Anime Critics Need to Improve
Western anime critics—particularly those featured on Crunchyroll and YouTuube—are now in a position of unchecked power over public opinion. While this is beneficial to the community at large by allowing a rapid dispersion of important or interesting info or criticisms, it is also a weapon prone to misfiring. This misfiring is the result of poor communication, faulty argument, and a general lack of standards. Before I go any further, I want to reiterate that, as with all of these posts, individual creators will be referenced to exemplify my points, but my intention is not to attack or praise them as individuals. I have great respect for anyone who spends time talking about the anime they love/hate. I write this because I respect you all so much. That being said, we have a problem.
To understand the spread and influence of critical opinion and the misfires of the machine that produces these opinions, we can simply look at the r/anime subreddit. Most obviously, comments in reply to any critical content invariably contain instances of users praising said content as truth, as perception-defining, and as final rule. This isn’t anything new. Critics have been influencing public opinion on books, music, politics, etc. for centuries. A basic knowledge of communications or media history could have told you that. I am just arguing that, with so few platforms for visibility, so little history, and such a niched fanbase, this issue is amplified in the anime community. You can read any thread about Erased and see an anonymous Digibro hydra repeat his arguments, oftentimes word-for-word. Cue hegemony, spiral of silence, so on.
But there’s no practical solution to that problem. There doesn’t need to be. If the content that the mass audience supports so strongly is well-researched and well-crafted with counter-opinions to consider, then I take no issue. What I do take issue with is misstructured, misinformed, miscommunicated content—the metaphorical misfires. This is content that, in other critical spheres, would not stand the rigor of review and would not reach the platforms associated with qualified criticism. I don’t want to be pretentious in making my point, but: you won’t find Dr. Oz cited in a medical journal.
As it stands, certain channels on YouTube are associated with qualified criticism within our community, and these creators exist more or less in individual bubbles. The same can be said of any written essay that reaches the front page of the anime subreddit—assumed qualification. Again, I don’t find this system an issue itself—I greatly prefer it to academic limbo. But content creators must demand more of themselves and those around them, for the growth of the critical sphere and for the benefit of everyone they write for. But what, specifically, are my complaints? A lack of context and research and a broken chain of communication.
- Context and Research
This is the most glaring fault of the critical community at the moment, and the problem consumers of critical content are most likely to have noticed by now. If you’re going to write critically about an anime, you should be reading/watching as much other content about that show as possible. If you’re going to bring in outside theory/criticism, you need to understand that criticism and the context in which it exists. I mean episode discussion threads, episode reviews, other essays, other critical videos, academic discussions—consume all of it and bring that context to your own content. Your content should be able to exist on its own, but not because it ignores everything happening around it. Bring that context to your conversation.
A failure to properly bring context most often results in a misrepresentation of information. AnimeEverday recently collaborated with Pause and Select to make a video on Flip Flappers. Ignoring the video’s lack of context with the mountain of essays written on Flip Flappers already, there’s a troubling misrepresentation of the fantasy genre within the video. AE argues Cocona’s “rejection” of a fantasy world in Pure Illusion goes against our expectations of the fantasy genre, further implying that “unwittingly embrac[ing]” fantasy worlds is a convention of the genre. This is simply false, and claiming so is detrimental to the critical narrative surrounding the show. Keep in mind that the way in which these shows are discussed and remembered by people is largely informed by these popular/front-page criticisms. We can all agree it is bad to base future analysis of art on original claims that are false or faulty, and thus we should be diligent in challenging claims we find inaccurate.
AE says this supposed breaking of conventions is “enough to praise Flip Flappers” which is another problematic representation of the show and its context. Why is that enough of a reason to praise the show? We don’t praise every show that breaks conventions (if Flip Flappers is even doing that in the way described). This notion all stems from a claim that fantasy has been “perfected” by Miyazaki and others. Even assuming AE is referring specifically to fantasy in anime here, rejection of fantastical worlds is more likely the convention than acceptance of those worlds. Spirited Away is really just one long rejection of fantasy, nevermind the enormous context of fantasy beyond anime. What does come to mind are recent isekai light novels, in which the convention is for the protagonist to accept their place in a fantasy world. Here, we can begin to see how, intentionally or not, context is omitted in order to sell the video’s opening argument.
