The Purpose of Anime and Manga (Part IV)

[Part III]

In this ongoing series I explore (along with fellow blogger friends) a concept of watching shows and reading manga for particular purposes, which I find personally more useful than categorizing them in genre lists. Those lists are still useful for award-giving purposes, genre analysis, among others. However from an introspective standpoint there are more interesting ways of doing things. I get weary of arguing whether a show is or is not “slice of life.”

In this issue you’ll find two shows notable for the regard they enjoy from a generation of anime fans (and then some), and then a manga remarkable for its feel-good romantic content.

Purpose 010: To see a spectacle that cannot be expressed any other way as interestingly except through animation (despite or because of the limitations for it)

utena 39 anthy piercing embrace

Best-in-class: Revolutionary Girl Utena

by ghostlightning

While I think the films Miyazaki makes are beautiful precisely because they are animated illustrations, to me they are still served by or in the service of traditional storytelling. While this is not a bad thing at all, sometimes I want to see something that works precisely and only because it is in the TV anime format.

Revolutionary Girl Utena is precisely this show. While Shinbo Akiyuki may take even more liberties in works like Bakemonogatari than Be-Papas ever did in RGU, the latter has a more ambitious mythic, thematic, and narrative scope. It told a big story in intimate ways, while giving us surprising and ruthless studies of characters in pressured moments.

From the ritualistic repetition of motifs, symbols, dialogue and schticks like transformation sequences, ritual music, entrance scenes, and shadow puppets it’s a show that astonishes me to have done so much with seemingly so little. Every season of new anime I look for something that moves me the way this show does. I always hear the complaints, but I hear reason and temperance as well.

I can hear it too! My soul hasn’t completely given up. I can hear the sound that races through the End of the World.

Purpose 011: To have a warm kyaaaaa feeling in your heart when there’s no love in your real life.

shinshi doumei cross

Best-in-class: Shinshi Doumei Cross (a.k.a. The Gentlemen Alliance Cross)

by Anya.Fennec

If you’re like me, you’re single, only had failed relationships, and can’t find people with similar interests in anime and Gundams at your college (yes my life is sad). That’s where manga comes in.

SDC is one of the sweetest manga I’ve ever read, but it isn’t purely a Tastes Like Diabetes series either. The story is original, and has many surprises in store for the reader. The characters, even the lesser supporting ones, have their own distinct personalities and history, which serve to enrich the story as a whole. Each individual’s conflicts affect the overarching story instead of being trapped within an arc to never be mentioned again. The transition and development of the plot is smooth, bringing you from different points in the story to another in one fluid motion.

The art is just amazing (though it may not appeal to everyone). There is a lot of detail on every page, and the style is distinct in a way that screams “this is by Arina Tanemura”. I read a lot of shoujo manga – and I mean a LOT – and no other mangaka comes close to her style. You really have to see for yourself, words aren’t enough to describe it.

As a whole, SDC really gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. From Haine’s tendency to make stupid mistakes to how she stands up for what she wants and never gives up, from the cute lovely scenes to the tear-jerking ones, SDC fills you with emotions.

Purpose 012: To be wrapped in the warm security of my early childhood and pretend I’m not approaching twenty years old.

card captor sakura

Best-in-class: Cardcaptor Sakura

by 21stcenturydigitalboy

Here on We Remember Love, most of us have been watching anime or something like it since we were small children, and we’ve been the rare individuals whose tastes never “changed” so much as “evolved” over time. We’re the kinds of viewers whose horizons may have broadened more than we ever thought possible, but we still like some of the same shit we were watching when we were five.

I never would’ve watched a mahou shoujo anime as a kid because I despised anything that had to do with girls—in that way, my love of the genre represents the evolution of my taste. After all, for the early years of my anime fandom, it was the last genre I thought I could break into, and now it’s one of my favorites. I’m even on a quest to watch every show in it.

However, the underlying reasons for my love of mahou shoujo are rooted in my early childhood. As a kid, I hated shows that had “bad guys” in them. Until I was four, the only thing I watched was Winnie the Pooh, which was the original “slice of life comedy.” The action shows that I got into were Power Rangers and Transformers: Beast Wars, wherein the bad guys never felt threatening and were just as lovable as the good guys. Trace my interests through the next five years, and you get more of the same—Godzilla (about a monster being awesome), Jurassic Park (about dinosaurs being awesome), Pokemon (about cute monsters being awesome)—none of these has an important plot or conflict in them. They’re all just great fun.

