Kaiba teaser online, dear anime fans, please value originality

we’re in this funny position where Kaiba’s being hotly anticipated on popular indie-film sites like Twitch, yet completely ignored by anime fandom itself. Something is seriously wrong with this; that the most talented directors working in anime aren’t being recognised within the community is both baffling and stupid.

Twitch has linked the Kaiba teaser. It’s only 15 seconds long, but already, I’m getting good feelings about this. It’s looking very dreamy, very surreal and very innocent. Just what I expected. The thing is, Masaaki Yuasa is such an auteur, and his style is so utterly foreign compared to the norm, that he’s regularly shunned by anime fans. The few spring previews I’ve read reveal as much. Ironically though, Yuasa and Kaiba represent everything that’s so great about Japanese animation, outsiders (as in, not die-hard anime fans) look at it and see quality, but the otaku are too caught up in aesthetic doubt, fawning over the same old and being flat out lazy in refusing to accept something that looks a little different. Therefore, we’re in this funny position where Kaiba’s being hotly anticipated on popular indie-film sites like Twitch, yet completely ignored by anime fandom itself. Something is seriously wrong with this; that the most talented directors working in anime aren’t being recognised within the so-called anime community itself is both baffling and stupid.

18 replies on “Kaiba teaser online, dear anime fans, please value originality”

‘There are no mecha. [/interest]’
This may be linked to our tendency to focus on studios rather than people, but laying that aside I suspect that auteurs have an international appeal to the Quality Set, and that there aren’t many in the Quality Set who would appreciate TTGL or Ouran (plucking examples at random) in the way that ‘otaku’ do. It’s rare to find an individual who can move at will between the heavens and the gutter, if you will. I myself feel quite comfortable in the anime gutter, which is a place I go to escape the literary heavens. I can see that I ought to be appreciating Masaaki Yuasa, but it sounds depressingly like real work.
There are other demographics which seem quite distinct from ‘otaku’ generally too; I’ve been told (and this is only anecdotal) that Fukumoto has such non-otaku appeal in Japan that the adaptions of his manga have more viewers than the work of Ishihara Tatsuya (Air, Clannad, Haruhi). I don’t know whether that’s true, but either way it’s a good illustration.

Even though I’m already head-over-heels in love with this show’s promise, I find it a little ridiculous that you’re criticizing the “fandom” for not taking interest in every nuance, niche anime. There’s nothing wrong with fans ignoring these sorts (or any sorts) of shows…they’re obviously free to choose their interests, and if this doesn’t appeal to them, they shouldn’t be forced to “recognize” it, however great it may be.
I mean, if someone just wants to mush their brains watching redundant reality shows, who am I to tell them they must acknowledge beautifully written, original shows like “Arrested Development”? It’s entertainment…if people wish to remain cubbie-holed in the lower arts, there’s nothing wrong with that. Thinking your way only leads to annoying elitism along the lines of those Starbuck snobs.
Eh, excuse the rant. I think I should move on to the actual show now. As you mentioned, there still isn’t much to go on, but I’m getting “Mahou Shoujotai-lite” vibes. It’ll probably be completely wrong, but at this moment, I can’t shake the feeling.

What grabs me most is the beautiful music
Anyways I am sure once it airs (and if it is good) there will be people who will take notice, at least through word of mouth. Sure it will never have mainstream appeal but that’s just how it is. Sometimes it’s better when things have a smaller fandom anyways. Less annoying fans that way. 🙂

You should have understood that even within a niche market/community like ours, there are but a few that are also open-minded to shows that “do not conform to our natural tendencies,” i.e. moé-centric shows, standard story developments etc.

I think the problem is that the majority of anime fans don’t even know who makes their favourite shows, let alone who makes shows they’ve not seen. They are more likely to know who writes the manga or novel an anime is based on than who directed, scripted or animated the anime version. And who is doing the voice acting.
But that’s pretty much the case in Western TV animation too. A few shows do a good job at presenting the credits bold and up front (I liked Krypto’s actual announcing of credits before the cartoon), but most don’t. Which is doing something of a disservice to the animators as it perpetuates the perception that the only acting going on is the voice acting.
Yuasa’s higher profile with the world cinema set is likely down to Mind Game getting play at film festivals, and not at anime conventions. In the UK at least, anime convention programming has been devoid of imagination for at least three years now, relying on the same 3-4 video labels’ content. Whereas BFI and The Barbican have had acclaimed, ignored by fandom, films like Mind Game and Summer Days with Coo screened.

