Anime Elitism

Every special-interest community, it seems, has some sort of incredibly arrogant elitism. In photography, it’s the size queens – anything that doesn’t use sheet film is a “toy”, and not a real camera at all; the bicycling community has the Lance-wannabe road racer weight weenies, who look down on anyone who doesn’t ride, lycra-clad, a carbon-fiber road bike with ten or fewer spokes as fast as humanly possible. Fountain-pen afficionados get to suffer Mont Blanc owners, and the people who only “use” (i.e. collect) hand-made Japanese lacquer’d pens, and who dismiss everything else as “entry-level” or a “school pen” only suited for teenagers.

In the anime community, you get, somewhat strangely, a lot of teenage boys who (understandably) only seem to like shows with near-constant action and violence, and who vehemently hate on (a lot less understandably) any show with more than two or three female characters.

These people really annoy me.

Right now, in the (online) anime community, it’s extremely cool to dismiss shows you don’t like as “not as good as Bleach“, or “not as good as Naruto“, as this shows your fellow taste-impaired idiots that you really know your stuff, and recognize the Bestest Animes Evar.

But being a bleachie or a narutard will only get you so far, in terms of internet street cred. If you really want to hang with the cool kids, you have to hate on and misuse the term ‘moe’, which basically boils down to cute teenage girls.

With the magic of moe hatred, life is incredibly simple and straightforward: If a show has teenage girls, or adult girls who could sorta kinda look like teenagers, then the show doesn’t need – and automatically doesn’t have, according to the anti-moe elitists – a plot or character development or fights or giant mecha, because cuteness sells.

What’s The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya about? Moe.

What’s Azumanga Daioh about? Moe.

What’s K-on! about? Moe.

What’s Strike Witches about? Moe.

What’s Louie the Rune Soldier about? Moe, despite the promising title.

What’s Code Geass about? A couple of robot fights and a whole lot of moe.

What’s Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 about? Moe.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

This whole arrogant elitism really annoys me, as I think you can probably tell. The thing is, I can sort of kind of understand where they’re coming from, in a way: There are a lot of recent animated shows which feature cute girls. That’s what’s popular, i.e. profitable. I understand that if you’re a macho boy who hates everything pink, cuddly, fluffy, or cute, and likes an endless series of ADHD-friendly ginormous fights and explosions, that this must be slightly upsetting. But, seriously, hating on a show and dismissing it as a “moe blob” just because it doesn’t meet your preconceived little notion of what a “good” show should be is just, frankly, retarded.

I view television shows primarily to be entertained, and to laugh. It’s been a bad couple of years for good and original comedy shows on western TV, so I’ve been getting my comedy fix of late from anime – generally from slice-of-life animes that the elitists deride as “plotless” “moe blobs” in which “nothing happens”.

Earlier this week, I downloaded the (fansubbed, yes, I know, I’m evil and going to hell) first episode of a new show airing over in Japan called “Working”, because I was bored and it didn’t appear to involve either an all-girl’s high school or vampires, two things that usually don’t bode well for entertainment value. I watched the first episode – we’ll get to my opinion in a second – then searched online for info about it.

There’s not much out there in English, unsurprisingly. The show is apparently based on a four-panel comic that hasn’t been translated into English. There’s no English Wikipedia article. I couldn’t easily find any reviews or opinions from anyone who had actually watched it, but there’s no shortage of people telling one another how it’s nothing but moe and sucks compared to Bleach or Naruto… months before Working‘s first episode ever aired.

Working is “moe”, that’s all most people care to know. Plotless teenaged cuties not doing anything. Boring!

Except it isn’t. It’s basically a sitcom about a (male) high-school student who gets – kind of against his will – a job working at a small family restaurant, and his interactions with the other employees… and his boss, who is something of a slacker and borderline sociopath. One of the waitstaff carries a katana, for reasons that are not made clear in the first episode. One of the other waitstaff is an androphobe, and when we first meet her she’s trying to kill the (male) lead character, just because. Oh, says the boss, did I schedule you two together? Oops. “Try not to get killed.”

At one point the manager kicks a disruptive patron in the nuts, then arranges to have them robbed after they’ve left the restaurant. Later the main character defends himself against a joking allegation of being a pedophile by describing – in a positive way, mind – one of his female coworkers as being “like a water flea“.

So far, it’s one of the more entertaining shows of the season, and I have high hopes for it.

But to the vast, vocal, majority of anime fans, it’s just a plotless moe-blob in which nothing happens.

I’d say the odds of this ever getting an official English-language release anywhere in the world is pretty slim – moe backlash, again; real hardcore anime fans in the west don’t waste their parent’s hard-earned money on moe shows, natch – so I don’t feel all that bad about recommending you hunt down the fansub of at least the first episode or two, and give it a try. It’s entertaining. It’s funny. You might like it, if you aren’t just far too cool for that sort of thing.

And even if you don’t like it, or are too cool for this sort of thing, don’t be a pretentious idiot and just completely write it off as “yet another moe blob”. K? Ktxhbai.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 5th, 2010| 1 Comment »

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One Comment Leave a comment.

  1. On 5/5/2010 at 4:19 pm Jimmy Said:

    That’s funny, because you’d think it’s the other way around: The elite anime fans snobbing on the Narutards and Bleachies. I enjoy watching Bleach from time to time, but you have to admit that the plot of the fighting anime genre is pretty shallow: boy meets enemies; boy grows; boy defeats enemies; repeat. The fun of Bleach was in keeping track of all the new characters and their styles/swords, but not in the plot.

    Haruhi Suzumiya is interesting not because of the moe, which is minor and wholly centered in Mikuru. The non-linearity of the episodes, and the premise of its universe, make up the attraction of Haruhi.

    So the kiddies hating on the non-fighting anime genres are really missing out. One hopes that, after watching several years of fight animes, they will get fatigued and move on to more interesting shows. Perhaps Ghost in the Shell is the proper introduction to the vast world beyond fight animes.

    Of course, all these teenage anime consumers are doing one good, pumping up the market for anime series that last more than two seasons. Perhaps they will motivate the vendors to bring over some more 80s robot serieses one of these days.

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