Major Influences #3: Anime (アニメ)

Yes, I can type in katakana. Overly enthusiastic anime thumbs up for everyone.

Anime Thumbs Up - Luffy, Goku, and Rock Lee

I’m not sure how many people will relate to this set of influences (compared to my posts on influence from some 80’s–90’s TV shows, and TGIF Sitcoms + the Wayans Bros.), but Japanese animation was a big deal to me for years.

Ronin Warriors, Sailor Moon, RobotechDubbed Stuff

For a long time, the only anime I watched was over-the-air. Everything was dubbed in English and began with shows I didn’t even know was anime, like Voltron. By the time I moved on to Ronin WarriorsDragon Ball Z, and Sailor Moon, however, I realized these shows weren’t originally in English.

That’s right, I’m the world’s greatest detective.

When my siblings and I started renting videos, we stuck to dubbed versions of Ranma 1/2 and Cowboy Bebop. I also watched all of Robotech in English on PBS (which I’m glad for, because the latter of the original three Japanese series combined to create Robotech are not as good on their own).

Subbed Anime: Hardcore Otaku $@#! (not that kind of hardcore)

One day, my brother and I rented The Record of Lodoss War and accidentally got the subtitled version. “All these fools are speaking Japanese and we have to read? Unacceptable!” Or was it?

Record of Lodoss WarAfter watching subbed anime, we couldn’t go back. The voice acting in the subbed versions were so much better than the English dub counterparts of the time (I mean, as far as we could tell not being able to understand Japanese). Particularly for the shows set in Japan, the Japanese audio felt more authentic. We were hooked (later, I watched Full Metal Alchemist dubbed and thought it worked because the series was set in and alternate-history Europe).

Then came the era of fansubs (anime subtitled in English by fans) and I was exposed to Fushigi Yuugi and, later, Naruto which ended up being the last anime I was  into before my interest in anime waned.

Rise and Fall of Anime-influences

When I was young and drawing comics, I was heavily influenced by anime. Through my “inspirations,” I ended up with a lot of unoriginal characters, themes and worlds; I kept ripping things off left and right.

After reading all the Robotech YA novels when I was thirteen, I had my first attempt at writing a novel. I’m glad to say I was much more original than my 4 to 12-year-old self at that point. However, I lost focus after writing X number of chapters and scrapped the project.

Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal; one Anime I wouldn't mind leaving a lasting influence on me.

Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal; one Anime I wouldn’t mind leaving a lasting influence on me.

Over the years, I’ve tried to shirk off most of the influence anime has had on my creativity. The reason being that anime and manga (at least the popular-ish ones I’m made aware of) has a tendency to rely on cliches and stereotypical characters, and social interactions between characters are often unrealistic.

The stereotype anime character I hate the most is the  wiener-y “hero” who, despite having no social skills or particular talents, has a horde of women trying to get at his junk (basically, the male equivalent to Bella Swan).

Though there are some exceptional anime that are original, realistic and/or just awesome, the tendency of anime to rely on tropes bordering on cliches (or outright cliches) have repelled me over time.

Yet, I’ll bet there are still hints of anime-influences in my writing (and I still might watch an anime every year or two).

I hope I haven’t offended any Otaku. Feel free to toss out the names of any awesome series or movies that might get be back into anime (it’s unlikely to work, but who knows?).

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15 thoughts on “Major Influences #3: Anime (アニメ)

  1. Eighties dubbed anime was indeed bad, although these days the standard of English voice acting has improved significantly. I loved Robotech, when I was growing up, although I cannot condone a third party editing three different shows. Imagine if they did that with your stories. Like most movies, books and TV shows a lot of anime has stereotypical characters, but there are some gems to be found if you filter through the massed produced crap.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You raise an interesting point. I wonder what the writers of the original three series thought of Robotech.

      As for finding those gems, I’m sure they exist, I’ve seen some of them. Oh, I guess one of the reasons I stopped watching anime was that the TV series that are good go on (i.e., drag on) for far too long. I should just look for critically acclaimed OVAs if I want to watch a good anime. I can’t commit to a long TV series.

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      • I avoid long shows (Naurto, One Piece etc) as they are full of filler just to keep the series alive in order to sell merchandise.

        If time is an issue watching movies instead of a series is a grand idea. I would recommend Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

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  2. Oooo, I grew up on Robotech as well. As testament to the devastating effect of English dubbing, what I most remember is Minmay’s godawful “This is my time to be a staaaaaaar” song.

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  3. Great post! I watch anime in original Japanese audio without subtitles, but I don’t consider myself an otaku. It just makes things easier for me because I don’t have to wait for the subtitles. I also like the anime that you included in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dragonball Z was really my gateway into anime, and it has become a large influence on my writing and still is. It sucked that by the time I was downloading and into the grove of what was coming out in Japan, my parents moved us to the country with dial up internet and i’ve never been able to get back since.

    Thankfully with Netflix, and now Crunchyroll, i’ve managed to find new & recent anime to love.

    Sword Art Online is a great one, you should give it a try sometime. It’s one the newer series out, with the second season just starting now in Japan.

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    • I actually watched SAO on Netflix somewhat recently after getting a recommendation. I loved the first episode and there are some good moments in the series, but there is also a lot of eyebrow raising moments due to characters doing things real people probably wouldn’t do given their circumstances.

      Lucky for SAO, MMORPG players tend to have varied and unique psychological tendencies, so it wasn’t super hard to suspend my disbelief and keep going. Then again, if I didn’t switch to English dub and start multitasking (paying close attention for dramatic moments), I might not have been able to finish.

      Overall, I found the series entertaining and the story above average, and I think it’s partially due to the source material being a light novel (essentially, a Japanese MG/YA novella) rather than a manga.

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      • I enjoyed the story too, it seems to becoming popular, the virtual reality aspect, given that dot.hack/.sign came out first. Even with today’s technology advancing, and virtual games becoming more plausible, you never know if such full dive capabilities could become a reality one day. At least that’s how i’ve seen portrayed it. 😉

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  5. OK. I’m going to keep this short, and only rec a few shows of recent vintage that might be up your alley:

    Steins;Gate: Excellent scifi show about a college student who accidentally discovers a way to send text messages through time.

    Mushi-shi: Episodic show about a man who works with problems surrounding tiny life forms called “mushi”. Wonderfully atmospheric, very Japanese.

    Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World): A thousand years in the future, children with psychic abilities begin to learn how their world is so messed up, and why it exists that way. My pick for best show of 2013.

    Haikyuu: The most cliched of my picks, it’s about a boys’ high school volleyball team. It’s also absolutely amazing and probably my pick for the best thing airing right now.

    Hope this helps. And if you get sucked back in, I apologize for nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I´m one that can´t relate to writing in katakana , but I´m sure glad you stumbled upon my blog therefore making me look into this blog and find some new and cool interesting things.

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  7. While it’s true that anime seems to rely quite a bit on stereotypes, anime dares to venture to more new territories than perhaps any other media that I’ve been exposed to. My anime-watching had declined recently as well but I found a list of anime movies that really piqued my interest. I hope you’ll give some of them a try. My favourite thus far is Grave of the Fireflies, but there are a ton of different genres on that list and I’m positive you’ll find something you’ll like!

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