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Old 2009-08-24, 21:32   Link #1
Nosauz
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What keeps your suspension of belief when you watch anime?

For me it boils down to 4 very simple and crucial things,
1) Overall story and how well its told, something that involves more showing then telling to be specific
2) Fluidity of the animation, this is a big thing for me, if the animation feels sluggish and doesn't match what is being said or described about a character I feel disconnected.
3) Soundtrack that fits, this is quite important, if you've seen Clannad AS and you know Torch, then you can understand the frustration of mismatched music to a scene
4) Art Direction, this probably a more superficial thing, if the characters and the scenery clash and not by sake of story but just due to laziness or the art direction is just sloppy, I look at you Akikan, then that will remove me.

Yeah, overall I'm a tough customer to please when it comes to animation, especially when it comes CG animation because whenever I see CG if its not on par with pixar or it's like Ga Rei Zero then that instantly drops me out of how much I enjoy the show.
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Old 2009-08-24, 21:47   Link #2
Theowne
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If there are characters that are believable, realistic and whom I can relate with, everything else matters very little. Shows I enjoy span many genres (Planetes, Seirei no Moribito, Honey and Clover) but all share that trait of having a strong main cast that you can become invested in. Animation and artwork matter very little to me. While they are a definite bonus (such as with Studio Ghibli's excellent visuals), the way the characters behave are more important to my enjoyment than how high quality their drawings are. I find that the other good things about anime, particularly whether they have a lasting impact on me, usually follow naturally from having good characters.
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Old 2009-08-24, 21:48   Link #3
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Characters-- One of the big interests to me is how the characters react to whatever is happening to them. Do they react in character or do they act as the plot demands them ? Thus, I can accept outrageous stories when this happens, because I like seeing how people would react to such odd scenarios. The other thing is that if the characters are too boring, then I just don't give a damn about the situation or whatever happens to them.

Story-- They story needs to be internally consistent with itself. So it's ok if the whole thing is unrealistic but it must also follow its own rules. One should not confuse plot devices for actual storytelling. It is what you do with them that sets the story in motion that matters.

This one is a bit vague, but I feel a good show has to invoke some kind of emotion or thought. If you watch it and that's it, well, that's ok but the better shows have a longer lasting effect on you. Did it make you laugh, did it make you sad, did it make you think about the plot? Obviously, feelings derived from the crappiness of a show does not count. Do it right and I will allow more leeway to bending reality.

I don't care too much about art quality unless it's like moving at 3 frames per second on a still background. There's only a few shows (Naruto of late comes to mind) that I've actually said "damn this is ugly" But it sure helps establish the atmosphere though. Not required, but definitely a plus.

I do not like ridiculous things such as super contrived twists solely for the sake of shock value. That's just a waste of time.

Basically, I suspend my disbelief for more intriguing stories that put a lot of time in creating their own world. The flimsier these things are, the less I can tolerate.
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Old 2009-08-24, 22:53   Link #4
4Tran
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I find that there are slightly different criteria that maintain my suspension of disbelief, and that this carries over despite the medium, but it's somewhat different depending on the tone of the show.

Primarily, I'd echo the posters above who say that characters have to be realistic, but I think that that's a bit less important than that they behave like people, rather than as plot devices. This distinction exists because it's quite possible (even common) to have characters who are realistically conceived who still don't act like people in key points. Likewise, it's possible for even fantastical characters who can behave in a most human manner at the crucial moments, and that's enough most of the time.

Next, the story points show flow smoothly; each event building on the previous ones in a natural manner. This is a less easy to describe criterion, but it really boils down to not having unexpected story points show up without proper development. Normally, I'm a lot more forgiving even when these unexpected points show up, if they serve to create difficulties for the characters than if they serve to solve problems.

Finally, the most important element is that of immersion. There are two parts to immersion - the first is how well designed the fictional universe is, the amount of details it has, and how well it lives and breathes. Bear in mind that even in stories based on the real world, a show can be non-immersive and the story itself not worthy of suspending belief. But the most fantastical worlds can come to life because of the care taken to bring it to life: if we know how the people live, what they do day-to-day, how the social structures work and break down, and so on. The shows with the best settings can get away with quite a lot in my books.

The other element to immersion is a bit more complicated: it's a combination of what and how much the show asks of the audience, and how well it executes its themes. Thus a show with a serious tone that asks deep questions about philosophy, politics, and so on, will be also be scrutinized that much harder on how well they flesh out those concepts. I'm really very picky about these particular subjects, so I find that most anime that try to tackle them fail (often quite miserably), but the ones that suceed are the most immersive of their genre, and so the show itself is emminently believable.

