The Anime Elitist’s Paradox

By definition, elitists are those who think that some  people have more worthy opinions than the common man. That an elite of intelligent, tasteful, educated, and experienced opinion leaders are more qualified to tell what is right and what is wrong, than a random mass of people. “Coincidentially”, most elitists consider themselves to be exceptionally intelligent, tasteful, educated, and experienced.

Normally, in media fandoms, elitism is used to describe a rethoric that is revolving around the fear that a shallow, ignorant audience member’s preference is worth as much as a fan’s who truly cares about the medium in question, then the resulting works will be dumbed down, “pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator“, for the sake of making more money.

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Seen It A Million Times

Random anime picture, to demonstrate that this will end up being an anime post

A few years ago, when I already knew enough english to start participating in real discussions with native speakers, I started to notice an interesting quirk of the language: people using the phrase “literally” in front of figures of speech. After double-checking my dictionary to make sure that it really means what I think it means,  I concluded that it must be a really difficult word to remember, and smugly congratulated to myself for noticing it even in spite of that, and for having a better grasp of english vocabulary than many native speakers.

Except that soon after that, I started to notice that people around me, myself included, are kind of doing the same in my own native Hungarian, with our own figures of speech. For example, I say  “[the words literally froze into me]” when I am so shocked that I couldn’t say anything, or “[these pigeons are literally getting more eyeless from day to day]”, where “eyeless” is an idiom for “bold”, “brash”, or “cheeky”.

It looks like people aren’t really having a problem with remembering what “literally” means. When someone says that their large-scale movie is “literally a blockbuster”, they truly mean to say that it’s not just an exaggerated praise for a medium scale movie, but it’s a real large scale movie. They just fail to remember that “blockbuster” is supposed to be more than a synonym of that, it’s also a figure of speech comparing movies to bombs. To me, it is easier, because I learned to meaning of “block” and “buster”  long before first hearing “blockbuster” being used about movies. On the other hand, saying that bold pigeons are “[eyeless]”, is the most normal thing to me, it’s the primary usage of the phrase in Hungarian, and I have to think hard to even remember that it originally had something to do with actual eyes.   And it’s the other way around with you. You might find “blockbuster” to be a word that  means “big movie” by default, and it’s old meaning is only an obscure etymological trivia, while calling something [eyeless] would instantly give you a very grotesque mental image.

Strangely, it looks like someone who only heard a word a few times, for example a foreigner, can be more reflective about finding idiom’s original building blocks, than an experienced speaker who instantly jumps to thinking about the intended message of the phrase, and doesn’t need to stop thinking about the smaller elements.

So,  you ask why am I talking about Hungarian idioms, and about linguistic theories, on an anime blog?

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Sales analysis 2011

Thanks to the anime industry enthusiasts over at mania.com forums, who collect all the official sources into their forum posts, we can always take a look at data from Bluray and DVD sales in a practically collected format.

For example, rather than looking at a single season, that might be exceptionally weak or strong, we can get an even better overall picture, if we look at the whole previous year, merged into a single list, from the Winter 2011 season that started in last January, to the end of the Fall 2011 seasons that ended in last december.

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Criticism of the Clichés of Criticism

While checking the Aniblog Tourney participants, I found a post from Bradley, of Those Damn Cartoons, on an issue that interests me a lot. Reviews with a mocking tone, and their negative effects. In the post, Bradley describes how since MST3K, most reviewers seem to treat bad shows as nothing more than a source of jokes, and this way, we ” lose the opportunity to have other, interesting conversations about when and why anime fails to entertain, and close any dialog with folks who might have enjoyed that anime and could offer a perspective we didn’t consider, perhaps even getting us to enjoy what we disliked on a second viewing.”

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Tsuritama no Apollon: AO

Three more shows are here for first episode tests. This time, only the first two are comparable to each other in many ways, with the Eureka Seven sequel as the odd one out. I also wanted to add Jormungand, but I couldn’t really say anything meaningful about it that others didn’t. I’m not even sure if I like it. And I’m not so much interested in just reviewing episodes by describing all their aspects, as finding at least one issue in them, or around their audience reactions, that made me think about something unique. Continue reading

Sankarea Kanojo X Amnesia – And then every anime was a SHAFT series

Three more first episodes arrived in the past days, so here are my first impressions. There is a strange amount of connections between them. Two are about dead/living romances. Two were better than expected from their studios DEEN and Hoods. Two has exceptionally icky premises. Two of them are based on manga that I have been following, even though I rarely follow manga. All three make use of surreal imagery, or as the anime fandom likes to call it, “They look like they were made by SHAFT”.

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Genre legitimacy

I was always interested in the fine line between a medium or genre convention, that one is expected to accept as an inherent purpose of the story, and other, minor tropes.

It’s another part of the neverending objectivity/subjectivity debates: If you can successfully argue that your favourite story did what it did because that’s how things are done in that genre, that gives the story some kind of legitimacy, and the best thing the haters can say is “Well, then I don’t like this genre”, but if you don’t manage to make that claim, then they can still say that your story is just a failed deviation of the greater genre.

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