Proselytizing in anime and media

I would have to say that this post will be my coup de grace to my consistent blogging, because class (sadly) starts tomorrow for me. This post may be longer than the 800 words I have hovered around with these past posts – kindly allow me this deviance.

rukia
I was actually searching for Neliel pictures but they are in short supply :<

Because of Totali‘s recent participation with this blog, I have come to appreciate his way of writing about series I like. I opened his full blogroll recently, however, and his description of my site was that I do not write about anime.

On a lingual basis, I would agree – I do not write about anime, but rather on it. I myself cannot describe it well, but it would suffice to say that I do not write about specific or certain series, but about the medium of anime itself in relation to the other medium that pervade us. I guess this post would be another one of those posts that will exemplify what I mean.

nel tu
That lady on the right (yes, that one with those big breasts) is the only reason why I am once again reading Bleach

After reading the division I found pertinent on that book of advertising I mentioned on a previous post, I tried reading a book on H. P. Blavatsky. In case one does not know, and does not want to search, Miss Blavatsky was among the founders of the Theosophical Society. I tried reading the book expecting an explanation about what theosophy was; instead, I got a lot of allusions to obscure religions as well as use of words not even found in the English dictionary! (What the hell does akashic mean? I know of Akasha as a hero in DotA, but the closest assumption I have is that maybe it is the adjective form of akasha, which is ether in Sanskrit. Perhaps it is synonymous to ethereal, but I am not sure.)

I really tried plodding through the tome, and the frustration has arrived at the point that I was wondering whether I was merely dumb or that the book was impenetrable for one unaccustomed to theosophy’s basic ideas. I guess the Wikipedia entry would more than suffice for those more curious than me, but going back to topic, I asked a friend who was also knowledgeable in books. He had exactly the same opinion as I had. The book was full of knowledge, but the author assumed that everyone was already familiar with theosophy, which was untrue. In the final analysis, it became more of a proselytizing than anything comprehensible. How will we understand what is spoken of when we do not understand the words that make up that which is spoken?

I guess this is the same problem with Lions for Lambs. It is a new movie, and it started airing on theaters about three days ago. Critics bombed it, and despite the fact that it has not yet aired here in the Philippines I have obtained it (through the usual conduits). It has a star-studded cast: it has Robert Redford, a veteran actor who has time and again proven himself in great movies; it has Meryl Streep, who if I remember correctly was nominated the most in the Oscars, and it has Tom Cruise.

Yet despite this, the movie simply flops. It flops from most critics’ point of view, and it flops from my point of view as well. It was arguably the longest hour and a half of movie watching I have had endured. Like the book of Blavatsky, it assumed (and this is their fatal error) of the viewer or observer having full knowledge of the matter at hand. It did not show by example, and thus, in the end, it merely proselytized.

Those that cannot do, teach. I guess this is the failure of both examples mentioned. They equate teaching with doing, which are two very different things. In the end, they both leave the viewer unsatisfied and discontented.

This is not, however, the end. To top it all off, and to relate all of these to anime, let us mention another quintessential example of proselytizing: Ergo Proxy.

I assume most of serious anime viewers have heard of this show or have watched it. And why would not one? Like Lions for Lambs, it was star-studded. From Dai Sato to manglobe, it had everything in terms of technical excellence to produce one of the best anime series that could ever have been produced.

Why had it failed?

It was because there was too much dialogue. There was too much talking; there was no action. There was too much proselytizing, without anything even happening. Even I, once a strong fanboy for that series (because of Rei), had given up because it became nonsensical. Beautiful women may sustain me for some time with regard to anime series, but in the end it is still the story that grabs me and enchants me. The story is still the singular factor to make me appreciate and forge through a series until it finishes. I found almost nil in Ergo Proxy.

Media in general is not one-dimensional. Other than the philosophical treatises of Plato and Socrates of olden times, it does not merely deal with dialogue, or focus on proscenium dialectics: its focus is not only what is said. It is dynamic and more importantly involving: rather than teaching, it shows by example. It drags one in, not pushes one out. This was primarily the problems that plagued the different examples mentioned because the observer is not merely an onlooker – he is the scene and within the scene himself. He is the stage. He is not merely a student being spoon-fed by the teacher: he is the ubiquitous observer and judge.

