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Old 2011-11-22, 11:56   Link #1
Bri
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Beyond Moe: has anime really changed at all?

This is in my opinion the most interesting post to come out of the latest discussion on moe thread. A big problem is that the word moe has come to represent different things to different people. If I generalize: those who dislike moe use it as a general symbol of what they feel is wrong with anime. While fans try to educate on what moe represents and explain the meaning of the word as used by fans.

This type of discussion ignores the frustration of anime fans who feel disenfranchised with anime and blame it on moe. In return supporters develop a siege mentality and get defensive at the first mention of the word. Result: a communication breakdown and the topic becomes increasingly stale with the same moves made over and over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
I think this discussion is pretty senseless because each person has to start by re-defining what "moe" is. This word should probably be banned in this conversation because it's too confusing and nondescript. So what is the real problem here?
  1. The perceived shift from plot-driven shows to character-driven shows? (from action/sci-fi/fantasy towards "slice-of-life"?)
  2. The perceived shift from shows targeted at "all ages" to shows targeted at male 20-somethings (otaku)?
  3. The perceived lack of substance in "modern shows" compared to their "classic" pedigree?
  4. The perceived increase in quantity or popularity of shows you dislike vs. shows you like? (Or the perceived increase in certain elements within genres of shows you liked in the past?)
  5. The perceived shift from mature-looking "adult" female characters to younger-looking "childish" ones (and the character qualities that correspond to that appearance)?
  6. The perceived increase in the amount of sexually-suggestive (or explicit?) material (whether featuring younger-looking characters or not)?
You'll note that I included "perceived" in each of these because the first point of clarification is whether a shift or change has actually occurred (or if it's driven more by exposure/perspective). I'm not saying that a shift hasn't occurred, but we need to be able to identify specifically what has really changed if we want to analyse the root cause and impact.
Using Relentlessflame's excellent post to start off the discussion. I'd like to know how you feel on anime as it is today. Are there any merrits to these points, do you feel these shifts really happened? Are there any other? Or are you happy with the way things are now or do you think that nothing has changed?

Feel free to use any or all of these points in your reply.
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Old 2011-11-22, 12:05   Link #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri
I'd like to know how you feel on anime as it is today.
A lot more bland. Far less variety these days. I can tell you that much. Of course, back in the day, it was a lot of magical girl and mecha. But there was a transition period between 2000 to 2008, where the general taste in genres were shifting.

What you don't see all that much these days: samurai, ninja dramas. Even if these are still being made, y'don't hear much out of 'em. Nothing on the order of say: Kenshin.
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Old 2011-11-22, 12:13   Link #3
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I only came into anime in the late 2008 (I was watching anime before then but only the real mainstream and already finished), and I only really starting following lots of different anime around mid 2009. This is why I've never perceived any shift. If there were any shows that relied entirely on moe or fanservice then I'd just drop them and move on. Either that or I'd finish it off, bash it for all it's worth and then move on. But I've never found myself lacking for qualitiy in anime even in the previous two years. I have certainly noticed that 2011 is much much better and if that's how it used to be then I can sort of understand why people say the previous two years were lacking. And for me, there's still a lot of well known titles I haven't watched yet so I'm not lacking in choice either. Funny thing is though, is that most of my all time favourites are actually very recent.

I only really have a problem with moe/fanservice in action/serious shows and in those cases I can just look past them and or see them as a flaw and move on. In comedies or light-hearted shows, I don't mind them at all, so long as it still has a good story.

Another factor for me is that I still don't fully understand moe and whether I like it or not. I mean I thought K-On was boring as hell and thought it was too pandering, but I just watched the first two episodes of Shugo Chara which was overflowing with moe and I just thought it was damn cute.
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Old 2011-11-22, 12:36   Link #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
This is in my opinion the most interesting post to come out of the latest discussion on moe thread. A big problem is that the word moe has come to represent different things to different people. If I generalize: those who dislike moe use it as a general symbol of what they feel is wrong with anime. While fans try to educate on what moe represents and explain the meaning of the word as used by fans.
Part of the communication breakdown over moe arises, I think, from the following disconnect:

1. A lot of moe fans go by their best understanding of the term itself, which causes the term to basically mean the same as "heartwarming" or some other positive emotion akin to that. So for some moe fans, a person criticizing moe seems practically unfathomable: "How can you dislike characters that warm your heart, and make you want to protect them?! It just does not compute."

