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Post Reply "We Have Accepted Mediocrity"
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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/10/18
I'm finding it rather ironic reading a lot of the comments here, knowing that many of the same people who're saying that anime isn't mediocre in general and cite as proof some excellent animes recently made (a subjective opinion which one may or may not agree with), might very well be same people who at other times can be found complaining about tropes, or an anime written to a checklist. THAT is mediocrity. And there are a surprising amount of people who don't really care about tropes, checklist animes, plot holes and open endings, 2D characters, etc. out there. Then there is issue of fanservice (not to be confused with ecchi) which is becoming ever increasingly present in just about every genre because sex sells, though it rarely is done in such a manner as to actually add something meaningful to the story.

None of these elements in and of themselves necessarily make an anime mediocre, with perhaps the exception of plot holes and open ending, but depend on how they're handled and context. However it takes a certain amount of skill and story sense to do tropes well for example. A good reason for doing a checklist anime could be a parody.

But I agree with what some other people have written, that some times an anime is enjoyable exactly because it isn't trying to be more than it is. And I don't want more. But the important point there, IMO, is for those who make anime to stay focused on the basics and not try satisfy too many demographics. If they do an adventure anime, well then focus on that, and not feel the need to add a whole lot of fanservice, romance, harem, and I don't know what else into the mix. But that's just me wanting more good adventure animes, both sci-fi and fantasy.
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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/10/18

nDroae wrote:


ronchester44 wrote:
(...)this view is entirely subjective and should be taken objectively as Digibro (as always) is claiming he is the only sensible person in this scenario, he isn't, this is a matter of perception and individual taste

Digibro: "'OBJECTIVELY GOOD' DOESN'T FUCKING EXIST" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roxzqaq0IMs


I'll be honest; I couldn't force myself to sit through the video after seeing a minute or so of... whatever point Digibro was trying to make at the beginning. But I assume the entire point of the video is to say "nothing is objectively good, get over yourselves" and that your posting it is to suggest "Digi is aware that his opinion is not objective fact".

Unfortunately, him posting this video does little to change the fact that he literally said "The 80s was, in fact, the greatest decade in anime history" and insists that certain series are "good" and others are not, failing to provide any kind of reasoning other than "lol its bad get a grip".
EDIT: This isn't to say he doesn't provide any reasoning for any claim that certain series are/are not "good", just that there are several instances where he doesn't. Just to preempt that response.



soulsinferno wrote:


DevinKuska wrote:

#5 The author erroneously thinks the anime gives a f**k what he thinks as a non Japanese consumer.


Exactly this, us American's are ignored so those elitists anime reviewers on YouTube needs to seriously know their damn place.

Where we clearly come in right now is when we support CR co-productions by paying to watch them here. /forumtopic-1009327/anime-co-producedproduced-by-crunchyroll Some of these are widely considered to be excellent, while others are considered trash. Accepting, watching and supporting the "bad" ones is "accepting mediocrity."


Firstly, even if we were to influence Crunchyroll enough to force them to stop supporting "mediocre" shows, this wouldn't begin to stem the vast torrent of other "mediocre" shows coming directly from Japan. In fact, some of the shows that Crunchyroll turn down could very well get funding elsewhere, which might only serve to reduce the impact CR has on the industry. I'm by no means saying "WATCH ALL OF CR'S CO-PRODUCTIONS" because that's absurd, and I do agree that people need to stop supporting shows that they believe to be "mediocre" (I mean, that's essentially Capitalism 101), but suggesting that we have any significant impact on the market is a bit much. I have a bit more to say, but there's a comment below that makes pretty much the same point (as well as saying a little more), so I'll leave that here.


Cobaltseas wrote:

I'm finding it rather ironic reading a lot of the comments here, knowing that many of the same people who're saying that anime isn't mediocre in general and cite as proof some excellent animes recently made (a subjective opinion which one may or may not agree with), might very well be same people who at other times can be found complaining about tropes, or an anime written to a checklist. THAT is mediocrity. And there are a surprising amount of people who don't really care about tropes, checklist animes, plot holes and open endings, 2D characters, etc. out there.


