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Old 2012-07-06, 19:42   Link #21
Sackett
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Originally Posted by Akito_Kinomoto View Post
A masterpiece is a work that passes the intellectual popularity and longevity contest.

By accident.

Limit yourself to your own personal favorites for a minute. How many of them can you say you went in to for the first time expecting to actually like them enough to place them in your own personal hierarchy? And I'm not talking about the extended list either. I'm referring to no further than the top 5.
Probably only Maison Ikkoku... so that means 4 out of the 5 were surprises.
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Old 2012-07-06, 20:25   Link #22
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School Days - Best Story
Koi Kaze - Family adventure
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Old 2012-07-06, 21:57   Link #23
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Originally Posted by Holy Knight View Post
School Days - Best Story
Koi Kaze - Family adventure
Fate Stay Night - worse than the VN
FSN fans have denied your call

Wouldn't Doreamon and Sazae-san and Chibi Maruko-chan be masterpieces though?
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Old 2012-07-06, 23:34   Link #24
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Simply put, there are certain kinds of stories particularly suited for animation, and there are other kinds of stories that simply aren't. And the kinds of stories that enjoy universal acclaim for being "masterpieces" generally aren't well suited for animation. [...] If one is so obsessed with making animation as "true to life" as possible, one might as well make a live-action movie, not an anime.
I think your argument makes perfect sense to me.

At the end of the day, when we watch anime we're seeing characters through two layers of abstraction: first, that they're obviously characters, and second, the way they're drawn. So even if we can relate to the personalities shown and the issues they face, they're not fully real. You're constantly doing a mental translation, and that translation becomes a barrier to those less immersed in the medium. You could spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to try to make the characters seem more "real" (both in terms of and make the animation be so life-like that it fades into the background, and the characters so believable that the animation doesn't matter) but to what end?

Personally speaking, that isn't what I'm looking for in anime anyway. While I do appreciate some intelligence and seriousness in how the plot is treated from time-to-time, at the end of the day I come to anime seeking fantasy -- something different from the day-to-day, something heartwarming, relaxing, perhaps a bit exciting, that I can immerse myself and get lost in. And I'd rather indulge myself in something a bit childish and fun than to get overly concerned whether other people are taking anime seriously. So I don't really need works that are so "magisterial", as you say. There's a place for works like that, and I appreciate that anime works like that come around from time-to-time, but it's not really what I'm seeking.

I do appreciate that there are anime fans who are wishing anime could have these sorts of works, but I do wonder sometimes if they are doomed to remain frustrated that anime will, in their minds, rarely if ever live up to the potential they see in it. But I too would say, if you have a property that can appeal to so many more people in live-action, that would often make so much more sense. One less layer of translation is one more degree of connectedness with the subject for a lot of people. Those of us who can connect to 2D characters that deeply are an exception.
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Old 2012-07-07, 02:37   Link #25
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As for actual discussion, a masterpiece need not be a "perfect" piece. There's no such thing.
Something that resonates a strong note in extremely large amount of population, and has immortal qualities equate a masterpiece.

It must last a long in the hearts of masses to be considered such.
Otherwise it's just a "good work".
Many of Hayao Miazaki and Walt Disney's works fit the bill, precisely because of these qualities.
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Old 2012-07-07, 02:38   Link #26
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
At the end of the day, when we watch anime we're seeing characters through two layers of abstraction: first, that they're obviously characters, and second, the way they're drawn. So even if we can relate to the personalities shown and the issues they face, they're not fully real. You're constantly doing a mental translation, and that translation becomes a barrier to those less immersed in the medium. You could spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to try to make the characters seem more "real" (both in terms of and make the animation be so life-like that it fades into the background, and the characters so believable that the animation doesn't matter) but to what end?
There's a reason I brought up Grave of the Fireflies, because of the way animation, in that movie, managed to deliver an abstract idea more powerfully than a live-action movie ever could. Roger Ebert described it best in his review of the powerful anti-war film, which ranks easily among the best in movie history, be it live-action or animated:



One doesn't have to aim so high. This five-plus minute short film by a group of Taiwan film students demonstrates how animation can be used to deliver a universal message in a way live-action never could. If students with a keen sense of human emotions and a competent grasp of animation mechanics can do it then, technically, anyone can. That's the mystery of it: It looks so easy, yet it's so hard to achieve. I say again, anyone who consciously sets out to create a masterpiece is more than likely doomed to fail. Masterpieces are more likely born on accident than out of human will.



