This is a topic that has worried me for a while, but has bothered me more because of recent events. This event being the studio and staff announcements of the second season of One Punch Man. The biggest things that come to question around this are the fact that Madhouse is not producing it. JC Staff is taking the reins on this product instead. This really isn’t that much of a concern because most of the people who worked on One Punch Man came from outside of Madhouse, but that may be affected by what comes next. Shingo Natsume isn’t the director, it’s someone else. Since I have read about how most of the people who worked on OPM were Shingo’s friends, there are some concerns that the battle animation might not look as nice. This is what bothers me about the whole thing. People aren’t worried about the story or character content, just how nice it looks. To me, this describes my concerns of sakuga culture to a T.
I remember when I was watching One Punch Man weekly. I was laughing a long with the jokes, interested in some of the characters that showed up, maybe interested in a little bit of the story, and was amazed by how good the animation was for a tv production. As time passed on, my opinion about the show got worse and worse. While the anime had some strong themes to it, it was incredibly shallow. The humor was the same all the time, each arc in the anime felt the same, everything had the same result in the end, the most interesting characters were the side characters and they didn’t get any development, and so on. (Mob Psycho 100 is better). The greatest thing about it to this day is how amazing the fight scenes were. They were truly breath taking and had so much detail to them that you can feel how powerful Saitama is, even though this was all animated. I know that I am making a baseless accusations and other bad things here that are just my assumptions, but I feel like the complaints over the announcements truly prove that not many people care about all the things going on in the story and just want to watch fights scenes all the time. I don’t feel the same way. Maybe when the show actually appears on TV again, we will see how true my statement is.
I know that anime is a visual art form and how it looks is important, but animation quality is one out of a huge number of details that matter when producing an anime. The general story is important, how the plot is presented is another, the voice actors must fit their roles, the music placed in correct spots (not to mention be orchestrated), the direction must make sense, the choreography must make sense, and somehow all of that needs to be done under a tight window. I don’t know about you, but doesn’t that make even bad anime being formed feel like a miracle? So many hands are involved and somehow they need to be in sync with each other. That is all amazing! So why out of all of that is animation quality something that attracts people more usually? I know that animation is very pretty look at and all that, but I wish people cared just as much about it as the writing. Thinking about animation all the time feels completely shallow to me. I love it too, but if the action scenes are based great characters and the action is required to bring out certain events, then they mean nothing to me. Some people can watch endless amounts of actions scenes without context, but that is completely impossible for me. I need some kind of anchor to make me feel for them.
Does this mean that I don’t like the study of Sakuga? Of course not. This is 2017 after all. I expect a huge amount of difference in animation quality from when anime started to now. There are a number of important people and some people that get left unnamed that help make the huge advancements in animation quality since then. Studying who they are and what they did to innovate the animation product is something that deserves to be studied. People who worked hard to make this product that we enjoy need to be given recognition. Seriously, animators work hard and they need to be rewarded it for it (PAY THEM MORE). Then there are the techniques that animators use in their works. Those are worthy of study as well. This is why I am glad that sites like Sakuga blog and youtube channels like Canipa exist, because they study a lot of this media for the animators behind the work and what techniques they use and present them to an audience in a very digestible manner. Sakuga blog goes further, because they also talk about the staff from individual episodes that have great animation behind them. Thanks for making that great content, people (if you even read this).
In conclusion, please don’t let animation be the only reason you watch anime. I know that it’s important and all that, but watching anime for fight scenes is incredibly shallow to me. Then I guess there are people more interested in battle series than any other series and these are people who never watch any other kind of anime out there. Probably why One Punch Man was a smash hit when it came out. I digress though, please be interested in the world the anime takes place, the characters that are in it, what themes the anime is using, how the direction is used to get messages to audience without anyone having to say anything, and the music used in the anime as well. When all of these aspects are great, then the anime is near perfect. That’s it for me, have fun.