01 April 2006

Anime Cliché #1: The Anime Ending

No fooling! Two posts in one day!

I've decided to start a series of post about common anime clichés, why they bother some people, and perhaps the "why" behind the cliche or how I get past it.

The most prominent "cliché" to me is the typical anime ending. Many anime "thinkers" end ambiguously, leaving the watcher to figure some things out on their own, usually subplots that don't quite unravel all the way but sometimes even the main plot actually never resolves. I really want to cite a few animes that do these in a big way, but I fear giving away the endings to some of the best and more popular animes. The best example without spoiling anything is the series Evangelion, which is one of the most "sit down and contemplate" animes out there. The philosophy isn't spelled out, which means a lot of the pieces have to be put together in the watcher's head.

This bothers a lot of Americans who are used to close-the-door-on-the-mystery, Scooby-doo unmask the bad guy kind of ending which always resolves and usually pampers you through any thoughtful philosophy along the way (great example: Vanilla Sky). It's not necessarily a bad thing to dislike this popular anime cliché, as some animes go awry and no one can really figure anything out about the series...it's a fine line to walk between spurred self-reflection and confusion.

How do I get past series that I don't understand? There are a few things I do to help me along:

1. PAY ATTENTION to the series. Usually the big thinkers are only one season long, if that (13-26 episodes). This means every episode is crammed to get all of that philosophical goodness in. Brace yourself and pay attention to details, because falling asleep on several of the episodes will probably leave you in a confused state.

2. Give it awhile. Don't hurt yourself trying to figure things out, just let it sit and see if anything comes to you.

3. Consult friends. Talk a friend into watching it with you and discuss it. Anime is an experience and many times your friends think differently than you and so can probably think of explanations you'd never dream of.

4. Watch it again. I did this with "Spirited Away", and definitely got it the second time through. However, this isn't the most plausible strategy for 26 episode series.

5. Consult the internet! Make sure that you've watched the WHOLE anime before doing this, so you don't leave yourself susceptible to spoilers. There are a lot of people out there obsessed with "figuring out" animes, so I'm sure there's someone out there who can help you.

6. If all else fails...ignore it. Like I said, don't hurt yourself. If you don't get it, you don't get it. It could be you or it could be the anime. However, this being said, don't let not understanding one series discourage you from watching other good philosophical animes.

Hope this helps.

Record of Lodoss War

I just had to watch it, because I've heard a lot about it. Record of Lodoss War has two different series, a 2-disc 13 episode series which is the one I watched, and a 4-disc series called Chronicles of the Heroic Knight. The Lodoss War OAV, also called Lodoss to senki was made in 1990 by Akio Sakai and taken from the novel by Ryo Mizuno.

3000 years ago, Lodoss was torn away from mainland during an epic battle between Falis, god of Light and Falaris, god of darkness. It became known as "Lodoss, The Cursed Island". 500 years ago, the homeland of Karla, a powerful sorceress, was destroyed by the complete takeover of the land by one military power. Because such a complete conquering destroyed her homeland, she vows this shall not happen to Lodoss. She lives on after death in a golden circlet, possessing the wearer to be able to keep Lodoss ununified at at odds with itself. This means she supports and spurs constant war and turmoil, and believes it to be the best for her beloved Lodoss.

My first thoughts at watching this series was that it reminds me of D&D, old style RPG,LOTR, or maybe a bit like the NES game Wizardry. There's a human knight (Parn), elven mage (Deedlit), cleric (Etoh), wizard (Slayn), dwarven fighter (Ghim), and a thief (Woodchuck..yes.). The story revolves around the main character Parn's struggle to become a hero, basically, and Lodoss' battle against self-destruction.

The Anime Critic claims that the "the story line certainly isn't skimped on in the slightest, the series strongly focuses on developing its characters as well." I couldn't disagree more. I liked the overall storyline, but it felt choppy, halting, and more than a little confusing. They could have explained the storyline a lot more. I usually don't ask this of animes, but when I get lost and cannot enjoy the series, there is something wrong. There is certainly little to no character development in anyone except Deedlit, Ghim, and Ashram. What really bothered me the most was the complete lack of development of the main character, Parn. He definitely was my least favorite character, and I found myself asking several times why he was the main character

They also tried to play up a romance between Parn and Deedlit, but it was gimpy and never really got off the ground. I think the romance was supposed to come across as subtle, but if that's true, why were the beginning and ending credits romantic and girly?

I expected too much out of this series. Oh, and the English dubs were absolutely dreadful. Not really a series I would recommend unless you just want to sit around and make fun of it with some friends. Record of Lodoss War could have been so much more.

Plotline: Good
Characters: Fair
Music: Good
Animation: Fair

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