Animanga Controversies Examined

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Our opinions on the many “vs” of the anime and manga fandoms.

1. Anime VS Manga

Foxy: From the content of the blog you might have guessed that I’m a fan of both media. But if I were hardpressed to choose, my scales tip towards anime, because of how holistic an experience they can offer, since they can tell a story colorfully, with fluid motion and accompanied with fitting music. But that doesn’t mean I love manga any less. Manga can offer detailed artwork that you don’t usually see in anime, since it can get hard to animate; they also may offer finished and fully-fleshed stories and characters, since usually they don’t have to consider budget limitations like anime. Additionally, I seek something different from each medium as far as the genres go: when it comes to non-typical romance and smut -or anything to do with sexuality really-, manga is the way to go. When we talk about action, anime is what it’s recommended to follow with ease and enjoyment all attacks and movements.

Nekochi: From my perspective the printed medium’s advantages are almost always more appealing than those of animation. Especially when we’re talking about printed books the experience of reading becomes a joy that goes beyond the story itself; the smell of paper and ink, the ability to change perspective at any given moment, the difference that size makes, etc. Overall I love manga more than anime because, the genres that I love (horror and hentai), the former manages to provide better results on almost every category. The only thing that I clearly miss when I read is an original soundtrack made exactly for the story at hand -and as we all know, music is a powerful storytelling instrument.

2. Dub VS Subs

Foxy: This is perhaps the only debate on the list where I have a clear cut and absolute answer, ie. subs. Not only aren’t the dialogs altered to fit the time the characters’ mouths open and close, but the voice acting is miles away better. Anime carry a very rich culture both on their own and in the wider context of Japan, so having the script altered is a disadvantage if you want to enjoy the product as it was meant to be. Plus, cencorship is facilitated (do you remember how Haruka and Michiru were “cousins”?) and I’ll always be wary with how deeply religious America can be. As for the voice acting, nowadays there are more American professionals than in the past, so there’s certainly more diversity. But I get the impression that the companies investing in dubbing still see anime as an extension of cartoons and thus we end up with very high-pitched valley girl voices and very deep gangster like voices. Even when it’s just not the case, the American pronounciation that’s a bit rounder will always sound to me funny when it comes out of Japanese characters -sorry, American readers.

Nekochi: Foxy Lady summed up the situation very well but I must tell you I’d never want a world without dubs. Not only for those few cases (i.e. Yu Yu Hakusho) where the dubbing is decent, but mostly for the hillariously bad ones. Especially when the discussion comes down to hentai who could ever forget classics like this chicken? I wouldn’t want to imagine a world without such heart-fulfilling, state of the art, performances.

3. Vintage VS Modern / Cel VS Digital

Foxy: Although Overlord tends to call me amicably “vintage Foxy”, I don’t believe this description truly represents me. I’m not obsessed with older anime and I haven’t watched all that many, especially if one thinks that the biggest pre-90s titles are the big mecha franchises, a genre I find hard to watch. I don’t quickly jump on selecting vintage series because I often find the plot simplistic and requiring big leaps of faith. What I do appreciate in older series that I don’t find nowadays is the gracefulness of hand and body movements as well as the refined design of  female characters’ hair. So when an old series with a good rep and fitting to my palette comes my way I won’t reject it outright.

As for the digital products, I love the vivid and pastel colors, the pretty filters -when they aren’t abused-, but 3D doesn’t sit well with me as a rule. It has to be well-integrated with the rest of the animation and limited to objects and backgrounds. In characters it’s too much uncanny valley for me. It’s more often than not flashy and vulgar so to say. Digital, however, has given us besides high definition of lush backgrounds and our anime crushes, the big quantity of anime we have each season the last decade. I can’t say I would go back or that anime die and are much worse these days.  All in all, I like both with a propensity for the modern.

