Episode 47 – Nerd Hurdles vs. Anime

January 8, 2010

I’ve kept this from Mandi to some extent, but there was a time when I truly loved anime. Like an ex you deeply regret, and therefore deny the existence of, my youthful foray into the world of anime as a source deep shame. I think back on those days and feel what I imagine is the same shame one would feel at the remembrance of a night spent in a dive hotel with a coked-out hooker.

And to be honest, I only ever dipped my toe into the murky anime pond. It started in childhood with Robotech (back when anime was Japanimation), but I lost interest soon after Ghost in the Shell, a movie I wore-out my VHS copy of, was released.

A few years later, I had a roommate who tried to get me to watch his stack of  Macross tapes, but I just couldn’t do it. Anything even remotely akin to Transformers turns me completely off. That writes-off the whole mech-warrior (or as I call it  meh-warrior) sub-genre.

So what is the hurdle? There’s a lot that’s great about anime. It’s often grittier than conventional animation. Until The Matrix, it was the only place cyberpunk had been done well on film at all. Anime is stylish and fast-paced. It’s usually sci-fi or fantasy with lasers and magic and sexy genetically enhanced ladies.

Anime films also seem to aim to deal with deeper themes than your average shoot-em-up sci-fi. But they often fail in this goal. And I think this is partly where the hurdle lays for me now. They’re philosophical, sure, but in a sophomoric, juvenile way. Anime might be a great way to expose existential and metaphysical themes to a younger audience, but as an adult they now seem terribly trite. And character development is generally the worst you’ll find outside of Episode I.

Not to mention tentacle rape. WTF?

Of course, there is one anime director whose work we adore. Hayao Miyazaki‘s films spellbind us.

Even Tim Burton doesn’t blend surreal, horrific imagery with a whimsical sense of magical wonder with such alacrity. I’m not sure I’ve seen a movie which so unexpectedly blew my mind as Spirited Away or if there’s ever been such a truly effed up movie as My Neighbor Totoro to give me warm fuzzies. In fact, Miyazaki movies might be the only films to awaken that sleeping sentimental giant within me at all these days.

Also in this episode, we unveil the first installment of a short series of Battlestar Galactica chatter called Project GalacTALKa. Each week, we’ll talk about our impressions of this celebrated sci-fi television show as we watch it for the first time. Discussion will be entirely spoilerific, for those who have watched the entire series (or have seen it up to the same point we have). We give you this fair warning as we’ve remained relatively spoiler-free and wish to remain so. Basically we’re having our ambrosia and drinking it too.


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