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.


Post a Comment

<< Home