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View Poll Results: When given the choice, would you choose a darker show over a more cheerful one?
As long as there are cute girls, I'm with either! 2 5.41%
I'll go for the more cheerful show. 8 21.62%
Any can do. 7 18.92%
I'll choose the darker show. 0 0%
The quality of the story matters more. 20 54.05%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2016-09-06, 20:08   Link #1
Marcus H.
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Is Darker Actually Better?

Once upon a time, there was an industry filled with cute girls, dense boys and a world filled with pastel colors or vibrant scenery. Scenes of lifted skirts, blushed cheeks and failed romantic proposals filled the eyes of the typical anime fan, and the battle raged on among those who preferred this girl over another, leaving these girls oblivious to the wars they caused.

Then everything changed when moe becomes twisted with darker themes.

Delusional girls see a paradise in the midst of a zombie-ridden wasteland, a group of people are forced to decide on who needs to die for reasons, and a boy filled with his childish otaku fantasies fills his eyes with scenes of death.

That same people who made shows about that cute shy girl with short hair and glasses now longed for blood, death and despair.

What actually happened?

Is it just a stage for anime and related media to move to darker themes, or is this just a frustration of mine? Also, if given the choice, would you prefer a darker show over a brighter one?
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Old 2016-09-06, 20:08   Link #2
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Old 2016-09-06, 20:25   Link #3
Marcus H.
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I didn't experience that stage, actually. If I manage to pick up something dark like Now and Then, Here and There, it's more like I watched the show and didn't actually understand what I watched.
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Old 2016-09-06, 21:10   Link #4
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While I do prefer the lighter themed material in general, I specifically prefer material of any content that is "done well" (and of course that is plenty subjective), and that includes darker themed material.

But I think tastes change and sometimes even cycle around, and sometimes it produces things I enjoy and things I dislike. Creativity is a fickle thing much of the time, I think, but in the midst of its swirling around you find gems.
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Old 2016-09-06, 21:18   Link #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
Once upon a time, there was an industry filled with cute girls, dense boys and a world filled with pastel colors or vibrant scenery. Scenes of lifted skirts, blushed cheeks and failed romantic proposals filled the eyes of the typical anime fan, and the battle raged on among those who preferred this girl over another, leaving these girls oblivious to the wars they caused.

Then everything changed when moe becomes twisted with darker themes.

Delusional girls see a paradise in the midst of a zombie-ridden wasteland, a group of people are forced to decide on who needs to die for reasons, and a boy filled with his childish otaku fantasies fills his eyes with scenes of death.

That same people who made shows about that cute shy girl with short hair and glasses now longed for blood, death and despair.

What actually happened?

Is it just a stage for anime and related media to move to darker themes, or is this just a frustration of mine? Also, if given the choice, would you prefer a darker show over a brighter one?
It's only natural for trends to change. There are still harem battle schools like Hundred, but people are going to get sick of them. Dark shows are nothing new anyways so I don't see your point.
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Old 2016-09-06, 21:21   Link #6
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Good thread, Marcus H.

Your personal opinion comes through clearly in the OP, but I think you still do a reasonably fair job of presenting the different options, as you see them.


My own take is this: Darker isn't inherently better, but a lot of people like shows where there's real conflict in play, and the stakes are high. In order to achieve that sense of difficult conflict, and high stakes, the show has to get at least somewhat dark at some point.

I actually have a strong preference for happy endings, or at least bittersweet endings that are strong on the sweet. I don't like shows that are dark from start to finish. On the other hand, pure fluff shows usually aren't my thing, and I really need to be in the right mood to enjoy them.

Every now and then, I can enjoy a K-On or a Gochiusa, but I usually prefer shows with a stronger sense of plot/conflict than that.

And I think some of what you're noticing probably ties back to K-On.


K-On's success arguably paved the way to a lot of fluffy cheerful all-girls shows. But people eventually tired of the same old formula, so yes, you get Gakkou Gurashi! and later on, Anne Happy.

Likewise with isekai stories. People got tired with the same old formula, so you get Re:Zero and Hai to Gensou no Grimgar.

We also recently had a couple years of magical girl shows responding to Madoka Magica (or being inspired by it), and becoming darker because of it. Though now magical girl shows are enduring a mix of "obliterated" and "co-opted" by the recent idol anime wave.

It's possible that it's just a coincidence that these three genres all went dark within a few years of each other, maybe leaving an impression for you, Marcus, that anime as a whole became darker.

But we still have the Flying Witches, the Bakuons, the Active Raids, the Ange Vierges. They're maybe not the most talked about shows, but they're there. There's still some mostly fun-loving upbeat shows.

