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?
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?
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: