How do you feel about grown ups watching anime?

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Re: How do you feel about grown ups watching anime?

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Postby YTPrenewed » Mon Jan 04, 2021 7:12 pm

"Yo, dawg, I heard you like guilt by association, so I put an association fallacy in your association fallacy..."

But seriously, the OP's concerns are legitimizing the idea that anime, as an entire medium, should be judged by shows that do not equal the entirety of anime, let alone the definition of it. Which, according to Merriam-Webster online, is:

SPOILER: Show
: a style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark colorful graphics depicting vibrant characters in action-filled plots often with fantastic or futuristic themes


Furthermore, even these shows shouldn't be judged by the fact that some of their viewers happen to fetishize teenage characters. Online, we don't even know how many of the people doing so are teenagers themselves.

If those preaching guilt by association as a reason not to watch anime had some sort of cause-and-effect reasoning to go with it, we'd have more to go on. Until then, don't let it hold you back from the shows you enjoy.

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Re: How do you feel about grown ups watching anime?

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Postby Mr. Tines » Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:28 am

Ah, a thread that popped up while I was away. My first reaction, of course, is "who is accusing me of being grown up?" :tongue:

Really. to me, it depends on what their taste in the medium is.

As I've remarked before now, the attraction for me of Japanese media is that that part of it that reaches us avoids the miserable "social-realist" divorce-and-teen-pregnancy bent of the British media, and the mawkish sentimentality and school-ma'am-ish-ness that pervaded the American media before I dropped out of both of those, pretty much when we abandoned the TV back in the late 80s. By hearsay, things have only gotten worse, with a general coarsening all around -- recalling some years back (before I dropped the Beeb for anything in 2008) a BBC arts program proudly boasting about an up-coming drama aimed at the 50+ audience which could roughly be summarised as "Mr Chips gets a nose job and has a gay affair". Admittedly, having for the same reason missed out on the "video nasty" wave c1990 of schlocky OVAs on VHS which formed the British experience for that generation, I skipped roughly from Marine Boy and Kimba in the late 60s (so much better than the American funny cartoon animal shows) to the now-on-DVD (and thus on the computer) late '90s, and girls-and-guns stuff like Burn Up/whatever or Dirty Pair Flash.

Whatever their age, anime girls are typically drawn as down-scaled adult females, but with larger heads ("candy-apple" style as it has been called); series that don't are often remarked on for their design choices -- the "chubby lolis" of Manabi Straight, for example, whose designs contrast even with the more typical depiction of their contemporaries in the rival school. This results in character designs that are generally just easy on the eye
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Re: How do you feel about grown ups watching anime?

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Postby komatsu007 » Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:47 am

I am an adult in my thirties who's part of the "had-to-import-a-VHS-from-HK-to-watch-EOE" generation and yet I still watch anime at least a couple of times a year - I am mostly a manga reader. I fail to see how most Japanese animation is more objectionable than half of the stuff "grown-ups" watch daily and talk about in the office (prior to Covid..). 90 Day Fiancée, which my wife watches regularly, seems to solely exist so that the audience can wallow in their schadenfreude as they watch poor immigrants and their US spouses make terrible life choices. The Bachelor/Bachelorette is extremely reactionary and yet it's widely beloved.

So what if a lot of Anime is cheap, simple, willing to cater to the lowest common denominator? The idea that every piece of entertainment needs to be morally and intellectually edifying is in fact deeply oppressive. Most humans slave away their lives either at work or commuting in packed, gas-spewing steel boxes. Let young women enjoy their otome princes, kids glue posters of their favorite mecha pilotess on the wall, whatever. Fantasy is an essential part of human life and we all wallow in it in our own particular ways, be it by investing our emotions in a sports team as if our lives depended on it, or by loving fictional characters.

Now, the eroticization of children is another thing altogether and is unfortunately not restricted to Anime as a medium.
"Oh, play that thing! Mute glorious Storyvilles / Others may license, grouping around their chairs / Sporting-house girls like circus tigers (priced far above rubies) to pretend their fads/ While scholars manqués nod around unnoticed/Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids. On me your voice falls as they say love should, like an enormous yes" - "For Sidney Bechet", Philip Larkin

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Re: How do you feel about grown ups watching anime?

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Postby Zusuchan » Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:26 pm

komatsu007 wrote:
The idea that every piece of entertainment needs to be morally and intellectually edifying is in fact deeply oppressive.

I don't think every last piece of entertainment needs to be intellectual and I agree very much that simple, shallow entertainment is something everyone needs in their lives at some point, because life is that hard to validate such a need.

But I also feel that what the current status of media consumption shows very well is that the majority of stuff most people watch really is simply entertainment, but they watch it so much, so overwhelmingly, while leaving little time for far better works that could at least be interesting and serve to broaden one's mind and sensibilities, that entertainment has become the "default" of what you see on the TV. Now, entertainment has probably always been the default in art and therefore, humanity has not really changed. That, however, does not make it better and if anything, the larger opportunity to engage with intellectually intriguing materials coupled with the fact that for all the world's problems, most people in developed societies (even the poorer ones) are better off than their counterparts in the Middle Ages would have been (even if the world is still an awful place a lot of the time with a fuckload of problems, we're still left with more time and possibility to actively better ourselves) means that the constant love for stuff like Fast and Furious over the far better, but far less known and more intellectually demanding novels of Thomas Pynchon starts to look more like a large portion of humanity just not wanting to significantly grow up. And I see so much people unironically considering base entertainment better than serious works that I'm starting to doubt how much entertainment is even looked upon as that.

