I will admit, I remember when I started knowing what anime actually was. I remember watching Sailor Moon when I was four or five and just liking the show. I never really knew what anime was still. Even when Toonami was airing Dragonball Z, Hamtaro, Yu Yu Hakusho, and many other anime, I simply just did not know still. It was more around when I was starting sixth or seventh grade that I started to know what anime was. This got me to not only keep up with Toonami, but got to me to pay attention to the Anime Channel on Comcast’s On Demand. I will admit I saw some programs on that list that I should not have seen. One being Demon Hunter Yohko and Nerima Daikon Brothers (still one of my favorites). Luckily Funimation came around on that block and had more current shows that would probably not have me in trouble… maybe. One of the big ones I got into during my middle school phase was Ouran Highschool Host Club, Baccano, and Spice and Wolf. Now I can admit I still do love watching those shows, but when it came to some series after them… I started to watch less.
Now around high school I was getting into Tokusatsu and a big reason was that because anime was losing my interest. Toku seemed so new to me and while there are some of these live action shows that I think differently of now, I still love the effort into them. Sadly, I cannot say that for some anime series. I know people work hard for them regardless and yet the product just does not reflect that. Lately I have been getting into older shows mostly from Tatsunoko Productions and I am noticing why I have troubles with newer shows and I want to take some time to dig around in my head to see what I can find to be my biggest problems with current anime.
Kamen Rider Double is still one of my favorite shows in general.
Now for what is considered older anime is pretty sketchy with others. For me it is clearly the 90’s and older since I started in the 90’s. The 2000’s still had some great shows to offer as I can easily list them off, but for some reason things did begin to get odd for me and anime. I will say this is when I was simply watching too much and just found awful shows and that is regular regardless of any entertainment medium. Then the 2010’s hit and not much got my interest. I know I still can find gems around, but for the main stream and what is advertised the most, I simply cannot fully enjoy those shows. One Punch Man was a fun ride and that is a big time show with tons of attention. The biggest part is that this show remembers the old school methods and simply makes a fun show while still trying to make their own image. This reaches my first big problem, things just start to seem the same.
Every year for anime there will always be your action shows, school shows, romance shows, and then some that just to mix everything in a blender. So many times to me at the least some shows do not carry presence. I can see images or even short trailers and I just feel nothing. I felt like I have seen this already and would rather watch what this current show reminds me of. Again for school dramas I had the classic To Heart and the silly School Rumble. Some to me just keep doing the same without much variety. Now To Heart is a straight forward romance school anime… until you get into the later seasons and the sequel series. Personally that show knew how to keep up on good stories with their characters and also knew how to make them feel alive and present. School Rumble feels more like a parody in general and then you get into things like Lucky Star and it just seems like nothing. I know there are slice of life shows, but there are so many that stay so monotone for too long! Even some of the action shows now these days just want to be what the popular ones are. Dragon Ball is back and people were already copying it so I bet it is even worse now. JoJo is a huge hit as well and I bet the influence is strong in the market. Even when some other shows make a return it sometimes is not as strong. Dragon Ball Super is doing many things new and also bringing back older concepts as well which is really cool. It makes fans remember why they love Dragon Ball and also giving them new things to love. A show that came back, but not as strong was Berserk. The animation was not the greatest and it did miss what made the original animated series so strong. I guess there is also something wrong with the quality for me as well.
We all know what “Moe~” means.
While watching the older shows like Gatchaman, Hurricane Polymar, Casshan, and I even saw some clips of Votoms it made me realize that I love hand drawn animation so much! There are some shows that really look like moving art and it is beautiful. The two I really enjoy the animation and art is Hurricane Polymar and Casshan. Casshan has great use of lines, shading, textures, and colors that it jus brings out so many emotions from me. Polymar has great attention to detail as I love seeing the clothes of villains being torn up and seeing the battle damage all around is amazing. Whenever Polymar is knocking foes around or smashing them into walls all those details just make them feel more lively. It reminds me of when I watch action moves like The Raid 1 and 2 where for some reason I am cringing even though I am not getting hurt. I will admit with the digital art style some of them do not carry as well with me. I do know some current shows are aiming for unique art styles and I love that, but there are many current shows that use the same styles over and over again. To me it just gets annoying and again does not give it a strong image. Look at JoJo, those designs and art just stick out because they go against modern anime designs. Even Saitama goes against this standard and he is a huge character. I can admit some other shows like Sword Art Online can look lovely at times, but I still would prefer the background shots of Casshan any day. Then we get to shows like Attack on Titan where there is constant art that is annoying to me. Again art is subjective, but AoT to me keeps using methods that just annoy me. The close-ups and intense sweating animation does leave a particular image for the show, but I tend to make fun of those raccoon faces.
