Questions of Drastic importance

By Nomad(currently insanely hurried)Otto
Currently, I’m in the middle of finishing up everything that was left hanging until the end of the quarter, so I’ve been crazy-busy. Since I just beasted through something that I thought was going to take me all day, I have time for a brief post. It’s not my traditional discourse on some aspect of fandom, instead, I’d like to let the inmates run the asylum for a little while, or, to be less rude, I have some question for the readers of Drastic about what sort of things you guys would like to see (at least from this part of the drastic team).
1) Reviews: I’ve done a couple of posts reviewing various things (manga, anime, visual novels, etc.) Is there anything that you folks would like to see a review of? Are the reviews even that useful?
    a) When I first watched (read: saw two episodes of) Utena, I thought it was boring, incomprehensible shit. When I watched it again, and had some shaz explained, it suddenly became one of my favorite shows. I really need to do a review of Utena at some point, but I’m not sure I can really do the show justice in this format. It totally deserves someone who majored in english and 40 pages of semiotics instead of 1.5 pages by a kook. Has anyone here besides TheBigN and I actually SEEN that damn thing? Heard about it?
 This shaz be awesome!
    b) Same question, but about Saikano.  It’s another really good show that I hated at first. However, it’s less pressing, as Saikano is also much less good (not to say that it’s bad, just less good).
     c) Rise and Fall of Gainax: Everyone’s seen Eva, most people have seen Kare Kano (at least in my age cohort). These were objectively awesome. I hope you haven’t had to sit through all of He is My Master. What happened? Why are the first two shows good (if a little overhyped, in at least one case) while the newer gainax stuff (not counting TTGL) shit?
2) Levels of abstraction: Sort of related to the above. I’ve written generally about anime/manga rather than about the culture that’s formed around anime/manga, which is odd, because, in many ways, I find the culture more compelling than the shows themselves. Are folks interested in the fans/production staff behind the curtain, or should the focus stay on the shows?
    a) Fan Culture: It may be a function of becoming one of the “older guard” but fun culture seems to have changed substantially since the days of yore (average age is dropping, and the reaction seems to be shifting from academic to viceral, i.e. fewer reaction papers and more OMG WAI fanart). Is this an observer-based effect or is there really something going on here?
    b) Shounen: Senin, Shojo: Jousei: Early in my career I had the benefit of being around a bunch of obnoxious grad students who knew damn near well everything. I absorbed a lot of “wisdom” as a result, most of it in being able to pigeon-hole stuff within 15 seconds of hearing about it. Is there some aspect of the classifications that I use which you’d like to see explained better?
 Is this show Shounen or Seinen? You have ten seconds!
3) Anything really else?: The big benefit of blogs is that they’re not supposed to be one to many broadcasts, but, rather, one to many conversations, so, converse!.
4) Commercial Media vs. Artistic Media: This isn’t as much of a readership question, but more of something that I’ve been chewing over and I haven’t gotten a purchase on yet. Institutions are great at maintence. A group of people is more able to complete a task that takes perserverence than a single person, because the efforts of many can be directed to a single goal, and the weaknesses of one person can be covered by the others. On the other hand, groups of people tend to be less able to produce quality, because the vision of any individual becomes fragmented and muddled due to the group process.
    Moreover, at least as far as I understand how the world works, money tends to be a bigger concern for groups than individuals (i.e. if I do something as a hobby, what matters is that what I make is interesting, when you do something as a buisness, what matters is if it sells.) This princible would suggest that even though the larger resources of a group should make creation easier, they will tend to eat away at the very thing that makes me like art, the creative spirit. The bigger the group, the larger these tendency should be.
    Groups, therefore, tend to produce a lot of mediocre stuff but very little that breaks new ground. Individuals are better at moving art forward, but each individual impulse is, to be frank, likely to suck. At least, that’s the theory, which would suggest that innovation should proceed from the doujin culture level to the studio level, rather than visa versa.  However, this is not quite what tends to be seen,  as most doujin works are pretty derivative, while a couple of notable studios (at various times and in various shows: Gainax, Kyoani, Shaft etc.) have really created big changes.
    Is this an issue of statistical observer bias (just because I haven’t seen many of x doesn’t mean that x doesn’t happen, or even that x is uncommon, it can just mean that I have a weird space I’m sampling)? By contrasting doujin culture with anime am I making a blunder, instead, should the contrast be between doujin culture and serials culture (something I’m not as familiar with as I should be)? Is my understanding of the benefits and flaws of the group approach and the solo approach lacking?
There should be more updates after finals and Animeboston are done with, but, in the meantime, pretty picture:
hey, I think it’s pretty…

