We often use the word “Deep Anime” to describe an anime of a certain quality, yet the word deep in itself is perhaps a very abstract piece of art. To illustrate this occurrence, the confusion arises when various people consider one of the anime as a deep anime, and you generally go like “What? This is no deep anime!”. Here is an example of this confusion that happened in the IRC channel for #animeblogger.
[impz] dennou coil is pretty cool
[Sasa] (dennou coil isn’t really “deep”, it has no meaning, but it is quite artsy)
[tj_han] dennou coil is just interesting scifi
[saturnine] (Dennou Coil has no meaning like you are a 16 year old girl Sasa)
[tj_han] like wise i dont think gits is deep
[tj_han] its interesting scifi
[Sasa] (me neither)
[Sasa] (but i’ve considered planetes as quite deep)
[psgels] So, what is a deep series?
However, is anime truly as stated to be a deep symbolism, or simply a form of entertainment? We first have to state how we actually consider this preposition by stating this is the view of the majority of anime. It is not an analysis of a few series that have implied symbolism and psychological theories but a means to observe the general trend of anime as a whole. With that taken care of, it is apparent that anime is a form of entertainment, and not anything deep. I will not deny that I will be generalizing for some of the reasons that I have mentioned, but I believe that most of the generalizations used do have enough merit to hold on its own.
To state anything more is merely the joke of spin doctors.
Owen S, the crazy loony owner of Rule 41, gathered a group of strange anime bloggers to deal with this topic. I guess since I am equally strange as well, I am also roped into the picture. The list of bloggers include Batezi, theBigN, Sasa, Higevs, Hidoshi and Martin.
So why did I call it entertainment?
The main purpose for anime on the whole is mostly entertainment. Like most of entertainment, it is not exactly the form of artwork that delves into deep ideas. It is meant to give pleasure, relaxation or delight and do not require any active participation beyond leisure purposes by the audience. You do not have to think so deeply for any of the series in order to understand the art form that is presented. As it is, it is not meant to complicate things and divide the knowledgeable and the ones that have no clue what is going on.
Anime, as a form, is currently not deep like literature. We generally derive ideas and plots from it as a critic, but the artwork in itself is a very simple display that is open to complications if you want to. Using a personal analogy, I might be analyzing Saiunkoku Monogatari for every episode, but it is mostly a thought of what has happened in terms of plot. It is not an artwork that forces you to think about philosophy. You are invited to think as much as it is.
For my personal theme about it, it is somewhat described in Lupus’s earlier entry on the blog. Hence, I decided that I should not repeat myself that much. To add on, I am not discounting the fact that there are in fact anime series that are thought provoking that has this “deep” value inside. However, these series are more of the exception rather than the rule. Here, my proposition is clearly anime being “deep” on the majority, and not some anime are deep.
The essence of entertainment: Fanservice
Fanservice is generally omnipresent in most of the anime that you and I have watched. It is a visual method in which to excite the fan, generally through sexual means or to amuse the fan who is viewing the visual spectacle. The explosion of genres such as romance and harem (always present) or even action having fanservice should not be breaking news to you as well. Fanservice, by its very notion, is never a deep thing. It is meant to please the fan.
The detail in which to make a true decent show without fanservice is something that has been lost, and it is sadly a part of anime that we anime fans generally appreciate. Without any bit of irony, the use of fanservice these days have been more clumsy (read: obvious) rather than being more subtle in nature. This does not really help in the definition of anime being a deep medium for art. If you do not believe me, count the number of onsen/shower/sports scenes and the definitive beach scene with no fanservice.
There are definitely many inferences that we can try to associate our beloved anime with the word “deep”. However, the brutal truth is that anime is an artwork that seeks merely to entertain. As a “critic” or more accurately an anime blogger who enjoys his share of interesting and plot-heavy anime series, I have to say that there are definitely a few shows that can represent the “deep” nature that we are looking for, but they are few and little in the forest. Until the point of time that we can say that most of the anime we watch have a nature that seeks less to entertain, but to indivulge ourselves into an intellectual and informative world, anime remains merely entertainment and nothing else.