Would our anime heroes enjoy anime?


Outside of gag shows, and slice-of-life shows that enjoy referencing the otaku culture, I often wonder if anime exists in the worlds that are presented to us. I wonder if the heroes we look up to (and most of them fit the otaku age demographic) would actually enjoy anime. Would they look down on us?

Did anime and manga even exist in the Geofront? How come we never saw Shinji or his mates watching or talking about it? Did Amuro miss his shows when he left the colonies to join the crew of the White Base? What shows did Ranka follow in Frontier? Did they make a tv anime adaptation of Do You Remember Love?

While I concede that showing characters watch anything else but news (which is nothing more than an exposition device) is gratuitous, it does seem like anime never exists in ‘serious’ (as in non-comedy) shows. What does that say about anime? It is quite a conspicuous absence.

It could be read this way: our heroes are persons of action. All their acts are filled with consequence. Since we never see them watch any anime nor acknowledge its existence, it is implied that anime (and manga) is of no consequence.


Please read otou-san’s It Takes A Fanboy. It has two theses: the first one being Studio GAINAX wants us to be the best otaku we can be, just like them; to transcend our reality. the other one is that of a cruel angel’s, that humanity, whether otaku or not, is painfully flawed and without hope. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an otaku or not, because transcendence is a lie. There is nothing redeeming about humanity.

I mean, whether it’s Buster Machine #3 or the galaxy-chucking Chougin-Gurren-Lagann, aren’t the repressive enemies really right in the end? Is this an acknowledgment of the self-destructive nature of a hardcore otaku lifestyle?

otou-san, ‘It Takes a Fanboy‘ (2008)

I had commented in various blogs regarding how the inspiring GAINAX works (most notably Tenggen Toppa Gurren Lagann), despite its call for transcendence beyond the impossible,  actually maintain the status quo. The shows become escapist fantasies than blueprints for life. The latter idea is admittedly an idealization of entertainment media, and can sound foolish; but such is the emotional impact of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Its fans may want to relate to it as a sacred text to live life by. But after all this, why do otaku for the most part remain the same? Why do so many feel alone or live isolated existences?

The anime is an escape. It allows the viewer to fantasize being Simon or Kamina. For every viewer who directly or indirectly influenced by the show who goes through life going beyond the impossible, there are many (don’t ask me to quantify this) that I feel who don’t. Maybe someday, hopefully, they tell themselves; just not right now. It would be interesting to see a social study on the behavior of people after viewing TTGL (over a long-term period, assuming that the subjects highly appreciate the show).


The transcendence I imply here isn’t limited to saving the world in some way. There is a plurality of victories; for some it could mean simply putting out a blog when there was little confidence for writing to begin with. It could be a liberation from anonymity, the first comment you post to contribute to discussion. It could be landing your first job, earning your first pay, finally asking out the person you like.

Back on topic: In anime, the characters who get to do these things don’t seem to have anime hobbies, when their characters are implied to have hobbies. Hikaru, Isamu, and Alto from the Macross franchise are so obsessed with flying that they aren’t portrayed with any other interests. Anime and manga don’t seem to exist in the Gundam continuities. I really can’t think of an anime outside high school slice-of-life/comedies where anime and manga exist.

Can the characters we admire stay as awesome if they watch as much anime as we do? I clocked 84.1 hours of anime viewing time (not counting re-watches) according to My Anime List. If they can’t, then what are we doing?

However, if you imagine they do watch anime for whatever reason, what shows would they be watching? Will Kamina get his kicks from Hokuto no Ken or Dragon Ball Z? Will the young Simon prefer Clannad, moving on to Gunbuster as he gets older? The world of Gurren Lagann doesn’t have television, but let’s indulge ourselves. What anime would our anime heroes watch?

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.
This entry was posted in analysis, fanboy, meta and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Would our anime heroes enjoy anime?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I know you are a mecha-mecha fan, but, have you given consideration watching shows like Genshiken or NHK ni Youkoso! before?


  2. Delete this post immediately, watch Martian Successor Nadesico, and then try again. As a matter of fact I cannot fucking believe you have not watched THE most timeless amazing mech show ever, Nadesico. If I believe in objectivity, I’d call it the greatest anime ever. You are the PERFECT person to watch it. Do it NOW. IMMEDIATELY. There is no alternative to this. The fact you haven’t seen it makes you not even a real authority on mecha anime.

  3. TotallyAnonymous says:

    haha. I second that motion for deletion.

    joke! ;P

  4. ghostlightning says:

    @ digitalboy

    I will watch Nadesico on your recommendation. I also apologize if I represented myself as an authority on mecha anime. I am a fan of it, to be sure, but hardly an authority given my limited exposure.

    Another thing, I really don’t mind being wrong. Discussions tend to be futile if I can’t be convinced of anything. So thanks!

  5. Sakura says:

    I second digitalboy’s recommendation on Nadesico. It was one of the first shows I ever watched.