Not much has changed since then with regards to what I love. Even as my tastes have grown increasingly “adult,” my favorite stories are always the ones where I love all the characters (and hate none of them), and I look to have a good time more than anything else. But the genre that most reminds me of my childhood is mahou shoujo (also tokusatsu, but we’re sticking with anime for the purpose of this post).

Cardcaptor Sakura is the least threatening thing imaginable. It’s relaxed and fun, with lots of great characters who don’t have any real big conflicts (I’m still relatively early in the series mind you, but I’m talking just about what I’ve seen). There doesn’t even seem to be any serious consequence if Sakura were to somehow not be able to catch a clow card—not that it matters because we have no fear of her failing. I can always enjoy it peacefully and easily, just like I did Pokemon and Godzilla—I just wanna see some cute girls having fun and kicking ass.

For what it’s worth, I just as easily could’ve chose Pokemon as my best-in-class because I still watch it for the exact same reasons I ever have; but I think it speaks more about the impact of these shows that they still effect my tastes, and aren’t just nostalgia-gasms.

We Remember Love is publishing this post series twice a month – given that I have many purposes for my anime (and manga), just as you might have.

These purposes often occur in hindsight, but in some cases (more often than you think) you figure out your purpose of watching a particular show after a few episodes. So, you can claim purposes when watching ongoing shows, and especially ongoing manga.

Do you watch these shows for a similar purpose? Let me know how these shows work for you?

Also, if you want to contribute an anime purpose write-up for a future post in this series, just leave a comment and I’ll contact you.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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21 Responses to The Purpose of Anime and Manga (Part IV)

  1. Anya says:

    Yay you did use my purpose! ^-^

    I remember watching Cardcaptor Sakura as a kid, but remember very little of it – I did buy the whole manga series in highschool though (in Thailand each volume costs a buck).

    I totally agree with the spectacles that must be expressed through animation (imagine live action mahou shoujo shows… that’s just ridiculous). And some expressions like >.<, =3, o_O, and Lelouch's crazy-eyed-ness are strictly anime-only XD

  2. bluemist says:

    Well I was already on my way to being an adult before I watched Cardcaptor Sakura, so I considered it “the childhood I never had”. I actually was introduced to CCS via the English re-edited version (Cardcaptors by 4Kids). In that (excuse the word) bastardized version, there concepts of bad guys and competition. When I discovered the original anime version it was my first moment of fandom. You start to realize the importance of CCS because it had everything in it – not only mahou shoujo stuff. I’d want to think that Sakura invented moe~ness, which still prevails up to now. All kinds of (taboo and otherwise) love pairings too. Crossdressing, cosplaying, the list goes on.

    • There has never been a time that moe didn’t exist. That’s proven just by the fact that the term existed way before Sakura.

      CCS could never have been the beginning of something because CLAMP were totally pouring their love for existing work into theirs (which, really, is what everyone does). As a writer who tries to cram everything I like into my work, I can see where CLAMP did this, and how it could all culminate into something like Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle where they could bring back all the things they loved into one story. A lot of what I see in CCS, especially the tons of taboo couples, are things that were really big in the 90s, namely in series that would’ve influenced CCS.

      When it comes to finding out if something is influential, I always recommend looking at that thing’s own influences. It’s amazing the web that you draw when you do so.

    • sadakups says:

      The 4Kids CCS is just BS. Why make Li the hero while it was Sakura to begin with?

  3. Maybe more appropriately Utena could only be done as “TV anime.” I think that distinction makes it even more special (and you implied it anyway). I know a lot of shows that could only possibly exist as anime, but I don’t think anyone uses that fact to the absolute fullest that Utena does. Like you, that’s a big part of why I respect it so much. It’s also why I would really love to direct an anime myself one day, because I would make it something inseparable from the medium.

    But then again, in their own way, light novels are inseparable from the medium as well.

    • Yeah, TV anime would be even more accurate.

      I’m trying hard to come up with other shows in the same class but I’m not remembering anything atm (or perhaps I haven’t seen enough).

      • kadian1364 says:

        “To see a spectacle that cannot be expressed any other way as interestingly except through animation (despite or because of the limitations for it)”
        I’d start with FLCL. Not quite made for TV, but if I were pinned to name something that works so well because it is anime it would be the first thing out of my mouth. It’s interesting both Utena and FLCL are Bildungsroman stories, a period of time that begs for experimental expression. Millienium Actress is also often cited as something that only works in animation, melding reality and memory into story that can only be told in animation.

