Anime is a powerful medium: anime as a powerful medium

Is anyone here unfamiliar with Doraemon? I hope that isn’t the case. But for those who are, Doraemon is one of the longest-running anime series of all time. The heroes of this series are Nobita, a child struggling with bullying and everyday life, and Doraemon, the eponymous character of the series, who is also robotic cat with a lot of gadgets to aid Nobita’s difficulties. To date, the series has already aired more than a thousand episodes and is still going strong. The plot is episodic: the duo have new digressions and misadventures with each new episode. I can understand children (and even adults) enjoying Doraemon; consequently, I can understand why some people (like Daniel, for example), love Tristram Shandy.

Tristram Shandy, I believe, was the Doraemon of eighteenth-century Englishmen. It has been lauded by many scholars to be one of the great comic masterpieces in the history of literature. In the entirety of the novel, however, nothing truly happens. Plot is eschewed; coherence is eschewed (a lot of aposiopesis is used): in this sense, it is the first postmodern novel, because one discovers there is no singular meaning even after the completion of the novel. The reason is that Tristram Shandy, the eponymous character, is afflicted with the inability to write without digressions: his childbirth alone takes three books to be explicated upon. It does not even have a proper ending: there is no climax, and there is no denouement as well.

I’m not of the opinion of the scholars: I do not think the novel is one of the great comic novels; I also do not think that it is a masterpiece. While the novel does have its funny moments, they came sporadically for me: I think I only laughed three times in the whole duration of the novel. Perhaps this is because I didn’t understand a significant number of allusions in the novel: I am not fond of antediluvian literature, so most of the references have gone past me. In addition, I love a well-told story. (This is in contrast to Daniel’s tastes, where he quips, ‘To make matters worse, my favourite kinds of literature don’t even bother with good storytelling in the first place.’ By the way, he was the one who told me that one of his most favorite novels was Tristram Shandy. We decided to trade novels: he recommended Tristram Shandy to me, and I recommended The Sound and the Fury to him. I wasn’t able to attend to Tristram Shandy as quick as he was to attend to my recommendation, but that was because I still had a summer class to deal with and a backlog of books to annihilate.)

But while I am not very fond of the novel’s structure and style, the novel was remarkable because of its use of visual art either to magnify important occurrences or speak that which cannot be said in (proper) words. Asterisks and aposiopeses pepper the novel. More than that, however, are whole pages of just visual art.

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Black page art

For example, Tristram ‘wrote’ about the death of Yorick by placing a big black box in one page. He also mentions about a ‘marbled page,’ (this time for comedy) and indeed, the next page was a painting of marble!

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Marbled page

Critics and readers alike have noted of the avant-garde nature of the novel: Tristram Shandy was written even before the advent of the postmodern movement in literature. A lot, however, have overlooked its use of multimedia to deliver its message (even if it exists or not): the book utilizes visual art as well as literary writing.

This use of multimedia is also what makes anime a powerful medium, one as capable as the best works of literature are in the proper hands. Most literature rely solely on words to express a point, to inform, and to entertain. Tristram Shandy is an exception, but most anime utilize a bevy of different media: no novel, even with the most meticulous construction, can emulate the performance of God Knows in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. A novel can only be visual; anime is audiovisual, and it can be made cerebral as well. I believe that visual art is best utilized, among all the media, in anime. Anime can entertain. Most people, however, fail to recognize that it can provoke thinking and cerebration as well.

P.S. He even utilized graphs way before lolikitsune did!

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Those are his graphs of his novel’s flow

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11 Responses to “Anime is a powerful medium: anime as a powerful medium”

  1. blissmo Says:

    >>Anime can entertain. Most people, however, fail to recognize that it can provoke thinking and cerebration as well.

    I agree. Most of my friends constantly roll their eyes whenever I mention it and reckon it’s lame. It used to bug me, but now I’m pretty much used to it.

    And I’ve never seen Doraemon but I think it’s hideous lols!

  2. IKnight Says:

    Get thee to a While I think Tristram Shandy is very clever in its attack on the rules of novel-writing (and also quite funny) I can appreciate that it might underwhelm you. But apart from the famous black page, I’d forgotten how Sterne added those visual bits and pieces into the mix, and how much they bring to the text. Although all novels have a certain amount of visual paratext in what’s on (or not on) their covers, and so forth, it rarely adds very much.

    Though I remember sections of text in The Madwoman in the Attic being separated by (fig?) leaves, which complimented the chapter on ‘Milton’s Daughters’ rather well. But then that’s not a novel.

    I’m not sure I’d say that visual art’s best utilisation is in anime, though I’d probably agree that the visual pinnacles of anime do challenge for a place in a hypothetical collection of ‘humanity’s great artistic moments’. But the reason I can’t quite agree is because I know so little about art outside of anime itself, so I don’t have any evidence to go on either way.

  3. IKnight Says:

    ‘del’ and ‘/del’ tags don’t work on your comments? Shame.

  4. issa-sa Says:

    Wow, I need to get me that book!
    @blissmo: That was a joke picture I posted of Doraemon on my blog btw (but I have this feeling that you’d still say the same thing about the original designs -_-“)

  5. Michael Says:

    @IKnight

    You could have used the Sternian aposiopesis.

    EDIT: AND HEY, IT WORKS NOW!

    @issa-sa

    Oh, yeah, he also utilized graphs! Like lolikit.

  6. Baka-Raptor Says:

    Your title confuses me. Wouldn’t it have been good enough to only say either “Anime is a powerful medium” or “Anime as a powerful medium”? I want my vote back.

  7. Michael Says:

    Baka-Raptor:

    Ouch. :(

    Yeah, I was thinking in that line, but I was trying to bring out both. Anime is a powerful medium primarily because of its ability to integrate different media, and I’ve shown in some instances where anime trounces literature. Thus, I decided to include both.

  8. Lelangir Says:

    God knows I’ve never read that book.

    My favorite animes are the least “deep” ones. I’ll take lucky star over kaiba anyday. LS has more braindead replay value than Kaiba for me anyway, I guess that’s where I develop preferences on watching, not “reading”.

  9. Lelangir Says:

    That last comment was completely relevant.

  10. Michael Says:

    Lelangir:

    WAIT, WAS THAT A TROLL COMMENT D:

    nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  11. blissmo Says:

    @issa-sa:

    Nope. It’s ugly either way.

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