    Your post certainly gives one food for thought. I mean you would think with all that downtime in between mecha battles, their pilots would need some way to unwind.

    Media exists for sure in the Gundam and Macross worlds considering they have idols like Lacus, Minmei, Sheryl, Ranka etc etc

    So if pop idols exist, why not anime, and just who is watching them?

  6. mechafetish says:

    @ digitalboy

    Although I agree that Nadesico is definitely an anime ghostlightning would enjoy (Let’s make a bet on whether he will be changing his avatar to an image of Guy), I think you’re overrating it a bit, especially in light of the enormous backlog of truly stellar anime (mecha or otherwise) he has yet to watch.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it immensely and still love the characters, but the awesome plot loses its footing toward the end and the movie is a mess (love the mecha fights though). So I think ghostlightning can be forgiven for having this slip beneath his radar.

  7. Amuro Ray:

    He pilots an awesome mecha all day and is made of win and GAR. I bet he likes to sit down and pop in a DVD of something that he doesn’t get every day (just like we do). I’m willing to bet he would be a Haruhi-fan. Or something like Full metal Panic Fummoffu. As an adult, it would be *gasp* Clannad, Kannon, AND Air. (And fill his ipod with music from said shows). Now all of you imagine him going “moe!” every time Nagisa comes on screen 🙂

    Char Anzable:

    Strike witches, Sky girls, etc (anything with lolis). I think he would be a hardcore Rei Ayanami fan.

    Kamina: Dragon ball Z, G-Gundam. Anything where the main characters win by just fighting spirit.

  8. ghostlightning says:

    @ Sakura

    Been chatting with otou-san, I’m gonna watch Nadesico this weekend, assuming Mechafetish can find his copy.

    >>’Media exists for sure in the Gundam and Macross worlds considering they have idols like Lacus, Minmei, Sheryl, Ranka etc etc

    So if pop idols exist, why not anime, and just who is watching them?’

    I’m with you on that point. I actually want people to speculate wildly!

    @ Mechafetish

    I need to borrow this from you. You know how academic I can get re anime consumption (after all, I am on my second attempt to watch Turn A Gundam. I even watched the Ideon movies, LOL Tomino. And, I watched Project A-Ko TWICE in as many days because of you, so let me have it.

    @ MechaMarshmellow

    HAHAHAHAHA. That’s actually what I wanted to get from you commenters. As I suspected, Amuro is total fail.

    Char is win and a lolicon. I may agree he’s a Rei fanboy, but I think he’d be totally into Ranka.

    Kamina: While I feel he would enjoy those shows, he’d feel superior to their characters so he’d probably drop them. For some strange reason I imagine him going nuts over My Neighbor Totoro

  9. Yes, you must watch Nadesico. Mechafetish is right that the plot goes a little haywire near the end, and the movie isn’t any good, but despite those handicaps it’s still amazing, and very, very, very relevant to this post.

    In LoGH the characters watch a bit of an anime space opera in one episode. Then they discuss morality in storytelling.

  10. schneider says:

    >>In LoGH the characters watch a bit of an anime space opera in one episode. Then they discuss morality in storytelling.

    Crap I haven’t reached this yet!

    I’m nthing Nadesico, not because it’s the best show in the world, but because it’s plain fun.

    Also, have you guys (GL and MF) seen Dai-Guard? Great super robot show that’s down to earth. Main character is also an otaku. I’ll probably even write a post on it in the near future. 😀

  11. ghostlightning says:

    @ Animanachronism

    Okay, thanks for the tip. At least I won’t be expecting Nadesico to give me a religious experience, so I can be free to enjoy it on my own terms. But from one Lit geek to another, do you also feel that there are ‘required readings’ in anime? Let’s say I wanted to major in Mecha, doesn’t it feel like there’s a list of works I need to academically complete?

    Honestly I feel this way a lot. Having put out this blog I’ve given the impression that I’m an expert on mecha anime; while I don’t even feel that I am an authority on Macross, much much less on Gundam. I’d really like to know your thoughts on this.

    In the LoGH episode, are you sure what they were watching was anime? Could it have been a live action movie?

    @ Schneider

    I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with Dai-Guard. I do encourage you to do a post on it. I’m always game for a mecha anime post.

  12. @ schneider: I think it’s in the first half of the show, as my memory of it is pretty dim. It’s quite a brief scene.

    @ ghostlightning: I’m fairly certain the characters themselves identified it as an animation, but I could be wrong (as I said, it’s a while since I watched it). Even if it wasn’t an animation, there’s the moment (in one of the screencaps here) when Yang says ‘If it were a third-rate TV anime . . .’

    I’m not really a fan of the idea of one set ‘required reading/viewing’ list, just as I’m comfortable with the idea of a canon, but not the idea of a canon that we all have to conform to. It’s complicated by the rather porous boundaries of the idea of ‘mecha’ itself.

    There was a humourous guide to becoming ‘a l33t Mecha Fan’ constructed a while back, but it was more like an entry-level list.