        • It took me some time to consider these…

          I would probably agree, only that I haven’t gotten past how I don’t think much of FLCL — I don’t begrudge you considering it however, I’m just acknowledging my own bias.

          As for Millenium Actress… I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t think of it myself. It’s been many, many years since I last watched it but boy do I love this film. The consistent melding of reality and memory, but not in the over-the-top way that distinguishes Paprika I think makes your point really good.

  4. Alvin B. says:

    For me, well… even the most tragic of anime seems to keep a more positive outlook on life than much of western media. It’s just about enjoying life, and rarely about laughing at people’s misfortune. And, I think Western societies have their priorities warped when we see nothing wrong with murder, death and mayhem, but everything wrong with a simple love story or a bit of sex.

  5. Too bad that SDC completely botched its ending. So instead of getting a warm kyaa feeling I have to think of the ending every time I see it. But aside from that miserable moment, the rest of SDC is absolutely amazingly Arina Tanemura great. Personally, I’m more in touch with Full Moon as it is my first Tanemura experience and it still hits me with those bitter-sweet moments. Also, SDC completely fooled me with Mao. Damn you Tanemura. ;A;

    • Anya says:

      Yeah the ending sucked, but the extra chapter that came out a few months later (I think? it was a long time since I read it) sort of fixed it. Didn’t change much, but it was better than not having it. I don’t really think about the ending much, because when I first started reading SDC there was around 30 ish chapters that already came out so most of my experience was with those. Later on when I had to wait a month between chapters my memory of those chapters were more distilled.

      I read Full Moon and her other works after SDC; SDC was what introduced me to her work. I don’t really like Full Moon as much as SDC, it was too sad and made me cry at times T^T. The other series aren’t as memorable to me too. I have the artbook for Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, and I can’t remember some of the characters or what the story was about. It’s really cool to see her art style develop over the years though. If you compare the art inside the manga or artbooks for KKJ, FMWS and SDC you can see them gradually change.

      What’s wrong about Maora >.<

      • There’s something wrong about Maora because I’m a guy. Not cool you know. I’m not really into that.

        • Anya says:

          If you’re not into that then just don’t take an interest in them. Who are you to decide if it’s wrong?

          And FYI I am like Maora.

          • Ah, I don’t mean wrong in that sense. I got caught up in your wording. I don’t take an interest in that and I don’t particularly care if you do or don’t. I always try to not be judgemental but it looks like I failed. I guess, as I try to articulate it, it would be that I got caught completely off-guard with my pants down by Tanemura and I don’t feel particularly comfortable with it. And I hope that you can understand this purely gut feeling of mine.

            I’ll definitely keep this in mind and try to watch my words.

            Actually, let me try to articulate it with the specific case of Maora in mind. We’re about two volumes into SDC when we hear of it, a decently long enough time (especially considering how much content Tanemura puts into her pages). It’s a pretty big shocker if you ask me and forces me, perhaps unrightfully so, to completely change my image of Maora. I already have a small form of emotional investment. So to me, who has no interest in that, but does have an interest in Maora, I’m completely unsure how I should think about that. Is it an essential part of Maora or should I disregard it completely and pull the tag off of her character? I don’t know and I can’t say that I think a lot about it. I think of Maora as a endearing regardless of all of this and will always continue reading SDC with the biggest glee on my face.

            Anyway, I hope you can accept my apologies and if there’s anything offensive I said here I hope you’ll point it out to me.

            Btw, if you’ve ever heard of the K-drama Coffee Prince, it takes on a similar subject. Something in the opposite happens and it’s an essential part for a big half of the show.

          • Anya says:

            @Numbers and Space

            It’s a part of who she is, whether you like it or not – nothing “unrightful” about that. The question is do you accept and respect her (this can also apply to actual people like me) as who she is and who she wants to be, or are you going to let it bother you? It is very hurtful for people like her to be put in situations like these too. I’m usually open about my situation and often make a joke out of it, but there are times where people really piss the hell out of me.

            Well you have my twitter account and blog, if you want to talk about this or something else I suggest we stop spamming ghostlightning’s comments section (sorry ghost ^^”)

          • Don’t worry about it. I enjoy hosting the discussion.

  6. Pingback: The Purpose of Anime and Manga (Part V) | We Remember Love

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