Now, there are also several great, magnificent, superb works that are more-or-less more publicly known. Breaking Bad is pretty popular, Charlie Kaufman and Paul Thomas Anderson have both been nominated for Oscars (Kaufman's even won one!) etc. But they're still not as popular and not as appreciated as much weaker fare. Kaufman's 2008 masterpiece Synecdoche, New York put a temporary stop on his career and he's directed two more films since. PTA has done far better, but is still not a "commercially successful" filmmaker by any means and his films are primarily financed because of whatever star power they may hold and the awards value they tend to bring. Even something like NGE, in my view one of the greatest, most complex artworks I've ever managed to acquaint myself with, is beloved by most people for reasons that have little to do with its actual complexity. The sheer amount of people engaging in shipping wars, escapist (porn) fanfics and bashing NTE for reasons suspiciously close to "This film series did not abide by my expectations" should point out that NGE is famous more due to its mecha trappings, hot characters and its relatability thanks to it depicting mental health issues in a scary world than many of its other qualities. (Now, I do think "depicting mental health issues in a scary world" is a huge part of Eva's greatness too, but there's a lot of deep stuff about that in the work itself that goes further than the IMO relatively more "superficial" recognition of similarities many people feel-and I do also think a part of Eva's greater qualities subconsciously work as reasons for people liking it too, but I still feel its appearing more "normal" at the beginning has more to do with its success than stuff like its cinematographic language.)

Partially I just feel that many great artists are having trouble getting their works financed due to being more unknown, which is in turn due to their works not being sufficiently mainstream to be loved by a cultural majority. Of course, plenty of great works have also been mixtures of what can be called low and high art (both NGE and Shakespeare fall under that mixture), but that doesn't mean there aren't great artworks that are simply high art.

Maybe I'm just a jaded pessimist here, but I feel that if more people were willing to ingratiate themselves with more interesting material, the world would be a better place, not just for artists, but for everyone-since I think that low-level entertainment can never be as stimulating as great stuff and that great stuff will better many people, even if they don't know it and as a result, mankind would be better. (There are other factors here too, such as more honesty and empathy toward others, but I feel that a higher amount of interaction with "serious art" can already open several possibilities.)

As for the morally edifying point, I think that things can have value even if they're morally horrible. But the sort of stuff I consider entertainment is already so unartistic and uninterested in deeper messages and artistry that its immoralities will just let themselves be known far louder for me.

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Re: How do you feel about grown ups watching anime?

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Postby komatsu007 » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:53 pm

View Original PostZusuchan wrote:But I also feel that what the current status of media consumption shows very well is that the majority of stuff most people watch really is simply entertainment, but they watch it so much, so overwhelmingly, while leaving little time for far better works that could at least be interesting and serve to broaden one's mind and sensibilities, that entertainment has become the "default" of what you see on the TV. Now, entertainment has probably always been the default in art and therefore, humanity has not really changed. That, however, does not make it better and if anything, the larger opportunity to engage with intellectually intriguing materials coupled with the fact that for all the world's problems, most people in developed societies (even the poorer ones) are better off than their counterparts in the Middle Ages would have been (even if the world is still an awful place a lot of the time with a fuckload of problems, we're still left with more time and possibility to actively better ourselves) means that the constant love for stuff like Fast and Furious over the far better, but far less known and more intellectually demanding novels of Thomas Pynchon starts to look more like a large portion of humanity just not wanting to significantly grow up. And I see so much people unironically considering base entertainment better than serious works that I'm starting to doubt how much entertainment is even looked upon as that.


I do not necessarily disagree with you, but leaving aside the fact that "high culture" and "low culture" are eminently fluid concepts (e.g. Opera, which I am sure you and most people would slot under the "meaningful art" category, was in its beginning seen as vulgar, low-effort entertainment), I remain unconvinced that this dichotomy is anything new or whether it's gotten worse. Works with mass appeal achieve widespread popularity, and usually mass appeal meaning appealing to the per-established biases and preferences of your audience, some of which may be, well, prurient.

Putting that aside, though, I would in fact argue precisely the opposite: never before in History was "mindless entertainment" as willing to engage with the better angels of the audience's nature. Take anime for example. A lot of it is mindless, good fun but even the most superfluous harem school comedy usually operates under certain values that even the most Kantian of moralists would find worthwhile: be true to your friends, believe in the power of human spirit, love redeems all, etc. In the other hand, your average low middle ages peasant's brush with the artistic would be the occasional visit of a Comedia Dell'Arte troupe most of the laughs would come from Arlequin and Pedrolino farting around a stage. A kid surfing the web looking for a show about big bad robots can stumble on Evangelion and learn a bit about Freudian psychology, the hedgehog dilemma, etc.

