Do You Need Great Animation In Your Anime?

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It might seem odd to question whether anime should be well animated but with Evangelion coming out on Netflix it has reopened a lot of the discussion around its status as a great anime. While there are plenty of complaints and comments about the story and characters (there are also plenty of people praising the exact same elements) one of the regular points raised as a means of reducing Evangelion’s status is the animation itself, or rather, the lack of animation in a lot of scenes.

Certainly there were a lot of interesting choices in the direction of Evangelion and a lot of these can be identified as a means of saving money or time. Ultimately, while some of the fighting sequences might be very well animated by and large you would have to agree that the animation in Evangelion isn’t exactly the benchmark for good quality. Not with so many almost entirely still shots or panning sequences over still images as well as reused animations.

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But for me that doesn’t actually take anything away from Evangelion as a classic work. For me it has always been the story and ideas with Evangelion that have appealed and I actually like a lot of those weird lingering elevator sequences that nicely contrast the characters and show their current relationship with barely any words or movements at all. While it isn’t a style I’d like all anime to take on, for the weird and wonderful work that is Evangelion it kind of fits.

Then again, when I think about myself as an anime fan, while I’ll notice particularly good animation or direction and I’ll comment on particularly poor efforts of the same, generally speaking the animation isn’t what I’m looking for in an anime. And that just sounds wrong, but for me the appeal of anime are the stories being told and the characters we’re introduced to. If it manages to look really pretty while doing it that can certainly elevate something that is fairly average to being more enjoyable but it won’t compensate if the story isn’t interesting in the first place.

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I’m probably going to get some criticism for this but I didn’t manage to finish Violet Evergarden. In fact, I didn’t make it beyond the third episode. I didn’t get to the end of the third episode. Episode one did nothing for me but because so many rave reviews had come out I gave myself a break and then tried it again, this time with a friend. We watched the first episode, shrugged and pushed into the second. Mid-way through the third we just kind of turned to each other and said, ‘want to watch something else?’.

Great animation just wasn’t enough.

Violet Evergarden has great animation - beautiful to look at, but is that enough?

Now Violet Evergarden is a good anime. By a lot of people’s standards it is a great anime. Even though I didn’t like it very much I will absolutely confirm that the animation is truly fluid and beautiful and the direction is lovely. But none of that made me want to keep watching it when I felt no reason to care about the main character two and a half-episodes in.



Similarly I did watch and enjoyed both Kenja no Mago and Midnight Occult Civil Servants when they aired. Neither of these are particularly well animated. Actually you could argue that both are pretty rough looking with a lot of off-model character shots and way too many scenes with characters standing or sitting very still with practically no animation at all. Throw in the fact that Midnight Occult Civil Servants is also pretty dark and dull to look at and we are not talking about two anime that could be praised for their efforts in visuals, direction or animation.

grandchild12b
I don’t know what this was supposed to be but it is ugly. It was worse animated.

Now in an ideal world we could have it all. We could have stories we enjoy, with characters we care about, while the visuals and animation blow us away with their polish and shine. Unfortunately we don’t live in that world and considering the speed at which anime episodes are made it seems unlikely we’ll ever really live in a world where every show aims for excellence.

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That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t enjoy what we get in the meantime.

I know for some viewers an anime not having good animation is a deal breaker. I recently read a review where someone dropped a show after multiple issues with the shot composition and perspectives. And there’s no problem with someone doing that. Because we’re all watching anime to be entertained and if poor animation makes something painful for you to watch then you aren’t going to be very entertained.

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Then again, I have a high tolerance for poor visuals given my background in B grade horror movies. So many terrible monster costumes and over the last decade or so we’ve moved to terrible green-screen or terrible CG. Ultimately how bad it looks mostly just adds to the laugh factor in these kinds of stories. So coming from that background, an anime where the characters seem like they are walking impossibly slowly, where their head swivels in a way that isn’t possible, or even an anime that just kind of pans over still images during large chunks of its fight sequences isn’t going to put me off.

Admittedly, it probably won’t be making a list of my very favourite anime any time soon but I’ll still probably watch it an enjoy it.

Attack on Titan - Season 3 - Episode 2 - Levi

Over to you though: Do you need great animation in your anime?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Contrary To The Title (Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon), The Girls Seem To Be Doing the Picking

Girls DanMachi

Maybe that’s why it is called “Is It Wrong to TRY to pick up Girls In A Dungeon?”

Three seasons in and so far our protagonist Bell Cranel has managed to assemble himself quite the harem – even if he’s more or less acting oblivious to the attention of the girls around him. With the exception of Welf (his trusty blacksmith) and the occasional attention from male gods, almost every character who really interacts with Bell on any kind of regular basis is female.

