Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Animation Age Ghetto: The Discussion

Ever since I became a fan of the site TV Tropes, I loved finding tropes that applied to my life.  One of my favorites was called the Animation Age Ghetto.  There used to be a picture on that page of a kid who'd gotten a DVD of La Blue Girl for Christmas.  That was mostly likely the gift that kept on giving, as La Blue Girl is a Hentai anime series.  Hentai is the American word for anime that is explicit in nature.  Basically, that kid's porn stash was bigger than mine when I was seven.
I can't remember if I believed I'd still be in love with anime when I was 19 back when I was 12.  I probably did, since the shows run on Adult Swim were supposed to be for people who were 17.  If I did, it's kind of funny, since when I hit middle school I slowly started to turn my back on the world of anime since it was a niche craze that wasn't always approved by the popular kids.  This continued into my high school years, until I dated a girl who liked anime.  She was a fan of one in partiuclar, called Death Note, which I'd heard of and maybe even caught an episode of on TV.  Nevertheless, she had me watch the whole series on Youtube.

There's nothing all that flashy about Death Note, other than some of the more narm worthy scenes (search "I'll take a potato chip...and eat it" on youtube).  There aren't episode long battles between people who fly and pilot giant robots and fight off evil monsters.  There aren't even bright colors.  If I showed it to a 7 year old, they'd probably be bored...or Ryuk would scare them off.  No, Death Note is 37 episodes of psychological, philosophical, and intellectual battles set in a world that is very realistic.  There are mature discussions about the ability to save the world, and what constitutes good and evil.  Above all that, it's centered around a very interesting concept: a book that will cause the death of anyone whose name is written in it.

I'll bet a lot of people haven't seen Death Note...which is a real shame, because it tells a very interesting story, and does it without choosing sides...the viewer is left to do that on their own.  It's a story that would lend itself well to cinema (in fact there are two live action movies based around it) if it weren't so complicated and well thought out.  If it were a Hollywood movie, instead of an anime, it's almost certain that more people would have heard of it...and even more people would recognize its brilliance.  Instead, it's something that not all that many people beyond their youth will look into.

The fact that animation doesn't have to be for kids is one that always gets ignored at my house.  If a commercial for Family Guy comes on, it just doesn't mesh in my dad's head.  He always calls it "disgusting," which in turn never meshes in my head.  I can only imagine trying to argue with him about how cartoons don't have to be for kids, using a bloodier scene from well, anything, and having him respond with the circular "well, why does it have to have blood in it?"  That's kind of when you facepalm and you know you have to take another option...and it's an option it actually takes me a little while to consider.

What people have to realize is that there are freedoms in animation that do not exist in live action films and shows.  In animation, you can design your characters in a precise, overdone way that will tell your audience about them before you they get to know them.  You can do that, in turn, in a way that would look absolutely ridiculous in live action.  See Yoko for an example.  I would dare any filmmaker to put a real person in that, hair and all, and make people really believe in it.  Cosplay shows use time and time again that there are some things you just can't do with real people.  Or at least, you couldn't do it without getting strange looks from the normal people.

I used Yoko on purpose, since it brings me to another point.  If people don't think it's for kids, and this is mostly an anime thing, they think it's porn.  Believe it or not, Yoko over there is actually a pretty decent character and actually does not ever explicitly get laid ever.  It's actually kind of a feminist thing really.  Yoko should be allowed to trot around in whatever she wants and not feel like a sex object.  Just because Japan can poke fun at sexualization and still tell a good story, doesn't mean you have to call it porn.  I mean, why else would they let the Victoria's Secret fashion show go on TV?

But back to the freedoms of animation, which I really could sum up with two words: Dragonball Evolution.  I've never actually seen it, but I can imagine it's issues.  How on Earth do you make a Kamehameha wave look good in live action without it looking like a high school kid's After Effects project?  Maybe that's more of a Hollywood issue, but it's one to consider.  The bottom line is that animation is purely a sylistic choice.  This is something a storyteller knows very well, and an open mind in general can recognize the choice.  Of course, talk to an Xbox fan about the Wii's graphics and you've got a perfect example of how some people just don't get the whole "style" thing.

It's almost kind of unfortunate that the Animation Age Ghetto ends up being such a simple argument.  It's like realizing that there's really nothing wrong with being gay or that gender is a social construct that's entirely manmade.  It's one of those college-enlightenment things that has you unlearn what you've learned, and that's it.  Funny thing is, it all has to do with one simple aesop that you DID learn when you were a kid: Don't judge a book by its cover.

And seriously, try explaining this ORCHESTRA to your parents.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad someone basically destroyed the article on tvtropes and now the history of how the age ghetto was created is gone.