Within the same video, Pause and Select makes arguments about Flip Flappers that are rich in context, but are nonetheless lost on the viewer. This brings us to the second issue.
- The Chain of Communication
For starters, I think PaS makes a decent argument in his section of the video, although I disagree with much of what he says about how Flip Flappers interacts with space. But it took me a long decoding session to even figure out what his argument was, and I’ve read Lamarre’s The Anime Machine and sat through art lectures at college. I’m sure someone of a different background would struggle to a much greater degree. I was not at a loss for context, and PaS was not lacking in providing context, but he was breaking his own chain of communication.
All of PaS’s content is heady and all of his writing stomps down with heavy boots of vocabulary, but that’s fine to a point. Everyone expresses their ideas in their own language. But the moment when words are inserted unnecessarily or when sentence structure self-destructs—that’s the moment communication ceases. To quote PaS: “Stretching out with several moving points, Flip Flappers utilizes thematically and aesthetically flat systems. Like the references, deep space is in service to the flatness of metastructure” (if I misheard any of that, let me know). Without turning this essay into a style manual: notice how the clauses of each sentence don’t have an immediately clear relationship to each other. The show stretches out via points…which has something to do with flat systems. The sentences themselves don’t allow for a simple flow between one another either because their meaning is so masked. Tracing this language and sequencing is obviously even more difficult when you can only hear the words.
However, communication can also be snuffed by vagueness.
A personal pet peeve and, if I may exaggerate, a bit of a plague on anime criticism as a whole is the use of the term “mise en scene”. This term is obviously useful, especially when you’re just starting to open up your ideas–PaS actually uses the term effectively in the above video, utilizing its vagueness to make a point without constricting further analysis of the show. But you run into trouble when the term is used to express a specific analysis—it is vague as hell. What are you referencing? Just point it out to me. Is it the lighting? Is it the placement of objects in the frame? Get to the specific detail immediately. No one ever uses “mise en scene” to refer to character acting or movement in the frame, so I have no idea why the term is so abused when it comes to other elements of composition. Please just shove my face in whatever you’re talking about. The audience should not have to decode what aspect of mise en scene you are referring via context clues. That’s not what I mean by bringing context…
I could ramble on and on about writing and style, but I’ll stop there and keep this section focused on clarity of communication. In brief: only use words that shoot straight; only say what you mean, not what you could mean.
- And then?
My favorite piece of anime analysis ever is RCAnime’s “The Monogatari Series –New Wave in Anime”. This video is a great example of effective criticism boiled down to a lean, raw form. RC’s argument is clear and he leads us through his points without missing a beat. Context about the New Wave is provided and used to strengthen RC’s argument. This context is immediately connected to specific examples from –monogatari. There is no vagueness about what “unusual editing” may be—RC tells us with precise examples. There are no misconceptions about the importance of New Wave filmmaking in the modern era. No faulty narratives are spun. The video’s only offense is RC’s complete inability to pronounce “Araragi” (inversely related to the quality of the video as a whole).
RCAnime is not the only person to have created content of a high standard. We wouldn’t have advanced so far as a community if that was the case. We have Digibro’s “10 Killer Cuts in Evangelion Ep. 1”, Pause and Select’s “Hourou Musuko and Love”, AnimeRuss’s “Clannad: Time, Flow, and Change”, and so many more. These are all fantastic examples of how to rise above a lack of research and poor communication. We can look to these examples and ask ourselves if our discourse is as clear. We can notice if our arguments are too isolated.
Obviously, I’m guilty of these shortcomings in some of my own work. Even as I was writing my Flip Flappers essay, I knew I was breaking the chain of communication for many people. I tend to luck out because my content is usually introductory, but I’m sure I have faults to be criticized. Part of the issue with a lack of context and research is that no one bothers criticizing those faults. Creators should be referencing each other. This is a call for a shift in what kind of content we produce, but I think it would go a long way to alleviate the issues described above. Build off the interesting arguments of your peers. Provide an alternative to the faulty arguments of your peers. Create a critical environment that elevates the perspective and knowledge of the mass audience, and allows for people to explore critical texts the same way they explore the shows we talk about.
Hopefully, we can all push each other and our community to greater heights.
22 thoughts on “Anime Critics Need to Improve”
I can only answer for my own section.
