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Reflections on 2016: My Taste Has Changed

I don’t know what I’m looking for when I watch anime. Do I want something with good animation? Do I want something to relax to? Do I want a thrilling story? I don’t know. I don’t have any specific preferences.

Because of that, I can’t really explain my anime taste to anyone. I joke a lot about liking harems and light novel adaptations and whatnot, but when it comes to my absolute favourites, I don’t know how to describe them. Maybe it’s because they don’t fit easily into a single genre, or perhaps it’s because I can’t think of a particular reason for why they’ve captured my heart.

code-geass

I’m looking at you, Code Geass…

Despite not being able to describe my tastes, however, I am certain of one thing: my taste has changed over the years.

12 Days of Anime
#8 – My Taste Has Changed

This thought occurred to me after I heard the announcements this year that Code Geass and Cardcaptor Sakura would be getting animated sequels. Both of these titles would be in my top five anime of all time, and yet the sequel announcements did not leave me feeling particularly hyped.

cardcaptor-sequel

It’s not that my opinion of these series has lessened over time. It’s not even that I fear that a sequel would “ruin” what was good about those series. I just don’t feel the need to seek more of something that has satisfied me already.

This realisation got me thinking about the feelings of catharsis I experienced through watching my favourite anime, and how they had a lot to do with the person I was at the time.

I want to talk specifically about Code Geass, the anime which I continue to have the most fondness for to this day. It was the title that introduced me to the world of dank internet memes, so you can thank it indirectly for the existence of this blog. The show is really fun and all, but one of the things that stuck with me in the years that followed was its depiction of Suzaku’s hypocrisy. He was a total dickhead.

But at the time, I could also see a bit of myself in his stupid outlook.

When I was younger, I thought it would be soooooo cool to sacrifice myself like a hero in order to save somebody. But even as a teenager, I knew this desire was hypocritical and self-serving. It’s arrogant to expect you can even “save” somebody in the first place. So it felt cathartic to watch the anime beat Suzaku up for his misguided philosophy.

kallen-beats-up-suzaku

Sometimes literally

But Suzaku was also a masochist who wanted to get punished for being wrong, so maybe the joke’s on me…

I don’t really know how I would feel about Code Geass these days. It’s been years since I rewatched the series in its entirety. I know that Re:ZERO’s depiction of Subaru’s white knight complex resonated with me recently, so I probably still have a soft spot for the “hypocritical white knight” type of character. But while I empathised with Subaru, watching the show beat him up wasn’t cathartic in the same way. It just felt mean-spirited to me at times.

I wonder if I am now incapable of experiencing personal catharsis through the Code Geass characters as well. Whenever I rewatch clips from Code Geass, I just feel fondness for all the characters instead of any anger towards their actions. I don’t even hate Nina because I’m too busy chuckling over that table-kun meme.

suzaku

These days, I think Suzaku is moe…

On a more general note, I think that the way I consume media has changed a lot over the years. For example, I used to be really into fanfiction, but I don’t do that much anymore. These days, I spend more time collecting production-related information and reading interviews. And I pay a lot more attention the animation and cinematography, too. Looking back, I don’t think Code Geass was particularly strong on that front, outside of a few select scenes. If I watched Code Geass for the first time today, I think I would be a lot more critical of its visual presentation.

(But then again, I also like Aldnoah.Zero, and people call that a watered down Code Geass.)

Basically, I know that my tastes have changed, but I don’t know exactly how they’ve changed, and I don’t know how they’ll change in the future. All I do know for certain is that I’m a different person now than I was back then.

Something tells me that if I like the Code Geass sequel, it won’t be for the same reasons I liked the original. Maybe I’ll like it more for the mecha animation or for the ridiculous fanservice. Maybe I’ll relate to a different kind of character altogether.

And that’s okay. With different tastes and a different outlook, I’m sure that watching Code Geass again will be a fresh experience.

But at this point in time, I cannot say that I have hype or expectations. I’ve changed, and so has the Code Geass staff.

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Posted on December 21, 2016, in Editorials and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Suzaku doesn’t deserve to be hated, he deserves to be loved. He really is moe. Also, like… none of the characters deserve to be hated, they all deserve cuddles. Especially Nina. And… I feel like it’s sort of missing to point to call any of them “hypocrites” because… well, yes, they have an average human degree of hypocrisy. Is it necessarily good for everyone else when these very human characters end up in positions where their actions affect a whole lot of people? No, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad people. They’re well-written flawed humans, and that’s what I like about the show. It has these well-written characters, and for every one of them, it shows both their flawed side and their lovable side, and it respects their right to be happy and be loved. A lot of people would rather see them punished, and see their favorites take revenge on their un-favorites, but I think the show deserves respect for not giving in to that.
    Also, Aldnoah.Zero is a gorgeous show visually, but it’s a watered-down Code Geass in terms of writing. I hope Resurrection is as well-written as the original Geass, but with the sort of visuals we’ve come to expect in the 10 years since it aired.
    Have you seen Akito the Exiled, by the way?

  2. Well, taste change through time, that’s inevitable. What truly important is that you still find something you love in anime. Many people get angry when the anime style and focus changed. I have seen so many bloggers got upset that anime no longer cater to their taste. They scream : “anime is dying” yet the only thing dying is their blogs.

