Anime: Fantastic and Frustrating.

Anime, crapitalism, culture Leave a reply

I love anime, and find a whole bunch of stuff around it immensely frustrating. I don’t even understand how the pitch meeting would go (I’m currently watching ID-0).

(I’ve just picked two male Japanese names at random out of the air, there’s no intent to link this conversation with any specific individuals)

Yoshifumi, writer
I want to create an anime that discusses the nature of ‘being human’, what it is to be a ‘living being’. It’s a bit of a passion project of mine, and I’ve been thinking about it for years.
Hidenori, anime studio producer
Ok. Tell me more.

Yoshifumi
It’ll be set in a sci-fi universe, where people can transmit their consciousness, i.e. memories, into giant robots.
Hidenori
Giant robots! Well, that’s one box checked. Keep going!
Yoshifumi
Some of the characters will have lost their human bodies at some point, so they only exist in the machines. Some of the characters will have their human bodies. And one will lose their human body, but have it replaced with a regrown one.
Hidenori
That’s really interesting, nice contrasting a few different possibilities. But it’s lacking in ‘cute’…. Could we put a yappy dog-like character in too? We could also make it a robot.
Yoshifumi
… I guess? Well, that fits with everything else, and opens up the question about animals and memory, so it’s another angle. Sure, we can do that too.
Hidenori
Fantastic. Is that the whole thing?
Yoshifumi
No. One of the robots, in addition to not having a human body, has lost their memories from before they were placed into this robotic body.
Hidenori
So if ‘being alive’ is defined by having a continuous chain of memories, this robot has them since it was ‘activate’, but since it doesn’t have any human memories, is it human? Or an AI? Or something else entirely? Profound! I love it!
Yoshifumi
Also, both space travel and this transmission of memories are facilitated by this rare mineral. We wa…
Hidenori
Rare mineral for space travel?! That’s a classic! Limited resources is an easy conflict generator!
Yoshifumi
Um… Yeah. But it’s not just this inert mineral. A few episodes in, it’ll create a child-like body.
Hidenori
Oh wow, so now we have this additional ‘form’ of a human, with no historical link to humanity, but looks and sounds like one?
Yoshifumi
Right!
Hidenori
But this one, like that other robot guy (they’re going to be a guy, right? We can’t do ‘a woman with a mysterious past’, that’s just weird if they’re the only one, amirite?) raises deep questions about what it means to ‘be human’ or just simply ‘be alive’!
Yoshifumi
Yeah, I feel you’re really getting where we’re going with this.
Hidenori
Ok, so what’s the conflict? Humanity vs Aliens? Vs Aliens-that-are-really-humans? Aliens-as-a-metaphor-for-something-in-our-society? It’s gotta be aliens.
Yoshifumi
Ah, no, we feel that we have that covered with the material, so we were thinking our protagonists will be a mercenary/criminal mining company, and the military will be the enemy.
Hidenori
Hmmm… How about corrupt military? I can’t see why honourable military troops who do their duty would fight a mining crew….
Yoshifumi
Yeah, that would work. Also, one of the lower-ranked officers will end up on the miners’ ship, accidentally of course, to provide us with the ‘official’ main stream view of our protagonists.
Hidenori
Even when there’s no giant robot fighting action, there can still be some sort of conflict of values? Fantastic!
Yoshifumi
Exactly! I feel we’re really meshing here! Anyway, that’s the whole pitch.
Hidenori
Ok, this sounds great, and we want to pick it up. I’d like to make a few “suggestions” that we’ll need to make sure it has widespread appeal.
Yoshifumi
Like…. What, exactly?
Hidenori
There’s going to be women in this, of course. We need at least one of them to have giant breasts. All will have tiny hips, of course.
Yoshifumi
I’m not sure that….
Hidenori
I’m not finished. Also, we might not be able to support this project if our “suggestions” aren’t taken on board.
Yoshifumi
Hidenori
One of the miners, let’s make it a girl of about 20 or so, but she needs to look younger. She’ll be a university student, so the Americans won’t object too much, but she’ll need to look about 15 or 16.
Yoshifumi
O…..k……?
Hidenori
When she’s not in uniform, she’ll need to be in her underwear. Also, we’ll need several opening-scene shots to start on her ass and pan up. Give the audience their money’s worth.
Yoshifumi
Hidenori
And the woman with giant breasts? Skin-tight clothing. Skin. Tight. Oh, but leave about 20% of her body without clothing. Let’s say from her sternum up? We’ve got to keep it classy!
Yoshifumi
I’ll have to think about this. I’m not sure that these “suggestions” help the story.
Hidenori
Look, Yoshi, buddy: you want your story, we want people to watch the show. Giant jiggling boobs, and a legal-but-uncomfortably-young-semi-naked-woman, or it doesn’t get made. By any studio. Understand?
Yoshifumi
I understand…
Hidenori
Alright. I’ll let our art team know we’ve got a sci-fi giant mecha ‘the usual’ coming, and you can meet up with them to discuss the character design. *starts dialling*
Yoshifumi
*starts to weep silently*

And *scene*…….

If we could just drop the unnecessary misogynistic and objectifying shit from these shows, I would be so goddamn happy. There’s so many of these shows I want to recommend to friends because of the profound ideas found within them, but *whoops* it’s a scantily clad 15yo that the camera spends *way* too much time almost-looking-upskirt….. Y’know, just enough to send the message that that’s what they want to do, but stopping *just* short enough (or worse: not stopping short) to claim plausible deniability (amongst those who just refuse to understand, I guess?).

Watching anime is always a frustrating battle between being in awe of the profound existentialist ideas and being aghast at the ‘camera’ angles/character-types the creators chose to use. As a dude who doesn’t have to deal with this in their life, that scale mostly tips to the left, but at some point whoever keeps making these decisions needs to be removed from their positions. For ethical reasons (i.e. this is just shit), and financial (i.e. If you keep telling 50% of humanity that they are in the show merely to jiggle and be looked at, you’re giving them no reason to watch your show/buy your merchandise. This seems like an elementary-level thing, but I don’t have a business degree…….).

Anime. Fantastic and frustrating.

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