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Old 2014-01-20, 07:26   Link #21
Triple_R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedyexpress48 View Post
Hmm...not so sure about the whole "cynicism" thing, as sometimes I think anime tries to be too overoptimistic and ruins a story (Railgun S2 is a great example of that),
Railgun S2 has some of the darkest plot ideas and concepts that I've ever watched, in live-action or anime. How is it "overoptimistic"?


Quote:
... and its not like anime isn't very deeply cynical at times (Madoka: Rebellion, Death Note, Fate/series NGE, anyone?)
None of these shows strike me as particularly cynical. In all of them, major characters try to change the world, in big, bold ways. That's in sharp contrast to the cynicism that Sackett is talking about - "This is the way it is, you are powerless to change it, so shut-up and go along with it."

In some of these anime shows people fail spectacularly in their attempts to change the world. In others, they succeed. But the fact is, they honestly attempt it. Watching characters have hopeful agency can be inspirational even when they fail or somewhat miss the mark.


Quote:
Plus aside from shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter, I'm not really sure where you see all the cynicism in American entertainment...(and when it comes to Hollywood film, overblown optimism is quite common.)
A lot of older American sitcoms focused on characters with hopes, dreams and aspirations. I don't recall seeing as much of that these days.


Quote:

That being said, anime has several advantages that stand out for me;

-cuteness/hotness in animation. Moe personalities might not be my favorite, but the style...ooooh my
What's your problem with moe personalities?


Quote:
I don't think reality TV is an valid argument,
It is a valid argument, because we're not comparing Japanese TV to American TV in a thorough sense. We're just comparing anime to American TV.
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Old 2014-01-20, 07:30   Link #22
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Originally Posted by speedyexpress48 View Post
I don't think reality TV is an valid argument, since Japan has even cheesier reality shows than we do and they fill up airwaves just as badly. Of course we don't see them so we don't feel like they exist, but it's something to keep in mind...
But the point was not really to compare U.S. American TV with Japanese TV. It was probably more to compare "Western TV" (i.e. what "we" can watch in TV) with anime (what this topic is about). The Japanese reality shows are probably as much a copypasta of the U.S. American shows, as the European ones are.
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Old 2014-01-20, 09:45   Link #23
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First I have to ask, is the reason Dr Who hasn't been mentioned for sci-fi because it's british?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
None of these shows strike me as particularly cynical. In all of them, major characters try to change the world, in big, bold ways. That's in sharp contrast to the cynicism that Sackett is talking about - "This is the way it is, you are powerless to change it, so shut-up and go along with it."

In some of these anime shows people fail spectacularly in their attempts to change the world. In others, they succeed. But the fact is, they honestly attempt it. Watching characters have hopeful agency can be inspirational even when they fail or somewhat miss the mark.
Off the top of my head I think I can find examples of this (maybe not on a world scale but on a smaller one) in currently airing shows I watch such as Game of Throne,The Newsroom,Grey's Anatomy.

And it's not that characters are really cynical in other shows I watch but rather that "changing the world" isn't really something that comes up on ncis or hawaii 5-0
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Old 2014-01-20, 10:39   Link #24
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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
First I have to ask, is the reason Dr Who hasn't been mentioned for sci-fi because it's british?
I mentioned British television so I was thinking of Doctor Who.

But while the current Doctor Who is new it is still built upon the rich history & nostalgia of the original. I wonder if any current series will have the longevity of Doctor Who.
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Old 2014-01-20, 11:54   Link #25
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Originally Posted by totoum View Post
First I have to ask, is the reason Dr Who hasn't been mentioned for sci-fi because it's british?
I cannot say much about it as I only saw a few episodes of it, but the whole time-traveling did make it look like a "different kind" of Sci-Fi than that which I am thinking about. It seems more like a "Sci-Fi / Fantasy" Hybrid to me, but as I said, I could only say that as someone who watched 3-4 episodes. With Sci-Fi i generally interpret "space" and "space battles".

Still Stargate (though IMO it lost quite a bit of impact ever since Richard Dean Anderson quit), my favorite Sci-Fi series was, among others, axed. And new ones? I am still waiting for such...
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Old 2014-01-20, 12:11   Link #26
felix
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I don't like anime. I like good stories, humor and so forth and anime has some of them. That said if they were in any other medium I would probably like them there too, if I felt I got the same quality; so the fact it's anime doesn't really make much of a difference. I like painting as in the practice since I occasionally paint things, I like writing since I occasionally write things, I don't have an interest in animating things so liking anime from the perspective of liking the practice doesn't make sense.