As an example of all of this, I posit Twelve Kingdoms. It actually is one of the most fantastical fantasy settings out there - it posits very complex systems, and have human beings that work biologically very differently from real people. However, the show's strengths in both immersion factors is so high that I would imagine that most viewers come to think of it as an almost-China that could have been; and that it's eminently believable.
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Old 2009-08-25, 02:43   Link #5
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^ I agree with 4Tran on this. I myself am a very hard to please viewer and disbelief is the main reason I don't like most anime. Shonen and their out-of-place power ups and undying characters are a great minus. Yet, I still enjoy shounen like One Piece and Soul Taker for the wacky funny characters. Comedy excuses most wallbangers for me.

It is mostly when an anime tries to play it serious that things turn ugly. Here you are with a simple story or a comedy and the script changes to grim or philosophical just for shock effect. And it sucks allmost everytime because there is nothing to support the belief such a thing could happen. Beats the hell out of me of why Itachi in Naruto did what he did. Or shoot me for making such a conclusion for Chobits.
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Old 2009-08-25, 04:24   Link #6
MeoTwister5
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Immersion is where it's at. If I'm too immersed in the story and the world of the shos I'm less likely to notice the bartender with a 10 inch dong growing out of his forehead.
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Old 2009-08-25, 04:30   Link #7
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Originally Posted by MeoTwister5 View Post
Immersion is where it's at. If I'm too immersed in the story and the world of the shos I'm less likely to notice the bartender with a 10 inch dong growing out of his forehead.
Main Character Immersion or Imagined Fusion with Main Character. The greater the similarities between the audience and the protagonist, the greater the immersion and attraction----that's why most main male characters are weak and incredibly cowardly, a trait of the average teenage Japanese boy.
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Old 2009-08-25, 04:58   Link #8
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Well, I am not an average teenage Japanese boy and all this Naruto shit mean nothing to me. I feel closer to the cast of NHK and I am not even a NEET or a hikkikomori.
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Old 2009-08-25, 05:00   Link #9
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Well, I am not an average teenage Japanese boy and all this Naruto shit mean nothing to me. I feel closer to the cast of NHK and I am not even a NEET or a hikkikomori.
well said. You're the proof of peculiarities and abnormalities.
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Old 2009-08-25, 05:06   Link #10
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No, I just don't take sides. I evaluate characters for what they really are. Shounen casts are a joke yet the stories are not always comedy.
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Old 2009-08-25, 08:06   Link #11
4Tran
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^ I agree with 4Tran on this. I myself am a very hard to please viewer and disbelief is the main reason I don't like most anime. Shonen and their out-of-place power ups and undying characters are a great minus. Yet, I still enjoy shounen like One Piece and Soul Taker for the wacky funny characters. Comedy excuses most wallbangers for me.
Anime-wise, I'm generally rather easy to please. It's when a show demands more of its viewer that I start to demand more of it.

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Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
It is mostly when an anime tries to play it serious that things turn ugly. Here you are with a simple story or a comedy and the script changes to grim or philosophical just for shock effect. And it sucks allmost everytime because there is nothing to support the belief such a thing could happen. Beats the hell out of me of why Itachi in Naruto did what he did. Or shoot me for making such a conclusion for Chobits.
I agree there. I've only seen this fusion pulled off successfully a few times, and it generally only works when a lot of care is put into balancing the disparate elements.

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Main Character Immersion or Imagined Fusion with Main Character. The greater the similarities between the audience and the protagonist, the greater the immersion and attraction----that's why most main male characters are weak and incredibly cowardly, a trait of the average teenage Japanese boy.
You've got a bit of a point here, but I don't think that it's the one that you're going for. A lot of male leads in anime (especially in otaku shows) are relatively weak and non-descript, but not because that's what Japanese boys are like (heck, they're generally not even meant for boys in the first place). They are so because they are meant as a viewer self-insert; a role that the viewer can replace with himself. This is easier to do with characters that aren't very meaningfully defined, and that's why this character archetype is so successful. This technique doesn't rely on the viewer having any actual similarities to the character in question.
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Old 2009-08-25, 08:54   Link #12
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You've got a bit of a point here, but I don't think that it's the one that you're going for. A lot of male leads in anime (especially in otaku shows) are relatively weak and non-descript, but not because that's what Japanese boys are like (heck, they're generally not even meant for boys in the first place). They are so because they are meant as a viewer self-insert; a role that the viewer can replace with himself. This is easier to do with characters that aren't very meaningfully defined, and that's why this character archetype is so successful. This technique doesn't rely on the viewer having any actual similarities to the character in question.
Interesting...perhaps perhaps...but I still can't get rid of that "low-confidence asian male" stereotype.
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Old 2009-08-25, 09:41   Link #13
MeoTwister5
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Well I'm an Asian male living in Asia and I don't exactly fall under the category of low-confidence males. Of course I'm 6 years too old for that age demographic.
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Old 2009-08-25, 11:00   Link #14
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You make it sound like most of young Japanese people feel like they are losers and are attracted to stupidity for oozing loser characters as well. What kind of mentality are we talking about here?

