March 2009

Anime Friday: FLCL

Since I began Anime Friday I've had a question in the back of my mind each time I watch one of the entries. I wonder whether or not I would watch it outside of the context of this project. Even if I rate my enjoyment of a given anime on the high end of the scale, there's no denying that the score is at least partially influenced by the fact that I'm getting paid to watch it. You readers would be surprised how many awful things become bearable if they're just part of a job, just like how good things can become chores in a similar situation. So, sure I can say that I liked Haruhi, but would I watch it just for the sake of entertainment? Nope. I'd rather watch re-runs of Flight of the Conchords or even an episode of American Dad. That said, there are a few series and movies I've watched that I enjoyed on a purer-than-work level.

Anime Friday: Blue Seed

In the modern world, there are two prevailing schools of television production. In most countries, especially in Europe but also frequently in Japan, the aim is to make a short series that only has an initial run of six to ten episodes. If a particular program proves popular (alliteration not intended) it is often renewed for a somewhat longer second series, then maybe a third and so on until the show dies. This tends to result in shows that either disappear before they really capture their audience, like BBC's Life on Mars, or shows that go on forever, like Absolutely Fabulous to take another example from the BBC. The other school of thought, this one primarily practiced in America, is to launch a show with the goal of a seven-season run. This is at once ridiculously ambitious and horribly prone to creativity-squashing. When it works, it's wonderful.

When language is not a barrier

The contents of TV adverts vary from country to country. Admittedly, you have to shape the content according to each culture. Keeping this in mind, isn't it fantastic to come across ads that transcend cultural boundaries? After all, it just goes to show that, despite language and cultural boundaries, there are a lot of common concepts across continents.

1. Big Big Ad

Anime Friday: Ebichu

Americans are fickle and they demand variety in all things. It doesn't matter that all twelve brands of chocolate sauce taste exactly the same, just that there are twelve brands available. In fact, most would ask why there isn't a thirteenth brand on the way promising something extra. We're no different when it comes to television. Sure, there's a demographic that wants to see the same thing over and over again, but it's getting increasingly difficult to feed the American public the same premise year after year. We want new actors, new styles, new ideas, or at least a new twist on an old idea. We're not alone in this, mostly. Japanese culture is every bit as consumerist as our own. We don't really get a lot of their non-mainstream culture Stateside for the same reason they don't get a lot of our tiny independent films; there's just not enough potential distribution to justify the import. That's the category of anime to which today's entry belongs.

Anime Friday: Cowboy Bebop

One thing I've noticed since the beginning of this project is that anime producers really don't put enough energy into their shows' intro sequences. The overwhelming majority of them that I've seen have been high on the cuteness factor but otherwise pretty insufferable. The worst part is invariably the music. If I have to hear one more grating non-song with childish female vocals about riding along on stars and every day being a brand new day, I might just quit this endeavor altogether. A title sequence isn't just an empty space where the credits go, it's a way to both pull new viewers in and get returning viewers excited about your show. At best, a title sequence can do this while also introducing the central themes and characters of the series.