It's the same as saying you like steam or you like [insert console], the source of the fondness for them is merely your like of the "features" or "the games" not the hardware or the distributor, unless you have a hand or interest in the field. Of course it's much easier to generalize to the lowest common denominator just like how we might generalize based on generations, nationality, etc. Lazy senteces for the win.
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Old 2014-01-20, 12:45   Link #27
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I had an interest in animation as long as I can remember. It has the most creative freedom of any visual medium as the director and writers can literally do anything they can think off. Particularly in fantastic genres like sci-fi and fantasy it still retains a significant advantage.

I lost a bit of interest in western animation with the rise of Genndy Tartakovsky (influenced) shows. That type of humor doesn't work for me.

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Originally Posted by Ithekro View Post
I stopped watching Television (for the most part) when Star Trek Enterprise was cancelled. There really wasn't anything else interesting, to me, on anymore. The more intelligent channels were dumbing down (the ones were you should be learning stuff), and there was basically no sci-fi on on note that wasn't bleak outcome type stuff or, "humans are bastards, why should they survive" type shows.
BSG was my breaking point. The total anti-Trek show. Cynical, no real progress, mankind doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Unlikeable characters, religion over reason, no growth.
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Old 2014-01-20, 12:58   Link #28
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Originally Posted by Bri View Post
I lost a bit of interest in western animation with the rise of Genndy Tartakovsky (influenced) shows. That type of humor doesn't work for me.
Well at least some of the shows he made had some sense to them.

I could swear just watching 3min of some of the recent nonsense felt like it gave me permanent brain cancer.
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Old 2014-01-20, 14:56   Link #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Railgun S2 has some of the darkest plot ideas and concepts that I've ever watched, in live-action or anime. How is it "overoptimistic"?
For the most part, definitely. I guess it's more of how I viewed the writing in the last few episodes; for such a dark season, the sudden blast of optimism in the ending was...jarring, to say the least, and rather poor writing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
None of these shows strike me as particularly cynical. In all of them, major characters try to change the world, in big, bold ways. That's in sharp contrast to the cynicism that Sackett is talking about - "This is the way it is, you are powerless to change it, so shut-up and go along with it."
"Not particularly cynical?" I'm afraid many anime fans will disagree with you there, dear.

I guess it depends on how you interpret that message:
Quote:
"This is the way it is, you are powerless to change it, so shut-up and go along with it."
Now, if you just go with character's ambitions in the beginning, then I guess you are right. However, I tend to look at it in a general sense: if you try to change the world, you will fail miserably and have your dreams crushed by a steamroller, or you will become so engaged in defeating evil that you become evil itself. Not exactly great optimism, if you ask me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
In some of these anime shows people fail spectacularly in their attempts to change the world. In others, they succeed. But the fact is, they honestly attempt it. Watching characters have hopeful agency can be inspirational even when they fail or somewhat miss the mark.
And here's where we have to agree to disagree, since it honestly depends on the person: for me, "try to change the world and fuck it up and/or have someone else fuck up the world for you" is just as depressing as "world's fucked up, you can't do anything about it."



Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
A lot of older American sitcoms focused on characters with hopes, dreams and aspirations. I don't recall seeing as much of that these days.
While I don't watch much TV these days, I can already name two-My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope. I guess the first one ranges from good to mediocre and the second one ranges from mediocre to really fucking bad, but they're there if you're looking...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
What's your problem with moe personalities?
I dunno...ok, maybe I should have specified "moeblobs" like, well, Nagisa from Clannad is a good example. They feel to me like they are way too easy to manipulate, sometimes (ok, often) way too clumsy and too willing to give in to MC's demands in "romance shows". Yes, I find it cute once in a while, but I think we have way too much of it.

Dunno, I just want to see more characters like, hell, you know, your favorite blue-haired magical girl who isn't afraid of flipping people over when they deserve it (One of the reasons why I liked Madoka so much (and hell, SHAFT in general) is that the characters had rather distinct personalities compared to other anime characters, with the exception of Madoka herself and even Madoka is pretty distinct when you look at it. Contrast this with, say, most of KyoAni's girls outside of Haruhi/Lucky Star/Full Metal Panic which all have that similar "moe" feel.)

Or hell, more Kirinos. Those are fine too.

