It’s an ancient tradition to make a wish upon a falling star and while the boring among us might wish for world peace or infinite wealth, my sophisticated mind instantly drifts towards the anime industry. There are a lot of ways in which our Japanese cartoons could be improved, but which wishes are so unreasonable and complicated that I would have to request the heavens to fix them for us? Today, I compiled a wishlist of 5 items that could solve deeply-rooted problems in our favorite medium. Now I just gotta wait until one of those shiny bastards finally crashes.
A comprehensive (digital) library of classic anime
I am fascinated with our medium’s history and very much enjoy watching older anime, so it’s absolutely disheartening whenever I come across an interesting show and discover that it’s almost impossible to find. Despite fantastic fan projects, many older shows from the VHS era are fading away and I find it painful how little attention this is getting.
People are happy that they can see Legend of the Galactic Heroes just fine and that is the kind of show that was never truly at risk. It’s a high profile license and one with a massive fanbase. However, shows like the phenomenal Entaku no Kishi Monogatari are proving almost impossible to locate and certainly not in a format with quality subtitles. Attack on Tomorrow, a 1977 sports anime, is proving to be a pain in my ass lately because trying to find it keeps bringing up results for Attack on Titan and dead links to an Italian dub.
There is no reasonable argument for these shows to be as obscure as they are and the chances that their original creators or license holders are ever going to make a commercial product out of them again are negligible. Even if there are only 10 people actively searching for these shows, there should be a way to access them. Sure, we love Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but how many other fantastic shows from its era are you never going to see because nobody ever thought to put them online.
An end to censorship
On this blog I often like to talk about anime with sexual themes and frequently praise shows that have uncensored releases or are particularly brazen with their nudity. I want nudity in art to be seen as normal and I feel that anime is a great artistic medium through which to show it.
The most obvious argument in favor of it is that nudity makes sexy stuff sexier and, while I definitely see it as a major boon to ecchi shows, it serves purposes far greater than juicy fan-service. It can make characters appear more fragile or defenseless, it can make them more beautiful and tender, it can even make badass scenes even cooler. Few moments in anime are as ingrained into my mind as the first scene of Elfen Lied in the uncensored release. As Lucy slaughtered her way through the laboratory that kept her imprisoned, it is the fact that she was entirely naked, defenseless yet overwhelmingly powerful, that made her all the more imposing and frightening.
Nothing ruins a good scene like that than hamfisted censorship. Obscuring beams of light, preposterous scenery that gets in the way of the camera, it frustrates me that we are so used to it now that we don’t even call it into question. These problems now also affect gore, like I remember watching Umineko and some scenes were so censored that I couldn’t figure out what I was even looking at anymore. Who the fuck watches a gruesome murder mystery and is so fragile-minded that they need to have dead people censored.
More varied characters
Character design is undoubtedly difficult and it amazes me, time and time again, how artists can keep coming up with beautiful designs. Our first impression of characters often begins with their physical appearance, and most seasoned fans can probably recognize hundreds of characters by even a part of their design.
However, I also believe that anime is letting itself stagnate by sticking so fiercely to well-known trends, tropes, and ideas of beauty. There are very few characters of color and there is little diversity in terms of body topes. Or worse, characters with variety to them become token stereotypes to be made fun of, see also Hanako from Persona 4 (lol fat) or the monkey themes applied to foreign characters like Pudding from Tokyo Mew Mew or Su from Love Hina.
I am not asking for an end to waifus. Rather, I wish for more diverse waifus. With artists who can make cute girls out of dragons, Lovecraftian horrors, and the undead, I am sure we can make cute girls that fall outside of the incestuous beauty norms we expect from anime. Hell, perhaps this will be included in the new beauty norms and we can raise the bar even higher.
No more ugly CGI
I remember a time where we used to take the piss out of anime where entire crowds of characters were pictured as nothing but greyed-out blobs or otherwise made hazy and nondistinct. It was certainly worth mocking then, but I almost look back fondly on it in an era of creepy hordes of CGI abominations.
CGI can be a great boon to animation and I realize that budget and man-hours are limited, so filling up scenes with unique characters that all look good and animate just as well as the protagonists is not feasible. Still, if we are to cut corners here, at least the old method of greying these characters out ensured we registered them as not important. The 3D nature of CGI makes it harder to obscure these crowds; they stand out and draw attention away from what actually matters.
CGI cars and other vehicles are another common annoyance to me, but I can see the need and benefits of using CGI. I wouldn’t want to toss it out, but until CGI looks good enough to not be such a major distraction, I prefer it if its use is more subtle.
SOUL EATER BROTHERHOOD???
Come on people! We got the already excellent Fullmetal Alchemist remade to get the actual manga ending, but we’re just going to let Studio Bones get away with half-assing the latter part of Soul Eater???
This franchise deserves a second chance and we deserve to see the character arcs and plot twists that were cruelly cut from the 2009 anime. I know it’s been 10 years, but with the recent popularity of Okubo’s Fire Force, perhaps the time is right to correct the mistakes of the past.
Please, I really need this…