P. S. In the end, I still hovered close to 800 words. I guess the robust lessons by our great English teacher have really inculcated themselves within me. Say more in less, he says, and I have always tried to write within 800 words. I guess it is second nature to me now.

27 Responses to “Proselytizing in anime and media”

  1. Extrange Says:

    I like the talking, problem is today’s society wants fast food media. And then ppl ask why there isn’t more creativity ; that’s because the good things are overshadowed by the mass spammed easy to “digest” content.

  2. Totali Says:

    …..the comments on my blogroll should rarely be taken seriously xD. On that note, this post is a good example of not writing about anime!

    I agree with Extrange about audiences in general…..most people just want their quick fixes, something that I’ve already said before. That doesn’t mean you have to go down to that level…unless you just like to. 😉

    Also, I happened to love Ergo Proxy from start to finish. It’s not fail! ;_;

  3. Ryan A Says:

    I paused halfway through reading because some butterflies were mating in the yard… and I had never seen that before. Sorry ^^

    This was primarily the problems that plagued the different examples mentioned because the observer is not merely an onlooker – he is the scene and within the scene himself. He is the stage. He is not merely a student being spoon-fed by the teacher: he is the ubiquitous observer and judge.

    I thought about this, after other things, and was wondering the similarity of this statement to a story which requires the viewer ( ie the story will not work without the viewer). It may be an odd way to think about it, and I don’t know of any story where this is true, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to be engaged in a story that isn’t stand-alone, at least not with anime. I may now be confused…

    Thought provoking stuff. 🙂 Really sad that the frequency will come down a bit, but I’m sure you’ll manage to get a post in once in a while.

    Cheers Michael!

  4. Michael Says:

    @Extrange

    The fact is, talking makes up most of the fast-food media. This is the easy to digest content. Lions for Lambs could have been more than just talking, and as a movie it would be much more. Would anyone approve of The Godfather were it just a three-hour narration by Marlon Brando on why the Mafia is awesome?

    @totali

    Examples mentioned in the post were examples of failure. I would bet that watching the entirety of something great like Honey and Clover would take as much time, if not more than watching Ergo Proxy, but the fact lies in that Honey and Clover is infinitely more entertaining because it describes, not explains to the viewer what is happening to the lives of its characters. It remains that H&C does not act didactic and therefore condescending to its viewer; it does not underestimate its intelligence, and it does not mire itself merely on dialogue. He is the scene because he inculcates and interprets the scene; he observes but in the end is left alone to ponder it: he is the stage because everything revolves around how he perceives the occurrences to be. He is not merely fed information, like how Ergo Proxy seemed to me. One by one information is ‘supposedly’ revealed so that we think that the show is awesome, but I think otherwise.

    It’s all a matter of opinion, but Ergo Proxy largely lacks in the part of fulfillment.

    @RyanA

    Mmm … butterflies mating. Mmm … 😛

    I guess I could say the same that I did to totali. The easy to digest anime are the proselytizing ones. They may seem complicated from the dialogue themselves, but really, they are the simple ones.

    This is somewhat a bidding farewell to free time and to thinking about these things. I will post once in a while, of course. 😀

  5. Extrange Says:

    @mike: Not the talking but the complexity of the talking that’s the issue. Some shows have to be complex in dialogues to be good or else it takes the risk of not bet appealing enough for the viewer that wants the plot instead of just action.

    @Ryan A: you are ito Butterfly porn?

  6. Michael Says:

    @Extrange

    You talk as if they are mutually exclusive, but they are not. Prime examples include Honey and Clover – it is highly complex as a series, but its talking is relatively simple. I do know about the appeal that you mention to some, but it is unnecessary in an exemplary anime series.

    Butterfly porn … ooo

  7. Cameron Probert Says:

    I was with you until ErgoProxy. But I think you have some interesting points there. As far as the Akasha… it’s probaby related to the Akashic Record, a belief that all knowledge is stored in a single repository of knowledge. Which is a common idea both in Western and Eastern philosophy/psychology/religion.

    But as to your point. I think that’s a tough point to make either way. I think what your getting at is the need for some writers/creators to beat you over the head with their themes. Or is it that those themes become so overpowering that they detrimental to the story itself?

    On both counts, I would agree with you. There are times when the themes get heavy handed in a lot of stories. Although I don’t find that the case in ErgoProxy, I would have to agree that it does happen. And that when it happens it becomes a lecture rather than a story, and all of the moral gray area is stripped away by stating who is right and who is wrong.

