Anime is Weird

The title says it all, but does need clarification.

Who was it that started the North American Otaku revolution? Who went to Japan, said “You know, these cartoons are amazing. I should hire some really bad voice actors, not learn any editing techniques, and then air them back in my home country!”?

Then, after this process began, bad voice acting included, who was it that was like “These bad voice actors, animation quality eclipsed by our animators in the 40s, the nearly nonsensical plots, these are what truly constitutes the pinnacle of art!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love anime. I have a premium subscription to Crunchy Roll ($8/mo, same price as Netflix, but specializes ONLY in anime). Storytelling is very different in Japan, which is about the most level headed review anyone can give it. It isn’t that it is a bad thing or a good thing, it is just that Hollywood (and almost all North American storytelling) follows a very tight “plot schedule”. You probably learned about it in Junior High or High School, you have your rising action, your climax, your denouement, your resolution. Japan saw that graph, decided it didn’t have NEARLY enough peaks and valleys (read: it had none), crumpled it up and used it as toilet paper, then went on to make stories that have a much wider emotional scope than your traditional western entertainment, with mighty peaks and valleys that may (at times) dip into Hades itself.

The funny thing is that there are many other countries that have produced some truly incredible entertainment. Among people who like art, you will be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t seen the 1957 Swedish masterpiece “The Seventh Seal”. I have watched it myself, and quite enjoyed it. But that’s it, that is the extent of Swedish entertainment I have seen. Obviously they know how to make a good movie; I’ve seen it.

How about Asterix and Obelix? They are made by the French company Gaumont, and are quite good. At best, though, they are considered a bit of a cult classic. That isn’t to say they aren’t good, as Asterix in Britain is still one of my favorite movies of all time; it isn’t purely nostalgia, either — When you watch something purely out of nostalgia, some of the magic fades, but the subtle (and sometimes overt) racism in that movie transcends time itself (It is made by the French, and takes so many pot shots at the British I’m surprised they didn’t declare war). I watch it frequently, and still laugh at the jokes about British weather (“Is it always foggy here?” “Oh, my, no! Only when it isn’t raining!”), or the jokes about how ridiculous a sport Rugby is. The constant ongoing dialogue about how gross (OR DELICIOUS!) warm beer is, and the idea that you can acquire a taste for anything if you have the stomach for it! (“Have some roasted boar covered in mint sauce! With a side of warm beer!”)

This is more a walk down the lane of one of my favorite movies, and I apologize for getting a little side tracked. The point is, the whole series is pretty funny, even down to the naming (The Great Druid Getafix [say his name slowly, hopefully you’ll get it faster than I did, because I maintain that I was barely functional when I was a child]). So why isn’t there a giant following of French entertainment? Why is there an Edmonton Animethon, a convention held at Grant MacEwan, attended by over 10,000 people, and yet if you talk about “Foreign Film Festival” herein Edmonton, you will have to go to the Garneau theater and sit as far as you can from any one of the other 30 hipsters who showed up to watch it?

What made Speed Racer, Astro Boy, and Kimba the White Lion stand out? (Kimba the White Lion was stolen WHOLESALE by Disney and turned into “The Lion King”. They never really bothered to hide it, as Kimba was remembered by approximately 4 people when the 90s rolled around) Those were the first three anime that were presented to English audiences. When I watch the original Speed Racer, I nearly go blind from how bad the animation quality is (its varied and numerous remakes are pretty cool, though).

Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my mind. *Shrug*

No point to this post, really. Just thinking out loud.