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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
It is a valid argument, because we're not comparing Japanese TV to American TV in a thorough sense. We're just comparing anime to American TV.
Which isn't exactly a fair comparison then, but you do have a point.

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Originally Posted by Fireminer View Post
Ok, so should it be "Late Teenager"? And I don't think the attribute of a Light Novel could be change that much through adaption - except some cases like Infinite Stratos where they made it worse for everyone. Plus, there are more than one manga which is even more mature and darker than their counterpart.

And you would be surprise on how much Vietnamese Teens are willing to spend on these things.
You aren't wrong (I guess late teens-30s is your target audience), though the difference is usually the manga/light novel is printed under a specific imprint for shonen/seinen/shoujo/josei, while anime is...aimed at younger adults with cash to spend. When things are $500 a series for disks, they usually aren't aiming for younger teenagers (and Japanese teenagers tend to have less disposable income in general than Western teenagers...)
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Old 2014-01-20, 16:15   Link #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedyexpress48 View Post
For the most part, definitely. I guess it's more of how I viewed the writing in the last few episodes; for such a dark season, the sudden blast of optimism in the ending was...jarring, to say the least, and rather poor writing.
The last arc in Railgun S is bad, yeah, but it's just plain bad. In other words, it's not bad because of its optimism, it's bad because of weak writing in general, imo.


Quote:

"Not particularly cynical?" I'm afraid many anime fans will disagree with you there,
I think you might be surprised how many anime fans disagree with you on this.

Have you read what people have wrote about the Madoka: Rebellion movie here on Anime Suki? Plenty of people don't think that any of the characters "turned evil" in the end. I myself don't think that anybody turned evil in Madoka: Rebellion. I may not necessarily agree with what certain characters did in that movie, but that doesn't mean I think either of them are evil.

You're basically right about Death Note and Fate/Zero, but I think those contain useful themes. In fact, Death Note is basically a morality play about the dangers of developing a big ego and becoming overly "the ends justify the means" in one's view of the world.

As for NGE... Well, there's all sorts of interpretations on that timeless classic. Some cynical, others not so much.


Quote:
And here's where we have to agree to disagree, since it honestly depends on the person: for me, "try to change the world and fuck it up and/or have someone else fuck up the world for you" is just as depressing as "world's fucked up, you can't do anything about it."
Come on, man, aren't you going to at least let me put my argument out there, and then you think about that argument, before you do a presumptive "agree to disagree"?

In any event, here's my argument...

In the first situation that you listed, there can be helpful lessons about how not to go about trying to change the world. In the second situation that you listed, there are no lessons to be learned, just pure hopelessness. So the first situation is potentially more constructive/helpful than the second situation, so in my view, the first situation is less depressing.


I'll leave it at that. Your stance on moe is pretty clear, and thank you for elaborating on it.
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Old 2014-01-20, 16:49   Link #31
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I like anime for a number of reasons.

Being intested in Japanese culture beforehand helps a lot with understanding some references, as even professional subbers can miss out on some details.

I do like comedy a little quirkier than most people, & a lot of anime seems to ramp up the quirk factor, especially Studio Shaft.

Also being nostalgic for 1980s cartoons, when a fair amount of anime made it to the UK, & quite a lot of Japanese studios were animating cartoons written elsewhere.
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Old 2014-01-20, 17:06   Link #32
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
You're basically right about Death Note and Fate/Zero, but I think those contain useful themes. In fact, Death Note is basically a morality play about the dangers of developing a big ego and becoming overly "the ends justify the means" in one's view of the world.
Actually, you can take Death Note as an extremely cynical piece of fiction, depending on who you talk to. I'm not sure whether it was Tsunehiro Uno that proposed this (probably was), but among critical circles Death Note has been a topic of discourse. He proposed that the reason why Light took on such an extreme stance, forcing us to make a decision on either being with him or against him, comes as consequence of Japanese defeat in the Second World War.

His logic goes something like this: Japanese defeat stripped the nation of its identity (well, this has been going on before that), the post-war generation, the baby boomers, propagated this defeatism to their children, now all of a sudden you have a new generation on your hands without any real sense of meaning to their lives and drive. But even these people are driven by the need to survive. Lacking proper national or community values, people formed their own little islands and started relying on their own sense of justice. Hence you get characters like Light who disregard everything the law says and kills people, even those who are close to him, because they don't share his sense of justice.

So as much as it can be construed as a warning, the work is also wallowing in the state of it all.