OK, so, before we get into this, I have to make a distinction here. When we're saying "mediocre", do we mean "average-ish" or "significantly below average"? The word gets used for both and this seems like a pretty important thing to decide on. If it's the first, then I don't even see the problem here. Accepting "average-ish" shows as standard seems perfectly reasonable. "Average" is precisely what most shows should be. It's pretty much the definition of "average". Even if we were to shun "average" shows, this would only over time result in us setting a new standard for "average", and so we'd be back where we started. So I'm making the below response assuming that "mediocre" means "significantly below average". With all that said, here's my response to the above quote:

And...? So to those people these qualities don't define "mediocrity". I fail to see how this proves that anyone is "accepting mediocrity". I, for one, see New Game as a mediocre show (for the record, there's no particular reason I singled this one out, it's just the first I thought of). I have friends that disagree. Does the fact that said friends watch New Game happily mean either of us are "accepting mediocrity"? No. They don't view it as mediocrity, while I refuse to watch it purely because it's mediocre. You, and a bunch of other commenters in this thread, seem to be ignoring the fact that mediocrity itself is subjective. For us to be "accepting mediocrity", we would have to both view a show as mediocre ourselves and then proceed to "accept" it (which in this context quite clearly means "watch happily"). Now, if anyone does do this then they are most certainly deserving of criticism because that's an absolutely ridiculous thing to suggest. However, I do not believe that the majority of anime fans are doing this.

All that said, I do somewhat agree that I'd like to see a few more risks taken in the industry and there are certainly a tonne of unimpressive shows each season. However, the former point was inevitably going to emerge as anime cemented itself as a profitable venture because, let's face it, there's very little reason for a business to take a gamble on an innovative original series when you can pump out an adaptation of a product with an existing fanbase, while the latter point is completely irrelevant to anything as it's personal opinion and there are people out there who enjoy it.

Also, I'm not even convinced this is an anime issue. As I alluded to above, most anime nowadays is an adaptation of some other product (light novel, manga, game, whatever), with the majority of those coming from light novels or manga. If we're to assume that the anime fandom is "accepting mediocrity" as a whole, then what does that say of people reading the original light novels/manga on which most adaptations are based? Are they also "accepting mediocrity"? If so, then why are we even entertaining this anime-centric argument?
nDroae 
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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/12/18
@Noerdic As I recall, at the end of the "objectively good" video he says that when we say "objective" we really mean "consensus," and says he wants to change the consensus (as some argue he did with SAO). I guess that's why he always forcefully talks as though his POV is objective fact.

I think one of the other quotes I posted agrees with your point that the tide of low-quality anime can't be stopped: "Rather than pay more for production, the producers on the Production Committees are using the money to make more shows." Here's a particularly cynical view which I don't agree with: https://youtu.be/tgk-6h2M8mw?t=5m9s
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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/10/18
There is definetly saturation of safe bets like "cute girls doing cute things", "handsome boys run a bar", highschool settings, idols (male and female) and run of the mill light novel based stuff. Basically the scene is being dominated by comedy, romance and slice of life geared towards a few niche demographics with focus on selling merchandise/games/whatever. Adventure/scifi stuff is lately very low budget and unoriginal. It's even difficult to find anime where the entire cast isn't mostly one gender only. I'm not saying those are bad; as anything, they can be very well executed. It's just tiring though and those themes can only go so far.

However, there is something that I believe is going to change the landscape: Netflix. They're betting hard on anime lately, they know there is a big untapped market, and I'm pretty sure they'll be able to continue bandwagoning japanese animation studios into making shows that cater to wider audiences and western tastes. They've already started and they're absolutely destroying it with stuff like Devilman Crybaby. Competition with western studios going at it(see Castlevania) and the obvious international success of japanese stuff produced by Netflix should start turning some heads from investors pretty quickly.
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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/11/18
Stripping away the drama. The point is that way too many anime are being made. There's no way animator can be paid worth a damn, compared to that amount of work. And while there aren't any anime that literally no one likes, aiming for increasingly tiny niches is maybe not a good idea.
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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/10/18
It is probably somewhat of a misuse but I feel Pareto distribution may apply to anime, as well as other visual media.
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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/10/18
Still it's anime, not global warming or rising sea levels; if it becomes garbage and mediocre just like the gaming industry then oh well not a real loss to the overall future of man kind. Yeah SAO style VR may take a hit but I think we can move on.

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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/10/18


You don't have to apologize for asking me to explain. If I want people to listen to me, it's my job to make myself clear, and it's fair to ask for clarification.

Unfortunately, I'm too tired to give more than a cursory explanation today. In referring to Digibro's naive use of individual intent, I meant that, in his quick history of anime, he talks as if every development was carried out purposefully by the community. He lines up the parts of his narrative as if all of it was intended, when in fact no one set out to make anime mediocre. No one set out to create a golden age, either. All these are projections of our present understanding into the past - which is just one of the ways his analysis fails to understand how history works.

