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)
Best-in-class: Revolutionary Girl Utena
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.
Best-in-class: Shinshi Doumei Cross (a.k.a. The Gentlemen Alliance Cross)
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.
Best-in-class: Cardcaptor Sakura
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.