6 Responses to “Questions of Drastic importance”

  1. 1 issa-sa March 12, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Haha, recently finished Utena as well (though it took pretty long to get through it) and I have to say it’s one of my favourite shows… which I still don’t really get in the end, yet it all seems strangely besides the point…

  2. 2 Sasa March 12, 2008 at 4:20 am

    1. a.) I read the manga and found the storyline to be pretty much crap. But I was told several times that the anime would be much better.

    b.) Saikano was brilliant of course, even though I disliked the constant unfaithfulness of the characters and despite that, there was such an emphasis on “true love” that I simply couldn’t see. Aside from that, I think that it was a rather well-known show when it aired, but now nobody would speak about it anymore because it is old. If some new Saikano material (after the OVAs) would come up, people will blog about it again.

    c.) Isn’t Gurren Lagann enough as a counter example? Also, personally I loved Abenobashi Mahou Shotengai.

    2. a.) This discussion is so vain. Five years ago, I was considered a young fan by the people who are in their thirties now, and “my generation” has already started with OMG fanart, cosplay and silly fanboying/girling at that time. (Think Pokemon.) Also, I think that manga gets more and more recognized in the western world so that there are actually more serious academic papers about the stuff than five years ago.

    b.) If you would spell “seinen” and “josei” right, it would probably be interesting to see if you have something to add to it. After all, Wikipedia does the definition for those who are interested and the “genres are overlapping” question is being discussed.

  3. 3 The Animanachronism March 12, 2008 at 4:34 am

    1) Yes, reviews are useful. If you feel like writing one, I’d recommend writing about the most obscure things you can find, but that’s just me.

    1a) Unfortunately, I haven’t watched Utena. I had it fairly comprehensively spoiled for me by the first volume of Mechademia (academics ignore spoilers, it seems), so I’m sadly unlikely to. But since I’m spoiled already, I’d be interested to hear what you thought of it.

    1b), 1c) I can’t comment on.

    2a) Dunno if this is a viable suggestion, but what I’d find really interesting would be some dialogue between old-timers about the changing fandom, or dialogue between old-timers and youngsters. Of course, this is complicated by the fact that we all have two ages – age-since-birth and age-since-became-anime-fan. And by the fact that the geniunely, biologically young tend not to capitalise or use paragraphs (as a child I did but I still wrote pretty poor stuff).

    2b) Not so useful since I feel that I’ve already figured out how genres work to my own satisfaction at least (ah, the arrogant blindness of youth).

  4. 4 21stcenturydigitalboy March 12, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Utena is one of my top favorite shows (I think #17) Indeed, it’s be a difficult show to review, but hell, you’re probably much much better than me and on rare occasions someone says they like my shit instead of flaming me, so you’d probably do damn well XD. I haven’t sen any reviews of yours other than manga, and I like your manga review though they tend to be of shit I can’t find XD

    And, uh, tl;dr

  5. 5 mrmayat March 12, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    1) Reviews of obscure stuff is always good. But finding them in all its translated glory is a different matter…

    a) Haven’t seen it and not planning to.

    b) Read the manga and devoured the anime. I know it’s supposed to be a romantic tragedy, but it just didn’t move me. Love the art though.

    c) I don’t care about the studios. As long as there’s good s**t, all is well.

    2) Whatever floats your boat.

    a) I haven’t explored the new bloggers just yet. I have enough animeblogs on my to-read list as it is.

    b)As long as the show is good, I couldn’t care less what it’s called. Pigeon-holing shows are so 90’s.

  6. 6 TheBigN March 17, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Write what you feel like. 😛

    It seems that writing more about the culture is where your interests really lie, so why not go with that angle? I won’t mind either way though. :3

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