Sunday, June 13, 2010


Sometimes people assume I came to Japan because I was interested in something like samurai or anime. When I was studying Japanese in college, classmates would always assume I was into anime, like that was the only reason anyone would be in that class. Gross. In general, Anime + Me = No.

There's some Japanese animation I like. I think it would be hard to dislike Cowboy Bebop. I watched most of the series a few years ago. It has a modern, elegant, catchy aesthetic, great music, and that classic kind of urban space noir vibe that I love but can't ever explain. (And no, not like Blade Runner, harder to explain than that.)

And obviously Hayao Miyazaki is amazing. I have an incredible amount of respect for him. He stands for such goodness in his work. It blows my mind. I can't think of any other product for children with such incredible female characters, such co-operative relationships between boys and girls. His stories strive for a higher philosophical standard than you could ever hope to find in other films for young people, and many films for adults. I'm actually not an evangelical fan of his work but I do seriously believe that.

Princess Mononoke is one of the best films I've ever seen. Now I want to watch it again...

But that's basically as far as my anime sympathies go.

Everyone likes Evangelion. I know it from the t-shirts of anime geeks back home. And everyone likes it in Japan, I guess. I've had two Japanese friends talk to me about Evangelion this week. It sounds a little interesting but I doubt I'll go there. I don't know, I'm just not into it.

And wayyy down at the bottom, here, is probably the root of my inability to get down with the anime. I hate everything about Dragonball. I cannot understand the appeal. I don't really even understand how it's entertaining to children because it looks so fucking boring. And when I was little, old Japanese animation like this scared the shit out of me, especially with the creepy fake-sounding dubbed voices.

"This is a Super Saiyan. And this...THIS is what is known as a Super Saiyan that has ascended PAST a Super Saiyan! OR, you could just call this a Super Saiyan TWO."

Do you like anime?


Annelise said...

I'll never understand the otaku thing. Going to another country to watch their children's cartoons? Mystifying. I like some anime/manga, but to me it's just another artistic medium, not something to build my entire life around.

How unwatchable is Evangelion, by the way? People keep comparing me to the ginger one and I feel like I should sit through it once for the sake of cartoon me.

Anonymous said...

ah, omg i run into the same interest in japan is mainly because of the capital tokyo(not the unappealing countrysides)..i dunno it just has an appeal that i can't explain.the closest i've gotten to watching anime was when i was like 7 or 8 and would constantly watch pokemon...and everytime i try to mention my interst in tokyo to someone they ALWAYS assume i love anime or something...grrr!

Edie said...

the only thing im into as far as anime is Dragonball z..
i live in england now but i used to watch it when i was a kid in africa so i guess thats why i like it.I hardly think about it now though cause i've sorta outgrown they had that terrible movie that came out like a year ago...DRAGONBALL Z THE MOVIE..
It was shameful!

theMil said...

Not a big fan of anime in general either but I watch/follow Bleach and Naruto... kinda like the Japanese Mythology behind those stories (monsters, names, etc.)
Miyazaki is definitely an artist, love Mononoke, Totoro and Ponyo but my favourite is Porco Rosso! The part I prefer of his movies are the animations of strange blobby beings :P
What was your main reason for going to Japan?

Beth said...

annelise, i haven't seen it at all. idk. it seems like something you have to reeeeally be into if you're going to remotely enjoy it. that's how most anime strikes me i guess.

anonymous, it used to drive me crazy when my japanese classmates would just ask, "so what anime are you into?" and i'd say i wasn't and they'd be like "what? then... why are you studying japanese?" there were about three normal people in there, it was seriously like an anime convention every day, cosplay included.

edie, hahaha. i wouldn't know. i saw the posters for the movie in my last school.

Beth said...

honestly here is how i ended up in japan:

needed a second language in college, got sick of spanish, thought japanese was pretty sounding and i was always casually interested in japanese fashion

got a chance to do a summer exchange and picked japan as my country since i'd been studying the language for a year

my whole plan all along was to travel/live abroad, and when i graduated i had friends from my exchanges and tutoring and japan was an obvious choice for a first destination.

that's it.

theMil said...

Then I guess Japan is just a stop between locations :) That's pretty cool! Any idea on what the next destination will be? Or do you like Japan "so much" that you might stay there longer than planned?

Lisa said...

On my second trip to Japan I bought some manga called くる ねこ and my lifetime goal is to be able to read it.

sarah said...

omg no. cant stand the stuff.

but sometimes i lie to the kids. they try so hard to ask me questions in english... i dont want to be like `no, i would rather stand on a staple than watch anime` and watch their little faces drop.

i usually say i like doraemon. he`s kind of cute, i guess. and he is blue

Rose said...

I admit it was my interest in 90s anime that got me interested in Japanese. But I have a pedigree - I'm related to the people who did the original English dub of Kimba the White Lion and Astroboy. So maybe I had an early exposure to it.

Before you dismiss any and all anime (and I think a lot of recent stuff is gross at best and downright disturbig at worst in it's pursuit of otaku fanbases with Lolita complexes), please please please watch "Ghost in the Shell." In Japanese. It's easily one of my top favorite films of all time - it just happens to be animated. (The sequel, "Innocence" is also very good.)

If you like the music of Cowboy Bebop (composed by Yoko Kanno) check out the TV series of Ghost in the Shell. Or at least the soundtracks.

I've watched all of Evangelion at least twice. The voice acting is some of the best I've ever heard in any anime, which might be enough. However, I think it's a very important work that explores the post-WWII Japanese psyche. Yeah, on the surface it's just another robot anime, but there is soooo much psychological and sociological issues and philosophical knots that come up that I think it deserves it's rabid fanbase.

As far as more recent work goes, I highly recommend the delightfully disturbing yet charming as hell "Full Metal Alchemist."

Also, the manga and anime versions of Ai Yazawa's "Nana" focus on a really amazing friendship between a punk rocker chic and her hapless best friend. The story is gripping and the music used in the anime is really awesome.

....but yeah, I'm not really into anime much at all recently. The above are works that I'd gladly revisit, though.

Anonymous said...

I know this is random- but I like to browse through random Japan blogs and I saw this post. I completely sympathize on the anime thing. I hate it when people say to me- "Oh you like Japan, you must like anime right?" I'm like no...not really. It's all pretty terrible.

The exception being most of the stuff you mentioned. I like Evangelion due to its philosophical undertones and who doesn't absolutely love Miyazaki??

I like you blog. Hi :)