Friday, 9 August 2013

Mangaphobia 00: Full Metal Introduction!

Since I've failed completely to see The World's End this week, meaning that I have nothing to review, now seems a pretty good time to launch my long-gestating new blog series:

I once asked a friend how Full Metal Alchemist and Full Metal Panic! were related. Her pitying look and condescending answer are forever burned onto my brain. Apparently they're not related at all (except for both stealing the same Kubrick title for some reason) and I'm a colossal idiot for ever assuming they were. That's just one of many times that I thought, yeah, this anime stuff just isn't for me.

Anyone who has ever known me will know that - barring a brief period of insanity where I, like everyone else, was obsessed with Pokémon (note: the G1 games still rule) - I have always disliked anime. I've tried, honestly, but it's just never clicked.
I've never understood what people see in it. This despite the fact that every point in my life has included someone telling me how great it is. Kids at school obsessed with Dragon Ball Z; tutors at uni obsessed with Studio Ghibli; housemates obsessed with pretty much all of it. A few of my friends are even that specific breed of Japanophile who devote themselves entirely to "cosplay" (formerly known as "dressing up"), pocky (the world's least exciting biscuit) and collecting unbelievably creepy, unbelievably expensive vinyl dolls.

Despite this, or possibly because of it, I've become increasingly dismissive of the whole affair. I now actively avoid the stuff, and get snarky whenever it comes up in conversation. I realise that I'm generalising - that I'm not giving it a chance - and that I'm likely depriving myself of some legitamately good films and shows. I also realise that I'm being an arsehole. But I can't help it! At a certain point, I'd just had enough.
Enough of seeing the same few generic faces, distinguished only by their hair. Enough of hearing the same few voices, usually so screechy and irritating. Enough of seeing the same few recycled plots, be they robots or harems or schools or all three. Enough of the meaningless titles that are just a mashup of random English words. Enough of the character-design choices, and all of the other choices, made simply to appeal to teenage perverts. Enough of the "mature" subject matter, somehow handled with even less maturity than Torchwood. Enough of the animation tricks and cheats to keep costs down. Enough of the jerky, ugly, 8fps framerates. And, seriously, enough of the smug assumption that it's somehow automatically better than western cartoons.

Do you see? Do you see how dismissive and judgemental I've become? I don't want to be this person, but it's already wormed its way into my self-identity!
But, recently, a funny thing happened: I watched Cowboy Bebop. And I liked it.
That show is a glowing beacon of hope for me. Proof that I actually can enjoy anime - that I don't automatically prejudge it. While my mind clearly isn't open, it's not fully closed! I can overcome my discrimination!
But I can't do it alone.

Mangaphobia is a series of blog posts, starting with this one, which will (hopefully) track my journey and (hopefully) growth as I give anime a second chance and explore what it has to offer. The plan is to look at one anime, either a film or part of a show, each episode. Some may be short breakdowns, others might warrent deeper investigations, but I promise to keep my prejudiced little mind as open as I can either way. There won't be a strict schedule - it won't be weekly or monthly - so these will just get posted whenever they're ready.
First up, some time in the coming weeks, will be the aforementioned Cowboy Bebop. Then I'm planning to revisit Evangelion, a series with which I have a long, bipolar history. Beyond that, though, I have no idea. My knowledge of anime is limited, small-minded, and out of date. I'm kind of flailing in the dark, here!

That's where you come in.
Lets make this baby interactive! In the comments of this post, and of other episodes of Mangaphobia, I would really appreciate any suggestions people have for me to watch next. Some (most) of my readers probably have much more experience with this stuff than I do, and any input would be really really helpful.

That's the end of this Full Metal Neon Introduction Complex, but Mangaphobia will return soon with a look at Cowboy Bebop.
Until then, please please please comment below. Let me know which Ghibli movie I should try first; which series really speaks to you; and what's your favourite hentai. Except not that last one.
Help me to expand my horizons and become a better human being!