I think this is an absolutely valid concern and a potential misfiring of the topic I wanted to cover. There is definitely a failure point in my part, which is that I’m approaching AE’s audience similar to mine (many of whom have read TAM). I think I tried to condense too much information into a shorter section, which ended up weighing it down with an (even more than usual) noticeable density. Funny enough, if you ask Lewis, he can attest to how much longer my section was, so perhaps I should have focused instead on introducing rather than any attempt at a deep-dive.
To defend my use of the word mise-en-scene: I ended up using it because I wanted to capture two things. (1) I wanted to describe the setup, but (2) I wanted to imply that this example is not meant to outline one single way to look at this. I am very familiar with the vagueness in using the word, and its vagueness is partly why I ended up using it. It was the best word for capturing the essence of the idea’s broadness.
Assuming Flip Flappers doesn’t completely screwball my thoughts at its completion, I am planning on expanding what I’ve talked about in this video to my own. Hopefully it’ll clarify some communication concerns, but knowing me, it may not, haha.
Still, I’m super pumped that you took the time to talk about Lewis and I’s video, love this man! I think this sort of dialogue is essential to a more mature critical community.
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Thanks for the response!
I can see how your section in that video might have suffered from a condensing. Listening again, it does seem like a lot of my issues with the writing could be attributed to all the sentences being sort of cramped in that short space. I also think one of the shortcomings of video essays in general is an increased difficulty in following the speaker’s wording and logic. Being able to instantly reread is a huge benefit of text. I did really enjoy the collaborative effort on the video, though. AE’s discussion kind of grew out of yours in real time, which was something new and interesting in analysis.
When I brought up mise en scene, I wasn’t thinking of your usage specifically haha. That instance is exactly a scenario where I think the term is useful, for the reasons you state. I’ll clarify that in the post. I meant to address a general trend I’ve noticed, not anything in that video.
I’ll have my fingers crossed for Flip Flappers for your sake and mine. I look forward to seeing where your thoughts go in the space of a full video. As a side note: I don’t think your style gets in the way of communication in most videos. Like I said, the vocabulary is heavy but it’s usually to the benefit of your thoughts rather than the detriment. I do think your videos would benefit from some more immediate context for perspectives or people your reference (the Hourou Musuko video strikes a great balance, in my opinion), but don’t abandon the words that come to you. Just make sure they find their mark, if that makes sense.
Couldn’t agree more about this dialogue being necessary. So I’m glad to see someone referenced in the essay responded!
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Cheers! I think you’ll still disagree with my thoughts on Flip Flapper’s use of space, but at least it’ll be a disagreement with more clarity and perhaps not as abstruse. More of an unfurling, if you will.
But I will absolutely keep the context more in the foreground when I’m penning these. I’m worried I might be cooped up in the ivory tower a bit too long, haha.
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But yeah overall I absolutely love this article. Derrida responds only to people he respects, so I’m going to take you taking the time out of your day to respond to Lewis and I in the same light. Y’know, the idea that you care enough to want to see some sort of change.
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I won’t compare myself to Derrida, but this is certainly a post borne of respect lol. I originally meant for this to criticize multiple videos+essays, but it got too clunky. Sorry if it seemed like it was written against your and AE’s video in any way; wasn’t my intention at all. I wouldn’t address this to anyone I’ve addressed it to if I didn’t think they were people best suited to lead this improvement!
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Oh no, I don’t take any offence to it, and I don’t think Lewis will either. I mean, at the end of the day this is ultimately a post with the intention to help improve content quality as well as improve community quality. There’s a wonderful intention behind that. You needed an example, our video was the (likely) the freshest in your mind, that allowed you to use the examples as cogently and concisely as possible. That’s totally cool!
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p&S thing is he writes a post modern style, i think that helped his channel from a marketing perspective. Many anime fans want people to tell them how smart they are for watching cartoons who better than a postmodernist academic.
Excellent essay. I do believe what you mentioned early on is also something I have a problem with (the idea that critics are viewed somewhat as this cult of personality); however, that’s a problem with critics in general, not just those who critique anime. The concept of the “Digibro hydra”, while something I find a bit bothersome, is actually not what bothers me the most. What actually bothers me the most is when individuals make rebuttal videos to other “anime critics” and the audience reception is less about increasing the discourse to reach an understanding. Instead, what it ultimately feels like is just that they want the opposing “anime critic’s” opinions to change.
