The Big O
I have often been teased by my friends who like anime (and yes this is a major distinction for me) that for as much anime that I have watched and owned I don’t like it very much. This is not something that has come up do to recent trends in new shows, this has been a constant for a long time. It is very easy for me not to like an anime, I am often rubbed the wrong way by any number of qualities and characteristics. Often the shows I don’t like have been lumped together by the fans as anime that is excessively “Japanese” and it is this that I take issue with.
I have never considered myself an expert on anything Japanese, but I can assure you what comprises the portion of it’s media that is Anime and Manga is not representative of Japan as a whole. Saying an anime or manga is too “Japanese” is a fallacy compounded by years of the distilled look we get at the country. You don’t have to spend much time on the Internet to see people claiming that anime and manga are very representative, but it takes just as much amount of time to realize these people are no different than fervent zealots; living lives with blinders on to help them believe their fabricated truth. My feelings about my fellow fans aside there is some truth behind this, it is just worded poorly.
Anime that is considered to be excessively “Japanese” is another way of saying it is very niche. It requires a level of knowledge that is only amassed by watching other shows and immersing yourself in a culture. These are shows that are accessible to a genre savvy crowd and when it comes down to it, anime that exist only to appeal to those who are “in the know” are not things I like.
I know that accessibility has become a dirty word as of late. People believe that trying to appeal everyone only dumbs down a product. By making products that focus on certain demographics you can easily assume people are going want to be invested. However, when this is related to the Anime that is brought to the US this becomes a problem. Anime that is directed to anime fans is made up of mostly pandering material, and to me that is stuff I am not going to spend my time watching.
Anime is just another method of telling a stories and the best stories can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter the place of origin. The anime I like, that I spend my time and money on are anime that focus on stories and characters that could have come from anywhere, it just so happens that they are created by Japanese people.
Now The Big O is probably not the best example of this. It deals with people piloting robots which is theme connected in part to a lot philosophy in Japan, but at it’s core its story that doesn’t rely on your knowledge of other anime. Its accessibility is one of it’s greatest strengths and probably in part why it was something I wanted to stay up late and catch on Adult Swim. It also just happens to be one of the smarter shows I watched when I was younger, making it very easy for me to still enjoy it all these years later.