Thursday, January 16, 2014

Generalizations are a painfully stupid thing

In one way or another, that was a generalization as well, I guess.

So, as always, take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Good evening afternoon midnight, folks, or whatever time of the day it is at the other end of the globe. I'm back to rambling about whatever dumb thing animefanville is up to. I also originally intended to publish this before the beginning of the new season but then I started vomiting uncontrollably and ended up in hospital, sothings did not work out.

Anyway, on to the actual thing, something that's all about ANIME EXPERTS. In case you still haven't noticed, whenever I speak of those, there's a strong ironic connotation present, as also indicated by the capitalization of the letters. To keep things short, ANIME EXPERTS are the know-it-all wannabes and you know as well as I do how annoying those can be. They are vocal and ignorant and generally idiots at their core. They are the ones telling you about how that one anime is going to get a sequel because things were left unconcluded. The ones suggesting that if a source material is popular, the same of course goes for the anime as well and if there were any discrepancies between the source and the adaptation, a remake is bound to happen. You know them, trust me, you do.

ANIME EXPERTS also like generalizing, since that's obviously all they can do: Applying their tiny pool of knowledge (or misinformation in the worst case) to the broadest things. This also includes predictions for trends and which anime is going to succeed as well as which one isn't with fairly bizarre reasonings.

Now there's a certain pattern that I've come to notice in regards to all of that: Let's assume an anime with a certain element, X, is doing well. You'll immediately get several responses on how this was apparently to be expected since hey, it contains element X. Example: "Japan loves X!"

The season afterwards, an X anime flops. Immediate reactions? Give up. "Japan hates X!"

Applying that way of thinking, something that has become fairly present is the following "rule": Moe and fanservice always sell where not-moe does not. Well, here's food for thought for you guys: Aku no Hana outsold Crime Edge, the fanservice-heavy "anything goes"-fetish anime. Impossible, isn't it! Well, looks like reality isn't quite as one-sided as you thought so yes, it is possible.

Uh, so moe doesn't sell then! Reminds me a bit of all the predictions from the year before: Titan won't sell! KyoAni's only doing moe! FREE! won't sell! Wait, so Titan did sell? As expected of those grimdark anime forever meant to flop as Gen'ei Taiyo showcases! So FREE! was a major success?! Goes to show fujoshi anime always sell! Wait, what? A bit contradictory here, aren't we? Too bad your made up rules get broken each and every season anew and most of your bold predictions aren't worth a shit. Things get even more absurd whenever people look at something that was either a success or a failure and then try to form a general rule on why a certain anime either did well or totally flopped. It's a never-ending cycle, I kid you not and shit like the following examples demonstrates this the best:

Ro-Kyu-Bu!! sells: "Lolis sell!"

Lotte no Omocha doesn't: "Lolis don't sell!"

DxD sells: "Tits sell!"

Ladies versus Butlers doesn't: "Tits don't sell!"

OreImo sells: "Incest sells!"

Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!! doesn't: "Incest doesn't sell!"

Titan sells: "Edgy sells!"

Crime Edge doesn't: "Edgy doesn't sell!"

This shit is not made up and people have been doing this for quite a while now. Last season's fad is this season's flop. Or was it the other way around? Just throw a coin already and stick to something. At least you'd be consistent with you method of choice that way. Speaking of incest even, something very prevalent with anime, I'd like to note how there's several kind of incest shows to take into consideration in the first place. You can split incest into several categories. What kind of incest are you talking about anyway when claiming that incest is a winning formula?

Actual incest? Yosuga no Sora comes to mind.

Heavy incest? There's OniAi, that one has a younger sister desperately trying to bang her big brother.

Incest overtones? OreImo it is then! There's no active incest shit going on but it's pretty obvious anyway.

Incest undertones? The little sister from Servant x Service would be a fitting example of that.

Uh. Now look at that! Incest isn't all the same! Granted, the categories are up to debate but they aptly demonstrate that there are several degrees within that incest stuff, making generalizations even more of a stupid thing. Furthermore, to complicate matters, how prevalent are the incestual elements? Do they dominate the story, are they present or just used for shits and giggles every now and then? Also, incest what? Younger sisters? Older sisters? There's more than younger sisters and trust me, I'm fairly sure Onee-san incest stories wouldn't sell as much as Imouto incest stories (source: The almost-non-existence of aforementioned). So no, saying "HURR INCEST ALWAYS SELLS" is not a wise thing to do. First of all, as data goes to show, it's plain wrong and secondly, there's different kinds of those stories, affecting people in different ways, hence why some of those are more or less popular than stories of other kinds.

With most generalizations as far as anime is concerned, what you're doing is basically about as retarded as proclaiming "You can't overcome that brick wall over there!", completely ignoring that in some cases, there's a ladder right next to it, just taking the brick wall factor into account and nothing else. You'd probably say the same if there was a brick wall with the height of half a metre or something like that. "But it's a brick wall! You can't overcome it!". That's literally how retarded most of your generalizations are.