Also, personally I think a lot of positivism in Japanese media is driven by a force of habit. Perhaps there once was a time when Japan could honestly be positive about their future, but with so much shit hanging over their head right now, it seems like the whole ganbatte culture is there to lie to themselves. I realized this when NHK World was showcasing Touhoku youth that tried to revitalize one local scissor-manufacturing industry by repurposing scissors for stuff other than cutting paper. Scissors. I wish I could show it here, the whole thing was just depressing to watch. No matter how much effort they put into that initiative, while it is commendable, it was also a waste of time. But hey, at least the show got people all teary.
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Old 2014-01-20, 17:23   Link #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I think you might be surprised how many anime fans disagree with you on this.

Have you read what people have wrote about the Madoka: Rebellion movie here on Anime Suki? Plenty of people don't think that any of the characters "turned evil" in the end. I myself don't think that anybody turned evil in Madoka: Rebellion. I may not necessarily agree with what certain characters did in that movie, but that doesn't mean I think either of them are evil.

You're basically right about Death Note and Fate/Zero, but I think those contain useful themes. In fact, Death Note is basically a morality play about the dangers of developing a big ego and becoming overly "the ends justify the means" in one's view of the world.

As for NGE... Well, there's all sorts of interpretations on that timeless classic. Some cynical, others not so much.
Spoiler for Madoka Movie 3 Spoilers:

Also, you could say the same thing about Death Note as you can about Breaking Bad: BB is more evil, I guess, but it's also basically ego and "ends justify means" view of the world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Come on, man, aren't you going to at least let me put my argument out there, and then you think about that argument, before you do a presumptive "agree to disagree"?

In any event, here's my argument...

In the first situation that you listed, there can be helpful lessons about how not to go about trying to change the world. In the second situation that you listed, there are no lessons to be learned, just pure hopelessness. So the first situation is potentially more constructive/helpful than the second situation, so in my view, the first situation is less depressing.
I guess it depends on how fucked up it ends up being. If it ends up in a worse situation, it's definitely more depressing: if it's a balance, then it kinda depends on how things go, though usually you don't have a chance to fix the world a second time because you can't dig yourself of that hole from the first time.
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Old 2014-01-20, 17:32   Link #34
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I don't think it can it's possible generalise western works as cynical and Japan as optimistic. Unless somoene bring some statistic here, that said I do think anime sometimes has tendences pit idealism against cynism and make quite interesting spectacle of it. I find it far more realistic than shows that are either pitch black or snow white, even if anime in question isn't realistic overaly.

But If I said I like anime for that it would be incorrect as there is plenty animes that lack such quality and I still love them. So if I should say general reason for my love it's all about it's format:

Western serials are (with few exception) either purely episodic or going for mega arcs with more plot threads that it can handle (Lost, Heroes ect, BSG...). In other hand most animes has enclosed and interconnected plot explored in clearly set number of episodes which allow concentrate both on characters and story itself.

Yeah, I don't watch long-runners (with exception of Space brothers ), thoug I can read them as manga sometimes.

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Old 2014-01-20, 17:35   Link #35
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Let me join in the fray then. I'll ignore all the discussion regarding cynicism since I'm in no way literarily equipped to take part in it (even if I appreciate reading about it)

Like others mentioned in this thread I turned to anime in search of something different. I begun with the space operas and other far future scifi shows. I've always been a fan of the genre but western TV has basically left me with nothing ever since Stargate tried to go all dark and edgy with Stargate Universe. Atlantis was growing a little stale in it's final seasons but at least it still had that old-school SciFi adventure feel that's been completely lost ever since the bleakness of the Battlestar Galactica remake basically became the standard for north-american science fiction. I mean it was a good show for a couple of seasons but it was the complete antitesis of everything that made me grow up to love the genre: that sense of optimism, of looking into a better tomorrow where the human race has used technology to improve itself and reach new unknowns to explore... SciFi was, to me, the dreams of tomorrow but nowadays all I see out of the genre is nightmares of destruction. Doctor Who is actually the only live-action SciFi I still watch mostly due to the optimism of the Doctor and his unwavering belief in the goodness of all living creatures.

How does this tie to anime? Simple: anime still gives me a Yamatto 2199 from time to time. True that some of the better shows in the genre lately (Shinsekai Yori and Psycho-Pass) are rather bleak, yes, but even they ended up having slight glimmers of hope for humanity.

