Valen has written up a post before about the ‘genericity’ of an anime, and eventually came to the conclusion that every show will be generic to a certain extent. Yumeka from AnimeYume later came to the conclusion that generic shows can still be enjoyable. All well and dandy, yes, but today I offer you a further extension.
All anime is generic. That’s right, you read that right.
There is no such thing as uniqueness in anime. Or in anything, for that matter, but for now I’m keeping my thesis narrowed.
First things first, though: Generic. What does the word even MEAN? We’ve been throwing it left and right, criticising the Big Three of being “generic”, but we haven’t really been thinking much about it. Just like how people call something “moe” but ask them what it means and they give you some vague answer like “It’s impossible to define properly *smugface*.” In other words, they don’t know as well.
ge·ner·ic adj \jə-ˈner-ik, -ˈne-rik\a: relating to or characteristic of a whole group or classb: being or having a nonproprietary name <generic drugs>c: having no particularly distinctive quality or application <generic restaurants>
In other words, the word “generic” basically means to be blah. Which kind of brings us to a kind of circular logic about the Big Three:
But, digressions aside, all anime is generic because there is no such thing as an original storyline. Yes, there can be ‘original’ characters and ‘original’ settings or whatnot, but all anime inevitably ascribe to particular story progressions that have been around since, like, the dawn of humankind. Here I refer to Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots (which is smattered with copious amounts of Jungian theory as a kind of attempt at philosophy), which you can read about very nicely on the TVTropes page.
Let me now refer to shows that were possibly considered unique previously.
The first six episodes (in chronological order) ascribe to the sequence as described by the Rebirth plotline. Summarized:
- Shit happens.
- Shit seemingly gets resolved.
- Suddenly, shit hits the fan. Big time.
- Shit now appears to cover the whole world. Hero/heroine is in deep shit.
- Suddenly, the shit disappears by the efforts of some person the hero/heroine knows (and probably wishes to bang), and all is fine and well.
Pray do tell, how is that not a summary of what happened with Haruhi and her enclosed spaces, and how Kyon pulled off a Deux ex Machina with his Kiss of World-Bending Power?Koe de Oshigoto! (as referenced by Valen as a possibly unique anime)
Some weird mishmash of The Quest and Comedy.
- Basically, the search for some weird shit the hero/heroine wishes to know/obtain. In this case, it’s Kanna’s wish to become a great eroge voice actor. She’s got her party, as well – if not exactly a stereotypical one.
- Tell me, how is this NOT a large cast with a story rooted in miscommunication?
Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku (basically a fusion of Fist of the North Star, Saki and Modern World History – if that makes any sense at all. Also, not an anime but a manga, but there was no better example.)
It’s like some massive compilation of Overcoming the Monster subplots. Since it’s impossible to show this without some form of description, spoilers ahead (well, you probably won’t understand any of it without context anyway, so it’s fine).
- Anticipation Stage: Basically the start of the manga. Koizumi has to save Diet member Taizo from George W. Bush at the table. Here he heeds his Call to Adventure, albeit with all his abilities already intact.
- Dream Stage: All the battles with Kim Jong Il, Vladimir Putin and the like. He wins comfortably enough with everybody looking upon him with awe.
- Frustration Stage: Adolf Hitler utterly out-power-levels the Pope in terms of mahjong power, and Koizumi, who has been completely unable to beat Ratzinger, is likewise completely out of his league.
- Nightmare Stage: Koizumi’s training with the Three, emerging stronger than ever after having simultaneously beaten Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin in a match. Then, his match with Hitler on the moon.
- Thrilling Escape from Death, and the Death of the Monster: Well, we haven’t quite gotten there yet.
These three – ranging from ‘hey this is pretty unique’ to ‘wtf is this shit’ in un-genericity – can be clearly described by a combination of Booker’s abovementioned Seven Plots. How then, would you call them not generic, i.e. not being related to a characteristic of a whole group or class?
It’s just pointless to argue, really.