For me, a personal anime golden age is any consecutive run of 3 years in which the highest number of your favourites are gathered. 3 years may seem arbitrary, but I’ve chosen this specific range because, at least from my experience, the vast majority of anime fans tend to live and die in that time, leaving behind their lists and blogs as if time suddenly stood still, their scribblings, once filled with such joy and passion, now mere archives for the future generations of warbling young otaku to laugh at and build on, and so it continues. Anyway… before this all becomes a bit too existential, let’s crack on, shall we? Hi, I’m your local anime ghost, also known as bateszi, and here’s my personal anime golden age.
My love of anime means I spend a great deal of time watching it and a great deal of money buying it. But the price of anime can make buying it new difficult. My budget wouldn’t last long if I bought discs with 5 episodes for $30. Happily, the industry model shifted to a wallet friendly model where I can buy a season set for less than $50. Still, buying my favorite series or an anime classic used is more satisfying to me than picking up the same title new at Best Buy.
For those who aren’t aware, I’m based in the UK. Being an anime fan in England isn’t so bad, though like every country, we have to put up with the occasional scandal; and this week one such scandal has been making waves in our anime community. Basically, the BBFC have decided to censor a section of episode 8 (“Happy Family Planning”) of Paranoia Agent- and it’s not a TV broadcast that’s been cut, it’s a DVD release.
As I have the uncut DVD version of this episode to hand, I figured I would blog it and try to analyze why BBFC feel it’s dangerous for the British public to see.
Now Happy Family Planning is probably the most unsettling episode of Paranoia Agent I’ve seen so far- because not only does it depict a young girl attempting to commit suicide, it also touches on a number of other issues that we Britains are trained to fear. For one- the little girl meets her suicidal compatriots in an internet chatroom (both grown men; one is gay and the other a depressed old fogey). The British media is usually full of stories about how young children are being exposed by old perverts over the ‘net and since this episode alludes to the internet as a means of planning a young girl’s suicide (let alone the other characters involved), it immediately treds on edgy territory- a cartoon making fun of such dangerous things is a parent’s nightmare.
The episode continues and by the time we reach the now infamous attempted hanging scene (this is the section cut by the BBFC), it’s clear that Happy Family Planning is a disturbing black comedy- yes, it features responsible adults who want to die, but still, it’s a satire; an albeit close to bone comedy that really pushes the boundaries concerning the worries of a middle-class modern society.
Happy Family Planning has all of the trademarks of a Satoshi Kon anime; it’s subversive, experimental and downright brilliant, all the way through to it’s sad conclusion. The way the character’s act- all smilie faces and skipping down streets is not in tone with what you would expect of people wanting to die; it’s actually an episode full of life and humour, chillingly so. And this is probably why the BBFC decided to cut out the attempted hanging; the animation genre in the West is still one that is synomonous with young people and a sickly sweet innocence. Seeing three cartoon characters, including one child, trying to hang themselves, and laughing and joking about dying, is just too much for Britain right now. And ironically, unless in the future the BBFC let their guards down concerning these kinds of issues, we’ll never be ready either.