Nekochi: There are certain qualities one can find in older anime that are either rare or completely absent in modern titles. The most characteristic of them is probably the desaturated, pale colors that are in contrast with today’s over the top vividness. Especially in story with darker themes the old-school approach seems to work better, emphasizing the negative emotions and subtleness. Another aspect of the past that I miss is the abudance of gore in OVAs. Unfortunately cuteness and fanservice seem to have overtaken violence and maturity when it comes to storytelling. However I don’t think quality in general belongs to a specific era, just that the past has a bigger number of titles that fit to my tastes.

4. Moe VS Realistic

Foxy: If you asked me some years ago, when we first started the blog, I’d be negative towards moe, most probably because moe was associated with K-On and Lucky Star whose designs I honestly found ugly -I still do, for Lucky Star at least. Nowadays my opinion has changed quite a bit, especially since I started reading more about the notion of “moe” which doesn’t only describe a certain art style, but also a wider spectrum of ways that a character behaves and the feelings the fan feels for the character. I was suprised, for example, to know that Nausicaa is considered moe for some. On the one hand, there are certain designs that tick me off, like Chunibyu’s, and I can’t not wince when I see an utterly clutzy character with bow legs; on the other hand, I nosebleed with nekomimi or any kemonomimi and drool over the pretty designs of Hyouka and Hibike! Euphonium. I might also want to take my dandere/kuudere a big hug. Moe has charmed me but I don’t look down on more realistic designs and surely not on realistic stories and characters. I do want to be able to reflect things about myself through anime in the end.

Nekochi: I’d say I belong more to the realistic school, even though the word sounds too specific. I love titles like Devilman Grimoire that have a surreal, totally non-realistic style on them. My big issue with moe is the lack of detail and the simple, round forms. It is for that reason that in general I don’t feel much excitement when I come across most titles that are supposed to contain such design.

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5. Light VS Dark 

Foxy: It really depends, but I never go for grimdark, disturbing content. I like drama and serious themes, but I don’t want violence for violence’s sake or a manipulative sobfest that ends up ridiculous. I won’t sacrifice my psychological stability either. Therefore in periods of depression or heavy sadness, I won’t touch titles I’ve heard that might give me a bad “mental stomach”. I usually go for a balanced menu each season, where I judge what’s the trend in the ongoing series to pick up older series with the opposite mood. The so called slice of life anime help me calm and enrich my emotional universe, but the healing kind I’ve tried so far are mostly a bit too serene for me.

Nekochi: I am a big horror/gore/bad ending/etc. fan. Even if a series isn’t too hardcore on blood and violence I still feel much more interested to watch it when I know there’s some sort of darker content. That doesn’t mean that I reject light-hearted stories right away, but it is usually Foxy Lady that picks such shows up. Perhaps that’s a reason why I feel that most of today’s mainstream titles aren’t meant for people such as myself -instead the underground is the most welcoming place.

6. Continuous Plot VS Episodic

Foxy: I want an intriguing story and/or round characters, so I usually reach out for the series that give me continuous plot. Yet, Mushishi and Natsume Yuujinchou have shown me how emotionally rich self-containing stories can be. It really depends.

Nekochi: Foxy Lady’s thoughts and mine are pretty much the same on this issue. I think the best case is when a series has what people call the “main plot” and it builts on it by using many different short sub-stories. Sci-fi fans may recognise this pattern in shows like Star Trek but many anime (Vampire Princess Miyu, Hunter x Hunter, Devil Lady, etc.) have followed the same approach. In the end it’s more of a matter of whether the storytelling is convincing and reward the viewer for their time or not.

7. Series VS Film VS Shorts

Foxy: I rarely watch shorts and usually they are on the comedic side for some quick and uplifting watch, like Chii’s Sweet Home. I also rarely reach for films because I get lazy just thinking I’ll have to commit myself for more than an hour. It’s also a matter of practicality; unless it’s weekend, during weekdays there’s very little time to spend. A series with 24-minute-episodes are perfect for me time-wise and they engage me long-term in the characters, the story and the themes at hand.

