And then we see the usual criticism from anime blogs which seems so right, yet so flawed : the argument that ‘this anime sucks because it’s a <insert length of time here> commercial for <object here>’. Today, I posit this to you : that all anime are nothing more than advertisements.
I suppose the biggest problem with most of, if not all of the blogosphere, is that in our fandom we see anime as a separate entity from most television, almost as though it’s some form of divine art only the truly blessed can hope to watch and understand, almost as though it’s some kind of god-forsaken ritual that only we, the watchers, remember. As such, we have our own ways to categorize all of it, and we seem to think that anime is made for the purpose of bringing about a message, or even , as it seems for some people,for the sake of artistic merit. (urgh.) Some people expect anime to be solidly logical – they think the shows must be intellectual material, good for the mind. Fine. But how many people remember the purpose of television : to ultimately, make profit?
Check out the famous Gainax anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Remember all that hype about its fanciful endings, its biblical references and whatnot? The director admitted that the references had no meaning, the ending 2 episodes long but its legacy reaching 20 years, with more merchandise than the eyes can see, with stores and coffee and food and racecars and theme parks all dedicated to this show – and they’re still being churned out every year. What more has NGE become than another way to make profit? Where is your fanciful, almost ‘holy’ philosophical anime now?
Then you think about the recently-concluded Madoka Magica. True, it was awesome. True, it was almost philosophical, mind-blowing. But then , check it out : merchandise is already in production. A cafe is rumoured to be set up. Mikatan’s blog has nendoroids of Madoka Magica. T-shirts and whatnot everywhere. Yet no-one calls Madoka Magica an advertisement -even though it quite plainly, turns out to be. It’s not an ad at the start – as with most shows, it becomes one at the end, and only at the end. Will people truly remember the show as much as they buy its merchandise?
And then you take into account the nature of most anime : manga adaptations. Sales for Shinryaku, Ika Musume! rose , by some figures, up to 300% after the shows were aired. The best example of this kind of success is K-On. Who gave a shit about that comic before the show aired? The art wasn’t too spectacular, and it wasn’t anything particularly interesting either. But KyoAni brought life to it, and see where it is now. And according to a fairly reliable source of mine, the original manga, K-On, was itself an advertisement to promote a certain brand of guitar. Coupled with the anime, check out guitar sales. Bursting through the roof, and some of these buyers don’t even buy the guitar!
Every show, is thus, inevitably some form of advertisement, making the sentence “this show is bad because it is an advertisement” completely flawed.
So , once again I read the phrase being used as a way to criticize shows like Rio: Rainbow Gate and Cardfight!! Vanguard. Can we please, as a community, move away from using such flimsy ,meaningless arguments to support our own opinions?