As for the unabridged version of what I wrote, I didn't finish entirely, and I kinda stopped when I realized people here wouldn't be able to handle what I was saying. But after nDroae shared with us another of Digibro's videos, "OBJECTIVELY GOOD DOESN'T FUCKING EXIST" - which is captioned, "The maddest you will ever see someone get about the concept of objective criticism; [sic] and hopefully the last that needs to be said on the subject after dropping the mic so hard that it broke into pieces" - I may have to reconsider posting what I wrote. Perhaps this fellow did indeed max out the human ability to feel anger, which admittedly is tangentially impressive ... So I was able to stand about seven minutes of the video; I stopped around when he introduced his strawman about the origin of the good. Digibro is just not educated; I mean, he's able to play intellectual connect-the-dots, but he doesn't know how to think cogently on his own. There's a reason humans started educating themselves and constructed a division of intellectual labor - and I don't like when people claim to be authorities on things they know little about. And in this case, the trope that taste in art is subjective is on my hate list. So for now I'll just repost what I wrote on a different thread earlier this year:


auroraloose wrote:


HOOfan_1 wrote:
You see, the way opinions work, is that there is no wrong or right.

[...]

If you like it that's just fine, but what's the point of expecting everyone else to feel the same way you do?


I'm about to blather a lot, because I feel like what you said warrants a response. Though this is probably more a response to the notion that taste is subjective and everyone has sh*t taste. Basically, I think you're right to an extent, but your last statement is wrong. And you've hit on something I've been thinking about for a while:

First, I don't think you're really talking about opinions; the better word to use would be sentiments, or feelings. We like what we like, but while the space of possible things it's acceptable to like is enormous, there are forces (both environmental and innate) that produce and shape our feelings. Literary criticism is powerful because it analyzes those forces - which determine what art does to us - in addition to what the art itself is like. That makes it possible to talk about what an anime is doing to people independent of whether we like it or not.

From this perspective, it's not entirely consistent to ask whether an anime lived up to its hype: for whether or not I like it is independent of what it did to the other people watching. If it doesn't do the same things to me that it did to other people, that shouldn't be surprising at all - people are different. For them the anime is great; for me it's not. So you're right to say it's okay that FLCL just didn't appeal to you.

But whatever caused the hype objectively exists, and thus can be discovered and analyzed: there's some reason other people liked it and you didn't. And it's that reason we should look at when we consider whether it's good for people to like the anime. Sure, people can like what they want, but that doesn't mean those likes should be encouraged. How we behave affects society, even at the relatively unimportant level of the anime world. This is what makes your last statement wrong. There are things that we as humans believe are good, like the Mona Lisa or Dostoyevsky's novels. We have good reasons to value these much more highly than fingerpainting by kindergarteners or the Twilight series, and while people can like whatever they want to like, those reasons means it's better for them to prefer the Mona Lisa to fingerpainting (and, with apologies to Da Vinci, it's even better for them to prefer Dostoyevsky to Twilight).

I don't really care enough about FLCL to defend it (though I do think it's amazing), and I don't think you're really attacking it, either - you've acknowledged what FLCL does for people. (I think RedRockRun was a little too excited to defend FLCL). But there are good reasons to advocate for (and against) certain anime, as for any art, or really anything at all: these things can make us better or worse people. There are reasons to be worried that people don't appreciate complexity or nuance, so in that sense defending FLCL makes sense. But you're not attacking either of those things in saying you don't like FLCL; you're just saying it struck you as too wild for you to bother with the nuance, and that makes perfect sense. But to me, The Ancient Magus' Bride is really irksome: it's lauded as something deep when it actually possesses no depth. If people like it, fine, but holding it up as representative of something deep and good lowers our standards and crowds out space for things that are truly good. So I don't like what it's doing to people.

Since I love whenever I can bring up Kierkegaard in an anime discussion (the best anime all draw from Kierkegaard), the problem with stopping at the acknowledgment that we can like whatever we like - all our feelings are equal - is that our lives aren't contained entirely in our heads. Only a dilettante critic would come up with the evolution gigguk describes in the video I linked above; he never escapes Kierkegaard's aesthetic stage, in which we look at life's troubles and complexity and decide we're just going to focus on getting the best for ourselves out of it. But what we like and do affects both our lives and the lives of others. With the incredible success of individualism and capitalism, we have a tendency these days to think of ourselves as isolated consumers whose consumption choices are inconsequential and have no effect on us. This just isn't true, and that's why we should care about how people feel about things. Art affects our lives, and bad art can make our lives worse.


