Of the Disposability of Anime and Nostalgia Goggles

With this post, I am leaning into a lot of territories that I’ve talked about in previous posts, but it’s been a while. I gained some newer followers in recent times, so I think that it’s ok to repeat an older one by putting another spin on it. Those posts themselves are probably forgotten because of time distance, which is a concept I will be bringing up in this post. Maybe that is cool, maybe it isn’t but I am writing this post anyway. More on that later probably, because I’ve got a question to ask all of you. How many of you have heard some comments from older anime fans about how newer shows don’t have the staying power of classic anime. You know, those selected favorites they like which “stood the test of time.” That big, thoughtless complaint that comes with attachments like “it comes out too fast”, “it’s hard to differentiate the good from the bad”, “all of these shows look bad”, “it’s too moe looking”,and I could keep going. I know that I am taking some huge strides and playing with some stereotypical and strawman arguments, but older fans like that are out there. If I admit that some of their arguments are not completely wrong, would you shoot me? What if I tried to explain myself?

Before I say anything, I do think that quality argument is completely wrong. There are so many newer anime series that I consider are up to the level of quality of “classic” anime. Maybe they are even better, but that isn’t up to a singular person like me to judge. The argument of disposability is kind of true though. The modern anime output gives us thirty or more anime series a season that we have to shift through. Each of us seasonal watchers make a huge effort out of trying out lots of different shows before curating our lists down based on what we consider watchable and have time to watch. Three months later, the same things happen. Then three months after that. Then the same and so on and so on. The three-month anime cycle is something that a lot of western anime fans have gotten used to, though there are those that keep up with that pace and that alright. Everyone is different. If there was an argument for modern anime being somewhat disposable, that’s it right there. Fans just moving on to next popular things doesn’t say a lot about the staying power of modern anime. At the same time, I feel like this is the gauntlet test for the sustainability of modern anime. Whichever shows you are still attached to after going through multiple cycles of seasonal anime could be considered newer classics. At least that’s how I think about it.

If there is something that doesn’t help with the since of disposability of newer anime, it’s the marketing and promotion each of the shows. You know, the things that companies like Hi-Dive, Crunchyroll, and Funimation do to sell you what shows they are airing and/or dubbing that season. Nothing is wrong with this, because how else are they going to let an audience know what they have and how else are they going to make money? If anything, it’s like those movie commercials that tell you what they you want to watch. Nothing wrong with any of this inherently, but marketing of each has the tendency of going “this is the best thing ever” every season or every movie that comes out automatically leaving behind what came before it. I know that a series’ and movie’s life span is limited, but please don’t try to get attention by using absolutes like that please.  Marketing already puts a magnifying glass on how seasonal anime works. Please don’t increase it. Besides, what is wrong with advertising shows on what strengths each individual show has or what new things they bring to the table? Even clips based on the hypest moments in some anime series possible should be enough to get people interested. But then again, what do I know? Nothing. I know nothing. Do what works, companies. You can avoid my bad opinions.

Then there is talk about the classic anime series. Anime series that have survived the filter which I call time distance and are still in the anime fan’s cultural consciousness at some level. If anything, there is knowledge of some anime that just goes down many generations naturally. You know what? I like a lot of those shows. I’ve grown up on watching a lot of them and I think there are very good reasons why those shows stuck around in some capacity. What do you think those people who only focus on older series would think if you tell them what they watched were seasonal shows at one point? Do you think these people would ever believe you? Yes? No? Maybe that is the for you to be thrown out a window? Now I know there are a lot of people that have incredibly specific reasons why they don’t want to watch modern anime? Maybe the way older anime looks appeals to them more? Nostalgia is also a big factor of how people see anything and that seems extremely prevalent with everything including anime. You know what? I kind of feel the same way and that’s why I still watch older shows or immediately dive into anime series that have an older aesthetic with modern production design. Still doesn’t distract me from what newer shows do with background designs and colors though, because so many newer shows are breath taking in what they can do with colors. Series that play with color palettes are always a lot of fun to me. There no lies from me there.

