This is something I have been deliberating over for a rather significant amount of time now, so here goes:
Within the anime community I feel there is a trend, this need to analyse every single frame of media; almost as if anime (or media in general) exists for this reason alone, and anything without so-called analytical merit can’t be considered ‘worthy’. Therefore neglecting a whole body of work which shines on other merits beyond this. Through my lens, this is something I’ll attempt to address.
Before I say anything else, of course, this isn’t in any way an… attack on those who do create content based on these principles. Simply a personal perspective from which I want to write my own content – words which I hope might also resonate in others. I will still be analysing shows, only it will be in a much less formulated manner, and they will contain a larger portion of my personality; my more ‘natural’ voice in writing. Something which I believe will be more enjoyable to read. Before that, I want to look at some things that have been tickling my mind over the last few weeks:
The Enjoyment Factor
Media has a number of purposes:
- To Inform…
- To Entertain…
- To Educate…
- To Sell…
Anime primarily falls under the ‘to entertain’ category. The financial success of any given show depends directly on the entertainment value the targeted demographic manages to draw from them (shows like Eromanga, SAO, and Black Clover are without a doubt all financially succesful – irrespective of their quality).
However, as with film, critics play an important role in this: A person sees a bad review, they trust the reviewer, they don’t watch the show. It is the same way in which you pop onto Netflix, see something you like the look of, check the score on Rotten Tomatoes, only to realise the critics have given it shit reviews. Naturally, a percentage given by a group of so-called ‘professional critics’ does not represent what you or me as an individual will think of a particular piece of media; to truly form an opinion, it has to be experienced in person, directly. That’s the same with anything in life.
Content for the Sake of Content
By its virtue, content is inherently creative. Every time we take a pen to paper, fingers to keys, brush to canvas, we are being creative; no matter the outcome. With this being said, in today’s world of fast-food content there is a desire to produce as much of it as possible. After all, the more content a person publishes, the higher likelihood that some of it will attract someone’s attention, and possibly even earn some revenue – and for popular YouTubers, massive amounts of revenue. Don’t get me started on the fucking off-world terrors of sites and channels like Buzzfeed…
So, what drivers these kinds of creators? The creating and accomplishment itself, the message? Or the potential for financial gain? Of course, it can be both in varying amounts, or solely one. Also, these factors do not necessarily reflect the quality of the content. However, I believe content created for the sole purpose of monetary value rarely has the passion contained within it that content created out of love alone does. But, as you all know, the money question doesn’t exactly have any sway in the things we as creators are likely to do.
Why does this matter?
It is almost as if the value in creation is being watered down; commodified. Or, is this just the evolution of content itself? Is it up to those (all of us) who consume the content to wade through the oceans of it, rather than simply being exposed to less of higher quality?
The market is saturated, this isn’t in doubt. It’s the same across all mediums. Conversely, maybe this is a good thing…? After all, we do have the power to choose, the power to block what we deem of little value, bloating. I can go on YouTube, click on the trending tab, and scroll through endless pages of videos I wouldn’t click on even if given money. I understand how YouTube is in a world of its own, especially given the multitude of issues and controversy rightfully surrounding it (go and check out H3H3 for more on that). With this being said, content surrounding anime, anime analysis and reviews is hardly niche. Not that it necessarily should be. Yet, how is it is possible to find the kind of content we truly want to see? Because, it is out there, with so many people able to have a voice, everything is out there…
the Anime Community, Analysis, and Content
I feel during recent months there has been some discourse on the notion of anime analysis, and the things that are packaged along with it. Something which stems out of the community in general, and let’s be honest, much of the conversation that burns and smoulders over on AniTwitter. Or… maybe this isn’t true? Maybe I am projecting my own thoughts onto the community as a whole; seeing and hearing the things I want to see and hear. This is fine; conversation and difference in opinion is good. It starts debates, it illuminates different perspectives of an issue, it also gets people watching your videos – humans are naturally curious creatures after all.
Does it really matter who analyses anime? Do we all have to be ‘master critics’ to create this kind of content?
Of course not. It’s a clean canvas. That’s what is so great about media, everyone has their own opinion to project forward, everyone has something different to say on the same thing – and it is this difference that is fundamentally interesting; you want to know how someone else has felt about something, if they see any of the things in the same way as you do. This connects people together, it creates a shared understanding – an environment in which we can experience enjoyment together. Of course, this can never be a truly bad thing.
When analysing anime, how do you go about it? The thematic elements? The storyline and narrative? The animation?
There is no defined narrative to compose an analysis by. If that were the case then everything would be the same, and if everything were the same what would be the purpose of its existence? I watch Under The Scope, and it brings me something different as to when I watch Digibro; in the same sense I get something different out of H3H3 Productions when compared to Good Mythical Morning. This difference is absolutely out of necessity, a product of how I am feeling in the moment, and the kind of content I as a viewer wants to experience.
Despite this, when it comes to anime analysis specifically, I believe it is often hard to find diversity in what is being said, and in the ways in which thing are being said – especially content outside of YouTube.
The ‘Review Factor’
Understandably, my views on this might irk a few people in the wrong ways – that’s fine. Not all of us hold the same opinions, and not all of us place the same value in the same things. Still, I do think there is something to be said about… reviews. Anyone who’s being around here a while will know I have done reviews of sorts in the past. Although, not exactly for a while now. It’s been something I’ve naturally stepped away from while writing other content, something which I think is for the better.
Reviews conflict me, not on a fundamental level, more in a way that is exhausting, given the amount of them out there. Right now, if I search the old Googleoid machine for ‘Darling in the Franxx episode 1 reviews’ I get a plethora of results, so many that I could, and never would want to look at the majority of them. Except no doubt a few that stand out for their unique nature, and individualistic expression – these are what I want to read, these are the things I think the vast majority of people want to read.
Herein lies what I consider something of a conflict:
For the most part, I would never be able to distinguish between any of these reviews, in a roundabouts way, they all contain the same things… Yet, as I said before, I do not believe people should stop writing or making reviews. Of course people should never stop creating the things they want to create. Only, I think the market for these types of reviews (both written and YouTube) has become over-saturated, and people should think of what is already out there before they write something for themselves.
The idea of reviewing something is all well and good. However, it is the formulaic way in which it is done that I don’t understand: Going from one motion to the next with little depth between. The notion that the reader, or a viewer only wants information on what is being reviewed, rather than entertainment on a wider scale. Content in the days of 2018 is controversial on a basic level. Anything which does not strictly follow accepted societal norms is rebuked, ostracised, de-monetised. This level of ‘manufactured outrage’ and sensitivity in people needs to be explored.
So, don’t be afraid to create something new. Look at things from a differing perspective. Don’t think what other people are doing; do things in the ways you want to do them. Put your heart and soul into it! There is no structure for you to follow!
Being an Individual
I’ve sat in this chair wondering for a long period of time how to make Peach’s Almanac stand out in the ocean of similar blogs, and similar content. The resolution I came to was: Just be myself. Write as I would if I were writing for myself, without an audience. There’s more fun in it too, a better ability to express myself in those words, rather than some academic form of writing which my university work already comprises of. I think being personal in writing is one of its most redeeming features, or at least writing in a way which does not try to replicate anything or anyone else.
For new perspectives are beyond valuable.
What do you think of the current climate of content? Do you think content could be more personal, or is there an audience for everything?
Thanks for reading, as always!