What about all those great cartoons we watched as little? I never was a boyscout, always kind and gentle like most of the leads there, yet I liked them for what they were. Ok, I liked anti-heroes more but not because I felt closer to a dark knight than Mighty Mouse. They were more cool and less predictable. I never wanted to have huge guns and a grim past. Yet I liked how these guys went through hell and came out as such.
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Old 2009-08-25, 11:30   Link #15
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You make it sound like most of young Japanese people feel like they are losers and are attracted to stupidity for oozing loser characters as well. What kind of mentality are we talking about here?
The mentality of character relation and understanding creating Immersion.

Quote:
What about all those great cartoons we watched as little? I never was a boyscout, always kind and gentle like most of the leads there, yet I liked them for what they were. Ok, I liked anti-heroes more but not because I felt closer to a dark knight than Mighty Mouse. They were more cool and less predictable. I never wanted to have huge guns and a grim past. Yet I liked how these guys went through hell and came out as such.
Or perhaps your just affected by society's radical or "cool" ideas of rebellion. I mean anti-heroes and heroes, considering they have their own "category", can both be predictable and unpredictable depending on the author.
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Old 2009-08-25, 14:55   Link #16
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Interesting...perhaps perhaps...but I still can't get rid of that "low-confidence asian male" stereotype.
That's funny because I guess you could call me a low-confidence asian male, but I still never sympathise with them that much.
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Old 2009-08-25, 20:12   Link #17
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As an example of all of this, I posit Twelve Kingdoms. It actually is one of the most fantastical fantasy settings out there - it posits very complex systems, and have human beings that work biologically very differently from real people. However, the show's strengths in both immersion factors is so high that I would imagine that most viewers come to think of it as an almost-China that could have been; and that it's eminently believable.
Having just re-watched the second major arc of Twelve Kingdoms with my daughter, I'd agree that it does an excellent job in the immersion department. However I find myself having a harder and harder time finding Suzu and Shoukei believable. They're both caught up in their overwrought sense of oppression and their almost irrational belief that Youko is somehow to blame for their situations. To me, this is a good example of a show where the plot and immersion factors help overcome problems of characterization.

In contrast, I find the characterizations in Kure-nai so believable, as much because of the excellence of the performances, that I'm willing to look past some of the obvious problems in the story line.

Let me finally mention Monster as a show where both these factors seem quite balanced, making the whole story very believable. Most of the characters seem quite human and the story itself is reasonably plausible.
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Old 2009-08-26, 02:34   Link #18
4Tran
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Having just re-watched the second major arc of Twelve Kingdoms with my daughter, I'd agree that it does an excellent job in the immersion department. However I find myself having a harder and harder time finding Suzu and Shoukei believable. They're both caught up in their overwrought sense of oppression and their almost irrational belief that Youko is somehow to blame for their situations. To me, this is a good example of a show where the plot and immersion factors help overcome problems of characterization.
I'd largely agree with you, except that I've been exposed to enough irrational attribution of responsibility that I find Suzu and Shoukei's behavior to be eminently believable. Unfortunately, this doesn't speak well of people in general.

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Let me finally mention Monster as a show where both these factors seem quite balanced, making the whole story very believable. Most of the characters seem quite human and the story itself is reasonably plausible.
I don't know about that... The plot of Monster is actually quite goofy. It's just that the strength of the setting and how well the characters are sold lends it an aura of authenticity.
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Old 2009-08-26, 03:13   Link #19
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Monster is more atmosphere and characterization than a logical story. If they wanted, they could easily sumed up the story in one season of 24 episodes and not drag it to 72. I mean, it's not like the story got any better because of its lenght. In the contrary, it made Yohan this evil Houdini, being worshiped and causing slaughters every two days for reasons unexplained to viewers. And the conclusion was really poor and open to a sequel.

Another case of a story going too serious without ever trying to back up its own claims. That is why I wasn't amazed as most with it.
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Old 2009-08-26, 20:16   Link #20
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There are many stories in Monster besides the Johan/Tenma one. Grimmer's story is pretty compelling on its own, for instance, as is Nina's.
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