A snail sleeping on my window to-day.
It feels like it's been a while since I really talked about an anime series here. It's mainly because anime for past year or two has mostly been terrifically, pathetically bad. It's not a good sign that the only show I've seen that doesn't seem creepy and sexist on a fundamental level is called Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt.
It's this moé phenomenon. I keep thinking about the Hayao Miyazaki quote from the Wikipedia entry and how he seems increasingly right to me;
It's difficult. They immediately become the subjects of lolicon fetishism. In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there are too many people who shamelessly depict [such heroines] as if they just want [such girls] as pets, and things are escalating more and more.
I keep thinking of how I can explain moé to a western reader with limited experience with recent anime. Well, we can start by saying it's character types--imagine a lousy sitcom and there's the slacker, the ladies' man, the neat freak woman--you know, lousy in that the characters are utterly predictable copies of a million other examples of their type. Now imagine an audience that not only demands these types but is attracted to them in a sexual way and even sort of psychologically addicted to them. I guess you could say it's similar to the bad popular television we've always had, but moé seems to have a particular relationship to cultural gender dynamics.
This morning I watched the first episode of Fractale. The animation's not particularly good, the character designs are generic, but it seems to have an interesting idea about a reality inhabited half by people and half but something called "doppels", robots that look like they're made of random household objects. It seems like there might be an interesting commentary here on otaku culture, actually.
But the first episode also features yet another guileless female lead who innocently undresses in front of the chagrined male lead. This has happened in practically every premiere episode of every new anime I've watched in the past year. This and it seems like five or six other situations seems compulsory now--no matter what the show's about, it has to feature this stuff up front and boy, it's tedious, especially because I know more interesting shows like Natsu no Arashi or Maria Holic didn't last because they didn't cater to this treadmill.
Even Akiyuki Shinbo, who directed both those shows as well as Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and the insightful moé commentary series Bakemonogatari seems to have been forced to devoting himself to this stuff now to make ends meet. I watched the first episode of his new series Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko last night, and while it is cute and features some interesting ideas, it's mostly another soulless journey into a forest of safe female shaped "types". This obviously seems to be what the suits think is the saviour of the anime industry. I suspect it's really what's bringing it down--that may be optimism about human nature on my part, but I think otaku, like so many hardcore fan communities, don't have a clear idea of what they want. And, jeez, enough with the young women who look and act like five year olds.