In a sense, when I think of anime "masterpieces", I set the bar very high. It must not just tell a story that is "universal" — something that transcends its medium — but it must also at the same time excel within its medium, using animation to tell a story in a way that live-action cannot. With such criteria in mind, most anime would be instantly eliminated from consideration as "masterpieces".

In my mind, in recent years, it's only the films of Satoshi Kon, particularly Millenium Actress, that come close to that high-water mark. Which is why it's such a great blow to lose Kon while he was still so young.
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Old 2012-07-07, 02:45   Link #27
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one anime comes to mind.

AKIRA
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Old 2012-07-07, 04:48   Link #28
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
There's a reason I brought up Grave of the Fireflies, because of the way animation, in that movie, managed to deliver an abstract idea more powerfully than a live-action movie ever could. Roger Ebert described it best in his review of the powerful anti-war film, which ranks easily among the best in movie history, be it live-action or animated...
Yup, I considered this concept too (just edited it out that tangent). I think there are times when the two layers of abstraction/translation can actually be helpful and even necessary, and that movie is one such an example. The sort of cases where "it has to be anime". But you're right that it's rare to find transcendent stories that could only be anime, and are presented on that level... and I don't necessarily blame them for that either.

I'm okay with your definition of a masterpiece, but I would also tend to agree that this means they will be necessarily few. I'm just not sure that anime is really that kind of medium either in general terms, though it might fit the case in very specific circumstances. I'm personally okay with that admission/limitation as well. This is partly why my first post in the thread was suggesting it may be better to look for a more narrow definition.

Thanks for the great posts and references.
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Old 2012-07-07, 05:01   Link #29
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Seems a lot of Miyazaki's works are considered masterpieces... Yes, they are!!!!

They are the best for their time.
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Old 2012-07-07, 16:06   Link #30
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Old 2012-07-07, 16:40   Link #31
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Fate Stay Night - Better than the VN
As far as opinion goes, more people say F/SN anime suck than it being good...

Some anime I find it hard to call "masterpiece". Clannad (and After Story) are both very good, but it's a VN adaptation. Same thing apply for let say, Haruhi. In both cases, people consider them "masterpiece" mostly b/c of its story, not something like, let say, visual effect. Being an adaptation, though, means that the story is only so original, making it hard to not put an asterisk next to the word masterpiece...

And it's WAY too early to call Madoka a masterpiece. It's good, but is it so memorable? Time will tell.

Quote:
Seems a lot of Miyazaki's works are considered masterpieces... Yes, they are!!!!
His newer works actually are not nearly as good as his old one anyway. But yes, it used to be "anything Miyazaki wrote is an instant classic", which is almost 100% true (I grow up with it, so I know...)

I do agree with most of Sackett's list (at least the first part), though. There's also Gundam series, many call it a masterpiece just b/c of the way it revolutionize the way mecha anime is written. Of course, nowaday, it's nothing more than a tool for Bandai to milk money out of the Gundam-fanatics and trick kids into buying low quality Gunplas
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Old 2012-07-07, 17:25   Link #32
james0246
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Some random thoughts (brought to you from a phone)

Definition of a masterpiece...that's a tough word to define. I generally like to keep things simple, and I love giving credit to anyone that at least tries to create something, so I often find myself content with limiting the word masterpiece to an individual level. Specifically, I will talk about a director's, artist's, writer's, etc creative masterpiece rather than an overarching description for a creative endeavor (e.g. "Best of all Time", "Best Horror", etc).