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Posted 4/10/18 , edited 4/12/18

Noerdic wrote:

You, and a bunch of other commenters in this thread, seem to be ignoring the fact that mediocrity itself is subjective. For us to be "accepting mediocrity", we would have to both view a show as mediocre ourselves and then proceed to "accept" it (which in this context quite clearly means "watch happily"). Now, if anyone does do this then they are most certainly deserving of criticism because that's an absolutely ridiculous thing to suggest. However, I do not believe that the majority of anime fans are doing this.



Mmm, just saying "____ is subjective" isn't really an argument as much as it is a thought-wrench we've been conditioned to accept as legitimate. I think this is why people seem to think taste is subjective: they've heard it enough times, and the sentiment is sufficiently individualistic for members of late-capitalist society that it serves our purposes. But no one actually functions as if such things are subjective. Anyway, it's true that people disagree on what's good or impressive, but the category of mediocrity does exist, because we find it necessary to use. Digibro gave a particular (if incoherent) definition of mediocre anime, and we can work from there to see if he's right.

I happen to think most anime is mediocre - and I suppose by saying so I have to provide my own definition, but I can do that later. But my perspective on what is to be done about it is radically different from yours: we don't have to save the world with our anime consumption. If you get enjoyment out of something mediocre, fine; mediocre products can still accomplish the goals for which they were made. I myself like multiple mediocre anime. The problem is when people act like it isn't mediocre. We all want to feel great about ourselves, which is why it seems so strange to you that anyone would accept mediocrity: if it's mediocre, and we know it, wouldn't we be dissatisfied to the point that we try for something better? The answer is no: we're all ignorant and unskilled - mediocre - in many things; most of us possess little of what we call wisdom. It's hard to accept that truth, so instead we lie to ourselves and to others about what we're like. We talk like our preferences are based in some deeper meaning, that they're great instead of mediocre. So of course most anime fans don't think of themselves as accepting mediocrity. But that lie is the thing we should hate, for it diminishes that which is truly valuable and not mediocre. So I think accepting that we happily watch mediocre shows is precisely what we need to learn to do. I'd certainly prefer that all anime had smart storytelling, shied away from needless fanservice, challenged complacency, and treated its viewers as adult, but that's never going to happen. Anime as a whole won't magically become masterful and edifying, which means the potential exists for us as a society to forget what real mastery is. I appreciate that Digibro is drawing attention to the distinction, but his rank amateurism and whiny attitude are a masquerade of real criticism, and he's making the world a worse place with it.
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To be quite honest, in my experience of watching anime personally, I'd say I do accept mediocrity. Last season, for example, I watched all of Killing Bites which, in terms of characterisation, animation and somewhat artstyle, were all pretty mediocre. Overall though, I loved every minute of it. I'm willing to accept that many of the shows I watch are pretty mediocre.

The very first anime I completed was Listen to Me Girls, I am Your Father. A show bogged down by tropey characters like Sora Takahashi, tsundere #5673, but I still loved it for it's exploration of the grieving process and how different people deal with grief and for it's humour and sentimentality. I'm not gonna be defensive about it and decry anybody for thinking it's shit, because in a lot of ways it IS shit, but that doesn't take away my enjoyment of the show and, while I do think it's necessary that we should point out when a show does things badly or push for better quality anime overall, it doesn't matter much if you enjoy a couple of mediocre anime every once and awhile. It also helps putting the truly incredible anime in perspective too, so that's a plus.
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Posted 4/11/18 , edited 4/11/18

cooldogdonnie wrote:
It also helps putting the truly incredible anime in perspective too, so that's a plus.


That's a really good way of putting it. The notion that taste is subjective doesn't free us all to like whatever we want; it chains us to the quality of whatever we happen to like, so that we can't see that some things are better than others. We come to resent criticism of what we like and praise of what we don't. It's by accepting that the category of value does indeed exist that we can appreciate art for what it is, open ourselves to the possibility of liking and appreciating new things, and experience the pleasure of finding something even better than what we liked before.
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Posted 4/11/18 , edited 4/11/18
As far as anime viewers go, I think that rather than just accept mediocrity, the majority prefer it. The popularity of SAO and Fairy Tail is what really drives this notion home for me.

SAO boasts vast popularity over its author's other work Accel World. Yet at the same time, when you dissect both anime, it's pretty blatant to see that Accel World's story has many more layers to it, its characters are troubled by more realistic and pressing issues, and the potential for character development is much greater. Yet ratings show that the majority of people choose the show that has a character who is a nerd in name only (but a generic power fantasy in substance), has one dimensional single minded villains (many of which are drooling rapists), and whose female characters (excluding the final arc) are quite underdeveloped and very frequently only exist to serve a single purpose.

