Prorated Thematic Stagnation

Ask someone who is 15 years old and happens to watch anime what they think about Trigun and you would probably get some variation of a blank stare or an indifferent “it’s OK” in return. I suppose the same could be said for Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, and some other 1990’s anime, but that’s not really the point of this post. Ask someone who is 25 who watches or watched anime, and they will probably give a response in the vein of fond remembrance. Ask why, and you will likely get a variety of responses, but in reality Trigun was a beneficiary of its times and lack of any notable competition. If you were able to put Trigun into a time machine and air it in today’s world, viewers may deride it as too simple minded with stale animation, etc. Yet, why do some older viewers still defend it today as a series worth watching?

As one of the aforementioned older viewers, this thought popped into my head as I watched the new Trigun movie about a month ago. While the movie does have some nicer animation than the original series, it is somewhat limited by the older character designs. Nonetheless, the movie’s plot wasn’t anything special, and aside from its length, very similar to episodic episodes in the original. Additionally, the themes presented were fairly black and white in nature and didn’t require much thought. Even though I am aware of this, I still thought it was pretty good.

Perhaps, older viewers are able to negotiate our sentimentality with our senses of logic and complex story telling. We now know that the world is full of gray, like Vash learns at the end of the series, yet we can appreciate and remember the simplicity of the past. I suppose Badlands Rumble had the same sort of arc as it concerns Amelia’s thinking at the beginning compared to the end of the movie. However, to be honest, I can no longer watch the original series in one run because I can’t sit through 13 hours of Vash’s original naive way of thinking and antics. But, I still pop in an episode here and there when I am bored, so I again asked myself why?

Maybe, shows like Trigun and Cowboy Bebop (a far better show) took their genres as far as they could go. Maybe there have been shows that aired since then that had the same general outline, feel, and themes, but we’ve seen them and done that. Yet, the generation of the 15 year old I mentioned at the beginning of the post surely (I assume) has their own Cowboy Bebop and their own Trigun that they hold near and dear (what that may be,  I don’t know.).

It is often said that a man’s favorite action movies are those from his late teens and early twenties. Maybe now I understand why some of my older coworkers seem to reference Terminator 2 like it’s the second coming of Jesus; they never saw the need to seriously consider anything else. Perhaps genres have an expiration age, and after that point, the viewer will no longer be able to enter new entries in their consciousness. I suppose this begs a few questions like what is the aforementioned age, will I soon be out of touch, and what is this generation’s Trigun or Cowboy Bebop. All good questions I suppose, but perhaps best left unanswered.

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