2. Moe critics go by the types of shows and characters that most commonly have the term "moe" applied to them. So for them, moe is pretty objective, and is not intrinsically tied to a particular emotion or feeling. It's as objective as "sci-fi" or "high fantasy" is. It defines a specific range of characters, and a few very specific types of shows.


Both sides have a point.

Yes, moe is technically about feeling a certain way towards a character, and different people could conceivably feel that way about very diverse characters.

However, in a more practical sense, "moe" really is much more commonly associated with certain types of shows and characters than with other types of shows and characters.

If a moe fan is going to debate a moe critic, I think there at least needs to be this understanding between both sides. The moe critic is typically not criticizing the feeling of moe so much as s/he's criticizing those characters and shows widely held to be moe by the otaku fanbase itself.

So I think that debate/discussion on moe should revolve around those specific characters and shows, since that is what the moe critic is truly taking aim at, imo.

That being said, I think it's fair to point out how moe can arise in different contexts. That you can have, for example, moe characters in shows that don't have much in the way of a moe atmosphere (I would argue that Madoka Magica is a great example of this). While these shows are not moe shows, many of the characters themselves are nonetheless moe, and hence can justifiably be cited to defend moe character types as a whole.



Now, has anime changed?

Certainly. Art style has noticeably changed over the past decade or so (much more clean and streamlined and cutesy now, I would say).

New genres have arisen while some older ones have largely faded away, or at least declined.

For some viewers, these changes are great, but for others, not so much.
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Old 2011-11-22, 12:53   Link #5
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Despite some changes of anime industry, I think there's a lot of anime that emphasize on ecchi and fanservice in order to find some new ideas and/or increasing the animation quality.
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Old 2011-11-22, 13:46   Link #6
Chiibi
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I'm one of the few who thinks anime has changed for the better, at least compared to 90s series. Not in just the visuals, but has anyone noticed?

90s anime have pretty poor character development and extremely rushed romance compared to anime from 2000 and on.

I can't be the only one seeing that.....
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Old 2011-11-22, 14:03   Link #7
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I have a feeling all those types of shows are still there, but each is either is lesser numbers or they are bad shows this year. There are lots and lots of anime shows that come out each season. But only about maybe ten each season get much mention at all and only about four are considered any good, with the other six being alright. The remaining shows sometime are mentioned, but usually forgotten by mid-season and almost never brought up in conversations (like these topics).

Also there are usually trends of things that get made every so often. Sometimes they make school dramas. Sometimes its a lot of acton shows. Sometimes it is a lot of historical-ish martial arts pieces. Sometimes it is science fiction. This happens in just about every media be it Hollywood, Bollywood, Games, Music, Television, or yes, even Anime.
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Old 2011-11-22, 14:24   Link #8
Ichuki
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I think anime changed visual wise plus fanservice increased other than that I think most of it is the viewer's view on anime overall.
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Old 2011-11-22, 14:59   Link #9
mecharobot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiibi View Post
90s anime have pretty poor character development and extremely rushed romance compared to anime from 2000 and on.
I take it that you're one of the people whose pre 00 anime are Trigun and Cowboy Bebop.

And yes. Anime has definitely changed. The mainstream genres have changed. Lots of rushed and diluted adaptions are coming out. Not to mention the new season formats, manga/OVA bundles an TV censoring.
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Old 2011-11-22, 15:33   Link #10
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One thing is for sure, anime in terms of design are more appealing than before.

The downside are the plots. Most animes of today were "based, derived, revived" from old or past animes. Some even borrow and mimic the plots with adding a twist to suit the taste of the targeted population.

Lastly, you say that an anime is worth watching if it's still being discussed even after years it has finished. Unlike many, easily loved, easily forgotten.
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Old 2011-11-22, 15:48   Link #11
cyth
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Let's not kid ourselves here--people who banter over moe without fully understanding its many iterations and definitions may still be legitimately disenfranchised, but the fact of the matter is those people are on their way out of this hobby. This almost always happens when an otaku gets a life. Exit, stage right.

But to answer the opening post, I'll start off with this lovely link that basically illustrates the situation.

Over 5,800 Smelly Otaku Trying to Make It Big Writing Young Adult Novels
Quote:
ASCII.jp: 5862 Entries Competed in the 18th Dengeki Novel Prize Competition, The Most Yet!
This year, over 5,800 entries were submitted to Dengeki, a rise of several hundred from the previous all-time record, last year’s 5,400.
Case in point: Stories are now being written by fans of fans of fans of actual authors, who simply lack outside perspective. And the publishing industry is going along with it, because they too are fans, working as their editors! I was excited by the prospect of works such as Hasekura's Spice & Wolf, but that was just an exception. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu is worthless in today's light novel playing field.