@Brack: Bang on, especially with regards to the UK convention screening schedules, though I suspect that’s mostly down to industry pressure (i.e. presenting an unlicensed gem like Mind Game, as opposed to FMA or Naruto, would be frowned on), but even still, it smacks of poor taste, after all, we’re anime fans; show some genuinely great films, like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, on a big screen. Incidentally, I’d love to see Summer Days with Coo anywhere, have you seen it? I’ve heard some promising things about it.
@TP: True, but I want to change that by raising awareness. That’s all I can do. I find it quite amusing when anime fans talk about they wish people were more open minded about trying Japanese animation, but when you show them something different, their reaction is much the same as the ‘outsiders’ they’d wish to convert. I don’t know what it is about people like Yuasa, but his work (and others, like those of Studio 4C) just send me on a massive rant about the ‘mainstream’ nature of anime fandom!
@Kim: I know I can always rely on you 🙂
@Sagacious1: I take your point, it does come off as elitist to a certain extent, but I’m just getting sick of anime fans who don’t know anything about, for example, Satoshi Kon. I don’t think the anime community is representing the best anime, and more to the point, most aren’t even watching the best anime. I suppose there’s a difference between being an anime fan and being an otaku, hopefully, I’m the former. Also, I agree with you on the Mahou Shoujotai vibes, I was getting the same feelings, but with this being Yuasa, I’m expecting a stronger sense of surrealism.
@IKnight: I disagree that people in the ‘Quality Set’ wouldn’t like TTGL. Sure, they might not have such petty reasons for enjoying it as most otaku (I’ll say the only reason so many anime bloggers loved TTGL was due to ample amounts of fan-service), but this so-called ‘Quality Set’ is named as such because, quite simply, they enjoy quality. That’s why you’ll read a site like Twitch and find references to the likes of Bebop, Evangelion, FLCL and Kaiba. You get a better perspective of what’s good from these people because they aren’t so caught up in, what I can only describe as, pettiness. Within the anime community, it’s quite rare to find someone who’s actually enjoying anime for what it is, most of the time these people aren’t as attracted to quality as they are their favourite aesthetic. As for your comment about how this sounds like ‘real work’, well, that’s the way I am, I’d rather embrace originality and creativity over another season of Code Geass. You know your own taste in anime, but I hope my readers would be interested in something like Kaiba.

Yep, to me, I really cannot appreciate something that has low/alternative graphical design compared to the normal *cute* type of graphics where characters look more like Kaiba. It is perhaps superficial for some, but it is just like the appearance of anything. If the appearance does not entice you, you will not be bothered to even take a look. It can be good in storytelling, but why take a chance when you have something that already looks pretty and have a decent story too?
I think that there is always a need for differing views in terms of bloggers. There are some who cover only the moe stuff, while others cover more alternative anime such as Kaiba. It’s a good balance for sure, but it is hard for most people whose anime journey revolves around Naruto, Bleach or the extremely popular mainstream anime. I admit, even for me, I couldn’t concentrate watching Kemonozune. It is said by a few who watched it to be great, but the character design turns me off so much that I cannot appraise the story telling carefully.
Lastly, glad that you read my spring preview. ^^ (or at least saw it to link, haha!).
p/s: I didn’t like most of the stuff that people enjoy too, amusingly like TTGL, Code Geass or Evangelion. I think i am just a closet hater of shounen anime…

I’m not denying that the world of ‘otaku’ has a pretty blinkered set of tastes, but I didn’t say the Quality set wouldn’t like TTGL, I said they wouldn’t appreciate it, or Ouran, because those two shows (as representative examples) are too populist. Twitch is about ‘strange, little films’, which is fair enough, but the truth is that you can have a film which is normal and large and still good, and a film which is strange and little but still bad. So Twitch has a different set of blinkers, another kind of pettiness (this time in two meanings of the word).
Of course, Twitch is still a very good site because – like this blog entry – it gets the news out about strange, little things, allowing us to judge for ourselves on the quality of what would otherwise pass us by (or allowing us to mutter darkly about ‘real work’ and move on).