My biggest example is the Ergo Proxy series I made in response to Digibro. A lot of audience reception was less about the points I was making in the videos and more so “Why can’t Digibro just like this show?”. I find it extremely aggravating since it gives me a sense that some audiences are more concerned with the general idea rather than what’s backing up that idea.
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Funny you bring that series up, because those videos are my favorite of yours. I will say that you begin the first video of the series directly addressing Digi’s opinion, which frames the series with a certain intention, but obviously that quickly fades away as you dive super deep into Ergo Proxy. I’d hate to demonize Digi in any way (I guess it’s “the forces that be” rather than Digi himself lol), but there’s certainly an phenomenon of “territory” in the critical sphere. If you start addressing a certain show or idea, some people may view your content only in relation to another critic who has made content that “claims” that “territory”. This is a sort of context, but it seems to revolve around the other critic’s character more than anything actually being said which defeats the purpose.
No one else talks too much about openings/endings specifically, but I imagine if you counter-argued any of Mother’s Basements videos, you’d be up against his popularity more than his ideas in some people’s eyes. I hate to speak this way since it Others the super-popular critics, but I think it’s a real phenomenon that is necessary to address. Acknowledging it allows us to refocus attention on the ideas being conveyed instead of the people conveying them.
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I’m not really sure it is a problem if people interpret things or explain them in different ways. I think it really is up to the audience (of both the review and the anime) to be discerning and make up their own minds. If a reviewer consistently misses the mark (in the viewer’s opinion) than perhaps they should read or view their reviews and they should find someone else whose analysis is more similar to their own. It would be a dull world if we all saw things the same way and whil I have certainly seen and read thing in anime reviews that I’ve thought are completely off-track ultimately that is my opinion and the way I viewed the anime.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. It’s a interesting discussion point.
No, that’s not a problem at all and kind of what I’m encouraging. I think people who want to write about anime should be reading everything they possibly can about anime, and should be eager to express their unique opinion/interpretation of something. I think there’s a lack of varying opinion (or at least opinions that exist in context with each other), so the audience doesn’t really have a choice but to consume whatever gets written about their favorite show.
However, there are definitely moments where outside theories from academia or art at large get brought into various essays and videos and are misrepresented. We’re not a policed community (which I think is great), so these plain inaccuracies slip through the cracks and can teach audiences incorrect or faulty information. That’s the stuff I think needs to be pulled out, not differences of interpretation.
And thank you for reading!
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This was a really nice read. While I am far from reaching a writing level to those mentioned in this essay, as I tend to review in a more generic sense such as channels like GrArkada, I do take interest in analytical videos such as shown from channels like Digibro, and wish there was more like him out there. I do believe critiquing is at a pretty rough state when it comes to anime on YouTube, as I have a personal issue with episodic reviewers most of the time not really having a better structure to what is said and how its presented (ie lack of information toward the medium with basic commentary and barely any critique). Hopefully my writing can improve at some point to at least contribute a fair bit with the level of critiquing anime has on YouTube, and I think this essay might just help a good bit when it comes to figuring out what to improve upon.
Again, this was a really nice read, and I hope to see more great essays like the one here along with the Hibike ones I saw a while back (speaking of which I might have to catch up on the new season…)
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Very interesting post Scott, I think you made a lot of valid points. Presenting ideas in a way that captures the complexity of a show like Flip Flappers without loosing viewer engagement is what every video creator strives for. Video is a different beast from essays and blog posts, viewers engage with it differently. Getting that mixture is key. Me and Joe spent hours tweaking the script to get the best possible balance, and from viewer reaction I feel like we did that successfully. In an ideal world, Joe would be able to talk about FF’s use of flat space for 10 minutes and people would continue watching but unfortunately it’s just not realistic. I feel as if that section, and many others presented an idea that was complex enough but also reasonably engaging. I’m happy with the complexity of our ideas presented, it reached our audience successfully. If we wanted to write endlessly without consequence we wouldn’t have picked video as our medium.