8. Spoilers

Foxy: I’m a spoilers person and may have a hard time refraining from getting to know more about a series, which puts me in trouble with Nekochi, like A LOT. Although this is the case most of the time, there are a few series which can be completely ruined by spoilers, eg. Shinsekai Yori. When we talk about reviews, lately I’ve learned to be a bit more restrained so as to tease the reader and give them a motive to watch/read the series, too. Other times spoilering seems unavoidable if I need to praise a series. What consists a spoiler is after all very subjective and I’d advise anyone overly sensitive to stay away in overall.

Nekochi: There is nothing worse and more horrific in the world than spoilers. People responsible for spreading spoilers should be hunted down and led to extinction by an army of powerful cyber-demonic dragons.

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9. Weekly Watch VS Marathon

Foxy: We usually do both. We watch weekly 4-5 series and marathon 1-2 other older ones. Occasionally, I’ll marathon a series on my own when Nekochi isn’t interested in it. There are series that benefit from watching slowly and have time to let things seep through and think of them thoroughly, and there are others who benefit from marathoning as you get the pieces of a puzzle easier that way or you don’t lose enthusiasm and feel like the series drags forever. This is hard though to decide in the first place and does depend from other real life factors. I know for sure though that it’s simply amazing when you’re watching an anime while it’s airing, there’s some great things going on, all the fan love pours in and you’re part of this.

Nekochi: It really depends on the mood and the series. Most of the time I don’t feel interested enough -or have the time to- watch 10 episodes one after the other, but in cases like Hunter x Hunter there’s no way I can stop at one episode.

10. Watching Alone VS Group Watching 

Foxy: Watching with someone can be tough if you don’t know them well, because they might distract you from following the dialogs or ruin the series for you if your humor and theirs are incompatible. Otherwise, it can be really fun, and company ensures that you get different perspectives you might haven’t thought of. It’s less lonely like this.

11. Paper VS Digital

Foxy: I don’t mind either. I read huge part of my manga digitally and when I purchase comics it’s an economical solution for my pocket and the space I’ve got available. Series I absolutely adore, however, I want to be able to hold in my hand and support the artist. The feeling of a book is just different.

Nekochi: See first question.

12. Reviews VS Editorials

Foxy: Editorials. I do read reviews but only from a select few bloggers. There is only so much time I can dedicate to reading similar opinions on the same episode/series. I miss snipettee’s and yihsieh’s fresh and informative writing so much, although Emily does nowadays systematically a fairly good job, too. I find it a shame that all the new blogs that have sprung up follow the same formula and don’t try their pen on something different. Of course, investing time to write an analytical essay, which in turn requires time for research, may be difficult, but it pays off.

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9 thoughts on “Animanga Controversies Examined

  1. Anime vs Manga… Hmmm… that’s a difficult one. Anime can offer excellent auditory experience with very influential voices, sound effects, and music, but manga tends to be more carefully drawn, resulting in panels that can stand even alone as amazing illustrations. This can happen in anime too, but more rare, especially these days. Also, there is something unique about manga, as Nekochi mentions. You set your own pace, may take the time to pause, let your imagination fill in the gaps – it is somewhat similar to reading text and is a much more active process. However, I do not know many manga works and find it difficult to find something of interest. I should spend more time on manga research. Perhaps, you can recommend something. For me the priority is in art, rather than the story.

    Subs are almost always better because the original voice is how the original director envisioned it – dubbing may change that vision. Nevertheless, some rare dubs are great and even better than Japanese original.

    Yes, anything modern is bad! Oh, those good old times! 😛 The biggest problem with some current anime I have is the lack of coherence between the background and characters. Also, I prefer the older character design. The mode of production does not matter than much – it is more about how much time you are willing to spend on it.

    “gracefulness of hand and body movements as well as the refined design of female characters’ hair.”, “desaturated, pale colors that are in contrast with today’s over the top vividness” Indeed! 🙂

    Moe is ****, *********! 😛 Definitely realistic!

    Light! I am too scared of the dark ones!

    It is very difficult to tell a good story within a limit of 12 or so episodes. Even if we stretch it to 24, that still may not be long enough.

    Series in most cases.

    No spoilers please!