On that note, I got this from /a/ since I figured I might want to provide an example for people not in the know about the World Wide Web's atrocities: "Coppelion has Tomato, HanaKana, good soundtrack, cute Aoi and thick outlines. It even simulcasts on Animax Asia, and was hyped for several months before finally airing. Why did it bomb so hard?"

Typical /a/ idiocy. Bonus points for the thick outlines. "BUT TITAN HAD THICK OUTLINES AND WAS A MAJOR SUCCESS HOW COME THIS SOLD LIKE CRAP???". How dare anime share certain elements and not produce the same results! Can't expertise about that at all! A-and it had school girls!!! B-But Japan likes school girls, this makes no sense! Stupid reality, stupid, stupid, stupid!

Yes, you admittedly can make legit assumptions on what kind of show is going to sell and what kind isn't since there always are reasons why people buy something and avoid other stuff but it's not all that simple and more often than not, such speculations aren't far-fetched enough and are waaaaay too short-sighted to get you anywhere, at least if you're going with that incredibly stupid "It has X" logic. There are several factors to whether something will end up selling or not, most of those unknown or not obvious to you (this also includes stuff like time slots or marketing, just think of how Aniplex went places to make Vividred a success like no other). People sometimes act like it's a 1+1=2 game. No, it's not. Life's not that easy to comprehend to think of a few building blocks and obsolete predictions.

Bonus points if you somehow try to apply your rules to judge Japan's preferences in Chinese cartoons, something that altogether translates to "I'M AN ANIME EXPERT BECAUSE I KNOW THAT JAPAN HAS SHIT TASTE". Woooooh. Sasuga. More news at six.

Too bad though this generalizing nonsense isn't only used as far as the entire self-masturbatory (pre-)sales analyses bullshit is concerned. Not only do we want to apply our lolknowledge, something only existing for the intention of getting abused, to safely predict success and failure but also how an unaired anime will turn out. Based on what? The studio of course! To the point of ignoring the source material's quality even since we all know that that stuff never gets adapted properly. That's at least what urban legends on the Internet keep telling us, so it must be true. And while we're at it, let's also keep talking about the implications a studio logo has for the writing of an adaptation. Do you really think J.C.STAFF has a policy of butchering stuff? Well, yes, of course you do! Considering how most anime are based on untranslated light novels, who if not a non-Japanese-speaking audience would know better? Particularly if there are convenient buzzwords such as studio titles to throw around. See, studio Y is doing a Z anime, this can only go wrong! They only get budget for T anime and have a bad history with adaptations! Different people working in studios? Uh. Nah, no way. Way too much of a complicated concept that makes things hard to determine. Entity logic it is then. Better go with the easy version instead, the one we pretend to be applicable, since this one can actually be "understood" with no effort. Anything else would make our studio logo rule not quite as applicable. Better avoid common sense and pretend that reality twists and bends to our thinking, even if it is the highly illogical kind. Yes, there are some studios following certain patterns, not going to deny that. GoHands loves filters. J.C.STAFF tends to use that water color look every now and then. XEBEC does a lot of fanservice shows. SHAFT is a self-explanatory matter. Then there's also KyoAni, doing "that" kind of show over and over again albeit in variations and certainly not lacking in good animation (although I'd like to add that they've had less of that since their post-Hyouka days, fuck, FREE! wasn't even well-animated). But what about BONES, I.G, Sunrise, MADHOUSE or A-1? Things get particularly idiotic with the latter one, basically something that produces anime of great variety, employing all sorts of different people all the time, so hardly a source for consistency. And I only mentioned the bigger studios here. Let's go for the lesser known ones. Nomad? David Production? Artland? What do Girls und Panzer and Daimaou have in common? And we still haven't even taken things like bad scheduling into account. I'd like to claim that between Gatchaman Crowds and Yozakura Quartet a mere season after, there were differences in animation quality despite both of them being Tatsunoko. Yet another thing studio generalizations tend to ignore.

Fun fact time: Frequently, there is hardly anythingber-generalized to say about a studio. A studio is composed of people and not THAT ENTITY WITH THAT ONE DEFINING TRAIT as people would love to think. I've seen some shit, really. From so-called "A-1 faces" to "ZEXCS STANDS FOR ROTOSCOPING STUFF!", the most idiotic thing ever, also conveniently replacing the "ZEXCS STANDS FOR GENERIC OTAKU FANSERVICE CRAP" rule (as demonstrated these days by Aku no Hana, Arve Rezzle, Cuticle Detective Inaba, Diabolik Lovers and Sukitte. Ii na Yo I suppose). And then there's everyone's favorite studio, DEEN. For how long will idiots keep pointing at the studio? You do, of course, realize that they have undergone major changes and gotten some SHAFT peeps with Hatakeyama's transfer, right? Yeah, sure, there's also still the DEEN DEEN as demonstrated by Gifuu Doudou!!, but that's pretty much it. Then there's also Rozen Maiden, Sankarea, Sakura Trick, pupa and Meganebu. But nah, better yell in frustration about how DEEN is going to ruin Sakura Trick. And oh yeah, then there was that pupa disaster with the show getting delayed and all. And being a short anime. Plus censorship. Yeah, just blame DEEN for that. An animation studio. I also recall someone complaining about how pupa looked cheap but that's probably because DEEN apparently blew its budget on Meganebu. I don't even. Also, for the last time, claiming that DEEN is shamelessly emulating SHAFT these days is about as idiotic as saying that a director retaining his style while working at another studio is ripping off his past self or something. It boggles the mind. And while we're still at the topic of DEEN, guys, please, when refering to Higurashi as badly animated, do not use any Seiya Numata clips as material of evidence, kthx.

