Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thoughts on Anime/Manga - Intro

OK. I'm going to try to start another series of blog posts where I give my thoughts on specific manga and anime. This post is an introduction to this series. To introduce this series, I will simply explain my tastes in manga and anime. Overall, I'm a very casual reader/watcher. I basically read/watch what catches my eye, and if I'm interested by the first chapter/episode, I give the series around 10 chapters/4 episodes before deciding if I'll read the series. Of course, this doesn't mean I won't drop the series later on. This is my basic process when approaching new manga/anime. Now, I'm going to bring up my specific tastes which dictate what I read/watch:

 - I'm a shonen lover, but I'm open to other genres. I love shonen manga/anime. I love the more simpler stories, focus on characters, over-the-top action, and cliches that come with the genre. I've got nothing against manga that try to eschew the cliches, but I've got nothing against the typical shonen heroes, or how they always come back after getting beaten down; it's a formula that's been effective for decades, so why change it? I will say that some of the cliches of shonen manga/anime do annoy me, however. For example, it's hard to find a strong female protagonist in shonen manga, and some of the fanservice in shonen manga can get annoying and feel childish. But, if there's one thing I've learned over the years of reading/watching manga/anime it's that you have to take the good with the bad, as there is no perfect series, especially for a picky consumer like myself.

 - I really don't like sex and violence in manga/anime. I'm 23 years-old, but that doesn't mean I like adult themes in my entertainment. Sex and violence are the two things I will not tolerate when choosing a manga/anime to get into. Even if I love the concept, the art, or the story; if it deals with too many adult themes, I just can't enjoy it. I read/watch manga/anime to have fun, first and foremost. I like a serious venture every now and then, but never dealing with risque, adult themes. I know I'm missing out on a fair amount of good series by feeling this way, but I can;t get past it, not do I want to. After all, I shouldn't have to grit my teeth and bear it if I don't want to.

 - Going off of the previous point: I like my manga/anime light-hearted and fun. Sure, I'll read the occassional Deathnote or watch Madoka Magica, but for the most part, I like my shonens and comedies. I have very few exceptions to this rule. Even if a series is superb, I just can't enjoy it if the subject matter is too serious or gratuitous (see Vagabond or Berserk). This is why I prefer shonens, comedies, and slice-of-life manga/anime.

 - Fanservice is a touchy subject with me. By that I mean there is fanservice I like and fanservice I hate; however, I don't need fanservice to enjoy a series (and to note, by fanservice I mean sexy female characters, beach episodes, etc.). To put it simply: the fanservice I'm OK with is the kind where the fanservice is for the viewer only; for example, in One Piece right now, Nami wears a bikini top all the time, but it's never really pointed out much, thus it is fanservice for the reader and not for the characters in the manga. The fanservice I don't like is the opposite of that, where the fanservice is continuously pointed out by the character(s) in the manga/anime; for an example, see every harem manga/anime ever. Now I am a hypocrite when it comes to this subject, as I have to problems with the latter example, if its a female character noticing another female character. This leads into my next point...

But first, I want to quickly evaluate how I see fanservice in manga and anime since it will no doubt come up when I present my thoughts on Queen's Blade and Strike Witches. Basically, I see fanservice as a stylish element in manga/anime. To me, fanservice is right there alongside giant lasers, long, flowing scarfs, and battle auras; it's there to be cool, assuming its pulled off well. I don't care if a female character is dressed provacatively or has large breasts, as long as it's all pulled off in a stylish fashion as opposed to a perverse fashion, then I like it. For example, in Strike Witches, none of the women in the world wear pants; it's a clear element of fanservice, but it fits into the world setting well and is something never even brought up by any of the characters in the anime male or female; as a result, the fact that the characters are basically providing infinite panty shots, it comes across as stylish as its part of the design. This is opposed by, say, Lucy Heartfellia in Fairy Tail, who constantly flaunts her breasts in order to get people to do what she wants; this type of fanservice isn't stylish, imo, because it comes across more as a perverse element in the story/world that hurts Lucy's character; the fanservice involving Lucy is there as a cheap way for the magaka to present fanservice, rather than providing fanservice in a more stylish way, such as the character of Erza who switches between different armors in a provocative fashion, but still in a stylish way.

Also, when it comes to general "sexy" female character design; I'm not one of the people who bring up things like: "oh, that body type is impossible", or "that's just ridiculous". Honestly, I don't care. These characters are fake, and very few anime try to portray real life in a realistic manner; thus, I say that artists can make characters as "ridiculous" looking as they want. From the enormous breasts of Cattleya in Queen's Blade to the bursting muscles of Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star. Artists can do whatever they want as long as they respect their subject material; by which I mean, don't turn an anime/manga, even an ecchi anime/manga, into porn. What happens in porn should stay in porn, don't bring it into entertainment. Of course, there can be poor character designs, like when a female character has large breasts just for the sake of having them, but Japan is usually good about their character designs, and it all works out in the end. Of course, this doesn;t necessarily mean I like the anime/manga, but I'm not going to go out of my way to complain about a busty female character. This thought pattern applies to videogames as well (it's getting annoying how many people are complaining about the Amazon and Sorceress' character designs in Dragon's Crown).

This all may come across as hypocritical or maybe just stupid to some, but that's just how I see fanservice. I actually hate how most is presented in manga/anime, but there are some series that have a lot of fanservice that I really enjoy. I don;t think I'm hypocritical, but I posted this reasoning so to hopefully clear up a few points that may come later.

- I am a yuri fanboy. I love yuri in all its forms: shipping, subtext, canon, etc. I will look into a series simply because it has the possibility of yuri subtext (see Soul Eater Not!). However, I don't read/watch anything with yuri, as many yuri manga are pretty serious in tone and often end in tragedy, and like I said before, I read/watch manga/anime to have fun, so if I don't leave a story with a smile on my face it's not worth my time, imo. I prefer light-hearted or comedic yuri stories. Also, a story doesn't need yuri for me to enjoy it; that's what yuri goggles are for anyway, heh. As for why I like yuri, it's simply because I find it to be beautiful both visually and thematically. Also, I feel that heterosexual romances severely lack emotion and believability in stories these days (manga, anime, movies, etc.) and often feel very tacked on and unneccecary. Yuri romances and relationships, on the other hand, feel much more believable and romantic, imo.

And those are all the main points I can think of at the moment; more of my specific tastes are bound to show up in my future posts. So, yeah, if my tastes are the opposite of your own, you probably shouldn't really bother reading my coming posts, which will almost all be on shonen/comedy manga and anime.

These coming posts will be short to medium length, and just psuedo-reviews of series I've read completely or enough to point that I feel I know enough to give my thoughts on it. The posts will just be my thoughts stated in a casual manner since I'm getting sick of the formal reviews I've been doing lately. I think my opinion will get across better in a casual way than a formal one.

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