I read things, which make me think of other things—which make me want to write things. Thus goes the cycle of my Aniwords columns. Speaking of which, I’m actually at my one-year anniversary writing weekly columns for Crunchyroll, which is a pretty exciting thing! That’s a lot of consecutive weeks of writing (although there were two weeks where I didn’t write anything because of work), and I don’t know if I ever would have imagined I would have lasted this long—let alone still be coming up with new ideas of things to say each week.
(More exciting news after the break, by the way!)
In addition to that, I’ve also been asked to take a small editorial role on the Features team for Crunchyroll. Say hello to Associate Features Editor iblessall! This promotion precedes an exciting new phase for the Features team over at Crunchyroll, and I’m really excited and proud to be a part of it.
Also, here’s another thanks to たくfor being willing to let me use his rad iM@S/Captain America: Civil War) art as the article’s feature image. I contacted him on Pixiv to get permission and he graciously said yes. Be sure to check out the rad trailer her made for the crossover!
3 thoughts on “Aniwords – The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Modern Anime, and Ambition in Storytelling”
Congrats on your…promotion? Also, this is one epic article that covers topics that I think are long overdue: the word ‘should’, its accompanying weight and the way anime fans use it really need some in-depth understanding, as I believe it is incredibly over and misused. As for ambition…that is a topic which I want to get onto later, once I get over my milestone anime fan ‘second year anniversary’ thing, since I don’t feel like I have watched enough anime to really add to the discussion about whether 80s-90s anime are simply ‘better’ than the anime of the 2010s (in my head, its basically a battle between my love for Cowboy Bebop and my absolute respect for modern masterpieces such as Hyouka and Sound! Euphonium).
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This post reminds me of a little-remembered anime called R15. It’s an ecchi anime with not-very-funny humour. It’s set in a school that allows genius students to pursue their own ambitions however they see fit. Our protagonist’s ambition is to become the best porn writer he can be. The anime is mediocre but it has spots of brilliance, and the finale, in which the entire class pool all their talent to perform an epic porn choir, is one of the best finales of anime I remember.
Why did I think of this anime because of your post? Because of the way people use ambition. Porn isn’t ambitious storytelling. No way. Right? But ambition is about wanting to achieve something. And producing something good is hard no matter what you try to do. Shows like Girls und Panzer or Monster Musume take their premise seriously and as a result they stand out, IMO, within their genres. Was there some abstract ambition to invigorate the genres? Were people just having fun? This is a question you have to answer per person, not per show.
I don’t like the criticism of “unambitious”. It’s a red herring. It’s often clear enough what people mean, but it’s phrased in a way that makes it hard to talk about. It’s not really the lack of ambition that matters. I fully agree that it’s about a difference in audience priorities. You better not direct your ambition towards porn.
Things are a bit different when you’re in the industry. You have your own ambitions, but you’re just a voice actor: you don’t make your own anime. You have ambitions that are curbed by the way the industry’s organised. It’s still a difference in priorities, but it’s a bit easier for me to sympathise, because having ambitions and not being able to fulfill them as well as you can is frustrating. You just do the best you can in any way your environment allows.
(Aside: The penny never dropped before, but Rei Ayanami and Lina Inverse share the same voice actress? Mind = blown.)
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_ And, from their certain perspective, they’re not wrong—old anime was better. Modern anime most certainly is not the same as it was in the 1990s, or even in the early 2000s. I’m a relatively new fan myself, so I’ve not seen as much as I’d like from those eras, but my limited experience has more or less seen the basic fact that anime has changed to be true. There has been a general shift in priorities in the medium, both commercially and in terms of what sorts of stories (or non-stories) are being told._
The words you’re looking for are “survivor bias“. There’s plenty of ambitious anime today, they’re just (mistakenly) believed to be lesser (or nonexistent) today than in the past due to this bias. This results in the false dichotomy of “older anime was better, today’s anime all sucks”.