
Crusader’s bit alone is long enough to get TLDR’s from a lot of people, so I’m going to keep this short. I cannot find fault with Kyoto Animation’s ability as an animation studio. What I can find fault in is its ability to pick what to animate. KyoAni’s ability to come up with its own material is sorely lacking, as evident by the lack lustre ‘Lone Island Syndrome’ episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and this comparison between Hare Hare Yukai and Berryz工房 MVs.
As such, what will decide the future of KyoAni, which is or will become a studio that has the power to affect the whole industry, is what it decides to animate. Whether it is going down the right path by animating tons of ‘moe’ anime is a judgement that won’t be made by your or me, but by all the otakus of Japan. You can rest safe in the knowledge that these people hold the future of anime in their hands.
Whatever else the world may think of Kyoto Animation, it seems we’ve almost, but not quite,unanimously agreed that its ability to match catchy songs to fluidly animated dance sequences have reached an artform.