Space Dandy – Why Saving Anime is Killing it

Space-Dandy-MyauIt seems as though, at least from the perspective of someone who is slowly fading out of hardcore fandom, that each season has fewer shows that truly inspire. Instead, we get retreads of common scenarios intermixed with sequels filled with tired ideas. Of course, it seems like every season we get some new anime that will save the medium. This fall it was Kill la Kill, this winter it is going to be Space Dandy, and sometime in 2014 we will have the long awaited Sailor Moon reboot. I don’t really know what others think of Kill la Kill, but in my opinion it is mediocre, at best. That said, Space Dandy might end up as the greatest thing since sliced bread, or it could suck. It’s too soon to tell one way or the other (but I think it sucks)

And that’s the problem. What if it does? What if Sailor Moon sucks? Think of all the time and money that will be going into these series for simultaneous releases. What of the long term commitment to this series, at the expense of other series for each respective studio. Surely, us anime fans don’t need spectacle and flash when watching a series. God knows Bakemonogatari was relatively tame when it came to spectacle and flash. Azumanga Daioh and Lucky Star made addicts of all of us, and the production budgets here were comparatively small. Of course, the expectation is that these special, well backed anime, will draw in non anime fans, and act as a sort of bridge to the wider otaku world at best, and increased profits at worst.

But even should it succeed, it will not be representative of most anime out there. Do we really think that newfound anime fans will like Simoun? What of Angel Beats or Hyouka? I doubt it. Thus, the goal of making new anime fans won’t really be accomplished. We will win the battle, but lose the war.  Anime may well turn out to become a more accepted worldwide past time, but will it be our past time. Or let’s say it takes 10 years before Japan realizes these strategies are doomed to failure. In the meantime, we get less true anime in the spirit we have become accustomed to. Either way, I think we, the long time otaku, may be the ultimate losers in this.

That said, I hope Space Dandy is successful, but I doubt that it will be.



2 thoughts on “Space Dandy – Why Saving Anime is Killing it

  1. In a lot of ways, I think the saving anime narrative is misguided, because anime, as it is, is a fairly stable niche industry. The people who tend to make that a narrative also tend to be the people who spend less of their free time/money on anime, and thus influence it less to begin with. It’s harder for companies to build a consistent production strategy around customers for whom anime is only their third or fourth hobby. I’m not saying people have to break their bank accounts to be a part of the fandom, but the people who make anime are making it for the (varied) groups of people who pay for it on a regular basis.

    Admittedly, I’m biased. On a more personal level, I’m really tired of people pushing that narrative pretending that anime somehow wasn’t good in the years immediately before 2013 just because they weren’t watching it. I like Space Dandy and Attack on Titan, but to say that anime being good, interesting, or even Western-oriented is a new thing is taking a dump all over recent shows like Tiger and Bunny and Usagi Drop. I’m also fairly skeptical of the way the savior narrative can cause a lot of fans to ignore pretty serious flaws in a show for no better reason than “at least it’s not moe”.

    • and yet trying to build a strategy around third and fourth tier fans is exactly what they are doing. Of course, if something hits big, it can become a huge cash cow – see hello kitty. However, if we take Space Dandy, what’s sort of larger strategy are they trying to pursue. Presumably, the target market for this show is older males, but I can tell you I’m never going to buy merchandise for this show, and I wouldn’t have 5 years ago either, I think successes, like the ones Japan are shooting for need to be organic, rather than manufactured.

      As for the “at least it’s not moe” argument, I couldn’t agree more. It seems like people are so hell bent on seeing something they like be well perceived by others, they are more apt to say something is good, when it is clearly not. Given the amount of “are we hyping shows too much” posts out there, it seems that many are not falling into that trap with Space Dandy. As for myself, I’ve dropped Kill la Kill, because to me, it isn’t good anime. It has nothing to do with animation, but instead the lack of any coherent story or plan. To me, one of the things that attracted me and kept me interested in the medium were stories like those found in Planetes, Utena, or FLCL. I just don’t think many of today’s more involved and regarded anime have the same reverence for those aspects.

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