I didn’t think it would be possible to choose one argument to talk when it comes to what blows up on twitter, because twitter seems to be a breeding ground of more and more conflicts at least one a week. First it was talk about how politics should or shouldn’t be apart of anime, something about how adults shouldn’t be anime fans anymore, the endless joy that is a voice actor of questionable quality that I am pretty convinced did bad things which keeps appearing causing endless amounts of debates and toxicity on both sides of the conflict, and who knows what else? All I know is that if it wasn’t for all the great people that I connected to on twitter and by extension here, I probably wouldn’t be on there anymore. Anyway, I don’t think that all of these things are worth discussing or I might have covered them already in a post from much earlier. I do think that giving my opinion on politics in anime or media in general is worth discussing though. I mean, that is what this post is about.
So I’m just going to say it now, I don’t think anime by itself is political. It is merely an art form or medium in which many people work very hard to tell some sort visually. There is no inherent agenda that anime is going for. There are too many genres, too many production studios, and just too many hands involved in anime to have a conspiracy theory or agenda behind it. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to have their heads checked thoroughly. That being said, anime doesn’t exist in a vacuum either.
The creators of the anime, the time period that the anime is from, the state of the industry itself, the state of country the anime was produced from, and who knows how many other factors go into the production of said anime. Each have some affect on the anime itself in even the most miniscule of details. It’s the exact same thing for every production of western cartoons, movies, live action television shows, and every form of media from every country in existence. I don’t think that is a bad thing either, because it’s fun to look back at some form of media from the past and see how the movie’s point of view changed, how media was created back then, what genres used to be the in trend, what brands that used to be popular during the time period, and who knows what else during that time. Besides the greater old stories out that, that is the fun of watching older anime and why I do it as often as I do. The culture changes, the animation and art styles of yester year, and what things were trends when the older anime was produced. All of that has to do with politics of some sort.
Maybe I should stop rambling, because I’m just writing sentences for other types of post I might have to write in the future.
Back on topic, I’m pretty sure that not every anime series has an agenda they are seeking. One anime that I would like to focus on is Kaguya-sama. Why? Because it’s an anime about two characters of different social economic classes falling in love with each other, but the comedy of them playing Death Note games to get the other to confess. Except, the two go to an elite school centered around people in the same classes and while social class is an issue between the two, it’s at a miniscule level. The two, despite how they act toward each other, are not troubled by their social status in the anime and neither is any other student in the show besides the aspect of “look how rich or poor I am”. I mean, Fujiwara is a side character in the show and she is going on multiple european vactions during the summer and it’s just ruining their plans to meet up with the other student council members during that time period. Kaguya and Miyuki, the people in question, are just two people. It’s just a show about how these two bland, galaxy brained individuals gothrough romantic comedy shenanigins. All of this is from my point of view, but there is no clear agenda that the anime wants to discuss at the moment. Maybe in the source material later on, but not right now.
The only time an anime is pushing an agenda is whenever the media that is when it is intends to do so by either the creator behind the anime or the media that is being adapted. Isn’t it obvious that some of if not all of Kunihiko Ikuhara’s work push powerful pro LGBT messages in a meaningful way? The guy is for equally after all and I found everything he worked on interesting. In a similar way, Sayo Yamamoto’s work tends to be very feminist and focuses on cool, complex action ladies like Fujiko and Michiko with some of that aspect making into Yuri On Ice. I love all of it. Do I need to even mention shows like Gundam and Legend of the Galactic Heroes whose soul focus is about two or more groups of people at war and what politics those group are in evoking. Or generally what the anime is trying to tell you through it’s story and it’s character’s journey. The rebooted Yamato series has a very strong anti imperialist message that it’s not subtle about in the least. Then there are shows like Gate that are kind of a recruitment ad for the JSDF. When a creator or some other force has a message they want to give the public, then the show is definitely political.
So in the end, anime is political in some form. The atmosphere the piece of media in question comes from in different ways and the intent of the author and/or people behind the product’s production to tell you a message. That doesn’t mean that those undertones of classism or anything else don’t exist or aren’t apart of Kaguya or other anime, for example. The question is whether or not the anime is focusing on those aspects or not is up to the viewer of the anime in question, it’s tone, and presentation of the anime currently being watched. So basically, what I am saying is that there are a lot of open variables in this topic and I would like to hear what all of you have to say about it.