Enter the Anime Review: Netflix’s Awful ‘Documentary’

It’s not often I come across something so abhorrent I want to erase it from my brain in an instant. However, Netflix’s anime documentary Enter the Anime makes me want to do just that and more. In fact, it is so terrible I cannot understand why it was ever released on the platform – never mind originally signed off by the boards…

One of the first things to hit me about Enter the Anime is one of it’s opening lines, spoken by director and host Alex Burunova:

“Earlier this year I became immersed in something I knew nothing about. The dark, twisted, crazy world of anime, manga, and Japanese counter-culture.”

Whilst we have to keep in mind the target audience of this documentary, (those who have watched very little to no anime) it’s a line that strikes me as odd, given how documentaries excel in deep, professional information. How is a person meant to acquire such a breadth of info in such a short amount of time, and then be able to speak about it with relevance and clarity? They’re not… And this is where Enter the Anime begins to fall apart.


Disjointed, Incomprehensible and Lacking

As a result of Enter the Anime being so disjointed in its presentation it’s difficult to singularly pick out any relevant pieces of information – which aside from a few sparse moments during interviews, amount to very little anyway. It’s pacing is like a squirrel on crack, quickly shifting from one point to the next without ever sticking around long enough for any of it to make any real sense, or without offering any depth or nuance to the topics being discussed.

Enter the Terrible Editing…

The editing of Enter the Anime is absolutely ridiculous in every way, my eyes being unable to focus on anything without the frame being divided into four or eight segments for apparently no practical reason, other than the base material being so dull it needs a distraction. It’s frantic in all the worst ways, reminding me of low-grade university project that has been rushed to meet deadlines. Give people some credit – the vast majority of us are able to retain attention for long enough without the need for such over-the-top, insane transitions and cuts.

Where Enter the Anime really takes a step away from its subject is on that nature of production. It’s no secret that the making of anime isn’t smooth sailing: crunch, horribly long hours, stressed to the limit, deadlines that are often wholly unrealistic. Enter the Anime brushes over the surface of these issues, but never attempts to do anything more; which for one of the most pressing problems in the industry seems like a huge oversight on behalf of Netflix and the documentary’s creators. Being such a large platform they had an opportunity to enlighten a broader audience,  but missed it completely, instead having a heavy focus on their own Originals – even those that are yet to release at the time of writing this (09/08/19).

There also appears to be a disconnect between the western creators of Netflix’s anime and their Japanese counterparts, personalities being eccentric and reserved respectively. Whilst I’m all for a more global understanding and appreciation of anime, it effectively turns it into a film of two halves – the tone constantly being thrown around without meaning. Giant egos overpowering any sense of being humble.

Surely this isn’t fine?

A Thinly Veiled Advertisement

Enter the Anime almost exclusively features Netflix’s own anime productions. There is a brief interlude in which Evangelion is featured, or more specifically its famous opening theme A Cruel Angel’s Thesis’ and its original performer Yoko Takahashi. And, even if this isn’t unwanted, Burunova barely even scours the surface of Evangelion’s influence on today’s anime, leaving anyone new to the medium no wiser on EVA’s true nature in the industry.

Yet, much more time is spent on shows such as Aggresuko and regrettably… 7 Seeds. Sure, it’s understandable that Netflix has greater access to the creators of these shows and their respective studios’ inner workings, but I want something more. I want to know why anime is the way it is, how anime evolved into what it is today, not how it influenced Hollywood and Kill Bill… After all, I thought Enter the Anime was an anime documentary. After two viewings and two wasted hours, I’m still not exactly sure what it’s trying to document.


So… please do enter the anime, just don’t do it through Enter the Anime…

What did you think of Enter the Anime?

Thanks for reading (Follow me on Twitter)