I will say this, I've never encountered anyone that has walked out of a theatre (movie or other)/finished watching a tv program/finished a book/stared at a painting, sculpture, etc for too long and then immediately thought to themselves "this is a masterpiece". No matter how good a creative work is, or what it does to expand the current knowledge of the world around us, it cannot be considered a 'masterpiece' for quite some time. (This is why I intrinsically dislike the description "modern masterpiece", it is a trite expression that has no real meaning beyond pure indulgence and either ignorance or, worse, arrogance.)

Edit: I think a distinction between 'classic and, masterpiece has to be made. For me, 'classic' has more to do with the cultural history rather than specific quality of the film. That is not to say that a classic film can't be a masterpiece and vice versa.

That being said, the last 'masterpiece' of animated cinema? Millenium Actress.

The last 'masterpiece' of animated television? Princess Tutu.

Nothing since has matched these creative endeavors (though there have been many fun shows/films since), and they are the only ones that have stood the test of time so easily.

Last edited by james0246; 2012-07-07 at 21:50.
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Old 2012-07-08, 07:39   Link #33
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If someone who has seen majority of 80' 90' 00' animes says it is a masterpiece then it is masterpiece.

If someone who has seen few good series from 00's says it is a masterpiece.. it probably is just well executed anime with recycled ideas, but not a masterpiece.

Sorry to all you less experienced ones

You have to know the old animes, that you can notice which are original and which are just recycling well working plots and settings.
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Old 2012-07-08, 07:57   Link #34
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One Piece is pretty much the only anime/manga I can safely proclaim as masterpiece grade.
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Old 2012-07-08, 09:14   Link #35
Triple_R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akito_Kinomoto View Post
A masterpiece is a work that passes the intellectual popularity and longevity contest.

By accident.

Limit yourself to your own personal favorites for a minute. How many of them can you say you went in to for the first time expecting to actually like them enough to place them in your own personal hierarchy? And I'm not talking about the extended list either. I'm referring to no further than the top 5.
Gurren Lagann, Madoka Magica, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya were hyped up pretty big to me before I watched them. They're 3 of my all-time Top 5 anime shows. I went into them thinking that there was probably some chance of them making my personal hierarchy, and I certainly can't say that about every anime show I've watched (or even most of them, really).

So I'm not sure that I agree with this idea that masterpieces are never created by someone intending to create a masterpiece.

Gen Urobuchi hyped up Madoka Magica Episode 10 quite a bit before it aired, and you can tell that the man was aiming really high with Madoka Magica. He wasn't just trying to make something good. He was trying to make something great.

I don't think that this kind of "aiming for greatness" is something that creators and writers should be discouraged from doing. It's probably good to say "Aim to be good first before you aim to be great", to ensure writers get the nuts and bolts of good storytelling down. But once a writer has developed a good idea of how to write something good and solid, I see nothing wrong with that writer intentionally aiming for greatness.
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Old 2012-07-08, 22:57   Link #36
Akito Kinomoto
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I don't think that this kind of "aiming for greatness" is something that creators and writers should be discouraged from doing. It's probably good to say "Aim to be good first before you aim to be great", to ensure writers get the nuts and bolts of good storytelling down. But once a writer has developed a good idea of how to write something good and solid, I see nothing wrong with that writer intentionally aiming for greatness.
In fairness to you, Yasuhiro Yoshiura did seem to improve substantially from Aquatic Language and Pale Cocoon when he made Time of Eve (though all three of those works came across as overachieving). And yeah, I guess some authors do manage to become great when they mean it. But that doesn't speak for the writers and authors who swing hard and miss hard or even the players who think they're better at handling the puck than they actually are IYKWIM.

So yeah, I get what you're saying. But that brings up the question of the frequency of "accidental masterpieces" VS "intended masterpieces."
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Old 2012-07-09, 22:13   Link #37
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So far, most of what has been listed, would only be qualified as "anime I like" rather than masterpieces. I could list off some of my favorites, but even if a lot of people agreed with me, that would merely be populist fanboyism. And I would be hard-pressed to consider them masterpieces, mainly because of one thing:

Time.

Only by letting a decade or two pass at least, can we objectively look back and see if a particular piece held up. There are quite a few series I initially liked, but when I go back to look at them now, I can see the cheesy parts, and parts that make me wince (and not in a good way). Essentially, I see the holes pop up.

