I despise the term “turn off your brain”. If I wish to engage in something that isn’t intellectually stimulating, but is still entertaining and thrilling nonetheless, that’s still a worthwhile experience. My tolerances, preferences and penchants are still active even when I’m watching something that isn’t highbrow or novel. I don’t need to “turn off my brain” in order to enjoy something extravagant or scurrilous, because there’s obviously something there that attracts me and keeps me engaged. Somewhere within the ludicrous levels of violence, swearing and offhand behaviors in Black Lagoon, for instance, lies more value than you would think.
I recently finished watching 91 Days – a mafia-style revenge story that’s nothing spectacular. I found the show middling at best, and don’t really have much to offer in terms of what I thought about it.
However, the whole time leading up to its release, before I ever got around to watching it and even still to this day, it was constantly being compared to a superior work of a similar setting, Baccano!.
This is the not the first time something like this has happened in the anime community, nor will it be the last. But I’d really appreciate it if we could cut down on making parallels between shows that have cemented themselves as the magnum opus of a certain setting or type of story, and similar shows only just coming out.
I’m not entirely against comparing works with one another, I do it myself, but I feel it’s really unfair to heighten everyone’s expectations about a show before it’s release by comparing it to a classic consensually agreed to be a notably distinguished and celebrated work. There’s no way it could live up that hype.
It would be better to drop all preconceptions and biased anticipations beforehand, and give the show some time to breathe. Then when decide afterward whether it’s worth comparing, because otherwise you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you get excited every time you spot similarities between an upcoming show and an old favourite of yours.
Comparing other works is great, because it helps discern what you like to see from what you don’t want to see in a variety of different genres and settings. It’s an efficient way of going about deciding whether you feel continuing the same type of show you’ve seen a thousand times already, as well as helping you find similar shows with neat spins or refreshing takes on things you’ve gotten tired of seeing.
But when it’s used in such a way that you put something you haven’t even batted an eye at to the same pedestal as something you consider a masterpiece, you’re just going to end up being let down. Reserve low expectations, especially when you’ve already seen the best that that type of story has presented, but maintain hope that the next one will be good in its own right too.
While I love many of the characters in RWBY, this post is a blend of an analysis and a love letter to both one particular character and the show. Also, while I have done my fair share of scrutinizing in preparation for this piece, I should mention that I did not originate all of the points raised, and I will leave links to other analyses of the character throughout the post (notable credit to KuuLightwing and ASouthernRussian). It should also be noted that my favoritism towards this character does not mean I have anything against other’s personal prized favourites, and I encourage comments on why you’re fond of whichever character(s). With that out of the way, be prepared for a very long post.
Something I appreciate seeing in storytelling (mostly anime) is when the differences of two character’s methods are portrayed in such a way that neither method is always going to work. I find the idea of a character’s approach succeeding in one circumstance versus failing in another favorable over the idea of a character’s disposition being indomitably prosperous in the face of all forms of adversity to overstate an unrealistic message (e.g. a character stubbornly determined about being nice to everyone will triumph over all evil).
Body language says a lot about a character, especially for a mute character like Neo from RWBY. Named after her neapolitan look, and nicknamed “ice cream girl” by the community, she’s cute and deadly, taunting, yet adorably cocky and the motherfucking queen of sass, in defiance of her absence of speech. Able to express a ton of character purely through nonverbal communication, her gestures alone are enough to convey a mocking grace to her opponent.
Apart from the dub vs sub debate, the argument about what is anime and what isn’t remains unceasing in its pointless triviality within the anime community. Relentless disputes over the same shows persisting throughout the years, and applying the same discord to newer shows becomes wearisome to listen to after years of enduring it. And you might think that simply choosing not to visit the forums and sites where these types of “conversations” are commonplace, but these sort of discussions are everywhere. Wherever anime goes, controversy follows. That’s what I’ve learned. It’s not enough to deter me away from the medium, but it does get tedious after a hearing the same empty exchanges of frivolous nonsense for years on end.
One of the most frightening and melancholic conflicts in time travel stories that Stein;s Gate perfects is the idea of retaining memories from other timelines (or alternate worlds), while everyone else around you acts as if those events never happened. Because they didn’t, for them. Moments of desperation in life-threatening situations, gone. Raw, down-to-earth moments between characters who have been antagonistic towards each other, now opening up with eyes longing for answers into the other’s mind, gone. But Okabe remembers. He remembers all of it. And as Mayuri puts it; that is sad.