I’ve spoken at length about how I hate modern anime. There are so many shows being made now, and they all pretty much universally suck. The glory days of anime are long behind it, in my eyes. Call me a hipster (I’m starting to accept that in some ways I kind of am one), but I think anime was destroyed by its own success. Once it gained mainstream popularity (or at least infinitely more mainstream than it used to be), or rather became part of geek culture, it all went downhill from there. The truly great anime from not that long ago became something that they wanted to recapture, but the problem is that animation studios are having to push out commercially successful shows with higher budgets and shorter production time. It’s put terrible strain on animation studios and their employees that I genuinely feel sad about.
Wow that was a digression, wasn’t it. My point is, I don’t think much of modern anime. But my gay girly-mate has this new series that she is all over, and since FUNimation does this thing where they will simultaneously release dubs and subs at the same time (I refuse to watch subs anime. I can watch subtitled foreign films all day, but I genuinely refuse to do so with anime. So if the dub sucks, I’m done), she has forced me to partake in this series with her. Won’t say what it is. It’s one of her guilty pleasures, and that’s all I’m going to say. I swear, the girl is punishing me for something. Can’t think of what.
This series isn’t bad on a technical level. The animation is actually pretty great. It has this nice realistic aesthetic that I am kind of digging. The perk of modern animation being glossy and realistic is that it gives series a quality of feeling true to life that old-school anime never really had without insane detail. Now proper shading and less expressive faces give environments and character designs something that feels true to life. Like this is someone you can get to know in the real world. The best friend character is my favorite so far.
But the design of these characters being less over the top and toned down expressively means that when this series has some of the cheese that anime is known for, it stands out to me in a bad way. A very bad way. You have a character whose entire visual design is not at all bombastic suddenly going into a ridiculous expression that feels so out of place given the art style. Every time it happens it feels kind of wrong. I genuinely don’t know what this bothers me so much, but it does.
Let me give you a way to look at this that is more relatable. You like Quentin Tarantino, right? Of course you do. Well imagine for a second that in Reservoir Dogs it cut to some scenery-chewing villain doing a song number. Or if the characters with their perfect dialogue and delivery started suddenly going really over the top at the drop of a hat, only to then go back to their perfectly done dialogue again without acknowledging that at all. Would that not catch your attention in a bad way? It would me.
I have had a thousand people tell me that I over-analyze stuff, so if you’re going to come at me with that, don’t. Trust me, I already know. It just really weirds me out to have stuff like that going on when the scene is being played fairly straight. And this series does. It plays everything completely straight until you cut to some cheese right the fuck out of nowhere. I will admit that my girly-mate’s series is starting to grow on me just because these characters are relatable in a good way. At least the best friend is. I love this chick. Her commentary on the events transpiring around her is just the best. This girl is basically me as a female. Standing on the sidelines of the madness and then commenting on what she sees in a way that cuts all the bullshit out.
But like I said, this may just be me. So what about you? Am I on to something here, or am I totally off-base. Maybe I can give this to you a different way – imagine in Cowboy Bebop if Spike suddenly did that silly crying face. Or if Jet Black and the suddenly revelation face where his eyes go all huge and white. Would that not bother you? It’s so tonally dissident from everything else. I don’t know. If you are going to go with a more laid-back tone, that’s totally fine. Hell, I dig it. But go the distance with that. If you want to show a character being shocked at learning something, you can do that with realistic expression. If you want to have a motif, stick with it. That’s all I’m saying.
Until next time, a quote,
“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” – Jean Luc Godard