And that's another thing that a masterpiece cannot have: major holes. If the characters or plot have issues (especially easily fixable ones), then I'd argue it has immediately lost its place as a potential masterpiece. By dictionary definition, a masterpiece is a work done with masterly skill. You don't call a house with a missing wall, a masterpiece.

If I were to call one piece of anime a masterpiece, it would be Excel Saga. The humor is spot on 90% of the time, working both in English and Japanese. Also, despite the zaniness, and with each episode encapsulating a different anime type, all the disparate elements manage to come together for a great finish. I've haven't found another anime yet, that has that genius level of humor. Sure, some like Seitokai Yakuindomo made me laugh (and even had me rolling at times), but it doesn't approach the level of complexity, and yet simplicity, of Excel Saga.

If I had to suggest another, something a bit grittier, I'd have to go with Mai Hime. While it can be a bit slow to start, but it masterfully explores the realism of what would happen if people had powers, while also exploring the full aspect and range of what it means to love. In fact, its the skillfulness of how the powers are linked to these feelings, that helps smoothly and subtly illustrate the themes the anime develops over the course of its run.. And it does it with a wide range of characters that are well-developed. It's also a series that you get a lot out of rewatching, as you pick up on things you missed before, and thus see how they all connect.

For anyone who knows me, my two favorite series are Nanoha and My Otome, but as much as I like them, I can't consider them masterpieces. If I did, I'd simply be playing a fanboy, heh. Both are good stories, and each did some fairly unique things (things that no other anime has yet done afterwards), but the stories are fairly straightforward and there are a few issues with each. I'd be a fanboy if I was unable to recognize those issues. Mai Hime, while not my favorite, and perhaps having an issue or two, nonetheless does an overall good job at pushing boundaries and exploring issues deeply while still telling a good story.

So I think a story needs to have some measure of depth to have a chance at being a masterpiece. And it has to be a real depth; not something copied or masked over by visuals. Visuals can help tell a story, but they can't be used to distract someone from the fact that there's convoluted nonsense going on (Evangelion, I'm looking at you). If the visuals don't mean anything in the context of the show, and thus are thrown in, then it comes off looking like someone is pretentiously trying to fool people that there is more there.

So you need (real) Depth and Time.

I'd also mention, Cowboy Bebop for a particular example for illustration of where I'm coming from. Another one that has a good story that is entertaining, but its episodic nature for most of the run prevents it from being a masterpiece. It's good, and I'd place it in almost any anime hall of fame. But it is not what one would call a "deep" story.

And before anyone gets upset at anything I've said, I'll note that the nature of this topic makes it subjective by nature. I am merely listing the criteria with which I judge things; part of which is based on the dictionary definition of "masterpiece."
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Old 2012-07-09, 23:05   Link #38
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The answer to this question is very subjective and will vary from person to person. The only objective point that can be discussed is how you define a masterpiece - which has been laid out quite elaborately in the previous posts.

The problem with naming shows as masterpieces is, when someone holds an anime in high regard its very hard to have an objective perspective on it. You are emotionally attached to it whether you admit it or not.
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Old 2012-07-09, 23:11   Link #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eragon View Post
The problem with naming shows as masterpieces is, when someone holds an anime in high regard its very hard to have an objective perspective on it. You are emotionally attached to it whether you admit it or not.
Hard yes, but not impossible. A good way to know if you're being fair, is to be able to name the issues and problems with a show. If you can do that, then you can learn to retain objectivity despite any emotional attachments.
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Old 2012-07-09, 23:57   Link #40
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Hard yes, but not impossible. A good way to know if you're being fair, is to be able to name the issues and problems with a show. If you can do that, then you can learn to retain objectivity despite any emotional attachments.
Yes, that is a good way of measuring whether you are being objective or not but how many people here, or in general, actually do that? Very few.
And that's fine since, what do they care if the show has some flaws, as long as they enjoy it, it doesn't matter to them. They are not critics who need have an objective outlook. But because of that, the answer to this thread's question, IMO, is rather pointless as there will be no consensus on it
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