Fluffy all-girls shows still include some new cheerful shows, and we'll see how isekai handles Re:Zero and Grimgar. The good news for you, Marcus, is that the first major properties following a big NGE-like deconstruction tend to be a little lighter than the deconstruction itself. The post-deconstruction properties usually try to hit a balance between using the best ideas of the deconstruction, and mixing them with what worked well before the deconstruction.

So after Madoka Magica, you get Yuuki Yuuna and Houkago no Pleiades, both of which are lighter than Madoka Magica (though Yuuki Yuuna is ultimately darker than most magical girl shows).

I'm interested in seeing where isekai goes after Re:Zero and Grimgar. I suppose I might be disappointed and it'll just go back to old conventional isekai, but I guess that might make you happy anyway, Marcus.


tl;dr These things go in cycles. Your NGEs have their impact, but eventually a Gurren Lagann comes around to make the genre a little more upbeat again.

Oh, and Marcus, one more thing - Don't worry. Thanks to Love Live, the Sunshine will always be there!
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Old 2016-09-06, 21:23   Link #7
Marcus H.
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bakato: My point is that people are assuming that a show has improved or is better just because it has turned dark or is dark. For example, dismissing New Game in favor of 91Days or having a bias towards Re:Zero and Danganronpa. They say that these darker shows are "a breath of fresh air" and those not watching those shows are missing out.

It's not even about LNs alone because some also suffer from the same problem. We get Distpiari, Arachnid, Deadtube and Deathtopia in the manga world. Hopefully, I've heard bad reviews from those who read these series, so hope is not lost after all.

Triple R: I struggled to make that OP, so thanks. I will be watching out on what does happen soon, but so far, next season isn't that post-deconstruction season, especially in the magical girl front since we have Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku up for Fall. Honestly though, it could suffer the same fate as Gen'ei wo Kakeru Taiyou, or at least be considered as a magical girl Another for becoming an unintentional comedy.

And sadly, I'm not an idol series guy, so I will have to rely on someone else.
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Old 2016-09-06, 21:52   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
bakato: My point is that people are assuming that a show has improved or is better just because it has turned dark or is dark. For example, dismissing New Game in favor of 91Days or having a bias towards Re:Zero and Danganronpa. They say that these darker shows are "a breath of fresh air" and those not watching those shows are missing out.

It's not even about LNs alone because some also suffer from the same problem. We get Distpiari, Arachnid, Deadtube and Deathtopia in the manga world. Hopefully, I've heard bad reviews from those who read these series, so hope is not lost after all.

Triple R: I struggled to make that OP, so thanks. I will be watching out on what does happen soon, but so far, next season isn't that post-deconstruction season, especially in the magical girl front since we have Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku up for Fall. Honestly though, it could suffer the same fate as Gen'ei wo Kakeru Taiyou, or at least be considered as a magical girl Another for becoming an unintentional comedy.

And sadly, I'm not an idol series guy, so I will have to rely on someone else.
As far as I'm concerned, shows like New Game with cute girl protagonists go in the same bin as battle harems. I think you're perspective is biased. People like Re:Zero, Danganropa, and 91days not necessarily because they're "dark" in that they're gory and there's death and stuff. We like them dark because there's action and tension and that stuff always sells. Re:Zero and 91days are breaths of fresh air because they dive into human psychology and emotions. They deal with struggle and that feels incredibly real. Sweet stuff like New Game don't necessarily give off that sort of impression.
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Old 2016-09-06, 22:04   Link #9
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The tone of a series was never relevant when objectively deciding whether or not a show is good. The main factor is execution. The assumption that a show is better only because it is dark (or any other type) is just ignorant.

As for your LN/manga examples, it's not like dark stories didn't exist even in times when other types flooded the market. The issue here is more that certain settings are so popular that they're over-saturating the market rather than dark stories being better.
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Old 2016-09-06, 22:09   Link #10
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See, comparison wise I really enjoyed Grimgar, but ReZero has elements to it (in the sense of angles the material seems to be presented by the author, not the adaptation itself) that I dislike. I felt that Grimgar tried to deal with "real" things, whereas ReZero also tries, but it feels like it is not its main thrust - I feel like its main thrust springs from a blend of mockery and despair of the human condition; no matter how the story is being played out, it still seems like the author's main interest is in scraping and wallowing in the direction of the bottom of the barrel. That is just my take on it though.

91 Days is also quite grim, but there is (ironically) something much more wholesome and "real" about it. For me I would call this dark subject matter really well done.

Ironically while I enjoyed the Gakkou Gurashi adaptation I felt that overall the source manga was way better, and as pertaining to the thread, much darker. (Though there were a few things the adaptation did quite well, I thought.) Anne Happy was not quite as effective for me, for whatever reasons.

