I’ve been having interesting conversations with various Twitter folk lately about the kind of anime-related criticism they would like to read. One of the main things people said they wanted to see was more writing about the nitty gritties of the animation craft and how it impacts the viewer’s experience (obligatory reference here to the excellent Sakuga Blog, a new animation blog on the scene which all of you should check out pronto). For what it’s worth, I happen to agree with this assessment, but I’m not terribly educated about animation theory, and I don’t think that many anime fans are.
And this is okay! I don’t think you need to know theory to love and appreciate anime. But what if you want to convey to others how much you appreciate the animation craft, beyond just “the animation looked cool!” or “the voice acting was good!”? I think that most of us are aware that the visuals and sound impact the way we perceive the characters and narrative, but we lack the vocabulary to describe what exactly is going on. This can be frustrating when we’re trying to explain why we like (or don’t like) something about a work of art to another person.
Also, for critics who take themselves and their opinions seriously, this sort of thing should matter a lot. Pure formalism may not be a highly-regarded form of media criticism these days, but it does lay the important groundwork for any lens of analysis. So let’s not disregard it out of hand.
Since I’m a beginner too when it comes to animation theory, I figure we can learn about these things together. This post is about the basics of scene composition. I drew most of the information here from the revised edition Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics by Maureen Furniss, which I think is a really well-written and accessible guide to the main issues in the field. I also encourage anyone with an education in animation theory to do us all a favour and leave a comment and/or some links to further reading. Your knowledge and insight would be very much appreciated!
(Note: While this post draws on general theories about animation, the examples I use are all from Japanese anime. While I’d love to discuss non-Japanese animation too, that’s a topic for other posts.)
Since I just started watching Gurren Lagann (yeah, I know, I’m behind the times), I figured I might as well dig up an old translation I did for Kill la Kill, which was also directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi and written by Kazuki Nakashima. Nakashima is an interesting case for an anime scriptwriter. When he’s not writing anime scripts, he’s also a playwright for the popular Japanese theater company Gekidan Shinkansen. You can read an interview with him on the Performing Arts Network Japan here if you’re interested.
Imaishi’s commentary came from the Japanese limited edition Kill la Kill BD and was included at the end of the first volume of the drama CD. See the comments in their original Japanese here.
Hope you enjoy the translation!
I recently got around to reading Beautiful Fighting Girl by Tamaki Saito (originally published in 2000 as 戦闘美少女の精神分析, lit. ‘A Psychoanalysis of the Beautiful Fighting Girl’). Despite its status alongside Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals as one of the landmark publications on “otaku theory”, Beautiful Fighting Girl has made considerably less inroads in English-language scholarship, partly because the English translation only came out in 2011, and partly because Saito’s scholarship is very obviously flawed.
Nevertheless, I thought Beautiful Fighting Girl was a really fascinating read that helped stimulate my own thoughts about otaku sexuality. Saito’s argument that otaku culture is rooted in sexuality is something I find intuitively appealing, not least because I’ve made some similar observations in the past. So in this post, I’d like to critique Saito’s analysis directly, while also building on his more interesting ideas. In this way, I hope to develop a more workable theory of otaku sexuality, or Why Do People Love Their Waifus/Husbandos?
I’m joking, of course. While I haven’t actually watched enough anime this year to string together a top 10 anime list, I did enjoy the stuff I got around to watching. I also feel that this was a productive year for me as an anime fan and for the aniblogsphere in general.
Time for the highlights!
You know, I actually don’t have much of a collection of anime/video game stuff. My room isn’t nearly as impressive-looking as Yumeka’s. This basically comes down to two reasons: 1) I haven’t been collecting anime stuff for very long, and 2) I have a uni student’s budget. (Like, I buy my textbooks secondhand and I prepare my own lunch every day just to avoid spending money. I’m so hardcore, amirite?!) Mind you, whenever I have a spare cent, it does go straight towards my anime addiction, but even then, I can’t help but feel somewhat guilty about my consumer habits.
At the back of my mind, I ask myself: is this really worth it?
I’ve grown up watching anime. Even if I haven’t seen as many titles as some of the more hardcore fans (I’ve completed over 500 titles, and of them around 340 are full-length TV series), I’ve still spent more time watching, thinking and writing about anime than I care to admit.
But you know what? None of this makes me a better fan than the person who only watches Naruto or Bleach. And in a lot of ways, I kind of envy those who can dedicate themselves to a small number of anime. Lately, I feel as if I’ve been losing perspective on what it is about anime that drew me to it in the first place.
In other words: I miss being a casual.
And lo, the god of shipping said!
“Behold the two golden rules of shipping:
1) The Union Between Two Awesome Characters Is, In 90% Of Cases, A GREAT Idea
2) The Less Time A Couple Spends Together In A Show, The More Acceptable Their Love Is To The Audience”
Notice how Gamagoori x Mako ticks all the boxes.
Because Froggy is away in the Philippines, twelve guest writers will be blogging about anime and/or Christmas. Today’s guest writer is Gamagoori Ira from Kill la Kill, the Disciplinary Committee Chair and a member of Honnouji Academy’s Elite Four.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the OreImo ending specials.