Week of Geek: My rather aloof relationship to Manga/Anime

by  | Category: Must-Read Fiction, Pop Culture, Randomness, Super Fan
Bookmark and Share

Hello again Geeklings!

So, it’s almost that time of year again!  Toronto’s massive Sci Fi/Comics/Horror/Anime & Manga/Gaming Convention, Fan Expo.  Pure heaven for the average geek.

Funny thing is though, of the five big categories Fan Expo caters to, there’s one category I still haven’t quite latched onto.  Any guesses which one?  If you’re a regular reader, you know Sci Fi, Comics and Horror are covered.  Gaming?  No, though I am no hardcore gamer I have dabbled a bit there with certain gaming systems and what’s on my iPad.  So that just leaves one; Anime/Manga.

You may recall a couple weeks back I touched on the whole Pokemon phenomenon that has us gripped in it’s tiny yellow fist.  But I’ve come to realize that my lukewarm reaction to that has pretty much been the same for all anime and manga.  And it is HUGE in fandom circles, no question.  You’ve got Attack on TitanDeath NoteNaruto, Miyazaki films, etc.  So why am I not all over it?  Why, Al, why?

Well, short answer, for me anyway, is that anime is weird.  And kind of creepy.  I mean, am I wrong?  I don’t think I’m wrong.  One minute you’re watching nicely drawn people (and the art can be quite gorgeous) doing what people do and then all of a sudden their faces change to inhuman grimaces or they shout or freak out for no reason or something hideous emerges from somewhere.  Anime can be super cute but sometimes… it’s really, really not.  And when it’s not it can be downright unsettling.

There’s really only been two shows that I’ve watched with any kind of regularity…

Sailor Moon: This appealed to 13 year old Ali.  Girl-power and super heroics are always a direct path to my heart, and I still have a soft spot for the Sailor Scouts.  But… Serena is pretty darn whiny.  I know she’s supposed to be, but that’s the kind of thing I can only take in small doses from my main character.

Black Butler: This appeals to 30-something year old Ali.  Victorian England, Faustian bargains, gothic sentimentality, tall dark and handsome but morally ambiguous and non human protagonists who use utensils as weapons (and also loves cats).  Sign me up!

But one of my biggest complaints with this one was said best by a podcast review I listened to.  Black Butler has a hard time deciding if it wants to be a horror or a comedy.  And sometimes the two aesthetics don’t mix in the best way.  And again, weird.  The whole reverse werewolf thing never caught on with me (don’t ask).

So yeah, my challenge to you before I take off and immerse myself in nerdiness is to (again, gently) tell me if I’m wrong and why.  Or maybe you don’t think I’m wrong and just want to agree with me.   That works too.

Have an awesome week geeklings, whatever you’re up to.  Stay tuned for my exclusive report from the front lines of the convention, and until next time, End of Line.

One Response to “Week of Geek: My rather aloof relationship to Manga/Anime”

  1. BNuts Says:

    Anime and manga come in as many varieties as any other medium, from ultra-cute and nonsensical to ultra-realistic or scary. There will be something for everyone, if you want to find it — and of course, for as many hits as there are there are also many misses. Your Mileage Will Vary, based on your tastes, of course, however a series very rarely will fit into just one genre thus Ali’s observations on ‘Black Butler.’

    My favourite manga is ‘Magister Negi Magi,’ or ‘Negima.’ Since mangaka had just come off of finishing ‘Love Hina,’ publisher Kodansha wanted him to make another harem romantic comedy. Akamatsu-sensei wanted to make an adventure story, so around volume 3 he started a genre shift right under his editor’s nose. That doesn’t mean you no longer have to deal with those annoying harem genre tropes and cliches. What it means is that Akamatsu-sensei usually played it for laughs between those serious moments. ‘Negima’ is one of my favourite series because it has its moments of levity, of drama, philosophy, and growth. And oh so many Crowning Moments of Awesome. It’s just too bad it ended the way it did. You don’t have to read past volume 36.

    While most modern anime will run in either 12/13 or 25/26 episode seasons, some will run longer, and manga will afford the author an interesting level of flexibility because they are often either weekly or monthly publications, with all the restrictions that come with the format. But if their given format allows it, a mangaka can explain more on the page than the writers and animators can on the screen.

    It would be unfortunate to dismiss an entire medium simply because of the artists’ tendency toward more open expression (but at the same time I can agree that things can get very over-the-top. There’s a reason the only way I can watch ‘DragonBall’ these days is as Team FourStar’s Abridged series, DBZA, on YouTube. They have a way of condensing stories that is fantastic by comparison, plus they don’t make you wait entire episodes for an attack to charge). The variety in anime and manga is why I said that thing about ‘hit and miss,’ even in decades-long franchises like ‘Mobile Suit Gundam.’

    But you’ll also find comedies like ‘Ranma 1/2’ and ‘SKET Dance,’ Slice of Life series like ‘Lucky Star’ and ‘Acchi Kochi,’ psychological comedies like ‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,’ and classic action like ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ and ‘Cowboy Bebop.’ Not everything in anime is about ‘moe,’ and not everything is as freaky as ‘Parasyte’ or ‘Higurashi’ either.

    So my recommendation is to browse around and try to find something in a genre you enjoy. If you can’t find something to your liking in the library, you should be able to find samples of shows online. Once you know whether you like something, you can recommend the library buy it.