So that's one large part of anime today. The other are original anime stories. Some have had success, but the original anime route is admittedly a last resort of sorts, because the industry is running out of GOOD stories to adapt. Think back a few paragraphs.... 5800 FUCKING ENTRIES FOR A SINGLE CONTEST. And none of them were good enough to take the place of a future light novel adaptation that looks like the next Seitokai no Ichizon? (not to say Seizon was any good)

Who's to blame? Certainly not moe anime, as they're just an expression of Japanese society. So basically it comes down to whether or not you have the patience to wait for the next Madoka to come by and weather through those 5800 seedy novels that will eventually all be made into anime (because Japan is on the brink of creative bankruptcy). This has always been the case for anime, I'm afraid.
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Old 2011-11-22, 16:39   Link #12
Chiibi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mecharobot View Post
I take it that you're one of the people whose pre 00 anime are Trigun and Cowboy Bebop.
Actually I find Bebop terribly overrated.

*shot*

The 90s series in which I found the romance a little rushed is actually Rurouni Kenshin. The 90s series that I felt lacked character development was the first season of Sailormoon.
Spoiler:
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Old 2011-11-22, 18:07   Link #13
SeijiSensei
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Mamoru Oshii: Today's Anime Is Driven by Otaku, Merchandise

Even if I might agree with some of his criticisms of the industry, they would be more convincing if his current project weren't a high-school romance involving a vampire!
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Old 2011-11-22, 18:43   Link #14
Sides
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In my opinion computers and outsourcing change anime industry. As a result of those practices, many series form unoriginal, but good, sources were adopted so fast, that they resulted to pick up second graded stuff, and unfortunate those are "inspired" by other works.
In my view the production is now so efficient and fast, that before new good ideas pops up, hundreds of second and third graded series are being produced to keep studios alive.
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Old 2011-11-22, 18:56   Link #15
Random32
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1. I personally like characters dragging the plot along rather than plot dragging characters along if I had to choose. I really like Sola, I had little liking for its setting or plot, but I found the characters interesting enough to enjoy the show.

However, I think the shift however is not from plot to character, but rather from story to visuals. K-On! and things that attempt to be it aren't driven by characters, but rather character appearance. It doesn't even have to be SoL to see the shift from story to visuals, look at Guilty Crown as an example of this trend in action sci fantasy.

2. What's the point with all ages anyways? Most of the really good shows I can name even before Moe revolution/obviously don't participate in Moe madness were aimed at 18-40 males anyways, such as Serial Experiments Lain. Evangelion was "aimed" at children but Anno was a bit crazy and it got a bit controversial for being in a children target slot.

3. I would say its perceived. The Nostalgia filter coming up. Out of the entirety of anime before 2k, we don't seem to remember that much. What we remember tends to be good. I can wait for the next Madoka.

4. I would agree since there is definitely shifts in themes and genres.

5. I don't care if they are well developed interesting characters. This ties back in to my point about #1, its not from a certain type of character to another, but the shift from making a character well written to making a character cute.

6. Sexually explicit involving young looking characters. Lolicon FTW!!! Shota isn't my thing, but if you like it, I'll defend your right to do so until my death.
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Old 2011-11-22, 20:21   Link #16
0utf0xZer0
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In regards to modern anime being otaku driven, there's two things I think contribute to this that seldom get mentioned:
1) The internet makes it easier to find like minds - and hence I think that fan groups tend to become more fragmented.
2) I really feel like at least some of the otaku-targetting is due to the "hollowing out" of traditional broadcast markets. Haven't broadcast revenues from anime been declining in general? Of course the DVD market is going to become more important in that case.

Anyway, I joined this fandom in 2005 and the show that got me into it was Tsukiyomi Moon Phase (simply Moon Phase in the US). So even if I didn't really start to consider myself a moe fan until about 2007, moe was always there for me, as were haters. Honestly, for my first couple years in the fandom I avoided talking about some of the shows I liked simply because I felt like mentioning them would open me up to accusations of horrible taste. Looking back on it a lot of people wouldn't have cared too much and I just had the misfortune of encountering some of the ones who did early on (first impressions last), but hindsight is always 20/20.