There is another downside to time distance. Sometimes, it leaves behind good shows that didn’t get the attention they deserve back in the day. You have no idea how much I just want to sing the praises of shows like Armored Trooper Votoms and Giant Gorg because those two shows that don’t get enough attention in my eyes. And I am sure that there are more shows from the 90’s, 80’s, and 70’s that haven’t gotten their necessary attention either. The best part of watching seasonal shows is that you are getting these good shows right now and you can just watch them one episode a week. Then there is that fact that even if you aren’t watching them, you have other people watching things that will tell you what they think is great. Most of the time, those people are absolutely right and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. If they aren’t, then oh well. No harm, no foul. It’s like we are all an anime community that bans together to find all the great things that appear and it’s wonderful! We are all into this seasonal anime watching thing together.

I am going to close this out by saying that I am an anime fan that prefers older shows. There is something about the aesthetic and art styles of anime series that I watched as a kid that appeal to me more than current stuff. I also have a tendency to jump on to the train of older shows that get newer installments like Lupin the Third Part 4 and 5 and Space Battleship Yamato 2199. That being said, I love watching other modern works and seasonal shows too. While there is a lot of different shows that I try to avoid because I know what doesn’t click for me, I know that there are a lot of newer shows that do. There is also the fact that I would rather try something new then dig back into the infinite loop rewatch track so I can see what series are getting some attention and why. Also, trying out shows that I usually wouldn’t like is a lot of fun too even if the result is negative. I don’t think there is anything wrong with sticking with older series or newer series, but let’s not try and think that watching one over another is bad, ok? Everything has its ups and downs. Thank you for reading my bad opinions.

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  1. I’ve experienced the effects of nostalgia recently. In my podcast we’re watching classic anime to inspire new stories. So far, it’s been a real mix. Akira, A Wind Named Amnesia, Project A-ko all faired well, but The Guyver and Dominion Tank Police were not nearly as good as we had remembered. Sometimes it’s best to preserve the memories.

    As with any generation of media, there will be those that stand the tests of time and those that don’t. Assuming that all the new stuff is not as good as the old stuff is fairly standard. Every generation is guilty of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right about keeping memories where they are at times. It’s hard to tell what shows are as good or worse then they were then when you remember them though.

      Ok, definitely agree with that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lately, when it comes to Irina’s posts, I’ve been tempted to shove the word “ephemera” into comments (because it’s just one of those useless words I add to my vocabulary on a less-than-regular basis)…but turns out it’s only for written material, so it could work for manga but not anime. Still, after mulling over this idea for a while, I’m of the opinion anime is the animation equivalent of ephemera – it was only meant to be enjoyed in the moment and was only preserved either for things like reruns/archival purposes or because the fans wanted it preserved. It kind of feeds into some of your ideas but then rebuts others, so I figured it was worth bringing up.

    Using “biggest hits” reels I find is a bit weird, because then people go in with expectations and may not ever find out whether they’re met, because they might drop the show before they get to any of the highlighted moments. Then again, I’ve never been reeled into an anime by a “biggest hits” video, so what do I know? (half-kidding)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that is an interesting concept. I can see how people can see anime as Ephemera considering how it’s consumed these days. I can’t completely agree though, but maybe that is because I am holding onto my favorites too much? I don’t know.

      Yeah, I’ve never understood greatest hits videos myself either. Maybe enjoy things like top 100 openings and ending videos, but that is about it I think.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I don’t really agree; the percentage of anime that has endured, both in terms of lasting popularity and long-term impact on the medium, is not any lower than for western animation, or for live-action television for that matter.
      Additionally, I think anime has more decades-long franchises than any other medium except American comic books.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Nostalgia hit me hard with Cardcaptor Sakura when the sequel came out. Great show, just didn’t bring me back to when I watched it before.

    I think one person’s disposable anime is another person’s classic. It’s hard to hold a candle to anything from when you are youth, when you are young, impressionable and don’t have context or any real deep thoughts. Part of growing up I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s some good classics, and there’s some good new anime. There are probably more new anime to go through than the classics that stood the test of time – which probably is why we get the impression that the new ones are terrible (mostly).

    I no longer have the time to watch the new anime each season, but I try and do take note of the good ones, and watch them later on, when I can.

    Liked by 1 person

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