And of course people have "biased perspectives" ... they like what they like, after all. ^^

Even so, I think the issue still is whether or no someone feels a series is done well, or "well executed" as the previous poster said.
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Old 2016-09-06, 22:11   Link #11
Marcus H.
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As far as I'm concerned, shows like New Game with cute girl protagonists go in the same bin as battle harems.
New Game is a bit different to me. It actually manages to capture some less-than-cheerful things that other shows like K-ON would probably overlook while still retaining its generally bubbly mood. In New Game's example, it's the obligatory nomikai and the overtime working scenario that makes it more than just a cute-girls-doing-cute-things deal.
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Old 2016-09-06, 22:28   Link #12
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For me, it just depends on the quality of writing and how it meshes with the setting/characters. The thing is that the whole moe thing is fine, but anime as a medium needs to be diverse, thus the extremely edgy over-the-top stuff that comes out once in a while.

I think it also depends on the viewer's taste but as I see it, something that is "dark" has to be better written than the opposite, considering that the "dark" show will actually have a "plot" and endgame to work towards usually.

As mentioned already, Re:Zero is a hit or miss and there's not much in-between with it and it comes down to execution and what the viewer likes. Some people specifically like "dark" things, but I think what most people are looking for is a "good" series and/or one that hits their preference.
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Old 2016-09-07, 00:30   Link #13
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The lower the quality, the more I'll take a light show over a dark show. The higher the quality, the more the mood and tone starts to not matter. Films are subject to no preference due to finishing in one sitting. But for both shows and films, I have an upper limit on darkness when it starts to become torture porn (Re:ZERO had this in one episode), but no upper limit on how fluffy a piece can be. Yet. Or maybe I've already seen it but it was so shit it didn't feel like a fluffy fun time
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Old 2016-09-07, 00:40   Link #14
Marcus H.
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^ I agree with this. It's also easy to make a person appreciate a happy moment (i.e., 30 minutes worth of cats goofing around), but a more serious or somber moment needs written better or else be called out for melodrama (Mari Okada) or making an accidental comedy. On the flipside, it's easy to piss off a viewer by death or drama (SEOOOOOOOOOO), but the repercussions of such rage can be quite tricky to pin down a capitalize upon.
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Old 2016-09-07, 01:19   Link #15
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I don't get it lol. Anime is home to a ton of dark and edgelord works that are nihilistic to any degree. If anything I could argue that it's been twisted by moe! Your initial narrative in the OP makes it seem like anime was all fluffy pillows until Gen Urobuchi invented grimdark. I just think you should experience a broader scope for anime, perhaps some from before this decade started. Say, Higurashi? Kaiji? Death Note? Later two is edgy as fuck.

I mean, even in lighter series like say Shakugan no Shana, the first 2 episodes of it which show the initial premise depicts is pretty darned heavy, even if they sort of forget about it mostly.

And this is the medium where the biggest anime that permeates the entire landscape is Evangelion....

Anyhow, while I would say some anime truly tries too hard like Aldnoah Zero or Psycho Pass so that one becomes apathetic to the conflict, it is certainly a flavor that has persisted through a lot of animu history.
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Old 2016-09-07, 01:25   Link #16
Marcus H.
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Anime is home to a ton of dark and edgelord works that are nihilistic to any degree. If anything I could argue that it's been twisted by moe!
Tetsuwan Atom begs to differ. Also, most of the real dark stuff was constrained to OVAs.

Quote:
I just think you should experience a broader scope for anime. Say, Higurashi?
Why would you hurt me so?
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Old 2016-09-07, 01:43   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
Tetsuwan Atom begs to differ. Also, most of the real dark stuff was constrained to OVAs.
I raise you 1 Yoshiyuki Tomino.

If you're talking about the lolultraviolent 80s shit like Md Geist, true. If you're talking about whatever evil lies in the hentai section, sure. (That's getting lighter though and I wonder if that's due to the whole moe thing *cough*) But it's not like dark and violent themes are some niche tucked into a corner lol. A lot of these works like Zeta Gundam and NGE are classics and not some no-name OVAs where the copies are all destroyed.



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Why would you hurt me so?
Sorry about that. It's actually one of my favorite shows. But not only is it a good counter example, it's also somewhat of a proof that your generalizations are heavily limited by the range of shows you watch. I mean granted, it's fine to not like that kind of thing, and sure there's tons of stuff I don't watch as well, but when you make generalizations like this, keep in mind these things can really affect the argument.

And it's also why I brought up lighter, and more familiar examples like Shakugan no Shana that can also fit in both categories.
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Old 2016-09-07, 02:00   Link #18
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I love Re Zero, but it's kind of unusual among my favorites of 2015 and 2016 in not being a "fluffy" show. among the shows that have aired alongside Re Zero, my favorites have included Flying Witch, Sansha Sanyou, Tanaka-kun, Amanchu, and This Art Club has a Problem. I'm also that weirdo who thinks Koufuku Graffiti was the best show of 2015.