Then there are shows like Tamayura or Hidamari Sketch that warm my heart, the over the top stuff like JoJo's Bizarre Adventures or the mecha action of a Valvrave. Anime keeps providing me with the type of stories I enjoy so I keep watching. That's about it. To top it off I enjoy watching interesting art styles and animation like what Space Dandy had in the second half of his first episode, the insane quality of Redline or the trademark Akiyuki Shinbo style that Shaft keeps using.

To be fair the British are also able to put out some rather visually interesting shows. I still remember how impressed I was with the first season of Sherlock. Visually it had some rather interesting touches I believe. Anyway I should really look more into what the brits are doing nowadays. They were at least responsible for the best TV comedies I've ever seen.

PS: and before I forget. How can one not be a fan of a genre capable of giving us Girls und Panzer? I couldn't imagine how such a silly premise could turn out to be such a damned good show. It almost has fan service written all over it and yet there's virtually none of that in the show proper. Truly one of the most surprisingly good shows I've seen in quite a while.
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Old 2014-01-20, 19:04   Link #36
Triple_R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedyexpress48 View Post
Spoiler for Madoka Magica 3 Spoilers:
You probably should go back and edit the post I'm replying to here. You're referring to specific characters now, and that's spoilerrific.

Spoiler for Madoka Magica Movie 3 spoilers:


I will say, though, that it's not that anime doesn't have some cynical works. I'm sure it does. It's that anime strikes me as having way more positivism works (thanks for the word, cyth ) than what modern American entertainment does.

There's a lot of anime shows over the last few years that I would call "uplifting" or "life-affirming".
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Old 2014-01-20, 19:20   Link #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
You probably should go back and edit the post I'm replying to here. You're referring to specific characters now, and that's spoilerrific.

Spoiler for Madoka Magica Movie 3 spoilers:


I will say, though, that it's not that anime doesn't have some cynical works. I'm sure it does. It's that anime strikes me as having way more positivism works (thanks for the word, cyth ) than what modern American entertainment does.

There's a lot of anime shows over the last few years that I would call "uplifting" or "life-affirming".
Spoiler for Missed the point...guess I should have elaborated:


In all honesty, this post kinda reaffirms what I said in a much better way than I could put it when writing at 5am on coffee:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenzen12 View Post
I don't think it can it's possible generalise western works as cynical and Japan as optimistic. Unless somoene bring some statistic here, that said I do think anime sometimes has tendences pit idealism against cynism and make quite interesting spectacle of it. I find it far more realistic than shows that are either pitch black or snow white, even if anime in question isn't realistic overaly.
Anyways....
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Originally Posted by Dextro View Post
Like others mentioned in this thread I turned to anime in search of something different. I begun with the space operas and other far future scifi shows. I've always been a fan of the genre but western TV has basically left me with nothing ever since Stargate tried to go all dark and edgy with Stargate Universe. Atlantis was growing a little stale in it's final seasons but at least it still had that old-school SciFi adventure feel that's been completely lost ever since the bleakness of the Battlestar Galactica remake basically became the standard for north-american science fiction. I mean it was a good show for a couple of seasons but it was the complete antitesis of everything that made me grow up to love the genre: that sense of optimism, of looking into a better tomorrow where the human race has used technology to improve itself and reach new unknowns to explore... SciFi was, to me, the dreams of tomorrow but nowadays all I see out of the genre is nightmares of destruction. Doctor Who is actually the only live-action SciFi I still watch mostly due to the optimism of the Doctor and his unwavering belief in the goodness of all living creatures.
I think the general loss of optimism has something to do with the loss of optimism in the main contributor to sci-fi, mainly the United States. Back in the heyday of TV shows like Star Trek, the US was a hugely prosperous nation heading to the moon and very possibly further exploration of the world, and that worldview very much fit in with the sci-fi at the time: then the US economy dived downhill in the 1970s and even further down the drain in the 1980s, which is when dark, edgy shows/films about the future became very popular. The US rebounded in the 1990s but the optimism for the future basically disappeared...
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Old 2014-01-20, 19:41   Link #38
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Honestly, I don't agree with Tenzen12 there.

Look, I have seen countless optimistic and/or life-affirming anime works.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
Gurren Lagann
Gundam Seed
Love Live!: School Idol Project
Tari Tari
Hanasaku Iroha
Mari-Mite
Saki
Chuunibyou
Free!
Clannad
Kanon
Little Busters!
Hyouka
Moshidora
K-On!
Tamayura

And I could probably go on all day here, but I'll spare people the tediousness of that.