    Again, with the themes overpowering the story, I would agree that ErgoProxy does have problems with that. Much like it’s spiritual predecessors, Lain and Texnolyze. And I can understand why it would isolate audiences.

    Anyways those are my thoughts 🙂

  8. Michael Says:

    @Cameron Probert

    Woah, thanks for that comment! Thanks for clearing things up with regard to what akashic means – I am truly thankful, as I could not understand the general direction of theosophy. 🙂

    I dislike it whenever the themes that pervade the story get more priority over the story itself. I stayed with Ergo Proxy until episode 20 because I believed that the story would get better. I realized after watching the 20th episode that even with that number, the story was still leading to nowhere, and so I stopped.

    If I wanted a lecture, I would go to school. And since I am having that for five days every week until the end of March, I would like it if the anime demonstrated more than taught whatever it wanted to deliver. I watched Lions for Lambs in expectation of something to happen. I did not expect a denigration of inaction, or just a mulling over different opinions – it would have been better for me to read the Opinion section of our local newspaper, or for that movie, an Amercan one.

    The movie would have been more efficient if those three stars were in a commercial telling the people why the war was bad rather than engage in clearly exhortatory dialectics on why it is bad. It just irritates me.

    I love Honey and Clover because of its very beautiful yet tenuous balance between its theme and story. Thanks for offering quite an insightful response. Cheers. 😀

  9. Cameron Probert Says:

    To be honest, I like a lot of theme heavy stuff. I don’t think I’ve gotten to episode 20 of ErgoProxy yet, but I can see your point. I think it’s a tough call and in a lot of ways it’s personal taste.

  10. Michael Says:

    @Cameron Probert

    Good luck. I am serious. I think you will understand me soon, when the Mickey Mouse episode comes and you are unsure as to what is really going on IF there really is something going on. It will force you to ask yourself; from then on, let us see. 😉

  11. Kljigen Says:

    So basically, you post sum up to: BORING STUFF SUCKS. I’ve have turn your 800 word post to 3 words. PH3AR M3!!11!one1!!!

  12. Michael Says:

    OMGWTF I HAVE MELTERED!
    ..

  13. meganeshounen Says:

    Hmm… examples of shows that are “all talk”, on an albeit literal sense, eh?

    I guess it’s just hard sometimes to give information on things without using too much words. Being wordy and such could hinder communication, rather that helping it… Imagine a kid trying to pick out which book to read: a book that has mostly mounds and mounds of text, pertaining to the subject, or another book that has less information than the former, but has more graphical data, may it be in the form of illustrations and such.

    Try guessing which book will be read by the kid. -_-

    Anyway, it’s fine not being able to say much on something, as long as what you’re saying is enough to convey your ideas in a coherent way. Heck, beats making a speech….

  14. Michael Says:

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

  15. meganeshounen Says:

    Newsflash from the Philippines:

    “Young man found dead while surfing the net and fapping to *censored*”

  16. Michael Says:

    Oh noes. Wait, if that *censored* is Taimanin Asa …

    /dies

  17. Extrange Says:

    No, it was Butterfly Porn

  18. Totali Says:

    lol that bunnie melted.

  19. Extrange Says:

    Wait, worse.

    It was Papillon porn.

  20. Michael Says:

    @Extrange

    I tried editing your comment to what you’ve wanted, but sadly the picture won’t load, at least for your comment. Maybe I need to fix picture-posting with regard to comments, but I really tried my best, and that was the best I could do. Sorry.

    Oh, and thanks for the praise :). Even when you puked afterwards. ^_^

  21. Extrange Says:

    *puke*

  22. NotPayingAttention Says:

    Taimanin Asa? Who (or what) is that?
    So wait, did you end up finishing Ergo Proxy, or did you drop it due to the incomprehenibleness?

  23. Michael Says:

    @NotPayingAttention

    I dropped it after episode 20.

  24. Ryan A Says:

    lolz

    I should clear up, it wasn’t butterfly porn, it was real-time. And, well, it’s hard to tell what’s going on because 85% of the time it’s a swooping chase, 5% is tackling (or that’s what it looks like), and 10% is … the naughty wing

    note: I refuse to google Papillon, for I am afraid!

  25. Michael Says:

    @RyanA

    That made me lol. Seriously. ^^;;

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