For my eight or ninth 12 Day post, I generally do something a little different. I have talked about retro anime (anime that didn’t air that year) I watched, blog adventures and a greater appreciation of music.
This time around (2014), I feel like I came to a slightly better understanding of my own taste in anime and I figured that given the absence of anything else to talk about, I’d just talk about my own perfect taste in anime.
There are a few, rare people who when asked what kind of anime they like can give a straight forward, simple response. (As in they can very clearly tell you that they only like Mecha anime or they only like Shonen sports anime and so on.) Most people do gravitate towards certain genre, but we generally like a little bit from most genre, so it becomes difficult to pin down what exactly it is that we like. Not to mention many entries in a given genre are very different from one another (compare Gurren Lagann to Gundam Seed for example).
Further complicating matters is that we often don’t really understand what it is about an anime that we liked and often the shows we like share little to no similarities with one another.
I am generally of the opinion that you don’t really need to understand why you like or dislike an anime. For me, it is enough if you are entertained by it, even if the root source of your entertainment is unclear.
It can be argued that true anime fans hunt down that root source because a better understanding of the medium is the least they can do. I don’t subscribe to that viewpoint. But, I do respect those who do, mainly because they are willing to do extensive research and learn enough about what they are watching, just so they can better appreciate it.
Anyway, I am just going to list a few things I apparently enjoy or don’t enjoy in anime.
I like most of what I watch.
Believe it or not, I am actually appreciative of most anime. In general, if a reasonable number of people like a show, I will probably like it as well. At the very least, I can normally see where the admiration for a given anime comes from.
That is not to say, I like everything and absolutely everything, nor does it imply that I love everything. All I am really getting at is that I am generally rather forgiving of most faults, if only because I am not smart enough to find them (and too lazy to bother trying).
This has been true for a while, but over the years, I feel like I have been able to narrow my scope down a little and come to an arguably better appreciation of a smaller number of anime (or maybe I just got tired of the same tropes being used over and over).
I like trashy anime…
You know those harem anime that feature well endowed girls falling chest first onto a guy’s face? Or those that feature a guy walking in on a girl changing and her going “it is okay, I don’t mind if it is you”? Yeah, I actually like some of those.
It is not even a love for perverted things (might have been at one point in my life), but rather a love for the stupid, the predictable and sometimes the funny stories these harems can inspire.
I like trashy anime because I can often laugh at them (especially fun to do with the Classy Skype group) and more often then not, I can totally turn off my brain when I watch these shows. After procrastinating for an entire day, my brain is normally too tired to care about anything, so these dumb harems provide a nice recovery period.
A few of these trashy shows can actually end up “objectively” good as well in that they have likable characters or a non-terrible plot or nice animation
or good boob physics.
I do like seeing cute girls doing cute things but only if there is a bit more to it then that.
For me, anime that predominantly feature cute girls doing cute things serves a similar function as trashy anime in that they are both just brain filler. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a “cute girls do cute things” anime that is not outright boring.
I like shows like Gochuumon wa Usaki Desu ka?. I feel Gochuumon did a really good job in that it felt earnest and warm. Sure, its primary attraction was cute girls brewing coffee (+1 for coffee), but it presented the characters in a nice, non-offensive, but not boring manner. I think this was because it focused on the girls hanging out and getting to know one other better and not on them doing some mindless task.
Conversely, I found what I saw of Yuyushiki and Kiniro Mosaic to be rather boring. To be honest, I still can’t really tell what makes a cute show click with me and what doesn’t click, but it probably has something to do with the general ambiance or mood the anime attempts to create.
Side reference: I gushed over Gochuumon in my end of Spring impressions.
I require reasonably well animated and well choreographed action.
Saying you like good or well choreographed action is no different then saying you like good food. It is a true, but obvious statement. When I say “I require”, what I really mean is that lackluster action really hurts my overall enjoyment of a show even if the action scenes were never the draw.
Take for example, Trinity Seven. The character interactions are trashy, but reasonably funny at times. The story is silly, but there are cute girls, so no one really cares. The action scenes on the other hand are terrible. Some battles go by with them just standing there palms out and badly animated spells flowing away. Other, more kinetic scenes have no fluidity, no real choreography and it just hurts.
Basically, I don’t like when a large part of an anime is devoted to badly done action scenes. This is also an obvious statement, but oh well.
(Incidentally, I know very little about good vs bad animation and almost just as little about good vs bad choreography. If I am in error in what I think to be bad, feel free to correct me, but don’t hate on me too much!)
I prefer my mecha to not be full of despair.