Not bad for a character who in early episodes couldn’t even speak around his hero, Ais Wallenstein. However, realistically Bell didn’t actually pick any of these girls up. Almost all (outside of Haruhime who was rescued in season 2) most definitely went out of their way to pick Bell up.

How many characters try to pick up Bell in Is It Wrong To Try to pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

Starting from his goddess, Bell has been the one getting picked up. In Hestia’s case, it was more like she came across a discarded kitten and took a liking to him. We find out that Hestia set her sights on Bell when she saw him getting rejected from joining other familia’s on arriving in the city. Hestia, being something of an outcast herself, empathised with his plight and reached out to him, making him the starting point of her familia.

Of course she also aggressively pursues a more romantic relationship despite Bell’s frequent protests that she’s his goddess. But Hestia isn’t the only goddess in Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon who has her eyes on Bell as Freya has been watching over Bell’s growth since his arrival in the city.

Hestia reiterates her goal of having Bell in her familia - DanMachi
Hestia knows that with Bell you have got to be direct.

When you throw Apollo’s unwanted attention in season 2 and Hermes ongoing surveillance into the mix, you do have to wonder just what it is about Bell that is getting all these celestial beings so interested and there’s definitely a few points in his favour that Hermes reveals in dribs and drabs as the story progresses.

However Bell’s popularity isn’t limited to the divine.



After saving his life in the dungeon, Ais takes an interest in the white haired adventurer.

Whether it is seeking him out to apologise, teaching him to fight, or helping out when Bell’s goddess is kidnapped, for someone from a familia that isn’t exactly on friendly terms with Bell’s goddess, Ais finds a lot of reasons to stick around. Even in season 3, where certain choices drive a wedge between Ais and Bell, ultimately the power of being the protagonist kicks back in. But again, it is Ais reaching out to Bell.

Despite Bell’s clear infatuation with Ais, he sees himself as too far beneath her to actually make any kind of move. He certainly isn’t trying to pick her up. Just being in the same vicinity as her is kind of enough for him.

Then we have Lili, the tsundere supporter who joins Bell early on his adventures into the dungeon. Again, she approached him. She offered her services as a supporter and to accompany him, and she did so with the absolute desire to rip him off and ultimately leave him for dead in the dungeon. While Bell being a genuinely nice human being, and a little bit of a sucker, ultimately won her over, Lili is again the one making all the approaches.

Lili and Hestia exchanging words - not an uncommon event - DanMachi
Lili knows you most definitely have to speak your mind.

Syr as well at first approaches Bell with some reasonably underhanded motives. Working at the tavern she approaches Bell to get a promise that he’ll dine there (bringing money to the business). She later uses him to help with chores around the business. While Syr does genuinely seem to like Bell, making him lunch baskets and taking him with her as she visits places that are important to her, Syr is most definitely calling the shots.



Throw in Eina from the guild, Mikoto, Lyon, and an overzealous Amazon and Bell’s got every type of girl hanging around him and perfectly happy to risk their life if he needs it.

Which kind of makes you wonder just what is going on here. I mean, Bell is cute and all but the sheer amount of female attention is a little crazy.

Bell being attacked by an Amazon - Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon
Not just one goddess – this is the kind of attention Bell doesn’t need.

Then again, it is all kind of business as usual for a male power fantasy story. Bell’s on a quest to become stronger and in the process he, in some way or another, saves the characters around him. Some of them he saves from physical harm but a lot of them he is saving simply by being a decent human being. Though, where DanMachi moves away from standard power fantasy is in Bell’s basic appearance and physique, even his mannerisms. This is not Ichigo who will call someone out on their BS (Bleach) but rather a protagonist who seems relatively cute and harmless – just don’t pick a fight with his familia.

Whether they are infatuated with his drive, his growth, his power, his bashfulness, or his genuinely polite demeaner, each of the girls has a reason for hanging around. Individually they are all reasonable enough though it is the excessive number that pushes this into the realm of fantasy and the sense that this is all just escapism. A sense that is only reinforced by numerous sequences of the main female cast bathing, including a hot-springs in the dungeon sequence.

The DanMachi girls having a bath - pure fanservice
Yep, episode 1 of season 3 and they hit the fanservice button – definitely back into DanMachi.

While Bell initially wanted to meet a girl in the dungeon, and did in fact meet Ais in the dungeon, he isn’t really trying to pick them up. He doesn’t need to. Although, he does not have a really big mansion with lots of spare rooms. I wonder how big his harem might get before the story draws to a close.

Images used in article from:

  • Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III. Dir. H. Tachibana. J. C. Staff. 2020.
  • DanMachi 2nd Season. Dir. T Hideki. J.C. Staff. 2019.
  • DanMachi. Dir. Y Yamakawa. J.C. Staff. 2015.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


What Crunchyroll’s Most Popular Anime List Reveals About Fans

Crunchyroll reveal

I’m still shocked that My Hero Academia is no longer the global darling.

