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Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2007-08-03 08:12:16

Anime Gets Over Hyped

Today's strip is essentially a verbatim transcript of a conversation I had with a buddy who, as far as I can tell, exclusively watches anime and horror films. I'm sorry, Naruto fans; call me a hater, but the show isn't that great. Sure, gladiatorial bouts between supernatural ninjas sounds cool on paper, but the execution is merely passable. I'm honestly astounded that people consider Naruto good storytelling. With a few exceptions, the characters are transparent cookie cutter archetypes. With a massive cast, they clearly went for quantity over quality character development. Naruto bludgeons you with thematic obviousness; subtext is not a forte of the series. The humor is welcome, but you have to sit through sluggish dead spots of mechanical action to get to it.

The other hype machine I checked out is Bleach. I really wanted to like it, as the hook seemed interesting, but all I got was hours of exposition. It seemed like more than half of the show was just that demon hunter chick narrating the back story, and what the "rules of the universe" are. I started to wonder if Japanese creative writing courses bother teaching the cardinal rule of "showing, not telling". The thing is, it's not exclusively a Western principle; tons of excellent Japanese works including novels, film, and manga avoid using the crutch of expository narrative.

So I'm thinking that anime is just going down the shitter. I'm guessing that people dig Naruto and Bleach so much, because competing anime series are even worse. Animation quality is increasing steadily, but actual storytelling is deteriorating at a symmetrical rate. There have been some great anime films, but the last series I enjoyed was Cowboy Bebop. Maybe I'll appreciate the more sunshiney, girlier current anime fads such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or Lucky Star.

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