Point is, what is or is not "meaningful" entertainment is at the end of the day a reflection of class and social behavioral consensuses that oftentimes have nothing to do with the value of the work itself. You mention "Breaking Bad" - I agree it's a great show - but a man like Adorno would say it's mindless trash and that people should listen to Mozart or read the German romantics instead.
"Oh, play that thing! Mute glorious Storyvilles / Others may license, grouping around their chairs / Sporting-house girls like circus tigers (priced far above rubies) to pretend their fads/ While scholars manqués nod around unnoticed/Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids. On me your voice falls as they say love should, like an enormous yes" - "For Sidney Bechet", Philip Larkin

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Re: How do you feel about grown ups watching anime?

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Postby Zusuchan » Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:15 am

komatsu007 wrote:
I do not necessarily disagree with you, but leaving aside the fact that "high culture" and "low culture" are eminently fluid concepts

I don't disagree that the difference between what is meaningful and what is meaningless, what is high culture and what is low culture is fluid and can't be considered something concrete. Personally, what I consider as "high culture" is something that tackles interesting subjects and has a certain level of complexity in either its aesthetics, themes or both and that doesn't have elements that play for the more "general" crowd (for example, NGE itself has elements of sci-fi and mecha anime, genres that it's at first content to follow and even at the end, doesn't really deconstruct as much as some people posit-something with the thematic and aesthetic complexity and maturity of NGE that would have been more akin to the realism of a Mike Leigh movie and that would not have the sci-fi mecha anime "trappings" of NGE would be more "high art" than NGE itself is. ) In short, it would be a complex artwork that tackles subjects head-on instead of avoiding actual discussion and that exists as something above the spheres of mindless entertainment due to its thematic and aesthetic complexity, while, most of the time, relying more on "realism" and other such traditionally "high culture" values than anything that can reasonably be expected to share leanings with works of "low culture".

"Low culture", on the other hand, is a low-level work without anything particularly interesting about it, that does not have a huge interest in either new aesthetics or in deep thematic complexity or really complexity in general. "Low culture" plays to the audience's expectations and escapist needs and is really far more akin to "mindless entertainment" than anything else.

Now, the problem, I think, is when and how the two intersect. Now, to once again take the example of our beloved NGE, in terms of its aesthetic and thematic complexity and its tackling of interesting subjects, is certainly akin to works of high culture-however, it also is unironically a sci-fi mecha anime, that for a couple of episodes, plays into what one expects from such a generic work and has elements such as fan-service and gratuitous fights. It's more akin to what could be considered high culture than low, yet it unmistakably has elements of what can be considered low culture. Shakespeare's works had serious aesthetic and thematic complexities as well, but also had elements designed to service the lowest common denominator. Breaking Bad really goes to town with great, wonderful character development, but the makers themselves have pretty much said they just wanted to make good entertainment and did not particularly care too much about themes. Anno's Kare Kano is more akin to entertainment than a "serious artwork", but it has a particular sort of juxtaposition between hyperstylism and emotionally mature depictions of human relationships not akin to most works of low culture.

So I think there are definitely great, masterful artworks that are more "high" than "low", but nonetheless take on some attributes usually considered to work for "the low". However, all the really great works are more "high culture" than "low", in my opinion and no matter the amount of fluidity (which is considerable, no doubt), works like 2 Fast 2 Furious will never approach the same level of high culture as Shakespeare's weakest work or Breaking Bad or Kare Kano etc. So, in my view, as long as a work is higher rather than lower, it just about is high most of the time already. (I also don't mean to say that sci-fi or mecha anime or any such genre trappings are inherently lower than "muh realism" or whatever, simply that they're associated more with entertainment than intellectually stimulating material, in my understanding).

I remain unconvinced that this dichotomy is anything new or whether it's gotten worse.

I don't think I said this dichotomy to be new or having gotten worse anywhere, as a matter of fact I even stated that the majority being more interested in mindless distractions than interesting material is not a new phenomenon. And I wouldn't say it's gotten worse either, it's just adapted to the new world we've found ourselves in.

never before in History was "mindless entertainment" as willing to engage with the better angels of the audience's nature.

I don't know enough about the history of entertainment to adequately comment upon this, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case. Then again, I'd be more willing to posit this as a natural aftereffect of the current general cultural norms than anything else. There were probably mindless entertainment works in the Renaissance era that espoused with the norms of "good morality" at that time too. So if anything, the fact that most everything one sees on the TV screen is more or less in accordance with popular opinions is more a matter of changing moralities than this current era being specifically good in terms of entertainment daring to engage with the better angels of humanity.

And even then, if that engagement ofttimes takes the form of escapism, does it not still encourage the audience to not grow up and not do anything substantial, either?

I do think that the era of the Internet is cool in the sense that it's genuinely easier to get acquainted with cool artworks, and I guess that's something I hadn't thought of. However, I'm still not sure about the over-all picture having significantly improved, though I guess even little steps of improvement are good.

Point is, what is or is not "meaningful" entertainment is at the end of the day a reflection of class and social behavioral consensuses that oftentimes have nothing to do with the value of the work itself.

Yeah, I don't disagree with that notion.


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