As for your criticisms on lack of research and critique, i’m very much aware of that. Unfortunately it’s just a problem of experience at the moment. Me and Joe are not professionals and don’t have the experience or resources at the moment to make every video perfect, as much as we’d like to. It’s something i’m sure we’re all working towards, and maybe one day the community will have the resources to live up to that standard. That being said, relative to the rest of the anime-YouTube scene, I think this corner of creators (many you mentioned) are creating some of the best stuff available on the site.
Once again, this was a very interesting read, i’m pleased to have our work looked at with such detail and respect. Thanks Scott.
You’re totally right. I said in the post or a comment or somewhere that video has to worry about its script being listened to rather than read and reread, which makes complex points tougher to communicate. And almost none of us are professional, so I completely understand the issue of time dedication and experience. I do think that the standards I raise here are feasible, though. There are the examples I mentioned in the post, and your “Use of Atmosphere in Anime” achieves the same level, albeit for a more concise topic. My main point is that we should continue striving, primarily by asking better of ourselves and our peers.
Also, as I’ve said to PaS, I don’t want this post or any discussion around it to seem like it is singling out you guys or that video. I should’ve done better to include more examples of what I wanted to critique so that that video wasn’t the only one I talked about. After all, I think you guys are some of the people capable of taking that video to a higher level (or what I would consider a high level, anyway).
Thank you for the response, and I hope I did indeed make my case with respect. Looking forward to what you create in the future.
Hi there, I’m a writer at Crunchyroll and was linked to this post by friends, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on this topic.
First off, it’s great that you’re invested in anime criticism, and most of us can agree that there are areas for improvement. However, the scope of this particular post eludes me. You talk about “anime critics” in general as if they’re a monolith, but your only examples are Youtubers. Youtubers can of course be critical voices (and I wouldn’t disagree with you if you said they’re the most influential voices in the Western anime community at the moment), but surely there’s a qualitative difference between them and paid critics. Are you saying that Youtubers should aspire to be like professional critics? If so, this brings up the larger question of whether we should be holding hobbyists to the same standards as professional writers and academics. However, your post doesn’t address this question at all, and that’s why I find the advice in it difficult to relate to.
You also say this:
This is well-intentioned advice, but also impossible for most human beings to follow. It would be a mammoth task to read up every episode review or discussion thread about an anime before you write a critical piece on it. And this is just for English sources, I imagine – think of all the context you’d be missing if you couldn’t read any of the Japanese writing on a particular subject, or any other language for that matter. You talk about reading episode reviews and watching critical videos online, but the global context of anime discussion is so, so much broader than that.
Also on the subject of context, you also need to consider the context in which the (mostly online) discussions you’re talking about take place. The anime blog and Youtube sphere is, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, heavily dominated by young men who are usually in their twenties. This demographic is not representative of anime viewers in general. In fact, if you draw most of your context for anime criticism from this particular crowd, you’d be getting a misleading impression of how anime is consumed and discussed.
If you ask me, the real problem with “anime criticism” is that it’s terribly insular and the major platforms (including Crunchyroll and Youtube) are dominated by the same kinds of voices – young men who only seem confident in discussing an anime in relation to other anime, instead of bringing some outside perspective or experience into it. Instead of asking aspiring critics to position their own arguments within this narrow, insular framework, I’d rather see them carve out their own niche. On Twitter, you mentioned that you like Emily’s blog pieces. I like her writing too, but by her own admission she’s detached from the critic community you’re talking about. That’s actually one of the reasons why her perspective is so fresh.
I see a lot of these kinds of articles and remarks from fellow writers, so there’s obviously a consensus that the community as a whole needs to improve. But I think it’s most important for you to carve out a niche and find a section of the community you’re most comfortable expressing yourself with. The anime community is a huge place, and most of us writing anime criticism are just doing it as a hobby. What you’re prescribing to aspiring critics is gatekeeping (i.e. telling them they need a prerequisite amount of material before they can participate). Instead of enforcing unrealistic expectations on those outside the “critic” circle, we should be doing our best to encourage diverse voices in our fandom.
Sorry for the long comment. Hope you found it interesting!
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Thanks for taking the time to reply! Only YouTubers were brought up for the sake of keeping this short (and I couldn’t think of any text posts off the top of my head that represented what I wanted to address).So I don’t want to make this conversation about the platforms, per se. It’s worth pointing out that some YouTubers are the critics being paid the most for their work, and (on every platform) there is a giant number of minds not being paid. Things get messy if we try to define this by platform/money/etc., so I think it’s best to speak in regards to raw categories of ability, audience, and intention. I explain below.