@Impz: I can’t really argue with you, if you can’t (or aren’t willing) to empathize with the characters due to their designs (something I understand all to well), that’s hard luck. What I will say is that the likes of TTGL, Code Geass or Evangelion were designed to be popular, Kaiba isn’t. It’s alternative, experimental and original, and I just wish you (and more people) would be willing to give it a shot just for daring to stray from the tried and tested formula. Doesn’t the idea of watching something new excite you?
@IKnight: I don’t really get your definition of this ‘Quality Set’, or if you’re even including Twitch as a part of it. Also, if you’re within this alternative crowd, there’s nothing populist about liking TTGL or Ouran. Rather, for them, the populist stuff is the likes of Naruto and Bleach, everything else is basically obscure, that’s why you see them talking about well-known anime like Evangelion and FLCL, both of which happen to be excellent. Within the anime (blogging) community itself, the populist mindset tends to favor the moe\bishojo genre, but this is subverted on the outside, which I think is quite revealing (and doesn’t reflect well on the moe fans). So no, regardless of their agenda, I don’t believe Twitch is blinkered, I see their (and other outsiders) opinions as far more objective than the typical anime fan’s when it comes to discerning good from bad, and all this is mainly because my personal philosophy on this whole issue of ‘subjective taste’ is that something can be considered objectively good regardless of personal opinion, and it frustrates me to be in a community where good anime (like Monster, Mushishi, Baccano, Terra to name but a few) is continually ignored in favor of mediocre, rubbish tripe.

I suspect Twitch will get on the TTGL bandwagon with the movie release. Especially if they realise it’s screenwriter link with one of their raves, the Hidden Fortress remake – The Last Princess.
Twitch are more likely to encounter stuff once it enters their realm, Mind Game’s presence at US film festivals opened them (and a lot of other film and general animation sites) to Studio 4C. They’re approaching anime from a world cinema POV rather than an anime POV (which is why they make mistakes like posting a fan trailer as a real Evangelion 2.0 trailer and proclaiming the existance of a non-existant 20th Century Boys anime).
@bateszi: I missed My Summer with Coo – it played as part of kids film festival The Barbican was running, and I heard about it entirely by chance and too late. It was a case where they had the local council give it a certificate rather than the BBFC, as film festivals often do.
I actually expect The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to show up at a con sometime, as Bandai are likely distributing it over here too. Personally, if I were Kadokawa I would have gone after an Optimum or a Tartan for the UK so it could have got a cinema release here. Optimum have done a splendid job in the UK at getting the Ghibli stuff shown all around the country in local and arthouse cinemas, and that same audience deserves to be exposed to Hosoda’s work.

I don’t know. While I agree people who enjoy the weirder side of anime are a minority they (we? I guess I’m amongst them) are distinct enough to be noticed. I can think of four or five anime blogs that approach these things with open minds and that, at least to me, makes them stick out. The fact that they’re often well-written and stimulating again makes them more apparent from the rest of the plot summary drudge that comprises the majority of the sphere. They’re small in number but enough to satisfy me as a reader. More would be fantastic, I agree, but ultimately they’re a niche within a niche.
I think the best way to rectify this problem is to teach what you peach, which you do and I try to do. Cover the crap out of Kaiba and recommend it until you’re blue in the face (assuming it’s good). Spreading the word about these shows, like you’ve been doing since I started reading this blog, is the best way of influencing others. A die-hard otaku might be piqued enough by your argument to take a look, love what they see and blog about it. The domino effect ensues and you’ve got a sleeper hit on your hands. That’s a very rare occurrence, I know, but for it to happen it needs to start somewhere.

Kaiba does seem nice enough, but I try to avoid these types of shows if people are going to watch them for the sake of being different or original. I’m not saying you feel that way, but I do get that vibe from a lot of fans. It’s a rare occurrence to find anything truly original nowadays, and I just go with whatever I think sounds cool. What I choose to watch ranges from very popular titles (such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) to the lesser known anime that still retain the typical style of anime but suffer no loss in quality (such as any Go Nagai adaptation, like Devilman Lady).
I do find the whole otaku sub-culture frustrating, but I think I am beginning to become indifferent to them. If they want to watch rubbish and rot their brains, I let them. That just makes the anime I watch more special to me.

Sorry for being late posting this, but here’s what I have to say:
It seems that the animators behind Kaiba are working too hard. The art isn’t attractive at all.
But that’s not the problem here. The problem is with the anime industry, their inability to create consistent and cohesive storylines, their inability to create reasonabily average guys who aren’t losers and whimps (and I see more of them in adult anime), and the retarded drooling single-worded #chan fanbase who want nothing but free moe animu.

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