On liking shallow anime
Over here in anime fandom, we’re fond of reminding outsiders that anime is “more than cartoons.”
Sure, it was a little more difficult to discern that back in the days that Blockbuster grouped anime for kids, anime for teens, and sometimes even hentai together all in the same ANIME category. But today, it’s generally accepted that there are varied shows for every audience, whether you’re into science fiction or you’re five years old.
And some anime can be really deep. People write actual theses on what happened in Evangelion. It’s easy to see why an anime that tackles theology is “more than cartoons.”
However, confession time. Like many of my readers who happen to be attracted to man abs, I am really into Free! right now. I can’t wait until later today when I get to see Anime Ryan Gosling, Shota, and the rest splash and frolic in the water.
It might be premature to say this, but I don’t think anyone’s going to write a book on the symbolism and sociological insights in Free! It’s just manservice.
From Lucky Star to K-On, anime without depth is nothing new. Within the anime community, we all admit we watch it and love it. But outside our group, it kind of puts us on the defensive. “That’s not what ALL anime is like!”
I got the idea to write a post about liking “bad” or “flawed” anime from Anime Yume, and she in turn got the idea to write about it from Froggykun. It’s a popular topic because we all feel a little bad. After all the progress we’ve made highlighting the creative and intellectual gems to come out of anime, it feels like a betrayal to indulge in anything else.
From a big picture perspective, shallow anime doesn’t negate the whole genre. I mean, just because the Western world is responsible for the likes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo doesn’t eclipse modern classics like Donnie Darko. And while that argument seems obvious now that I’ve written it down, it feels a little less defensible when I’m trying to promote a fandom that outsiders already know I’m really passionate about.
What is your favorite “bad” anime and do you ever feel guilty for enjoying it?