If you haven’t yet checked out the article on Crunchyroll or seen the infographics on about a dozen other blogs, here’s the link. Now assuming everyone has had a scroll through it let’s take a look at what this tells us about the most popular (or at least the most watched on Crunchyroll) anime from 2020.

Dissecting Crunchyroll’s Most Popular Anime List

Firstly, just from looking at the colours, it became clear that My Hero Academia’s strangle hold on the community has finally left after four seasons. That isn’t to say people aren’t still watching it, and given it is still the most watched show in a number of regions it is still pretty popular, but really the universal shine it used to have has kind of come down a bit. I would suggest that this demonstrates some fickleness in the community, but really Boruto, Black Clover, Attack on Titan, and Re:Zero are all either returning or long running anime.

Observation: Despite anime fans being seemingly fickle, their is some fierce loyalty to well known franchises.



Now the summation of how many countries each anime topped is available at the end of Cruncyroll’s article. However, it should be noted that Black Clover (87 countries) and Jujutsu Kaisen (71 countries) very much eclipsed even their next closest rival which was Boruto (only topping 32 countries). Colour me surprises given I dumped Black Clover early on and to be honest, even seeing this massive popular support isn’t enough to convince me it is worth going back and listening to Asta screeching. However, Black Clover has a hold on quite a selection of Europe and shares popularity with Jujutsu Kaisen in the Middle East and Africa.

Full disclosure, I haven’t watched any of Jujutsu Kaisen yet. It’s been firmly recommended to me as an anime I need to catch from 2020, but as it hasn’t finished airing yet, I’m leaving it on hold for the time being. So all I really have to go on is the genre tags and surprise-surprise both Jujutsu Kaisen and Black Clover are tagged as shounen and action anime. Black Clover has an additional fantasy and magic tag whereas Jujutsu Kaisen has the supernatural and school tags associated with it.

Looking at all the anime that made the list, the only one that didn’t get tagged as action is Re:Zero with shounen turning up in 5 of 9 titles and fantasy/supernatural/superpower turning up in 8 of the 9 (no idea about Onyx Equinox).

Observation: Despite the sheer range of anime genres and the apparent increase in diversity amongst anime fans, the mainstream anime watcher is still into shounen.

Crunchyroll's most popular anime list

This shouldn’t really be surprising given shounen anime is a prolific genre giving a range of titles, the anime tend of be based on popular source material so have a pre-existing fan-base, there’s often tie-in games movies and a range of merchandise associated with them, and let’s not leave out the fact that even viewers like myself who wouldn’t list shounen in my top anime genres occasionally enjoys a good power fantasy.

Despite the jokes people might make about it as a genre, there’s a real wide ranging appeal for a lot of these titles as they have large casts, epic plots, tend to blend high powered action sequences with some occasionally solid emotional nuances and provide ongoing character development through series of progressive arcs in which the audience grows more and more attached to the cast. While someone might objectively point out there are ‘better’ stories or anime that display the range of possibilities with animation better, often the examples they will use have a very niche appeal which makes them unlikely to top a most popular in any country list.

There are some differences globally though. The Asian market being dominated by Boruto with Black Clover getting almost no love at all. Unfortunately without information such as how many viewers there are in each region or knowing what second or even third preferences were, it is hard to draw any conclusions about distinct differences with the western and eastern anime market.

Realistically, what the 2020 most popular anime information Crunchyroll has released told me was:

  1. The ‘average’ anime fan is probably still male aged 16 to early 20’s. While there are definitely more female and older anime fans making their voices heard online, the market majority seems fairly clear.
  2. Long running anime is definitely not dead. While there are plenty of anime that only run for a season or two, the long running shounen format still has a large fan following and so this format of anime is going to continue to be made.
  3. Whether it was because it was 2020 or whether this is an ongoing trend I do not know, but clearly anime fans were after an escape or power fantasy. And who can blame them? 2020 seems like the perfect time to escape reality.
  4. Despite vast cultural differences, ultimately the most popular anime were the most popular across multiple countries with only Re Zero and Onyx Equinox taking top in 1 country each. Seems anime fandom has some universals which should make us feel all nicely connected in a year where so many of us have been alone.

Go anime!

Original Article on Crunchyroll: Feature: Explore 2020’s Most Popular Anime on Crunchyroll Around the World!. Author M Thomas. Available from: https://www.crunchyroll.com/en-gb/anime-feature/2021/01/14-1/explore-2020s-most-popular-anime-on-crunchyroll-around-the-world. 2020


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


What do we owe our readers?

Host

How about our Blog?

Do we owe them anything at all???

I should mention I’m not talking about people who have patrons. That’s a different relationship and if you have patrons, you probably owe them whatever you promised on your Patreon page.

