To explore themes, elements, and dynamics in anime content is perhaps the most interesting thing for me when it comes to reading essays on anime. I wish I could personally write more posts like this, but it takes a lot of effort to make it informative, a lot of ability to make it insightful, and even more ability to keep the prose interesting beyond the intrinsic pull of the subject matter.
These editorials can take the form of a single creator (or group) and the different themes indulged thereby, and a single theme or dynamic manifesting in different works. For this kind of blogging, chaostangent has become my go-to source. He has remarkable ability to produce very rich posts in this vein. We’ll start with him. [Click the images to visit the referenced posts]
chaostangent explores this theme and arrives at a historical and sociological examination of the creators, which is interesting enough, especially if you are into Japan. What interests me more is the ability to see these things play out in the different shows and how well the manifestations are presented.
Most presciently is the concept of individualism within a homogeneous society, one that is highly interconnected and increasingly amorphous; how does a single person differentiate themselves? The latter is a question that is at the core of identity: how am I different from every one else? How do I define me?
Wouldn’t you want to know the show that raises this question precisely?
Imagawa Yasuhiro is the main force behind three of some of my favorite robot anime. He is an expert in mashing up unrelated or very loosely related source material into a unified narrative filled with remarkable plot twists. I look into his exploration of power in terms of destruction and protection, manifested in a machine form, and presented to us as a choice.
He actually uses the words (in translated form) ‘God’ and ‘Devil’ quite a bit.
Executive Otaku of T.H.A.T. Anime Blog looks at several ‘Empires’ in anime and how historical empires influenced them. It’s a shame he hasn’t seen Legends of the Galactic Heroes as of the post’s publication, but it’s still thoughtful and made of solid effort.
He distinguishes between British, German, then Japanese/Pseudo-Japanese fashions of empire used in anime. I find it rather interesting how any other style of empire is never used outside of period works. Is it merely because the latter empires of the previous millennia are indeed so superior in the eyes of the Japanese anime creators? What of an American-style ‘superpower’ kind of empire?
I also like his elegant wavy lines that seems to have been inspired from natural forms, such as tree roots and those long, flowing brushes, like how the architects Sullivan and Gaudi abstracted natural forms to shape their floral decorations and structural forms. One only needs to watch Angel’s Egg to see his absolutely captivating organic lines animated on screen.
gaguri of Ha Neul Seom is the blogger I trust for essays on visual aspects of anime and manga. I lack the ability to discuss or even articulate images outside of inherent or imposed narrative elements, so I appreciate what he brings to my blog reading occupation. In this particular post, he discusses the work of Amano Yoshitaka in terms of ‘ghastly surrealism.’
In real life, molestation isn’t funny, so don’t think I’m condoning your trip to Japan whereupon you will hit the subways, so to speak. But in anime and manga, sexual molestation is used in service of humor as often as it’s an agent of personal horror, and there seems to exist an unspoken code governing the line between the two.
Don’t think this is all about cultural implications, either. Such narrative machinations as humor can be deliciously structural. Not that the examples I look at here are off the social hook, per se, but we’ll look at that on a case-by-case basis.
Sexual humor isn’t unique to anime, but it’ is quite remarkable how much of a home anime (and manga) is for it. Pontifus of Superfanicom puts in the work to see how sex, particularly unwanted sexual advances and acts are played for laughs in different shows.
I enjoy these amateur takes on analysis, exploration, and speculation. For one thing, these posts also serve as spotlights on a particular creator or style that sometimes make for wonderful discoveries. Whether these posts are ‘correct’ isn’t as important to me as how they (we, the bloggers) just take whatever tools we have and talk about these things to make sense of, and create new meaning from the subject of our hobby.