I’ve had a lot of conversation since posting this, a lot of which has helped me to refine some points I wanted to make. Many people have brought up your point about professionals vs.hobbyists, and while I agree about the differences in experience and committal, I don’t think it comes down to money. The standards you hold yourself/others to should come down to what kind of voice the critic perceives themselves as having and what kind of voice their audience perceives them as having. If you’re just reviewing anime, these standards will certainly help improve your content, but I would only hope for the community to hold the reviewer to standards of basic accuracy about the show. You don’t need to stress out about building a fortress of knowledge if you just want to express your opinion or give your interpretation of something.
Furthermore, I now want to separate my first point about context and research into two sections–C+R about what’s being said, and C+R about what you’re bringing to the table. For example, a lot of my work focuses on just pure visual analysis, so my main standards are to provide my audience with the knowledge that drives my logic and to be aware of other opinions or interpretations of the same material such that I may address them. This is very little research. The important part is bridging that knowledge and context to my audience. It shouldn’t seem like I’m reading off the stone tablets. I only speak from a position of logical authority, which allows people to understand appropriately the scale of what I’m discussing and clearly see what is definitive truth and what is not. This is the C+R about what’s being said.
C+R about what you bring to the table comes down to accuracy and accessibility. If I’m going to start talking about some historical period/moment that I find relevant to the show I’m talking about, then I better have accurate and sufficient info. I should not bring in that outside material without taking the necessary care to understand that material well enough to transmit it to an audience. Don’t say anything inaccurate. Don’t leave gaps for the audience to get lost in or (even worse) fill in with their own false assumptions. This is what I refer to as the most glaring problem in criticism currently. On principle, I think this standard should stay raised for everyone. But not everyone needs to work so heavily with outside sources, and quick allusions to outside content shouldn’t be subject to that intense rigor. Again, it comes down to what kind of content you’re aiming to produce.
In short, I definitely painted too broad a stroke in the original post. I do think everyone who creates anything would benefit from shooting as close to these standards as possible, but in many cases it’s not something to get up in arms about.
I also agree with your points about the demographics of the online criticism community. I think, to some extent, reading as much of other people’s work as you can helps to bring new demographics into the conversation. At least, acknowledging non-majority voices can begin to reshape the mold. I think I’m misreading you here, but I’m not sure I agree with your suggestion to carve out a niche. Part of what I want to fight is isolated opinions. Even if there is a variety of opinions and perspectives in niches throughout the community, I think that leads to silence in its own way. I see a need for interplay between those niches, as that encourages a “here’s what your perspective is missing” exchange. If opinions exist only in sections of community where they’re reaffirmed, that stagnates growth of perspective. But like I said, I think I’m misreading you a bit here.
Again, thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts. Above anything else, I want these conversations to continue in the way they have been.
Great read. Keep up the good work! I love reading these kinds of thoughtful / thought-provoking posts
You’ll probably like the news that Digibro has called for some communication and cross-referencing among anime critics. That’s probably something he misses from his blogger days I assume. He also said that it is a project he’s worried about being expected to undertake.
I’ll try to address your points one by one, but I can only speak for myself (as someone who has only made 3 analyzes and is just starting out as a creator in the community) and the videos I’ve seen.
If I’m doing a long analysis, I try to talk about shows I know a lot about and where I am a fairly active member of the fan community. For my two HQ!! analyzes, for example, I know the show very well and try to include as much context as I think is necessary without becoming too boring or over explaining things (which I may do anyways, but I do try).
For my Prince of Stride video, I wasn’t well versed in the show’s fan community, but mostly because that was the point: coming at it only knowing the studio and the genre. And even as I analyzed, I brought my own experiences with other similar sports shows to give context to why I thought PoS failed so spectacularly.
In other videos I’ve seen, I do generally think people bring context (particularly Digibro), and I have no experience with flip flappers, but from your article, your criticism seems valid. Context is important, and I think as a community we definitely should be referencing each other (anime critics, forum members, etc.) a lot more.
