Essay

I think I just grew out of anime | Essay

The spring anime season is in full swing and I just recently canceled my Crunchyroll subscription. It’s the first time in a long while that nothing in the lineup as appealed to me.

Winter 2017 had Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Fall 2016 had a great trifecta with Flip Flappers, Keijo!!!!!!!!, and Yuri on Ice!!. There was Mob Psycho in Summer 2016 and Space Control Luluco the season before that. And of course, we were blessed with JJBA Diamond is Unbreakable throughout the year.

What are some of the top runners this quarter? Well, there are the second seasons of Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia which garner a lot of attention. That’s about it.

Everything else looks pretty standard. There are numerous reverse-harem shows like Girl Beats Boys, The Royal Tutor, and fucking Love Rice. God that last one sounds so stupid. And there are even more harem shows but more ecchi like Tsugumomo, Love Tyrant, and Eromanga Sensei.

I just don’t get it anymore. Has anime truly become just about the cute characters? Are the only popular stories about high school boys getting blue-balled by their classmates? Are we still not out of the magical high school genre? I thought we drained all the blood from that stone years ago. I’m tired of it all. The industry is a snake eating its own body and yet it continues to grow.

Anime really has become a formula at this point:

  • An manga with cute girls and a slightly-unique twist on cultural norms gets good sales. It’s published for two to three years, and if there’s enough material and fanbase, it’ll get a 12-episode anime. It will hopefully boost book sales and the merchandise will net good ROI for the anime producers.

OR

  • A web novel gets a following and maybe some nice art by someone on Pixiv. Publishers recognize this popularity and capitalize on it, turning the posts into a light novel. If it gains more popularity, it’ll get an anime. The same principal goes for light-novels with no web-novel origin. Repeat of the sale-hopes from above.

It’s not so much the process I have a problem with. Famous anime like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya and Durarara!! were light novels. It’s the saturation of it all.

There’s this joke about how light novel titles are stupidly long. Check this article and see what I mean. One choice example: I’ve been reborn as an aristocratic pig, so this time I want to tell you I like you.

Fucking seriously?

There’s a reason no one likes magical high school battle series or the insulting amount of “Isekai” stories (i.e. stories involving the MC being reborn into a new world. Think Re:Zero.) It’s become old. It is a dead horse that has been thoroughly beaten, and yet people continue to try and spin it into something different.

Thus those ridiculously long light novel names. Apparently, these authors have to be very specific in their titles just to get readers to glance at the inside cover of the book. It sounds near impossible to be distinguished in such a mess, and so creators get wackier and wackier and dumber and dumber and now we’re here. A saturation so diluted we’ve been drinking water for years.

I find there are fewer and fewer interesting stories debuting as the years continue. For every blessing (and I’m not using that word lightly) like The Promised Neverland, we get three Love Rush pieces of garbage.

I understand the industry has to keep pumping out shows. I understand that’s how it works and if it means people have jobs I guess I can’t complain. If it makes creators and consumers happy, I can’t complain. I just can’t support everything wholeheartedly anymore.

I’ll be tuning in for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5 whenever it comes out. I’m okay dipping my toes back in for my preferred series, but I won’t be diving into seasons seeking that hidden gem. As far as I’m concerned, we aren’t going to get a Kill la Kill or Flip Flappers anytime soon. Especially considering the latter was AMAZING but lost all potential spotlight and sales because Yuri on Ice!! was running simultaneously.

I don’t think I can defend ‘anime’ anymore. Although it’s so encompassing that it’s rude to compare The Asterisk War to Full Metal Alchemist, the good has overcome the bad. There are easily more duds in one season than gems. It feels like clichés have become so derivative that subverting clichés has become cliché.

This isn’t to say I can’t like something ‘traditional.’ I was genuinely surprised at how much I liked Keijo!!!!!!!! despite the gratuitous fanservice. I like My Hero Academia despite its slow start because it builds on the shonen genre.

But when a series is patronizing (like Prince of Stride or Love Tyrant), where it’s the same-old-same-old with only one new ‘twist,’ I just can’t humour that anymore.

I’ve grown out of anime.

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