Fairy Tail is a similar example. You could make the argument that Fairy Tail is somewhat of a more exploitative version of Groove Adventure Rave. By which I mean it exploits popular tropes, simple writing techniques, and visual fanservice to a much higher degree. It also significantly dumbs down its characters. Yet again, Fairy Tail is vastly more popular than Groove Adventure Rave.

If I dug deep I could unearth more examples of authors whose less original and less developed works received greater praise over works which could objectively be seen as a great improvement in writing ability.

What hurts as an anime fan is seeing the potential of anime as a medium, but also realizing that not reaching that potential is what's often more profitable. That story creators are in fact encouraged to be mediocre because past data shows that success lies in the realm of mediocrity.
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Posted 4/11/18 , edited 4/11/18

srlan23 wrote:

No, I don't think that we have accepted mediocrity. I think the exact opposite is the case and that's where the "anime used to be better" sentiment comes from.




I appreciate that sentiment. If you look at older anime, you have to REALLY look at it in the context of when it was made. Yes, back in the 80's and 90's, anime studios were given more room to be experimental and creative because they were serving a much different demographic... and that's the real meat of the issue; the demands of the consumers have changed. If there's not as much demand for inventive and creative anime, then we're not going to SEE as much of it being produced.
Consumers are demanding more and more anime which is always expensive to produce, but what's selling merch to make up the cost are cute girl moe blobs. In the 80's and 90's, what was selling? Models. Figurines. Detailed art statues... because the demographic were cynical and repressed Japanese men looking for a visceral escape from their workaday single lives. Gory adult-themed anime was the norm because otaku men were the demographic they were catering to... misfits from Japanese society that needed an escape. Now that anime is more family-friendly, anime merch is on the backpacks of children and teenagers. The audience--and consumers--have changed.
Moreover, I'd like to point out something.
Back in the 'good old days of anime', there were a LOT of things that would just happen for no discernable reason. Almost nothing was researched. Writers could just make up any old crap and as long as it looked awesome, nobody would care. Seriously, does nobody remember in Vampire Hunter D--often referred to as a 'classic' anime--when the talking hand just ate dirt for no reason and spent a good minute doing so? No explanation. A talking, sentient demon hand. Eating dirt. No reason. Is that good writing? No... but oldtakus, me included, remember when anime DID take more risks and there was LESS of it... but you know what? Very few of the shows and movies I remember seeing actually hold up when I go back and watch them again. It's why Anime Abandon on Youtube has so much to work with... a lot of anime back then had some pretty questionable writing too. It was NOT a 'golden age', it was just when creators could get away with anything, and that's NOT going to give us 'genius' every time any more than Youtube in 2009 did.
Anime gained popularity because of its obsession with style over substance. As long as it looked awesome, who cares how utterly ridiculous and impractical it is to make bipedal giant robots for space battles? Anime is more self-conscious now. Anime writers bother to research. It's not as easy to just make giant robots fighting aliens in space and call it a day without making people cringe.
It's not that we have accepted mediocrity in anime, it's that the demands upon the anime industry are different than they were 20 years ago. There are lazily written shows and there are 'corny on purpose' shows and there are shows catering to a specific demographic that nobody outside that demographic will bother to watch... but complaining that there's 'too much' slice of life or high school drama in anime now is like complaining that there are too many giant robots in space or magical girls in anime in the 90's.
I think that the industry, in order to survive, has to go where the money is. Consumers will speak with their wallets, as they always have. When tastes change again, so will anime.
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Posted 4/11/18 , edited 4/11/18
What a silly video and thread. Mediocrity simply mean average, Take any group of things and judge them by any criteria you like and there will be an average.
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Posted 4/11/18 , edited 4/11/18

KayJ_artypants wrote:
Now that anime is more family-friendly, anime merch is on the backpacks of children and teenagers. The audience--and consumers--have changed.
I kinda disagree with this, anime has always had the family friendly side to it (which honestly hasn't changed since the 60's - 70's). There are still mech / mahou shoujo shows, its just that they are shows aimed at little kids. And anime doesn't air during the day time like it used to in 80's - 90's, so alot these "family friendly" shows nowadays,like SoL, are only ever watched by otakus. It just that the otaku demographic and what they want has changed. But the older crowd still exists and thats why we have been seeing alot of remakes / adaptations of older manga; they just aren't driving force, unlike the single, new job, 20-something otaku with cash to spare. I don't really care for most ikemen / yaoi anime but the fujoshi are big spenders, this is because more females are entering the work force so they have extra money to spend on stuff they want, like hot anime dudes
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