Do Anime Fans Hate Hollywood?
As a general rule, I tend to view anime and related fandom as being “in opposition” to mainstream pop culture in a lot of ways. Whereas our friends might be happy watching the same old action movie remake/sequel coming out of Hollywood this weekend, most otakus I know embrace anime because it’s an “alternate” cultural medium in which creators have the freedom to tell stories with more drama and emotional involvement. During the 80s, there were media watchdog groups that put pressure on production companies to make sure American animation was filled with “family values” and every exploding jet was required to show a parachute pop out at the last second, lest children learn the reality that in war, people die. One reason early fans embraced anime so strongly in the 80s and early 90s was as a protest to this way of thinking, because we wanted deep and emotional stories with cities or planets being destroyed, scenes of sacrifice and death, and the delicious high drama of “cousins with benefits.” And a few pantyshots don’t hurt either.
On the flip side, I feel funny for criticizing Hollywood for making endless sequels and remakes — 26 James Bond works, 13 Star Trek films, 12 Friday the 13th series movies — since anime is often just as guilty of milking popular shows. Some series have become as undying as any Hollywood franchise, like One Piece, with a staggering 828 episodes and 13 feature films. As an anime blogger I have to laugh whenever it’s time to roll up my sleeves and wade into the latest Monogatari series, of which there are 15 (counting each separately named broadcast and film series), or the newest series in the Fate-o-verse, which has 30+ separate anime series, films and games. (I tried to tally them all, but had to give up partway through.)
I guess it’s unavoidable that some series get extra attention from studios, who deserve to profit from their hard work. What’s important is the industry avoid repeating the same old formulas and keep on taking risks, so that we’re able to experience amazing works that are a bit off the beaten path, like AnoHana, Re:Life, or Land of the Lustrous.
So do anime fans hate Hollywood? Tell us your thoughts!
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