  13. I posted a comment, but it had links in it so it got sent to moderation, I think.

  14. I see Sheyrl as liking them GAR Bishonen. Shes got ALL of Samurai X on ultra high def Blu-ray. Poor Alto will be cosplaying as him soon enough.

    Leluoch: would be a fan of Starship Operators, Death note, 8th MS team, and LOL Zatch Bell! anything Tactics based. Muttering “Just as planned” along with the characters.

    Maybe even some CASE CLOSED

    Suzaku: GUNDAM WING omg no doubt. Heero would be his favorite character. Methinks that the Energy wing system was shaped that way by request!!!

    Kamille Bidan: Macross Frontier! “OMG Alto, I know how you feel.” plus all them transforming mecha. Otherwise hed be too “cool” to watch that “kids stuff”

    Simon: I cant even think of one. Is there any character he can look up to? Hes probably a collector and a gamer. I can imagine he has a Nintendo DS on him at all times.

  15. ghostlightning says:

    @ Animanachronism

    That was some post! I realize I’m quite a maleducated mecha anime fan lol. It would really depend on what purpose one watches anime for, but since I’m blogging it makes some sense to ‘need’ to watch a number of shows. Perhaps Mechafetish who has seen much more anime than I have and cross-referenced almost every anime in Super Robot Wars should do a post like Riuva’s only earnestly.

    @ MechaMarshmellow

    Dude you crack me up! Keep ’em coming!

    I realize that Char must really be into Lucky Star and calls Tsukasa his waifu.

    I think you nailed it re Sheryl. She loved Samurai X, bad dubs and all, but HATED the OVAs. She can’t stand sad endings you see.

    I sort of imagined Lelouch to disdain ‘tactics-based’ anime because he ended up screaming at the tv after watching LoGH. Like Kamina, he rather enjoyed Tonarii no Totoro.

    Suzaku plays only 2 songs inside the Lancelot’s cockpit: Just Communication before a battle, and Just Love after it.

    Kamille wishes Alto was a girl instead of a trap.

    Simon… could be a hard core Pokemon fan.

    How about people like L and Light? Noriko? Minmei? There’s so many characters I want to know about! Anyone can answer!

  16. omisyth says:

    ‘Course they would enjoy anime. What else would be better than seeing cahracters on screen emulate themselves and folling the very same edict of their own lives, or even doing the opposite and giving them further reason to believe in their way of life?

  17. schneider says:

    Didn’t Noriko have Ghibli posters in her room? She’s already otaku!

  18. ghostlightning says:

    @ omisyth

    It’s not that obvious, even if I’m inclined to agree with you. That’s why evidence is so cool.

    @ schneider

    I forgot all about that! I’ll check it to verify, but that’s a great observation! Anyone else who can verify this, let me know.

  19. unlike anima, I am an extreme fan of the required watching idea. Come to me for a list sometime. Actually I’ll do a post on it. Possibly on Yukan.

  20. otou-san says:

    I think the idea of “required viewing” is a bit forced, and besides: Everyone has their own path along which they develop their fandom, and it’s fun to meet both people who took similar paths and those who went down different ones. If everyone was all the same, what would we have to talk about/recommend to each other?

    That said, I continue to stress how awesome Nadesico is. Yes, the ending is a bit hosed and the movie does nothing to remedy that, but along the way you get such a spot-on parody of some of your favorite anime that I think you’ll love it.

  21. otou-san says:

    @schneider: Noriko was a confirmed super robot otaku. Her and Gai Daigoji would have made the ultimate couple!

  22. ghostlightning says:

    @ Digitalboy & Otou-san

    Response is RELATED: Mechafetish fails because he couldn’t find his copy of Nadesico which I’m meeting him today for (maybe tomorrow after our tennis), and he should be well on his way on writing his “anime curriculum”

    In the study of Literature (I majored in it, like iKnight; I even took postgraduate units in it like Cuchlann) the idea of a Canon and required reading comes up quite a bit and is very controversial.

    Hmm, maybe Lelangir can explain it best, but here I go: To simplify the arguments, you have on one side you have the pro-canon who insist on absolute (or near-absolute) values and standards that certain texts (or anime if you will) have, and therefore they should belong to the list. The actual list is filled with works written by DWMs (DEAD WHITE MALES).

    On the other side is everyone else who’s asking, “WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, AND WITH WHAT ARMY?” They are arguing that there are so many works that are marginalized by the list, but are no less important to the study and appreciation of literature as a whole. After all, the people who make the list tend to be old, white, and male.

    So Mechafetish and Digitalboy can argue for it and maintain that their list is built on aesthetic and not political values. But they just need to prepare themselves because analysis and reading have come very far and their biases and prejudices can and will be surfaced.

  23. @all you nadesico fanboys

    I finally watched one ep of Nadesico online…

    within 20 minutes I was at FYE buying the ENTIRE BOX SET!


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