Separating mecha anime from despair is a bit like separating yolk from egg shells after crushing an egg in your hand. It is not easy to do, BUT IT CAN BE DONE!
There is this nifty little anime called Gundam Build Fighters. GBF features large robots (or well, technically miniature versions of large robots) blowing each other up. It is amazing and a good part of it is because there is no major consequence of the battles. GBF can afford to put everything into the fights and the characters and not waste time exploring the human emotions evoked by needless war.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand well enough that war is always terrible, regardless of whether you fight it with guns or robots carrying guns, but when it comes to robot anime, I am much happier just seeing the characters being goofs and the robots blowing each other up.
(That said, I did watch the original Gundam movies and liked them a lot. Admittedly my favorite parts of the movies involved characters slapping one another, so clearly I still liked the bits where they were goofy.)
If my mecha has lots of despair, it better be stupid as hell.
I don’t like sadistic stories.
When I say sadistic, I mean stories where characters are tortured without any good reason. My least favorite of this bunch are stories where characters are forced into dropping their outer “nice” persona, revealing their feral, dangerous animal instincts and as a result causing harm to other humans.
A good example would include “life or death” games or “locked in a mad house and forced to kill to survive” (looking at you Danganronpa).
I generally don’t like seeing otherwise good characters suffer (sometimes I enjoy it, but often I don’t). I really don’t like it when humans are sort of backed into a corner and forced into becoming bad to survive or at the very least, when their “bad side” shows. I know that humanity has a very dark side to it, but for reasons not totally clear to me, I am not that comfortable with seeing it explored especially when the ones falling prey to it would have otherwise been likable, normal people.
I don’t like violence for the sake of violence
This is similar to the previous point on sadism, but I don’t like anime with large amounts of gratuitous violence or gore. There might have been a time in my youth where I was all right with such things, but as I have grown older, I have become more of a baby. I don’t really like seeing guts spill out or fountains of blood spring forth from severed heads.
Don’t get me wrong, I love action, but I like action which doesn’t portray large amounts of gore. That might be a slightly naive expectation, but it is an expectation nonetheless.
If an anime has large amounts of violence and little else, I probably won’t watch it. If there is a lot of needless violence, but there is more to the anime than just that, then I might watch, but it depends on the ratio of gratuitous violence to good stuff.
I detest almost anything with an annoying loli in it.
There isn’t much to say here. For one reason or another, annoying lolis (lolis that are prone to jealousy or have oniichan complexes or what you) can almost single-handedly ruin a show for me.
Side note: Most lolis are annoying. This is proven to be true.
I don’t like drama especially if its long lived.
If an anime has lots of drama then it becomes quite likely that I will end up just not watching any more. This is true even if the drama is well done and is considered to be good drama (I end up too scared of what will come next!), but this is especially true for long drawn out melodrama that just wears you down.
Fantasy anime are the best! Well, they can be when they aren’t bogged down by crap.
I love fantasy. I really like fantastical stories with magicians, demons, heroes and what have you. I always have and likely always will. Unfortunately, good fantasy shows are hard to come by! There appears to be a recent trend (arguably more so in late 2014- early 2015) of trashy fantasy harems.
Now, I like trashy harems, but the fantasy versions are often absolutely horrid. The anime can’t decide if it wants to be a fantasy story or a trashy harem, so you end up with some weird mix that tries too hard at both. Examples of this include stuff like Seikoku no Dragonar or Trinity Blade (or more recently Fafnir) where the fantasy elements are sort of just tacked on as an excuse for perverted hijinks (Trinity Seven surprisingly enough does a reasonable job since its harem hijinks aren’t too bad).
Sometimes, I wonder if the original authors wanted to make a fantasy story and just tacked in all the classy bits just to sell or if they wanted to make a classy show and tacked in the fantasy to try and make it stand out (no longer easy to do since everyone went and did it).
Good fantasy shows though include stuff like Shingeki no Bahamut, which was amazing. I love fantasy shows like Bahamut where the setting doesn’t play second fiddle to anything else. In Bahamut, the characters themselves were part of the setting and didn’t feel like they were just modern school life harem characters transported into an alternate setting (many shows do this and sometimes they literally do it). I will fanboy over Bahamut some more in an upcoming post, but for now just note that Bahamut is the kind of fantasy story I melt over.
That is all I have to say. I do want to emphasize that like most folk, my understanding of my own likes and dislikes is not complete and likely never will be as our preferences change with time.
I still don’t quite know what makes a certain series click (especially true with comedies), but I think, or at least hope, I came to a slightly better understanding in 2014.
Thanks for reading.