Going on then, another big issue are the stories. I have mentioned that I enjoyed One Punch Man because of the simple story. Just remember folks, simple is not a bad thing. To be honest just messing around with a concept works out much better than a plot based show. A huge reason I got into Tatsunoko shows was because they have fun with concepts. Casshan is a man turned machine fighting against other machines and so far I have seen fourteen episodes and wow they do a lot with the concept. Constant questions about what a robot is, are they truly different from their creators, and always innovating themselves or simple upgrading. Hurricane Polymar fights off random groups of masked villains and the constant creativity they can think with silly designs is amazingly fun. Gatchaman then always aims to keep making intense episodes with their foes getting a upperhand, conflict between the team, and thought-provoking questions about war (the same goes for Casshan as well with that). Yatterman is a great comedy show both the original and 2006 remake where there is always a new scheme and a new silly robot to fight with brand new surprises. That is another thing about some shows, so far with Tatsunoko shows or even OVA’s they are always surprising me. One would think the older shows would be cliché ridden since they set some standards and yet that is not true. Gatchaman and Casshan got me so surprised and jerked around with my emotions so much! There are times I am enjoying the amazing introductions and action sequences and having tears for beautiful sequences and character deaths. Each episode in these older shows always stick out from the rest, well except for one episode of Gatchaman where it was the sugar scheme all over again. What may seem simple in concept can be taken in so many directions because of the concept being simple thus being flexible.
Gatchaman was a huge surprise for me! Easily my favorite anime.
Now for some other shows, being flexible can be troublesome as well. Naruto at first was a nice show with having good morales, nice lessons on being yourself and opening up, and amazing fights using what techniques each ninja had. I remember talking about how great Itachi was in his introduction. His mind games were out of this world! I also still enjoy Zabuza and Haku of the Mist Village with their water and ice tricks. Later on though we get giant monster battles, techniques that act more like a form changes, and battles that just feel like power struggles. Naruto even keeps trying to reveal new villains right after the other. Literally I just heard about Kaguya and I thought Madara was the final villain before that. Naruto still has some of those golden moments around though, but the further you get into it, it does start to become scarce. With a show like Gatchaman and Casshan there are constant battles of intelligence going on which is what makes thing suspenseful. I love it when both heroes and villains try to think out plans and they are not always perfect, but that is what makes suspense. Knowing when something is risky for either side because it can still work in their favor. Sometimes having a character being on top can be fun, but it is rarely done right. To me a character like that has to be neutral and not on one side. Great examples of that would be Claire Stanfield and Izaya from Baccano and Durarara. They always surprise me because I cannot tell what they are doing. Usually now these days it is a villain with a near perfect plan and the heroes just squabble around and get lucky at the end or just get to use their most powerful attack right at the end and it somehow works out. The balance is just gone and just becomes a scale going to each side.
Another thing has to be the fan service. I am not only excluding this to nudity. Fan service is strictly for someone to get excited about. I will admit the nude fan service has kinda killed any show now these days that try to use it correctly. In Polymar Holy Blood, a female character takes off her suit it reveal that she has gills. Her breasts are hanging out and it not an excuse to get someone’s pants a bit tight. This was used to get something across and to move the story. Some shows now these days just have boobs and dicks just because they are boobs and dicks. It just becomes so apparent that some shows just want to get anyone to be a fan for the wrong reasons. I even remember the original Polymar series had nudity around and it was used for funny jokes. Sexual humor can be done correctly, but I feel now these days that type of humor gets bad appeal just because of the current shows. Then we get to the special moves and such. In Naruto so many times later the Rasengan is just used over and over again. Even if Naruto had a new technique or power it just goes to that move again. In Dragon Ball Super, we saw the return of Kaio-Ken and what a surprise that was! Dragon Ball has done a good job of having new moves and techniques over the years and knows when to use old familiars when they are important. Goku’s Spirit Ball being an amazing move with tons of strength in both physical and metaphorical sense. The thing is that is not the only move that has finished off villains in the franchise. This is what good fan service is composed of. One Punch Man knew how to use this method by having a majority of the first season full of joke fights and then blowing everything out of proportion when it got to the last episodes. Even Casshan, Gatchaman, and Polymar follow these techniques. Casshan has many ways to use his strength and again some can be reused, but some do not get used as often. I love it when Casshan flies through the bodies of three robots right in a row. Hell I had a recent surprise when he went underground to pick the ground the robots were standing on and throws it! Gatchaman uses some animations again and I can pick them out and I have my favorites too. One being when Ken the Eagle gets two foes to shoot each other. Gatchaman also has the special move with their fighter jet where they become a fiery image of a phoenix. Polymar has signs of when he gets power thanks to symbols appearing on his gloves getting him out of tough situations, then Polymar does something new with that new-found strength. Also Polymar can change into machines which is surprising.
Just watching Polymar fight is some of the best fan service around.
I guess I will end my rambling there then. It has been a while since I did a huge ramble like this. It feels good to get my thoughts out. This is a reason why I do this, to simply release my thoughts. The thing is that I can even change my mind from time to time. Looking back just shows me what view points I had back then and who knows my future self could learn something from the past. Keeping thinking is what I always say, it helps clear your head and keeps you in check of who you are. If you feel that I am missing out on any shows that are current, I would love to see your thoughts on them. I love it when people embrace the fun of the media by spreading what they love to others. We all think differently and it can bring great things.