But I have often talked about the general “bloggers guilt” many people experience. After numerous conversations with my fellow bloggers, I have come to realize that a lot of us have a slight sense of unease when it comes to our blog. We feel like we’re not doing “enough” or that we should do “better”, in a sort of loosely defined way. Maybe we don’t post often enough. We don’t watch enough anime or don’t keep up with the news….

Run With The Wind Episode 3

It’s a sentiment echoed by a lot of bloggers and although it can bring on some stress, it’s also not entirely a bad thing. We feel this way because we care, and we are doing something that matters to us on some level. And usually, when we do manage to feel like we’ve lived up to our expectations, we feel proud. The flip side of the guilt is the sense of accomplishment we get from our blogs. I think the secret to not letting yourself get bogged down and demotivated is figuring out exactly what we owe our blog and/or readers. Not that I have an actual answer.

For bloggers such as myself that have no monetization at all, the easy answer would be that I don’t owe anything. I mean it’s free! That makes sense. And I fully support bloggers that feel that way. I have grown up with video games. I wired my brain to collect gold stars and pass check points. It’s silly but if I don’t set up some expectations for myself I tend to lose interest. This has been a bit of a challenge though.

bug catch

Generally I like to think of readers as guests. Like when I invite people over for an evening. I don’t actually owe them anything and I would be very off-put if they demanded better food or something (make no mistake, my friends definitely would…) But at the same time, I really want them to have a good time. I clean my place, carefully pick out a menu, plan out entertainment and refill the bar. Sometimes I run out of time so we order a pizza. Sometimes I’m super tired so the entertainment isn’t as great as it could be. But I try! And it’s the same idea with my blog.

I owe you guys something. Not because you demand it but because I want to be a good host. Now the secret is what that something is. We all have a limited amount of hours in a day, we’re not going to be able to do *everything*. A perfect, meaningful, impeccably researched and typo free post on a topic that actually interests everyone and that comes out on a regular schedule every time is impossible. Heck most of those things are beyond my reach and if I tortured myself by trying to stick to such expectations I would burn out in no time. And probably make myself miserable in the process.

depression

On the other hand I am not going to get much satisfaction out of just throwing whatever on a page because I need to post something. It’s about figuring out what I want to prioritize and why.

My first priority was my schedule. Not because I actually think schedules are that important to blogs but it’s because it’s important to me. First I simply work better on a schedule. Doing something regularly is the best way for me to stick to it and improve. Secondly, I have some ocd tendencies and as such I find rituals calming and comforting. I adapt very well to new and unpredictable situations and work great with pressure as long as there is something in my life that’s routine and predictable. That something is blogging. It’s why I created the blog in the first place, as therapy. I found my previous little rituals weren’t challenging or satisfying enough so I tried something completely out of my comfort zone and it has worked really well. However, I lose that if I don’t stick to a schedule. And therefore, I figured that would be my first deliverable. I owe you guys regular posts, and when I manage to stick to my publishing schedule I get a little thrill!

Assassination

The second thing I arbitrarily decided to owe you was candour and open mindedness. I’m not saying I always succeed but I really want to try to offer those things. Because of my lifestyle and schedule, I write on the bus. By pure practicality, this makes stream of consciousness the easiest form of writing for me. And the best part of such a structure is the feeling that you get to glimpse inside the author’s mind. I don’t mean to insinuate that there’s anything great inside there but I’m working on it.

Without candour, the best part of stream of consciousness go down the drain. I’m not yet good enough a writer to get you on pure style or the beauty of the written word so some level of sincerity is all we got to go by. And with that, are going to come differences of opinion. Unless I keep all my writing very neutral and never let my full feelings about things out, eventually someone is going to disagree. Potentially passionately. I need to be able to take things with a grain of salt. I’m still working on that one. I’m a bit of a rebel it seems. The things you learn about yourself when you start a blog…

Book of Atlantic - Undertaker

I know I am not the best writer. Some readers have pointed out typos and faulty sentence structure. And I have corrected published posts often enough to scold myself about more diligent proofreading. It’s not my forte. So instead I’ll do my best to share what I truly think even when it’s not that interesting or popular an opinion and listen to what you have to say, if you’re kind enough to say it.

For now, those are the owables I’ve chosen to concentrate on. Sure I would love to publish perfect posts. I want to pick out the best images, point out the most intriguing details. If I can I will. However, as long as I can write an sincere post on time and take in whatever comes after with good humour, I consider it a small victory. I’m probably going to add in proper post layout to the list soon. I’ll keep adding and taking out things until I get to a place where I’m proud of the posts I publish but not burned out by the effort. That’s the ultimate dream.

Do you have anything you feel you owe your blog or readers? Are there elements you prioritize?

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!