Monday, March 5, 2007

This entry is a response directed at the blog entry "Anime Philosophy" posted at:

You’ve made some strong opinions based on your observations, but I think your opinions reveal that you fail to realize that most of Anime is satirical. Most of the negatives you feel Anime embraces with open arms are put in not only for straight-forward humor, but also as a satire. For example, let’s say a man gets slapped about in an Anime for accidentally falling into a girls’ bath room. This is a satire of all those moments in reality when men have been referred to as perverts for situation that have been misunderstood. And the abuse could be seen as a satire of not only all the Anime before it that used similar situations but also cartoons like Charlie Brown in with Charlie was constantly harassed by Lucy in verbal and physical was for little or no reason. But the message the Anime is conveying is quite multi-layered. It could be as you said: “men are weak, power to the women.” Or it could be the complete opposite. We are empowering men by showing the viewer that he clearly did not deserve the beating he got, and making women into violent animals. The Anime could be saying “men are angels, and women have no control of their emotions.” In fact every possible explanation, including yours, makes a false or negative portrayal of someone. And that very truth is what reveals to use that it is a satire. If everyone can laugh at everyone involved, then it must be a joke (at least that’s the idea). The creators make Anime this way purposely so that it appeals to both males and females almost equally.

Most people miss the satirical component of the Anime structure, so I hesitate to judge you on that. But I must say I found your “decent strong female character” opinion quite interesting. Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko can hardly be seen as a “decent strong female character” because of the following:

A) She almost completely lacks emotion making her more robotic that human. This can be understood since she is after all half machine, but the lack of emotion hardly makes her a good example of a female character

B) The only points in the story line when her gender is brought back to our attention are when she takes her clothes off.

Though she does often show emotion, they are usually highly generic displays of curiosity or regret that do little to shed light on the soul of the character, and make her little more than “a cyborg with breasts;” hardly a fair representation of women. Noir suffers from the same exact problem. Even though the use of female characters was obviously a way to take a fresh spin on Action Anime and make the protagonists women (not a way to “bash” on men), they still have made the characters very void of emotion. In essence, the role of protagonist in both Noir and Ghost in the Shell could have been filled by a men or women. Faye Valentine is no better. Sure, she’s a great character from a great show, but she’s ditsy, brings trouble, irresponsible and often lacks foresight. She has a lot more emotion than the characters of the aforementioned Anime (is strong-willed, sometimes clever and speaks her mind; all great qualities), but she is often used in the Anime just for her physical attributes (notice how much time she spends on screen, and then compare it to the amount of relevant contributions she makes). None of these women fit the mold of a “decent strong female character.” They all say women are either close to lifeless shells or prone to stupidity, and are only good for their physical attributes; hardly an empowering statement.

I feel many of the opinions you’ve expressed (even those I have not begun to criticize), though supported with examples, suffer from the same problem. You have taken Anime at face value and refuse to look beneath and behind what it shown to find what is trying to be conveyed. Like its subject matter, Anime is often so much more deep than it appears, even when it doesn’t seem made to be. If you would only challenge yourself to understand why certain things are done in Anime as opposed to exploring other options, you would see that you have very little to complain about (since most of what you’re complaining about is actually just a joke). Many of the real problems exist in what seems “okay.” There is so much more that I have not yet begin to discuss, but they become quite obvious when you give Anime the consideration it requires and beckons for. You may still arrive at the same conclusions that you have now, and it not my intention to steer you away from them. It is just my belief that your argument would have more credibility and fortitude if you did not so obviously make yourself susceptible to the surface of something as multi-layered as Anime.


Callum Phoenix said...

Thank you very much for your post. I am definetly taking it into consideration!

Jessie said...

Yeah, I think that I now see what you mean by the first attempt at the assignment being a little off key with the whole building bridges project :o). However, I just read through this guy's blog, which is all about "male power" (odd...thought they had it by default...oh well :o). I think that your post was really well written and the fact that the response he gave you was quite civil...which was only a surprise after reading his blog and the links listed on his blog...
Jessie :o)

Callum Phoenix said...

Jessie read The Myth of male power by Warrenn Farrell and I am sure the idea that men have always had the powerr will be falsified.