Writing about Anime 102 – Learn the Subject Matter

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On this episode of Writers Guide by the Moe-Alt crew, I will be touching base on why it’s important to have an open mind, learn the source material, and make sure you know what you’re talking about before you get exposed like a fraud by some stranger on the internet.

FOREWORD

As a refresher, and as a courtesy measure, I will go over some of the terms I will be using in the post, and why I am making this post.

What exactly is being 'detected like a fraud'?

As for the “why”?

There’s something that’s very important when you want to be part of a muted discussion about anime with your buds. Pretty much everything you espouse in that situation is a direct reflection on yourself. Pretty common sense right?

I mean, of course! When you write things on the webzone, they tend to stick around for a very long time, and are easily searchable too! The last thing you’d want to have happen to an anime professional like yourself, is to be caught saying something you regret. Like saying that older anime, especially those from the 80’s, just don’t stack up to such riveting hits such as: Selector Infected Wixoss and (insert generic shoujo anime here).

First off though, I will start with an expansion on a point from the previous Writing about Anime post, since it relates to this post more than ever.

 ANIME IS SERIOUS BUSINESS

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…Let’s face it, it always was. Reviewing anime is like preparing to be colon-crucified on the internet for having an opinion, and that’s just the minority voicing their opinion! The praise you get is dwarfed in size in comparison to the number of layman readers that just gloss over your posts, or aren’t even looking for them at all.

At first, the anime professionals (See: anime critics) were primitive and solitary in nature, constantly superstitious of a broader horizon of input and variable opinions. For them, there was no baseline, no editors, just raw unfiltered fact about why Code Geass was better than we once thought. Also why we, the common watcher are plebs for dismissing its glorious magnificence.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say Code Geass? Please excuse my egregious misnaming of the patrician’s anime of choice: Legend of Galactic Heroes.

Wait, you mean it’s not called that because it’s more of a “fan-title“, and that the correct name is “Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu“? Maybe I should put it in Kanji for the valued eroge reader?

銀河英雄伝説”, there we go. or 銀英伝” to real anime eroge pros out there.

It can only get better from here.

It can only get better from here.

Anyway, the lonely critic banded together with other primitive writers and formed some semblance of a community. More likely, a mutual tolerance than that, really. It sparked something magical inside them, a creation that would change the game: the Clique.

See, when they formed roaming bands, they could banner up a mutual appreciation of an anime and hype it to near mythic levels of quality, and consider any one show to be a staple of the medium.

A very descriptive way of saying: If you don’t like this anime, you can’t be my friend.

Thus began the death of the personal opinion.

See if you try to hold up an unpopular opinion with a group like that, you will be exiled. It’s a simple fact. The popular opinion is spared from any criticism when its defense force is ready to dump paragraphs of praise and hype until the next flavor of choice rolls off the assembly line.

This kind of group-think is counter-intuitive for the honest and earnest connoisseur, critic, and the hushed conversationalist who seek to inform and entertain their peers with well thought out, unbiased, and enjoyable reads. As mentioned in the Writing about Anime 101 post:

New writers should always ask for tips and help with grammar, but should never let anyone write for them. It’s a really serious pitfall, and it definitely will stunt personal growth of talent.

In these collective groups of writers, the strong personalities bully out the weaker ones, and the above quote starts to happen more and more. It’s not the editor in turn is actually a good writer that fills in for the new one, it’s that the editor turns the piece into what they think is correct. Leads to an endless circle of homogenized opinions that are inflexible as stone.

Remember, anime is serious business.

When you join a clique or a group, there goes your style, and there goes your individuality. Many writers sell themselves out to a gimmick, and soon lose sight of their original goals. Were they trying to write better or just become popular?

On top of that, were they writing to impress new readers, or just the insular group of friends in an echo chamber?

This is how you get called out, and this is how you get called a fraud.

LEARN THE SOURCE MATERIAL

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There’s nothing worse than being ignorant when the materials not to be are easily accessible these days. Any chump can get a plot synopsis and other factoids from the internet and bluff their way through a conversation about any kind of anime.

Though the deadliest of mortal sins as a fan of anime, and a professional anime writer is to completely gloss over entire decades of anime, just because it’s too old, too cheesy, too hyped up and didn’t live up to the expectation.

(Protip: Almost nothing holds up to hyped expectations)

Like I was saying, anime is serious business. So are “classics”.  This ties heavily into the subject of knowing what you’re talking about; as the less you purport to actually know, the less valid your opinion becomes. Never mind that you say this in a clique and not expect to get called out for it.

Not here though, because I will share a direct quote from a rather unfortunate chap, who seems to be woefully ignorant of 80’s anime (possibly one of my favorite decades of anime).

I still to this day cannot wrap my head around why people like 80s anime – I have set myself up to love the “classics” time and time again only to be disappointed.

Oh, woe betide you  lost anime pro, the fraud detector picked you up out on the horizon.

My main issue about that quote is that the writer assumed that no one was actually born in the 80’s (like I was) and legitimately liked what came out in that time period because it was all I had (honestly, if it’s all you’ve got, you have the choice of liking or not liking it. It’s not like today where you have complete freedom and access to a wealth of media previously unobtainable to those in the early magnetic data days).

The second issue right after the dash, was the term “classics”. This is how you tell someone to watch something without actually knowing too much about the show to begin with. When you go in with expectations that the 80’s was some crazy ass time of hyper-stylized art and music and everything made then was a masterpiece, you’re gonna fall flat on your face. Lets face it: you were essentially lied to, and not liking a small sum of anime from a certain decade has soured your opinion of all the others. You either like something, or you don’t. Don’t put a blanket statement over it and make claims you don’t have a single fact to back up with.

The power of the clique in action, or just the average media consumer’s opinion?

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This segues into a rather hilariously ironic quote that I enjoyed reading.

Not to say there aren’t posers who say they like 80’s just for the sake of seeming “enriched” but I digress.

Oh the ironing. Coming from the site, MyAnimeList, this is just the cherry on top of the big, old fraud cake. This is an assumption, and when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you and mption.

You really do, it’s another blanket statement that dismisses 80’s anime on the assumption that most of it’s supporters are posers that claim to like a certain anime for the appearance of seeming “enriched”. The irony of this is so sweet that if you miss it, take the time to enjoy it.

The last of the quotes I will share are from a 3 paragraph text dump of a users great passion for the years 2000-2010.

Because who doesn't love Green Green, the best of the millennial anime? I can cherry pick too.

Because who doesn’t love Green Green, the best of the millennial anime? I can cherry pick too.

Once upon a time, anime was represented in the mainstream by the likes of Akira.

Now, this is actually a fact, but a rather narrow example. This statement is only true of the late 80’s technically, but mostly of the 90’s where home media became more prominent.

The 1980’s were a magical time when anime was the territory of the hypermasculine.

This is a statement implying that the “hypermasculine” 80’s totally didn’t become flooded with Mahou Shoujo anime and actually gave rise to its prominence in Japanese Animation.

I do this not to laugh and point fingers at any one individual, but rather to make a point: If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you just sound/look stupid half the time, or just so wrong it’s not even worth it to point out. Like the title says, know the subject material, or face your judgement!

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3 responses to “Writing about Anime 102 – Learn the Subject Matter

  1. Uhh, this post is kinda directionless. The title only related to the foreword, then you go on some weird tangent about cliques for the rest of the post.

    • Sorry about that, I had expected Donny to post his follow up comments right after mine, so they seem to just hang. I’ll rectify the post immediately.

  2. Interesting read.