~uguu… dems haterz be ice grillin’ on me… howz bout I whip out my glock and cap themz sorry @#$es…
So now that I have gotten home from work, I started my usual searching through the interweb through my normal anime starting links (considering I do the same thing at work when I’m free). This time I’ve stumbled upon this most recent ANNtv video. I saw the first few videos for ANNtv and while they provided usually a video personality behind a previous news story, it was still interesting to know where they planed to take the show. This ANNtv episode introduced a new segment with this guy by the name of Mike Toole. The Mike Toole segment included a new “review” segment to the ANNtv show and his first review happened to be on the first volume of the R1 Kanon DVD. Being interested about any review on the North American release of one of my favorite shows, I watched parts of the segment and… well… I’m one of the people who have a good number of things to say along with those who voiced their opinions on the ANN forums.
Two thoughts came to my head about this:
The first is the question about reviews in general. This was brought to attention by Furudanuki on the after forums. I agree with Furudanuki in that reviews should really reveal both the good and bad of a series. If there are prejudices within the reviewer, they should be kept to himself/herself and those prejudices should be never prevent the reviewer from making an objective review. I also agree that Mike Toole is in his own right to express his opinion during his review. But Mike might have gone a bit too far in this case in that his “review” was inherently designed to be one-sided. And because he never really provided a realistic opposing viewpoint, this ended up really being video commentary more than anything else. Combined with his choice for the first “review”, I can understand how some can be turned off by his idea of a “review” (including me).
This leads me to my second thought which are the questions about North American anime fandom and their response to the “hidden” moe culture in anime. One of the main reasons why I enjoy anime and why I am still into anime is the multiple genres it contains. One can always find something within anime that will fit their preferences. This is why I think anime grows culture. Because of its multi-genre nature, anime, if given a chance, will bring together people of other background and cultures. Fans will bring together more standpoints and thus anime fandom can become a multi-cultural melting pot of sorts.
My concern about things like this “review” is that we immediately discount a genre before giving it a solid chance. When we don’t give a valid counter-opinion, we end up marginalizing a genre and placing it further down in the levels of our subconscious. In this case, it happens to be moe culture which seems to be continuously misunderstood among North American fandom. Before I go into a long rant about moe culture, I will say this. Moe culture is one of the elements that is inherent to anime culture in Japan. In my opinion, the failure to at least recognize this culture and to put this into its proper perspective is really denying anime culture itself. Something I think North American mainstream fandom tends to do way to often: discount things they don’t like and “Americanize” their Japanese anime.
I know not everyone will come to understand, accept and enjoy genres and specialties I like. And I know not everyone will like the same shows I like. However, this still needs to be said: We need to expand our knowledge and culture as we grow in our love for anime. Otherwise, in the end, we are really just fooling ourselves if we say that we are a part of the anime culture. My fear in something like this “review” is that those who were considering exploring something different in anime may be pressured to hold tight to the mainstream views which occupy the North American anime culture (the Narutos, Bleachs, etc.). And while the person may or may not like the different anime experience, not stepping out of the norm is one less chance to expand one’s culture.
Over the years, I have come to expand my love for my hobby. I took chances on shows I don’t normally see and some were disappointing while some were pleasantly surprising. In the end, I have come to embrace my hobby even more because I can say that I understand what I love.
So if you are deciding on to watch next, try something different. You may like it. You may don’t. But at least you can come away with a better understanding of anime and Japanese culture. And that can’t possibly be a bad thing.