The other thing you should know about me is that I don't like things. I'm obsessed with them. That is to say, a few weeks ago I decided to try another anime series on Netflix. And I finished it within two days. So I watched another. And another. And another. I think in the last few weeks I've watched about ten anime series. To be fair, most anime series only last one season, and many of those are only 13 episodes, so it's not like I've watched ten series of, like, Frasier length. But still. It's pretty bad.
So, if you were ever curious, here's my list of things I've learned from exhaustive anime watching:
1. Anime is really, really weird and also really, really addictive. One of my favorite things about them is the character development. Seriously, how many shows in the US have character development, let alone the cartoons? It's pretty rare. Most shows here are about status quo--meaning by the end of the episode, nothing has changed since the beginning of it. People might go in and out of relationships, but the characters themselves are stagnant. In anime, these characters evolve, and you care about them. You root for them. And I'm always a sucker for good characters.
2. Watching romance in anime is INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING. I mean, unless you're watching, like, porn anime. I don't do that. But in most anime I cannot tell for the LIFE of me if any of these characters like each other! Here's how the formula generally goes:
GIRL A: (says something that can be construed as flirtatious to BOY)
GIRL B: Whooooaaa, GIRL A, I didn't know you felt that way!
GIRL A: (blushes) NOOO, I didn't mean it like that!
DID YOU MEAN IT LIKE THAT, GIRL A?! Because I'm sorry, I want to see some smooching. All these hit-and-misses are driving me crazy. And that's all most of them are. GAHHH.
3. The school-girl fascination is alive and well. Do all high school girls in Japan seriously wear those outfits? With the pleated mini skirt? And speaking of romance, WHAT IS UP WITH THE SUPER-OLD-YOUNG-LOOKING GUY AND HIGH SCHOOL GIRL TROPE?! It's like every romance is Twilight. Noragami (which translates to "Stray God") was a series I watched and greatly enjoyed. The ending even almost-sort-of-implied that the two leads liked each other! It was a definite maybe, anyway. I thought, "Aww, that's so sweet." and then I remembered, "WAIT, isn't she, like, fourteen? And he's a god that's at least a thousand years old? . . . Well, that ruined it a bit." And that isn't uncommon, either. There are absolutely zero college aged girls in the world of anime. They're strictly seventeen and younger. Probably because most of these shows are aimed at high schoolers . . . Don't look at me that way! I can watch anime if I want to! (this is a slight exaggeration. I did watch one show that did not have a teenage girl lead)
4. All leading men look alike. Super-humanly skinny, pale skin, shaggy black hair, and usually wearing black. That's the formula. Seriously, here are the lead men from the anime shows I watched with two exceptions:
And don't try to be all, "Well, most Japanese people have dark hair!" on me. The rest of the characters in these shows have every kind of color hair, including pink and green. Black hair is for leading men. If there are other black haired men on the show, the distinguish by giving them glasses. For serious.
5. Enemies becoming friends. This is another thing that isn't very common in American entertainment. Enemies are there to be vanquished, right? But in many of these shows (not all, but a pretty high average) the lead will learn that the Big Baddie they've been at war with since episode one is actually just lonely. So they make them their friend. Which is pretty dang awesome, actually.
6. If you can't stand the voices, switch languages. Seriously. I had a boyfriend I used to watch "Naruto" with, but I spent most of the time making fun of it, primarily because Naruto's voice is THE WORST THING EVER in English. I've come across this many times. It's usually a female voice actor trying to do a young boy, and it sounds TERRIBLE. Not always. I mean, c'mon, Bart Simpson (not anime obviously, but there are some very, very talented women who voice boys). Anyway, if you find that you can't stand someone's voice, switch. And it goes both ways. There were many shows that I thought the voice acting was better in English (ugh, squeaky teenage girl voices). Ignore the purists that say it's always better in the original Japanese. They can suck it.
7. Yes, boob jokes are bread-and-butter. Not always, but very, very, very often. Strangely, the younger the intended audience is, the bigger the bust. Again, unless you're talking porn. I'm guessing there's big boobs there, too.
8. If you think you don't like anime, you're probably wrong. I feel this way about reading, too; if you think you don't like reading, it's because you haven't found the right book yet. There are a wide variety of anime shows. Even though I've watched a good number of them these last few weeks, I don't at all feel like I've been watching the same thing over and over (even if the leading men DO all look alike). Do you like sci-fi suspense, a la GATTACA or Minority Report? Give Psycho-Pass a try, it's got a very similar vibe. You an RPG junky like me? Sword Art Online, despite the stupid name, is a fantastic show, involving 10,000 people trapped in a virtual reality RPG. Win the game or die. Ghost stories your thing? Ghost Hunt will give you goosebumps. I have to recommend the Japanese, though, the leading man's voice in English drove me nuts in English. Do you like demon-fighting shows, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? No end to anime shows there, but I recommend Soul Eater. Comedies more your thing? The Devil is a Part-Timer (again, stupid title) made me laugh out loud ("Don't you 'sheesh' me! Sheesh you, King Satan!"). If you have any nerdy tendencies at all, I promise you can find something you like.
9. Pretend there's a number nine here so this list can reach ten. It'll bug me otherwise.
10. Don't expect the endings to be tied up with a bow. Seriously. Like I said, most series are one season only, so you'll go, "Alright next epis--holy crap, that's the end?!". Did the characters end up together? Will so-and-so ever make peace with that one awful thing in their past? Were the overlords overthrown? WHO FRIGGIN' KNOWS. Well, manga readers, maybe. Many of them continue their story via manga, but if you're like me and broke with no manga selection at their library, then tough patooties.
I wrote this list mostly for myself, and I apologize if I made little sense. I'm sick, so you know, free pass on weird post. But are any of you closet anime watchers? Any recommendations for me? Because I'm running out of ones that look interesting to me on Netflix.