The Final “I Hope Nippon-Sempai Notices Me” and Why I’m Giving Up On Anime
I started this column 2 years ago under a single pretext. To combat the notion that anime was dead, that it was a broken thing that could ultimately be fixed. That maybe, just maybe if some producer listened to some old animefag on the internet that possibly it could be mended. Of course I never actually expected anyone to really listen to my insane rants and ideas for shows to fix anime.
I wrote all of these articles (this will be article 90 btw) with the intention that it would end 2 years or 100 articles in. I knew that there would certainly be more faults to be covered even given such a large time-frame, but I had an ulterior motive writing this. A motive knowing that I wouldn’t be listened to, that unless a radical 180 occurred in the industry – would still remain true. I knew that this all along wasn’t really for some anime producer – hell it was barely for your amusement dear reader. This was in a way my note, the final act of a major part of my life.
Because I am done with anime.
Now that’s not to say that I am going to sell my posters and mangas, never hang out with friends at anime cons, or not watch the new Miyazaki film. I’m not quitting anime and pretending it was never a part of my life, or one that won’t exist in some way – I’m not a child throwing a tantrum. However this weekly-ish dissection of anime, or the seasonal depression of watching every show are gone from my life. (This summer was my last)
I knew going into this it would end not because of being finally fed up with a latest season offering, or the feeling that I’ve grown too old to enjoy an animation, or some desire to forsake my nerdiness. It would end for the very reason I’ve been writing this column (for myself and you) because anime is broken in so many ways – and I can’t stand to look at it pretending it can be fixed.
Anime is awful at making sequels, being spooky, understanding the true nature of power, pacing, thinking a story must be some great epic, or telling a story without overloading it with cardboard characters, and it really sucks at tension.
It goes deeper than just a list of things it does wrong though – at it’s core it can barely be taken seriously. Doing things merely to serve ‘plot’, leading to characters that ultimately lack complexity. It outright ignores it’s ability to frame its scenes into something interesting or use innovate camera techniques given it’s freedom often existing as nothing more than the same old talking heads. Even the auditory senses are oft ignored, or worse murdered.
A lot of this is simply because the focus of anime is all messed up. There’s too much focus on sex, power levels, heroes, or on light almost fluff story lines. Even niche stories must conform to an archetype or have their authenticity killed by a market-focused production crew. That’s not even getting into the weird focus on having sex with their little sisters, or little girls in general for that matter.
However even when focused there’s just so much anime is lacking, be it intrigue, real motivation, non-fiction storytelling, strong endings or evocative emotions.It needs to embrace it’s ability to be serious, or the actually absurd. Too much anime is flash in the pan – never aging well, or stupid shit that gets liked for no reason, and all too often just can’t even get comedy right.
So much of my life has been spent being angry at anime. And why not? It’s disrespectful to Santa, armed forces, and even holocaust victims. It’s alliteratively awful, sexualizes sharks and small children alike, and feels like an entire medium targeted at teenagers – unable to escape from it’s high-school classrooms or the need of turning the mundane into moe.
Anime confuses high octane with good, loopy with surrealism, or scifi with mechs. It makes reality boring, and spends too much time fucking around – leading to awful storytelling. The caricatures that are anime characters prove that even inane Nerdfit shenagians could make just as good an anime, and make me question whether the ideal women for anime producers is a harem of mentally challenged females.
Yet the same things keep coming out, because anime isn’t marketed to a global audience. It’s not forced to keep making the show better over time. It’s not focused on telling us the story not in the character-facing foreground without telegraphing plots and prophecies or almost always making awful spinoffs & continuations.
I wish I could say I could have fixed this. Anime though just isn’t what it used to be, even if better animated reboots can be successful or that sometimes moe can work. Despite knowing that sometimes an anime can pay off, it just fails to the consistent quality of other animated productions all too often.
The problem is that there is no survival strategy here, no anime which can ‘save’ the genre. Anime is broken, and if McLuhan is right about the media being the message, than the only message anime delivers is one of an infantile mode of entertainment too focused on dreams of high schools, moe-fication, panty shots, and murder-violence to realize the true potential of what it could be saying.
and with that.
The Buffalo is Nerdfit's longest active content contributor. Having helmed various podcasts (What's Nu in Animu, WritersCast), columns (I Hope Nippon Sempai Notices Me, Advanced Game Theory, Booze Reviews, Anime Season Previews, etc) - currently he writes a weekly article column of 'Buffalo's Shit to Think About'