So I wasn't even really aware there was a trend towards dark stuff.

As for Re Zero, I don't like it because it's dark. In fact the cutesy romance stuff between Subaru and Emilia in episode one is among my favourite parts of the series. With that being said, I love how powerful and scary the baddies are, because that makes the show tense and engaging in a way that other fantasy anime seldom manage.

(Also, I find the "gamey" mechanics of the world less annoying than in many other recent fantasy anime which is kind of insane when I consider that the protagonist's one special ability is basically "save scumming".)
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Old 2016-09-07, 04:40   Link #19
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Many people make really good points here so I'll just blatantly agree with some points as if I have anything original to share:

  • To Marcus' OP, I would argue that these things go in cycles. Per Triple_R above, shows like NGE reflected a darker period of anime than this current trend by far, so nihilism isn't exactly new to anime. Cutesy stuff were dominant just a few years ago, are still around just not as prominently, and will be dominant again.
    -
  • One of, but hardly the only, source of this new age of darkness comes from the whole isekai fantasy trend where authors compete on darker and edgier material. Some of them end up being good and popular, enough to be made into anime. On the other hand, dark manga had always been adapted since the beginning of anime. I don't think Gakkou Gurashi or Boku Dake ga Inai Machi ("ERASED"...the hell kind of translation is that?) can be included along with Grimgar. They would have been a thing anyway with or without all those NEETs getting hit by trucks.
    -
  • I'm right there with Flower about Grimgar vs. Re:Zero. I bought Grimgar's darkness as a brutal reality of the setting; I thought Re:Zero was insultingly edgy torture porn out to make me feel bad. I know though that this is very much a hit or miss and some people with perfectly good tastes really like it. This may reflect my own bias in the fact that, IMO, Grimgar barely qualifies as isekai and feels more authentically fantasy.
    -
  • New Game is love and sugar and spice what are you people complaining about?
    -
  • I would agree with Akuma (hey you changed your name) that I am much more likely to stomach low quality "light" stuff than low quality "heavy" stuff. The heavier it is, the more it'd better be good.
    -
  • This should not be confused with the irritating All Art Is Angsty nonsense. It is a common attitude in anime fandom, partly because young people are kinda angsty, understandably enough, but also partly because the pretentious adults, not so understandably.

To expand on what is actually a somewhat independent thought as opposed to "lol, I agree" above, I would actually accept a "darker is better" statement in the sense that the very best works of literature and entertainment almost have to, at some point, even to a small degree, engage with the darker qualities of humanity. A straightforward comedy can draw much more laughs, and probably serves the purpose better if you just want to unwind from a hard day, but a quality satire satiates one's appetite for longer. A slice of life about happy people can be perfectly enjoyable, but difficulties can create deeper empathy and bonds. An action story about OP protagonists beating everyone never seem all that authentic, while heroes of myth always have to cross some sort of great challenges. In short, a skilled creator can greatly enrich an otherwise pedestrian if perfectly decent work by incorporating elements of challenge and difficulty. How and how much, that's a question specific to the work.

As they say, happy families are all alike, but you can't write a Russian masterpiece about them...

The mistake is to assume angst equals quality. Utter nonsense.

Anyway, interesting topic. Cheers.
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Old 2016-09-07, 04:55   Link #20
Marcus H.
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One of, but hardly the only, source of this new age of darkness comes from the whole isekai fantasy trend where authors compete on darker and edgier material. Some of them end up being good and popular, enough to be made into anime. On the other hand, dark manga had always been adapted since the beginning of anime. I don't think Gakkou Gurashi or Boku Dake ga Inai Machi ("ERASED"...the hell kind of translation is that?) can be included along with Grimgar. They would have been a thing anyway with or without all those NEETs getting hit by trucks.
There's also another source of that trend that anime in general has yet to cover, and that is the antihero male MC in light novels. Surprisingly, there's not much of those antihero LNs in anime going around these past few years, even if they have been around for possibly longer than the imouto LNs. Gotta wonder if the reason why there's so many antiheros in isekai is because of those han-eiyuutan (i.e., "antiheroic tale" stories that didn't get as much hype as their dense and less ballsy counterparts. (Trivia: the author of a "heroic tale" in Rakudai Kishi no Eiyuutan also wrote an "antiheroic tale" in Ultimate Antihero.)

Quote:
To Marcus' OP, I would argue that these things go in cycles. Per Triple_R above, shows like NGE reflected a darker period of anime than this current trend by far, so nihilism isn't exactly new to anime. Cutesy stuff were dominant just a few years ago, are still around just not as prominently, and will be dominant again.
So where exactly are we? It's difficult to say, since we do have darker stories but cutesy stuff still show up in abundance.
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