Lately, I've been watching Ao no Exorcist in the subtitled Japanese version, and having just completed the tenth episode, I was struck by something very important that American TV animators have all but forgotten.
They have no clue whatsoever as to how to write a truly good story. The one exception to this rule is the Legend of Korra, which of course, stands head and shoulders above the riffraff.
I watch a LOT of cartoons and anime as I work, and I have this to say to the lack-wits who are trashing on anime a lot:
Get your head out of your ass!
I'm sick of the sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing that goes on in the American industry. Oooooh, we're so great, because we're American and we worship the Almighty Dollar! Bullshit. I'm gonna hold them to a much higher standard than what I have thus far.
Why? Because in all my many long years of being a kid at heart, and loving animation like I do, ONLY anime has ever made me shed tears. I grieve with them, worry with them, laugh with them, and today, I cried, once again. American cartoons just don't do that. It's all so fakey and lame, and worse still, it's hackneyed. Why do we settle for this nonsense?
I love anime because when I find a good one, I know I'm in for a really good engaging ride that will make me CARE about the characters as if I knew them personally. In just ten episodes of Ao no Exorcist, I've achieved that state. Now I can really enjoy the anticipation of each new episode with pleasure and satisfaction that American cartoons just can't bring to me.
I had that supreme feeling with InuYasha too. I had it with the manga first, when I cried for Kagome. That had NEVER happened to be before and I was not prepared for such a strong reaction. Here's how it went down:
I was at a convention party and I was feeling a bit bored since none of the conversations interested me, so I took out my latest issue of InuYasha, and began reading. When I got to the chapter where Kagome realized for the first time that she was, in fact, a third wheel to the relationship between InuYasha and Kikyou, I cried for her. Here I was, in the middle of a loud, boisterous party, and tears were streaming down my face. I felt for her and what she would have to endure. I've been there, so I knew all too well what it felt like to be in love with someone who was totally in love with someone else. It's very, very hard, and I felt bad for her and sympathized deeply. Since that day, I've cried for Kikyou many times as well.
And yet, I have never, ever done this for any American cartoon character except for the movie Bambi. We all know what scene I'm talking about.
We have, over the years, let the thinnest skinned among us dictate the quality of our entertainment. Weak, watered down pap, is what we feed the young kids, and then we wonder why they CRAVE the violent video games when they become teens! It's in our nature, as humans, to endure challenge and hardship both physical and emotional, from the day we are born, and while it may seem beneficial to protect kids from the harsh realities of life, the truth is, we're robbing them of some the richness of life as well. After all, we use these experiences, and these emotions to create the guages and measures that guide our lives. The original versions of the real old "fairy tales" were harsh and filled with lessons parents wanted to teach their children about the ways of the real world. Sadly, because the thin-skinned among us thought those old tales would somehow scare or harm the delicate sensibilities of our children, they've stripped out all the scarey and sad bits and replaced it with pap and artificial sugar. It makes me sick.
The original Little Mermaid didn't win the heart of the prince. She had to watch as he married another, and then she flung herself into the waves to become seafoam. In the original Red Riding Hood, the wolf ate both the grandmother AND Red Riding Hood, and the Woodsman rescued them only after cutting open the wolf! How is that different from cutting open the taun-taun after Han Solo ran it to death? Who mourns the taun-taun?? I do! Movies do get it right sometimes, but other times they get on that slippery money slope and make movies that are obvious 1 1/2 hour (or longer!) commercials. Worse still, they "write-down" to their audience, creating weak stories and even weaker characters. It's beneath us, and yet, we allow them to do it. Well not me. I'm going to review the movies I see, and I will tell them in no uncertain terms what worked and what failed, and I'm going to tell them whether I or not I would spend any of my hard earned cash to see or own their works. "All Dogs Go To Heaven" was the first travesty that deserved a good three page rip, and it has the distinction of being the first animation that I ever took back and demanded a refund for. Many have come along since, but I refuse to pay for crap anymore. My first commandment: Thou shalt not suffer Family Guy on the air! Not ever. Followed by everything in their franchise.
Have standards. Maintain them. And if someone rags on you for liking anime, then you stick a finger in their face and ask them this:
"Anime?!? Then tell me, what animation currently being produced can even hold a candle to the depth of writing in anime??? Tell me what animation looks as good when it comes to character design? What animation is there that can make me CARE about the characters and even shed tears for them?"
Chances are, they'll throw the Legend of Korra at you, but that one doesn't count. If they toss out Family Guy, they deserve a dope slap upside the head.
I love a story that challenges me to FEEL something, other than the urge to buy something. Anime can sometimes bring me to tears, and I'm GLAD it does! Those are the cartoons I'll cherish, and those are the cartoons I'm a fan of.
We desperately need better standards and thicker skins.
That's my rant for today. Thanks for reading to the end!