    Another thing: I’m not a big fan of Code Geass, but I have to defend its visual. I find the sleek, stylish look holds up well. Sure, it’s no Ghibli or Ikuhara, but Code Geass’s visual works well for a blockbuster. The direction serve its purpose, too. There’s lot of fast cutting, which deliver the chaotic and exciting experience well. CG’s combination of silly character designs, gritty battle (mostly S1), bombastic scenes, and anime reaction faces is still unrivaled.

    • Isn’t the average amount of time a person spends being an anime fan really short? It’s a wonder that people even have time to complain about anime dying when they flit in and out of the fandom so fast.

      Also, I really need to watch Code Geass again to see how it holds up…

  3. You just spoke my mind on the Code Geass issue. When I first heard about it I wasn’t quite sure how to react. A part of me was excited because Kallen is bae. But another part of me was depressed seeing a series that ran and ended so perfectly suddenly gets revealed for an unnecessary sequel. There is an obvious line between getting excited to see characters you haven’t for a while get into new adventures in order to continue an incomplete story or the same thing but just doing it for the sales. Can you imagine Cowboy Bebop getting a second season?

    However there is one more part of me that still has hope for the series. Even though it might be an unnecessary sequel, doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to be a flop. If the staff love the series and want to make something for other fans such as themselves to always remember, then they will do everything in their power to do so. Doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to be good, but we can always hope for the best. Being honest though, as long as I get to see Kallen’s boobs again, I’ll be more than satisfied;)

    • The Code Geass franchise has had stuff coming out for it for years, so it’s not really comparable to something like Cowboy Bebop, though. Also, people talk about how the story of R2 ended so definitively, but you see heaps of people coming up with theories and sequel ideas on the net. For example, no one can really believe that the Zero Requiem was a good long term solution to war and conflict. And people have also debated whether Lelouch really died at the end of the series, since the framing/narrative could support either interpretation. There’s plenty of material that a third season could tap into without feeling out of place.

      Also, seeing Kallen’s boobs again would be a nice plus.

  4. What about this guess. The availability you get from being able to read light novels have decreased your reason for writing fanfiction. The way you write fanfiction as I see it, is that you extend an untold story. But now that you already have that untold story, ready to read, you don’t feel as strongly for it as before. Writing about Reinhardt and Felt was an exception, since they’re side characters who probably wouldn’t have gotten that story. We commonly seek what’s hard to get, but you got loads of that stuff.

    But I don’t think you’ve changed in values or anything, you just changed the format. From fan-fiction to literal knowledge of the series. Appreciation for animation/cinematography is just a new way to like stuff that’s hard to come by.

    Another thing. From what I’ve read in many of your posts, your engagement with media is from a very broad perspective. You see light-novels as part of a group, not as much their own stories. That way of viewing things came after your first viewing of Code Geass, so your previous experiences with it would be alien to you now, only remembered with nostalgic enjoyment. Since you cannot reconnect with the feelings you had at the time. Not hyped for a sequel is natural considering that.

    I love theorizing at things like these. How much off the mark do you think I am?

    • Oh, you might be right about a lot of things. I’ve not thought of it that way myself. It’s probably true that getting access to more information has lowered my desire to speculate. That said, not having time to write fanfiction is probably an even bigger factor. If I had the time, I’d probably write more fiction in general.

  5. Yes, more discussion of Code Geass please. :3 It is also one of my favourite anime, and I feel I could go into all of the positives and flaws, but in essence, I love the show for its bombastic, theatrical nature. It’s also the anime that got me back into anime when I got to college (boy was I HOOKED freshman year), so it totally has a nostalgic place in my heart.

    Also, yes, Suzaku was totally hypocritical, and had a death wish (hence Lelouch’s command “to live” was so powerful). And now I’m rambling a bit, so I’ll end here saying I appreciate the post, and look for ward to the new Code Geass (it its good.)

    • Always happy to see another Code Geass fan!

      Also, I miss my college freshman year… I had so much time to watch anime back then… what happened to all that spare time…

  6. Basically your tastes turn from shit to shitter

  7. Welcome to the experience we call ‘maturity’. As you age, your accumulation of experiences inevitably change your values, which in turn changes your perspective in everything your mind ingests. And, depending on how much of a change in environment you’ve had growing up, you may find your values completely flipped (although that doesn’t seem to apply to you).

    …that doesn’t even touch on ‘knowledge’ yet, when one has had enough social experience to realize that certain characters… don’t quite work the way they’re dramatized on TV.

    That being said, I wonder if you still think “cynicism is cheap” like in your other post? To me, it feels inevitable that becoming a responsible adult means being dyed some shade of cynical (light, heavy, depends). And one of the best parts I still love about Code Geass is that while Lelouch tries so hard to be a cynical-borderline-sociopath, he’s… not. There is still so much romanticism and ideology flowing from his actions.

    • “Cynicism is cheap”… Well, it depends on the portrayal, surely? You’d have to live a very sheltered life to not notice the dark side of humanity. But when it comes to fictional media, I think there’s a difference between showing the darker side of humanity and being edgy for the sake of being edgy. I would put something like Elfen Lied in the latter category, for example. I might find that kind of thing enjoyable, but I have trouble taking it seriously.

      I haven’t seen Code Geass in years so I can’t comment on it…

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