    Weekly watch is only beneficial at the time the series is airing because you can blog and discuss each episode. This is a fascinating process if the series is ambiguous. Otherwise, I prefer marathons within limits – it is unlikely that I’ll spend more than an hour or two at a time.

    It depends on the content, but might be better alone because you can cry as much as you want 😛 Some shows are especially great for group watching though.

    Paper, but digital works too.

    Editorials/Essays. Tell me something that I may not have realized about the work, some insight, some unique perspective.

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    • Thanks for sharing your preferences~
      “The biggest problem with some current anime I have is the lack of coherence between the background and characters.” You mean you want a balanced focus on character development and worldbuilding? Granted I haven’t watched the big mecha, I doubt there was necessarily such a balance in ye old days. I find that older series were action or plot focused rather than anything else. At least from my limited experience.

      “Moe is ****, *********!” I still wholeheartedly recommend Hyouka.

      “It is very difficult to tell a good story within a limit of 12 or so episodes. Even if we stretch it to 24, that still may not be long enough.” Hm I wonder. If we talk about (fantasy) grandscale stories, yes, that’s true, but Shinsekai Yori for example did an outstanding job within 26 eps. Action, drama and romance genres can also have a good result within 24 eps without getting repetitive or trainwrecks. It depends on the genre I think as well as the pacing.

      “I should spend more time on manga research. Perhaps, you can recommend something. For me the priority is in art, rather than the story.”- in that case X and Tokyo Babylon come first in mind. X is in a sad long hiatus, but each page is an artwork. Then I bet you’ll love anything by Kaoru Mori, Irie Aki, and Daisuke Igarashi.

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  2. It will always be this “vs” that. Some person can get all stary eyed over a show or movie while another person has a dull expression (already turned off the show or movie, but is pissed off cuz they actually witnessed it.) Its all whatever it is.
    This is coming from a guy who refuses to watch dragonball z or naruto. There’s too many of those damn shows and the plot is always dragged, never made. Thats just my opinion. Some other person probably might think that i’ve already sold my soul and somehow made it out of hell to post this comment.
    The “vs” will always there. Every story is its own. Love it, hate it, sort of like, not like, etc… if it wasnt told its own way then it would have no meaning. Kind of like cross ange. I have to give my respect to the artist that drew the show. It must have been hard making a weekly show at the last minute, because the authors forgot what a plot is. Oh wait I still think they did forget it cuz cross ange didnt even have a plot.
    Now since i got that off my chest, some other person might look at me as some lowlife scum that just took a crap on their front lawn. Thats ok.., they’ll have to pick it up sometime or another.
    point being. A story is what it. Long, short, stupid, lovable, whatever… it is what it is. like it or not. That is completely up to you.

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    • Welcome to our blog and thanks for commenting!
      Indeed “vs” is always there, we just picked the major non-title specific ones.
      As for Cross Ange, I haven’t watched it because I’ve already heard a lot of bad things about it, but I like the designs, and that’s why it’s there 😛

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  3. The “dubbing versus subbing” debate is probably the longest-running one of those listed here, at least as far as anime is concerned; it brings to mind how U.S. releases of anime throughout the decades had their own fair share of issues that dubbing brought to light. Translating a show, let along overdubbing it, takes a good amount of effort, as many shows (such as Dororo, Joshiraku and perhaps even Astro Boy) had their own language barriers wherein such things as puns, wordplay and cultural references would be lost on those who don’t speak Japanese; since they’re made for a Japanese audience first, the first people to watch a given anime would already be familiar with the classic themes and motifs found within them. Overdubs attempted to get over these hurdles by providing a “localized” variant that another audience (which speaks another language) could figure out in order to follow the plot and understand the characters. Of course, in the U.S., we’re used to the “classic” method of voice acting, with Mickey Mouse being a major example, as well as modern fare such as Dexter’s Lab or Ben 10; in addition, shows back in the 1980s had more stringent syndication laws than today, which explains why Robotech and Voltron were produced for U.S. broadcast. There’s a lot going on behind an overdub, and the ridiculous casting is but a part.

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