For communication, I would agree that this is a problem in the community. I was planning on making a video comparing Kuroko no Basuke and HQ!! (and why I think HQ is better) but since Digibro has made a video on the exact subject, if I do make such a video, I’ll reference his criticisms and try to counter with my own in response. But the fact is someone might make a video like Digi’s and not realize his exists, which is the problem.
I do think it can be difficult for people with different perspectives to get their voice out there, especially if they’re new to doing analysis. I’ve certainly struggled). And in that same sense, when you’re only beginning or haven’t been in the community long, it can be hard to be aware of videos by other creators you aren’t immediately following. I follow some big anime creators (Digibro, Canipa, Mother’s Basement) and a few smaller ones (atelier emily’s blog, the Pedantic Romantic). But I hadn’t heard of pause and select before, which is part of the problem. It’s difficult to make sure you are tuned into the best creators across the board, but it’s something we can work on as a community. Digibro had an interesting idea about some sort of anime criticism agglomeration site in one of his vlogs and I think that sort of thing could help with your problems as well!
Very interesting essay, I went through your blog posts and realized I’ve read some of your other blog posts before! I read your Haikyuu!! analysis on Oikawa (and loved it). Keep up the good work!
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Thanks for leaving a response!
Part of the reason I tagged you on the Twitter post was because I felt your Haikyuu!! videos were great examples of doing things “right” (sorry I didn’t include them in the post…). You clearly define your argument and its context and then make the point without getting lost on the way. I think establishing this context and understanding gets increasingly difficult as someone brings more and more outside perspective/theory into an analysis, but it also becomes increasingly important. So I think I would agree that a large portion of particular content creators provide sufficient context for the points they want to make.
Exposure is also definitely a problem to consider. Reddit is in some ways an aggregation hub, although finding analysis/criticism beyond episode discussions can be tough with the way the search feature works. However, while we as a community try (or maybe not) to improve that, I think there’s a culture of curiosity we can build right at this moment. Digibro is a funny example because he is super curious about anime itself, but absolutely anti-curious about criticism, academics, theory at large, which makes for some messy videos when he brings those perspectives into the discussion. But since most anime analysis seems to be just that–analyzing anime as anime–building that first curiosity in everyone would be a great improvement. It is my dream that everyone who is passionate enough about a show to write about it would also be passionate enough to learn about it and the way the community is interacting with it. Although it can be hard to find what people think of an anime, episode discussions tend to have a decent chunk of draft analysis within, and a quick Google+YouTube search can expose you to at least some community criticism if it exists.
Basically, in the short term it would be amazing if content creators endeavor to just know more about shows they write about. Even if there’s still bumps in the accuracy of what’s being said, if there’s at least this culture around wanting to know more about what you’re criticizing, then that’s a great first step.
Thank you again for taking the time to respond. Hopefully I’ll get to see more of your content in the future!
Interesting read, with decent reasoning for an important argument.
Also I’m seriously late, although when this article was put out I didn’t even know what anime was.
I’m very new to the literary theory and analysis crowd for Anime and honestly, am quite unsure how to approach it in addition to having some inability with analysis.
Although I agree that there are a few problems with Anime critics, when looking generally.
I don’t agree with all of his points, but the CR person up there had a good one: The anime community and the critics and influencers in it are extremely insular. More than even the entirety of the video game community. The anime community knows little about some of the great works of literature around (I’m very new, and try to experience other kinds of narratives like Charles Dickens or Lovecraft or even Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Mark Twain), and the anime that play on deeper philosophies like Ergo Proxy, Texnohlyze or even Ghost in the Shell are the ones least talked about in my experience.
However, I do believe that anime critics and analyzers (does that work?) are intelligent, unlike the video game community. Sparks of brilliance are consistently found in places like Youtube channels and blogs like yours, but it often devolves to the level (even within the same video/piece) that you describe because of a lack of follow-up to keep it consistent (meaning sometimes lack of research/not communicating ideas to their full extent).
At the same time, I’ll criticize the basis of your argument briefly. The CR person up there was exaggerating your position to make your argument seem less valid. But at the same time, many of the people analyzing anime or even other works in this internet age are not professionals, and know that they’re not. The pieces they produce are mainly for a somewhat average audience, and are not like a thesis for a professor.
Despite this, I’m quite sure that I’ve seen most of them improve greatly (even in the time between this article’s first moment and my comment).