And meanwhile, people still expect great things from GAINAX because they made NGE over a decade ago. O-kay. And according to some people, they are still working on NGE even today, making loads and loads of money. Double o-kay I guess. Between Medaka Box and C3-bu, I'm not sure I'd associate any of their janitor productions with projects that had actual talent involved but hey, what do I know?

Aaaaand, of course, with this being about generalizations and stuff, let's not forget about a true classic. The Shounen/Shoujo/Josei/Seinen tags and the implications apparently coming with them, particularly with that infamous Shounen stuff. Yeah, all Shounen anime are the same. Let's see what we've got here: Naruto, Death Note, Shiki, Nisekoi, Hunter x Hunter, Inu x Boku SS, Hajime no Ippo, Bakuman and wow, even Aria. Oooooh. Not so much the same after all? Well, not that you would know, you only watch dark, deep and mature Seinen anime like K-ON! anyway.

Why yes, of course there's a bunch of generic fighting Shounen stuff, I have no intentions of denying certain tendencies. That still won't stop me from telling you about how you have an absolutely false conception on how this normative "genre" of yours works.

But let me be constructive here and not only criticize you for your misconceptions but also offer you a way of avoiding aforementioned common mistake. So, you ask, what's the rule for figuring out whether something is a Shounen anime or not then? Looking at the kind of magazine the source material is or was published in. Yes, that's at it. It's that simple and that boring and not very usable for your intentions of spreading disdain. And yes, that also implies that if something that would qualify as a piss-generic Shoujo manga were to get published in a Shounen magazine, you'd have to classify it as a Shounen manga. Booh! Unsatisfying? Yeah, no shit. Guess what: Reality is unspectacular and not designed for you to use it as a plaything for your own purpose.

And then there's the pre-order points threads, filled with a collection of cracker-barrel philosophers, most of them not even in the know about how Amazon stalker works (hi there, Railgun, Maoyuu), not taking any possible drastically lower prices into account (Gatchaman, GJ-bu), being confused about a boost through other means such as bonus content (a bundled short manga perhaps or event ticks being at work) or just ignoring that there are anime not in need of good sales (HxH, Space Bros). Then again, those are probably the same kind of idiots who think that harem anime are commercial successes and the only things selling these days. Hah, hard to believe that there are still some of those around, isn't it? *chuckle*

Anime fans are also very quick to blame certain people for the downfall of a show. We are very eager to put the blame or the glory on someone and the biggest name on the production team sounds ever-so-alluring for that. Well, in case they actually blame people and not just an entire animation studio, that is. Who's responsible for a particular thing as far as the writing is concerned anyway? The episodic writer? The guy in charge of the series composition? The director? Perhaps even the author of the source material. Shit can be fairly hard to tell at times. For instance, PSYCHO-PASS had three writers, Urobuchi, a novelist and a playwright (psssht! Urobuchi wasn't the one shoehorning in all those novel quotes after all! Don't tell anyone!). Suisei no Gargantia featured Urobuchi only in the first episode and the last episode, other than that, he was "only" responsible for the series composition. So, how much influence did he have on other episodes? We don't know. Murata, the director, apparently had a shitload of influence on the show and he's also the one who added the two useless moe blobs. While I'm at Urobuchi doing or not doing things, let's talk about Blassreiter. Urobuchi was the writer for that yet apparently had so little creative control over it that he complained about how he was merely collecting Itano's ideas. In the case of Umineko, people left and right were complaining about how an animation studio fucked up an adaptation badly (while, hilariously, it was actually fairly faithful to the novel) but guess who carefully supervised the writing? Ryukishi07 himself. Then there's Bokurano, deviating from the source material quite a lot after the first half because the director did not like the original manga and also asked the author for the permission to rewrite stuff (note that the anime was still good and you should, by all means, watch it). So yeah, things don't always go the same way as far as the writing is concerned. Shocking, I know. And then there are people out there thinking the animators are the ones in charge of the story. Yeah, sure, whatever you say.

And with this, we've arrived at the end of this thing, ironically about twice as long as initially expected. Oh well. Anyway, long, looooooong story short, here's the fucking point: Someone save us from ANIME EXPERTS. Please. I can't do so. I can only warn you about them. But that's not solving the problem in the long run, no, it's not.
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