I spent a bit of time discussing my sordid history with anime (or its lack) in a recent post. Briefly, I’ve put forth perhaps too much effort in years past towards punching up this particularly lacking piece of my fandom’s résumé and often come up short.
I have since caught up with the DOTA anime (Dragon’s Blood) and remain profoundly surprised at my enjoyment. Ultimately the same sticking points apply: the cosmological “god stuff” is still unintelligible and many other irritating anime tropes abound. But it’s okay! The slower pace and mostly skilled writing serve to engage me enough so that I can keep on enjoying its lovely fantasy world. Kaden remains a badass. Even when the story makes at least zero sense, the character arcs are impactful and the action is fun.
This level of fun has inspired me to go back and try again with some other series that have been on my oft-neglected list. First and foremost is One Punch Man. I was already a bit of a fan of this show because it pokes fun at a lot of the anime nonsense that has sandbagged me over the years. Characters offering their annoying and overly long backstories show Saitama (the protagonist) feeling as agitated as me; absurdly long fight sequences featuring absurdly overpowered characters are cut blissfully short thanks to the shows’ namesake; all the bothersome, meaningless, end-of-the-world drama is handled with tongue firmly in cheek, such as when our hero inadvertently saves the day while on a grocery run. In an early but fine joke, the motif of overblown training sequences is openly mocked when we learn that the most powerful hero has reached his full potential by a stunning regimen of…100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 air squats, and a run.
Even though it’s subtitled, even though the anime-ness of it is thick, One Punch Man does such a good job of making fun of itself, and anime as a whole, that it’s honestly a treat.
Next on my list was the much beloved Demon Slayer but at the behest of some experts I have instead picked up Attack on Titan, an oldie but a goodie. Even though it is dubbed and, well, weepy, I am still enjoying it, especially the medieval environments.
Regarding the “weepy” aspect of anime…animation, what I’m beginning to understand is that incessant gasping and waterfall tears is just how extreme emotion is done in this style. In the same way one would demonstrate dynamics in heavy music by making it just a bit heavier with a breakdown or blast beat, in order to properly communicate the grief or fear of a rather simply drawn character excessive displays must be used. I still don’t like it but I’m beginning to understand.
More on this as it develops.