What does American TV have that can match-up to all of that when it comes to being optimistic and embracing positivism?
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Old 2014-01-20, 20:31   Link #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Honestly, I don't agree with Tenzen12 there.

Look, I have seen countless optimistic and/or life-affirming anime works.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
Gurren Lagann
Gundam Seed
Love Live!: School Idol Project
Tari Tari
Hanasaku Iroha
Mari-Mite
Saki
Chuunibyou
Free!
Clannad
Kanon
Little Busters!
Hyouka
Moshidora
K-On!
Tamayura

And I could probably go on all day here, but I'll spare people the tediousness of that.

What does American TV have that can match-up to all of that when it comes to being optimistic and embracing positivism?
You kinda got me there, but I think this brings up another major point about the whole topic (ugh...the problem with a topic like this is that it's hard to explain and easy to stretch out into a million subtopics), which is that the US doesn't invest nearly as much in its TV as Japan does (and therefore a lot less good TV shows in proportion), while Japan's investments into movies is much lower. Compare American movies with anime, and it basically starts to even out. Also, it should be noted that many SoL shows are pretty similar to teen sitcoms, which obviously most ASers don't watch.

Of course, I guess this article kinda makes my argument somewhat null, but on the other hand I don't think most anime capture Japanese audiences much either....
http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/jap...ce-1200752940/
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Old 2014-01-20, 21:01   Link #40
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Originally Posted by speedyexpress48 View Post
Hmm...not so sure about the whole "cynicism" thing, as sometimes I think anime tries to be too overoptimistic and ruins a story (Railgun S2 is a great example of that), and its not like anime isn't very deeply cynical at times (Madoka: Rebellion, Death Note, Fate/series NGE, anyone?) Plus aside from shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter, I'm not really sure where you see all the cynicism in American entertainment...(and when it comes to Hollywood film, overblown optimism is quite common.) Granted, slice of life is more common in anime, but for me, I like most of them less than I like Queen's Blade.
You must be talking about the 2nd arc to Railgun S, since the first arc is quite dark.

Maybe cynicism is the wrong word. What I mean is that American picture media (TV and Movies) seems filled with:

A: Mindless entertainment (sex and violence) that claims to have the good guys win, but you can tell that the creators don't really believe it but are just going through the motions because that's what the formula says to do. (Most any Hollywood blockbuster that isn't based on a previous franchise). Yeah plenty of anime fall into this category too, so I don't count this against either form of media. It's just what happens when people are trying to make money and don't care about the story.

B: Endless Avoidance of Responsibility (eg Friends and similar sitcoms). Compare this to something like Bunny Drop.

C: The World is crap so give up and be as cruel and corrupt as everyone else. (The "Realistic" "Dramas" and "reality" shows)

Dark stuff happens in anime, but good still triumphs. Not because good always wins but because people value it enough that they sacrifice for it. Madoka, NGE, ect all examine this. I don't mind a show that says: "The world is crap" cause I know the truth of it, but I want the show to then say: "Do good anyway." (Which is probably why I hate Code Geass).

Maybe a better way to say it is that anime usually still displays faith in human beings, while too much of American media does not.

If you've read "The Seven Basic Plots" by Booker you'll understand when I say that American shows seem to have "lost the plot" while anime still tends to follow the true pattern.

As for the track for optimism, there actually was a ton of optimism starting in the 80s. The 90s became rather materialistic. 9/11 was a huge shock to the American psyche, then followed by the crash in 2008 which really people had been feeling stretched for several years previous. The depressing thing is that people right now seem to feel helpless, like back in the 70s.

Frankly though I think America is having difficulty handling a downturn beyond what the downturn ought to be costing us, due to the trauma of the Great Depression that America has never really gotten over. Ever since the Great Depression the emphasis on your work/income establishing your worth as a person has become rather choking. A similar issue is chocking Japan right now as well (although of course in Japan it dates to the WWII defeat rather then the Depression). Ever since those days both our countries have been living off saved social capital establishing the importance of family and the duties that you need to take to care for your parents and raise children for the future. We haven't really put anything back into that since then and suddenly we are discovering that these things are far more important to our happiness and well being compared to the amount of effort we spend on them.

I'm reminded of the Godfather scene when Michael asks his mother if his actions could cause him to lose his family, and she is bewildered "How can you lose your family?" she responds. Yet now we see this happening all around us.
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