Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

So Now I Have to Do a Commercial For Crunchy...Yaaaaaaaaaay (I Hate My Goddamned Life.)

So in what was probably pitched as a puff piece about Boomerang, Cartoon Network's block for vintage cartoons coming back as a streaming service, the tail-end of a New York Times article gets in some digs at anime and one of it's premier streaming services.

And I think that's kind of unfair and I'll talk about in a bit but I've been around the block. Let's face it over the past few years geek fandom has lost perspective and I can totally see how a lot of grief might not be so much directed at the medium but some of the most juvenile and entitled fans.  

And it's not okay. Look I love anime, I love video games. I love science fiction. I love fantasy. I probably always will but damn it over the last few years I have to more and more divorce my love of that stuff from my hatred of the worst aspects of fandom.

And yes more and more that means standing up and saying I love all of that stuff but those guys do not represent me. I do not like them. I do not want to be one of them.

Like I said I think the New York Times article was unfair but it's unfair in the same way that thousands of other articles have been unfair to action films, science fiction, rap music, rock music, jazz music, horror, comics, children's media, and any other genre or medium that's been ever been dismissed in its time and found later to have been a central part of the cultural zeitgeist worth looking back on including our subject today animation.

And while I find it annoying it's also equally unfair to lay ALL of that baggage onto one guy's feet. Do I think blanket dismissals of genre fiction is a problem?


It keeps said fiction from being analyzed critically and keeps people who might otherwise be inclined to enjoy it or even create it from considering the possibilities that those media and genre might offer. I don't want to link to an unauthorized version but if Lindsay Ellis ever puts it up on her channel watch her review of The Host in which she talks about how the science-fiction ghetto hurts women who might be able to use that genre to say meaningful stuff. She might as well have also been talking about people of color.

That said, come on people let's have some perspective? He's a film snob. Annoying sure but not "We must troll him into submission!" annoying. Jesus. Save that bile for when the Republicans do stuff that causes people to die.

Crunchyroll is doing just fine. It doesn't need anybody to defend it. I will because since I'm broke right now I had to cancel my subscription and it's mildly bugging me that I'm missing some of this season's latest stuff and since I also canceled most of my other streaming services not having the TV I want is one of many constant nails in my brain.

But seriously is that someone on the internet doesn't like anime really that big a deal or even unexpected. I mean let's face it even beside the is it art or not media is supposed to be... fun isn't exactly the right word, joyous isn't either but positive would be it I guess. Media is supposed to be positive, a good thing at the very least.

I mean would the animators and voice actors, be cool with basically stalking a guy to defend them? Probably not. Most of them probably just wanted to bring some joy into this world and right now boy do we need it. So knock it off.

Moreover, he's right, hypocritical but right.

See most of the article is devoted to the idea that the old Tex Avery and Chuck Jones stuff, which Boomerang would probably be broadcasting should get more love. They're incredibly influential towards modern cinema but for a lot of reasons get overlooked in terms of preservation, distribution, and academic study.

And I absolutely agree with that point.

Those cartoons are right up there with Buster Keaton, The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, on creating the fundamentals of cinematic and visual comedy.

But one of the reasons why was because especially in the post-WWII era those cartoons were relegated as unimportant kid stuff and didn't get dusted off really until a new generation of animators and comedians came into their own and cited them as influences.

And I don't want to see it happen to other stuff that I like.

Again I'm not going to lay all of that at ONE guy's feet. He admits Akira's influence on action movies. And it's pretty clear he's seen and appreciates Fist of the North Star even if he's not a fan of it.

I'm also not going to pretend like EVERYTHING in my bucket is a solid gold masterpiece. Hell, not everything has to be a solid gold masterpiece to be engaging,  but you'd be surprised at how many classic movies were influenced by goofy little b-schlock stuff somebody liked in some way and decided to take further.

We don't know what's going wind up being important until long after the fact.

Which is to say that while yes there is a lot of anime that's deliberately trying to be ambitious, I'll willingly admit that most of it's not, but the same could be said for all media. As much as the bookkeepers would like to they can't tell what will wind up being a multigenerational hit or not until long after the fact and so I'm in favor of putting as much stuff out there and giving as many people and ideas opportunities as resources will allow.

And as far as television based anime goes in that regard Crunchyroll has been a god damned gold mine. One of my more innocuous gripes about anime fandom is that unless it aired in a few specific places people tend to forget about classic shows.

While not a perfect solution to that problem Crunchyroll has an exceptionally large and diverse collection which includes several classic series including Fist of the North Star which was one of the first major series to break out in North America long before the anime boom and was direct by-product of the Road Warrior who's sequel the critics were (rightly) losing their god damned minds over a few years ago.

If you really want to do a deep dive on the post-apocalypse fiction and the ideas it can convey which a lot of people are inclined to do in the wake of Fury Road being all about female objectification, Fist of the North Star is not a bad place to look when trying to figure out, "Hmm how the hell did that happen?"

Oh, and it pretty much set the template for how to do martial arts in anime. So you have it to thank for every shonen or shonenish fight scene ever. To put it another way if it's animated, came out after about 1992 and it involves a martial arts extravaganza it owes something to Fist of the North Star.

In short it is in some ways to anime fans the equiv... similar to the Tex Avery stuff that doesn't get its respect despite how influential it is to the medium.

But that's extremely close to the over-enthusiastic fanboy crying I said I didn't want to do.


Getting a hold of international television over here has always been difficult as on paper there isn't a large enough market to support ...say dramas from Korea.  Crunchyroll has dramas from Korea.  They are delivering something that's hard to find and dear god I love them for it.

Myopia of modern an... yada yada yada they have some real gems of the medium. Including the show that probably saved my life while I was substitute teaching, both the anime version and of the live action versions (get the '98 version up PLEASE.)

Baby Boomers have To Sir With Love, I have Onizuka talking a bullied nerd out of killing himself with four words. SCHOOL SHOULD BE FUN!

What was I saying? Right, oh yeah. Film snobs have Criterion to preserve old films that have gone out of print. Anime nerds have Crunchyroll. That about sums it up.

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