Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to this week’s Mail Sack segment. Before I open the inbox and begin answering questions, I will take a few moments to recall that this was another busy Saturday. This does seem to be a trend now, and today’s excursion was to the city’s fourth Japanese Omatsuri, which was conveniently in my AO. I arrived just before the opening ceremony started and was able to catch that, plus a Taiko performance. After the performances ended, I floated around the food stalls, which allowed me to enjoy Yakitori, Okonomiyaki, Gyōza and beef Donburi. In particular, I had been looking to try Okonomiyaki ever since I watched Tamayura ~Hitotose~ back in 2011, and the Okonomiyaki served at this Omatsuri was quite savoury. I’m always a fan of grilled meat, so the Yakitori also stands out, but everything was delicious in general. Once lunch concluded, I browsed around some of the stands before taking a hike along the river and then checking out the new train station in town, which leads me to where I am at present. Today’s question is from Vimitsu, and in answering the question, sends me on a short trip down memory lane.
What aspects of anime were initially attractive to you when you first became interested? In other words, what about anime made you start watching anime? —Vimitsu
There are several things that compelled me to begin watching anime and compel me to continue watching anime. The first element requires that we go way back to a time when internet speeds were measured in Kbps and the iPod Nano was just becoming the hottest new music player on the market. Back during this time, the local TV stations were playing anime, and I found a strange pull about them. I felt that anime featured vividly detailed characters compared to their Western counterparts, and these details, especially regarding facial features, meant that anime could be more expressive, whether it be subtle or dramatic. These elements made anime characters more aesthetically pleasing, and also allowed some anime to convey the emotion in a moment more exquisitely than most Western animations. The end result is a product that does not depend upon over-the-top, excessive reactions to convey a mood; one can immediately deduce how a character is feeling just by looking at them. The emphasis on facial features, especially the eyes, in anime also plays with the human predisposition towards cute things, so this also has an impact on my preference for anime characters over characters from Western animation.
- For those who have no inclination to read the thousand-word-or-so-long answer, the answer is as follows: I was pulled to anime by the details in characters and environments. I presently continue to watch anime because of its diversity, which allows me to watch anime that can pick at the brain or offer relaxation, depending on the day.
Besides the aesthetic considerations, anime also features rich artwork that is unparalleled; at the one end of the spectrum, anime art is simple and uncluttered, drawing focus to the characters’ actions. Such anime may feature minimal or washed out backgrounds. On the other end of things, anime landscapes may be so detailed and well-drawn that it appears photorealistic, giving the sense that the anime is depicting something quite real. Most anime fall in-between these two extremes, having gorgeous landscapes that really give a sense of the setting. Compared to Western animation, anime places more emphasis on stills of the landscape, and these moments (even in older anime) are remarkably detailed. It gives the sense that the user is there with the characters. Taken together, these two elements were what eventually pulled me into anime after I watched the Ah! My Goddess The Movie some eight years ago. This movie features a large number of anime tropes, and ultimately, piqued my interest in anime. Shortly after, I would pick up Gundam 00 and Azumanga Daioh, and the rest is history.
- There’s only one more week of Mail Sack left in August. I’ll be shifting to a new schedule for the Mail Sack in September, but that will be for next time. In the meantime, there’s still two weeks of break left to enjoy before classes start.
The story doesn’t end here, though; there is one more aspect about anime that has led me to continue watching it. Back during my first two undergraduate years, anime fell from my radar, as coursework and research was demanding most of my time. However, by my second year, this was catching up to me, and my performance was declining. When I picked up K-On!, the cheerful, light-hearted and fluffy mood in the series was sufficiently uplifting such that I managed to make a bit of time every week to watch it, and the healing factor K-On! conferred eventually allowed me to rescue my GPA. K-On! indicated to me the diversity of anime, and indeed, after my second year ended, I spent the summer watching anime of genres I had never seen before while breaking from research work. That summer turned out to be magical, and reignited my interests in anime, which I still maintain today. There is so much anime out there, each geared towards a different audience, that there is something for everyone. This incredible diversity also means that if one were to get bored of one genre or series, there are other genres and series to follow. At present, I can always find at least a handful of titles that catch my eye, and that is a testament to just how diverse anime is: it seems like there will never be a shortage of shows to enjoy.
Another week has elapsed, and another excellent question was presented. Next week is the last Saturday in August, and with it, the last of the weekly Mail Sack programme: I will announce then what the Mail Sack’s future is. It’s actually quite surprising to see time fly by so quickly, and in less than two weeks, the academic term will begin again. Things look to be quite busy in the future as I become accustomed to being a graduate student, so blog posts will probably slow down once term is underway. For the time being, though, I will aim to have talks about the remainder of Battlefield 4 out before the second week of September, then final impressions for every one-cour anime I’ve followed during the Summer 2014 season before Canadian Thanksgiving (which is when the Fall 2014 season starts). As well, Origin put Titanfall onto its Game Time program, offering 48 hours of game time. It’s going to be a 50 GB download and only two-sevenths of the time I had for Battlefield 4, so I’ll have to save Titanfall for a time period where I know I have two full days to myself. Of course, with TheRadBrad’s play-through clocking in at an hour and forty-seven minutes for one side, and most sources saying that each side takes two hours (for a total of four hours), I think two days would be sufficient for me to beat Titanfall, and for the present, the main question is…when do I start?