A few things that stand out to me about Moon Phase compared to many more recent anime:
1) 25 episodes, as opposed to 12-13.
2) While it did deviate heavily from the manga towards the end, this did not occur until near the end. And I honestly felt that compared to many light novel adaptations from the past few years, there was little aimless floundering or quality fluctuations. The show had a pretty good idea where it was taking the plot, the characters, and their relationships. And I don't think that's mere nostalgia since I rewatched the show in 2009, when I had four years of anime watching under my belt.

So yeah, some of what has been brought up here seems to apply. The industry is searching for too much stuff to adapt and picking up properties that weren't really that good or weren't really far enough along to support an anime adaptation.
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Old 2011-11-22, 21:03   Link #17
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"Has anime really changed at all?"

Looks the same to me

EDIT: Anime has always been largely junk, much like any other entertainment medium. The same proportion of junk shows back then would probably equal the same proportion of junk shows nowadays.
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Old 2011-11-22, 22:32   Link #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
A few things that stand out to me about Moon Phase compared to many more recent anime:
1) 25 episodes, as opposed to 12-13.
2) While it did deviate heavily from the manga towards the end, this did not occur until near the end. And I honestly felt that compared to many light novel adaptations from the past few years, there was little aimless floundering or quality fluctuations. The show had a pretty good idea where it was taking the plot, the characters, and their relationships. And I don't think that's mere nostalgia since I rewatched the show in 2009, when I had four years of anime watching under my belt.
This, is what I would say that have changed the most. The emphasis on anime nowadays is really its length, IMO.

The biggest change now is as the industry grows, there too many anime focusing on 1-cours length to "test the water". Other than JUMP franchises, even series based on great source material don't exempt from it.

Gones were the day where 5 volume manga got you 50 episodes with many original episodes that actually helps filling out the personality lacked in the source material.

The opener quote relentlessflame's great post. Note that many of points are "perceived" and I agree with that. The issue here isn't that anime changed, its that as westerner, they got exposed to more series than before.

I mean in the 90s U.S. publisher only picked the extremes. It was either edgy mature works like Ninja Scroll or Ghost in Shell or all age material like DB, Pokemon, Digimon to the States. I think that created a false sense that all anime are either one or another and then they start to claim they are experts on it.

Otaku has always being the corner stone of the industry and it's main client. It just amazes me that a lot of western ACG fan blame Japanese Otakus for the current state of the industry and failed to realize that those same Otaku are the same age as they are and were the ones that supported the series they loved 10, 15 years ago when they are teenagers/kids as well...
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Old 2011-11-22, 22:35   Link #19
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Let me repost my thoughts about Oshii's statement:
------------------------------
I like this guy's comment on the matter:
Quote:
Was he in a rocking chair shaking his cane angrily at the air for this talk? It sounds like what he doesn't like is that anime is an industry rather than an art commune.
If his problem is art for art's sake (and that includes every creative field or genre), then much of the art we have in existence is in, one way or another, derived from or inspired by earlier works.

Art can't exist without earning money first, which is why some studios like KyoAni spend a bit of their immense K-On! earnings on some frivolous/vanity side-projects, so I always remembered Andy Warhol's statement about art and commerce: "Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art."

If an anime studio is to survive in these trying times, post-3/11, then to pay for the rent and utilities and to feed its employees, it has to earn more by taking huge gambles and investments that could spell either their existence or disbandment. This means they have to pander to a market segment, they have to sell more of their most popular product, so hence they have to use moe as one of their survival methods.

Distasteful it may be trying to use moe, it ensures that at least even the guys working on the sketches and cells (considering their pitiful daily wages) have more food to put on the dinner table, than nothing at all but a nagging wife at the doorstep.

But even then, whether moe or LoGH character designs are good as far as image is concerned, they will not work and earn without a solid story to rest on.

Some industry oldfags need to wake up and check on their wallets and bank accounts to see if they're getting any bigger; clinging on to the past, longing for the "good old days" isn't going to fill empty stomachs.
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Old 2011-11-22, 22:45   Link #20
Undertaker
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I agree with that, and it really go into the debate that are mangaka/anime studio creating anime to express themselves or to create them for their fans.

For me, being in touch with Manga/anime for almost 25 years now, I don't really see much differences in approach, there are studio that only putting out works they like and didn't care about reaction and there are others who cater their fans and give them what they want.

Though I will say that mangaka/studio who cater to the fans tends to stay alive in the industry much better the other type, so be what it may, the fact is that an industry can only survive is the mass accept its product..
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