TheRaptorFence is a philosophy graduate from California with a love of the arts, cycling, and kittens. Oh, and he's deathly afraid of velociraptors.
Junior Contributor II
Audience Agency in Postmodern Television
Audience agency refers to the act and quantity of which the audience of a particular art piece attempt connection with both the artistic piece and its artist. In this case, examine the audience agency in regards to postmodern television. Examine cases such as television series being renewed through audience engagement, or a television series that changed plotlines or characters because of audience approval/disapproval. Discuss whether this degree of agency is good for the future of television or not.
Anime as an Art Form: Baccano!
Part of a running series of examples of anime as an art form. Previous articles have established that anime has the ability to produce art; the question then becomes what sort of anime can be constituted as artistic. Baccano! is an artistic anime for a myriad of reasons. Its use of of neo-noir narrative techniques and editing helps build mystery while simultaneously creating a personality in the show that fits its title of "ruckus." Rather than creating confusion, it serves to weave its own meta-narrative of the events of a group of immortals over four major time periods. This becomes no small feat as almost two dozen characters are introduced in the show, often sharing time periods and plot-lines. Throughout all this, the editing serves to maintain control over the situation, dishing out information in small doses rather than large portions. This creates a sort of logic puzzle where the beginning and end of the narratives for the majority of the characters are known early on, and the remaining episodes are how the actions of the characters lead to their inevitable conclusions. Because of this, Baccano! succeeds in developing a narrative much to the effect of Guy Richie’s "Snatch" or Quentin Tarantino’s filmography.
Tropes of Anime: How Anime Can Transcend From Entertainment To Art
In this second part of a series on anime as an art form, the other side of the coin is examined. Whereas the first part focused on criticisms by Western viewers of anime that were either invalid or unsound, the second part focuses on the criticisms of anime tropes. While tropes themselves are not inherently bad, they can often lead to lazy writing or storyboarding; if anime is to be considered a true art form, it must transcend past entertainment tropes to become artworks.
Many anime tropes are products of an entertainment industry interested in churning out content for the bottom barrel. Tropes such as bland and overpowered protagonists or wish fulfillment are aimed at younger audiences, while tropes such as bad pacing or empty monologues exist due to the stipulations by production and television companies. Care is given not to examine tropes that are cultural in nature (such as Japanese characterization), but facial expressions and their lack of subtlety does hinder the ability for art to resist rationalization, and therefore is included. While the list is not comprehensive, it does help point new viewers in a direction as to what makes good anime and what makes bad anime, and therefore how to discern what shows to watch if they wish to watch anime that are artworks rather than art objects.
The Objections to Anime as an Art Form
Japanese animation gets a lot of flak from traditional Western culture. Words like "immature," "titillating," and "weird" get thrown around a lot by pundits. To be fair, like most art forms there is Japanese animation that is remarkably good and Japanese animation that is remarkably bad-and there is a lot more bad out there than good. However, if anime exists as an art form, then it should follow that anime artworks could potentially exist. If that is the case, then anime should be taken seriously as a school of art, even if not all that it produces is truly serious.
Heidegger states that an artwork must resist rationalization; that is, the impression that the artistic piece gives must requiring a mental or emotional unpacking. It cannot be two-dimensional. If it does not do these things, it moves from being an artwork to an art piece.
Using this definition of art, this article is the first of a series that attempts to pinpoint what makes anime an art form, how anime can achieve artistic purpose, and current animated television shows that can be classified as artwork. In this first part, objections to anime as an art form are defined and explored. In particular, the objections that anime is immature, weird, titillating, shallow, or just plain off are all examined. As these arguments are based in traditional Western beliefs, all of them fall suspect to cultural bias. Furthermore, all of them lack a nuanced understanding of what makes anime-and to a larger extent, all animation-a medium of art. While specific counters are not made to these objections, the article sets the stage for later counter-arguments in the form of specific anime television shows.