FREE food for thought

All right, I have an editorial blog, so I guess there is no way around writing something about FREE, the new KyoAni anime. Also, something about moe, or whatever.

All right. First of all, here is some advice.

  1. If you want to tell your interpretation of how “everyone” or the “otakudom” is completely wrong in the show’s reception, you need to take a step back, go to a forum thread or a blog aggregator or a large comment section, and count 100 reactions to FREE’s announcement. If you truly confirmed that everyone (or even most people) reacted the same way, go ahead. But there is only one thing that is more annoying than a one-sided debate, and that is a many-sided debate where absolutely everyone has a persecution complex, and a conviction that they are alone with their opinion. 
  2. If you want to talk about the meta-discussion of how there is more debate about the debate of FREE than there is debate about FREE, head over to omonomomo. He got it covered.


Personally, what I found most interesting, is how obviously this the outrage is happening in our western side of the otakudom, as much as the feminist defense and the anti-moe outcries. In the video gamer community, the past monhs have been all about dragging the geek subculture’s underlying sexism, and misogyny to the spotlight, to admit that WE have a problem.

So far, the anime fandom mostly deflected any such accusations by dumping them on the Japanese otaku. WE, the classy western anime fans, would like more gender  equality, and less sexual objectification, and less moe (whatever the hell that means),  it is the dirty, moe-obsessed, hug pillows-buying, eroge-playing Japanese otaku’s fault that the industry is still backwards.

To see actual western anime fans lose their shit about one particular anime having sexualized guys in it, is an interesting reminder that WE as a fandom still have a problems, or maybe they are not real problems, let’s just leave that inconclusively,  but in either case, you can’t just explain away accusations of sexism with xenophobic stereotypes about Japan.


The culture that made anime into what it is

In many ways, anime is fundamentally different from all western media. Not just as the result of current business models, or recent trends, but also due to some deeply rooted traits of Japanese mentality.

Japan is pretty unique that way, with it’s mass media that is comparable to ours in it’s scope, but still very foreign in it’s execution. Most other countries that are similarly foreign to us, are either too poor, or too oppressed to have large media, while the sufficiently wealthy and free countries are being assimilated into the monlithic, globalized “western culture” that makes them almost identical to us. But for various reasons that I will not discuss here, Japan managed to both reach modern lifestyle, and to maintain exceptional amounts of it’s foreignness.

Trying to understand these cultural differences between Japan and the West, can be useful not just for making detached philosophical observations about art, (like realizing that values that we considered normal are just our arbitary local customs), but also for understanding the daily events of the anime industry. Why did this show tank at the sales? Why did that show get a second season?

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In defense of those annoying “fans of the source material”

It’s one of those issues that can be applied to pretty much any media fandom, but I saw it a lot among anime fans recently, and hey, I have an anime blog, so for the time being, let’s discuss it in this context.

When was the last time you heard this rant?

I’m an anime fan, so I don’t care about what happened in your LN/manga/VN! This is an anime, so it should be judged as one. It’s obvious that due to the differences of the mediums, the adaptation is going to be a bit different, so shut up about how “inaccurate” it is.

Strangely, as much as I see them, I didn’t ever see a  defense against them. No one ever comes up and explains why some people keep talking about the source material. They just keep sagely nodding at the universal wisdom that was just uttered. Apparently, the entire Internet believes that such rants accurately describe fandom etiquette.

Except, of course, the people who proceed to talk about the source material anyways. Including some of those who were just sagely nodding, right until the arrival of another series, that’s source material they are the fan of, in which case, they proceed to do the same. I guess I could write it off as people being hypocrites, and intentionally offensive rabid fanboys,  but following Hanlon’s razor, it’s much more likely that the source of the conflict is poor communication between two different groups with different interests, than that one group of fan is being malicious.

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Blogger’s creed

I decided that as a belated introduction post, I should write a list of things that I believe about art, about the anime industry, and about my personal standing on some hot button issues. Some of these were already adressed in earlier posts, others will be in the future, and some are too self-evident or mundane to waste a whole post on them.

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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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Sales analysis 2011

Thanks to the anime industry enthusiasts over at 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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Quality and popularity

I have always been interested in what people think about the subjective and objective values of fiction. Most notably, in the painful paradox between the common belief that most people have bad taste, therefore the public reception of a series is  unrelated, (or even negatively related) to it’s quality, and the belief that nevertheless there is some kind of objective quality.

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