Jul. 30th, 2015

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Wow, I haven't posted anything in a long time. Been busy with work and watching Agents of Shield and Supernatural, lol. But I'll write about that some other time.

After actively consuming manga and anime for 15-16 years, I've come to the realization that either my tastes and standards have changed or manga and anime haven't made any significant developments, or it's both.

The last time I've followed an anime series keenly or even binge-watched was Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan). Since then (and even a couple of years before SnK) I haven't really had much interest in anime. I have been checking out new releases each season by way of reading summaries and looking at the promotional posters. My impression of most of these shows is troublesome. Too many young schoolgirls in short skirts, big-titted and scantily dressed female warriors, the shy and nerdy male protagonist who has to save the world, the typical quiet boy and quirky girl duo, or the rough boy and quiet girl duo, even the reverse harem anime has no appeal to me anymore.

What is happening?

Clearly, my standards have changed. With all the talk about sexism and the need for feminism, my opinion and views have been influenced heavily. Whereas in the past I wouldn't have bat an eye at bouncing breasts and panty shots, these kinds of things now irritate me more than ever. It's like looking at an incredibly sexist ad from the 50s or 60s. It makes Japan look culturally very backwards, old-fashioned, outdated. Maybe that's still the case, I don't know but I wouldn't doubt it. But even taking this problem aside, the stories can't grip me as they did in the past. Then, anime seemed new and incredibly innovative, progressive, exciting and so different. However, now it's repetitive, inconsistent, boring and mostly consisting of fan service.

Recently, I started watching Knights of Sidonia, a mecha anime, looking promising because I like Nihei Tsutomu's manga series like Blame or Noise. I didn't have much expectation for Sidonia though, and unfortunately, I was proven right. While the general plot is interesting with a strong male lead, other things in the anime seemed lackluster. The CG animation takes much getting used to, supporting characters are exaggerated (the antagonist) or are flat as a piece of paper (all female characters, bar one). Characters' actions and behaviours made me roll my eyes or sigh out loudly more than once - per episode.

Anime and manga keep borrowing clichés and tropes - the same ones - to satisfy the audience's need for its fill of moe, tsundere and yandere and whatnot character types, gratuitous nudity and fan service. It's like they don't know how to do subtle portrayal with depth. The only reason I marathoned Shingeki no Kyojin is because the series is so over-the-top and breaking all stereotypes in a bizarre way with exaggerated emotions. The anime is basically a killing spree, extremely liberal and graphic with its violence; so much so that there is no room for fan service or any of the other clichés. The focus is very much on the plot, characters' developments are tightly tied to it, making SnK an intense experience. But it's probably an exception. Maybe there is another one of the recent years. If there is, please do point me to it.

In the past days, I've also been trying to catch up on manga, mostly BL/yaoi. Oh boy... it's even worse. While I intensely dislike switching in the fanfics I read, I would actually welcome that in BL manga. JFC those stories are riddled with clichés after clichés after clichés. Even in the past, rape/non-con/dub-con, which are quite common in yaoi, have irked me to an extent but now it's just unbearable. The Stockholm Syndrome seems to be a very beloved theme in these manga... Other than that, the themes are always the same: high school students or salarymen or the half-Japanese rich CEO preying on the unsuspecting, innocent, clueless and plain-looking-on-the-first-sight employee or childhood friends reunite and turn lovers or the hobo and the upstanding citizen (who may or may not know each other from the past) or the classic senpai-kouhai relationship or the rich master and his loyal servant or how about the Arabian prince being charmed off his feet by a Japanese tour guide/salaryman? And they all have the typical character types mentioned earlier. What irritates me the most about this are the ratings on mangaupdates. There are ppl who would rate these stories 10/10 when I wouldn't even give them more than 4/10.

I need to read other manga. In fact, I have a bunch of seinen manga on my to-read list. Even shounen manga aren't doing it for me anymore. I'm so immensely grateful that Naruto is finally over. I'm just waiting for Bleach to finally fucking finish because Bleach chapters are like Dragon Ball Z episodes: nothing happens. Bleach chapters are big panels with a character in a cool pose, claiming to be superior, one attack, but OH NO the opponent deflected with an unexpectedly strong attack, more nonsense about being stronger, intense staring, TBC. And then there is One Piece. A never-ending story. Luffy still hasn't found the One Piece after 78 volumes but I'm cutting it some slack because it has proven to be immensely complex for a shounen story. The author is also really smart putting in surprises that aren't just afterthoughts and actually make for interesting story arcs.

Haaah... I know why I read more fanfics now... >_>;


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