5th Blogiversary Week: Politics in a Creator’s Works

Hello one and all. Welcome to my fifth blogiversary week. During this week five years ago, Mechanical Anime Reviews was somehow born. You know, if a blog can born like a baby. Yeah, that’s not something I ever thought I would think up, so I’m going to pass around to need some brain bleach for that one. It’s on me. Anyway, the main point here is creating some short opinion or informational posts to go along with how I usually celebrate my blogiversary. These are things that have been on my mind for a while and I think it’s time to talk about them finally. At least, it’s a good time to do it.

I know that I have written a post about politics in anime before, but I feel like this need a refresher. Especially with 2020 being what it was. I just want to say right now, I don’t think there is definitive black and white situation when a creator posts their politics or opinions in their own content. I don’t just mean writing and drawing manga, creating anime, or whatever. Especially since they are using their own mind to create the thing they are using in how they express themselves. Creating characters out of their creative own mind comes with how they perceive the world around them and how those characters would react to it all. That’s just the way it’s going to be.

That is a thought which leads me to saying that I don’t think that saying “get politics out of anime” is a thing that could be realistically said. Mainly because that fact is completely impossible. Everything is affected by everything else. There is no magical way to clear it out of any kind of creative work because we are human, not robots. I’m not just saying that for series like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, space operas, Gundam, and other things. I mean even slice of life have to deal with politics too. Yuru Camp had the girls having to get jobs in order to pay for camping gear or what about class theme in Kaguya-sama that permeates through each characters stories? There are little doses of politics everywhere in everything because that’s how the world works.

I think we need to talk about viewer perception here too. There are many ways in how a viewer can interpret a created work. Which means, of course, reading politics and creator opinions depends on the viewer as well. I know that there are plenty of viewers which only want entertainment in what they watch without engaging into a lot of the subject matter and I think that’s ok. At the same time, I can’t do that myself because watching something for just entertainment’s sake is very boring to me. I need a little more meat in the works I consume. What is the driving force of that world? Is the creator trying to say something? Is there an inherent class warfare in this series or something? There is usually a lot to consider and that depends on what I or anyone else sees in that work.

Which continues on to whether or not you want to follow a work because you don’t agree with it. There have been a lot of anime, manga, etc that try to tackle complex situations and politics in a political leaning direction. Especially those which think they are saying something very intelligent when they might not be due to lack of self-awareness about something? That goes for a lot of things, by the way. I think it’s ok to have a negative opinion about what a work is trying to say and do even when others don’t agree. Being human means we all see things from different angles and perceptions because, once again, we aren’t programmed like robots. Engaging with that conversation could be positive for both if it’s not two sides yelling at each other.

This post was in my mind for a while due to how I’ve been writing posts for a while now. Not just 2020, but in 2019 and before as well. Not just with Mamoru Oshii October and the science fiction movie event from October 2019 too, but in general. In the United States, it’s been a very wild year in a lot of ways. The quarantine, people refusing to wear masks after months of covid-19 cases, the insane guy in charge doing horrifying things, and so much else. Blogging has been one of my outlets and I feel like you have been seeing a lot of my opinions and points of view leaking into each post because it has nowhere else to go. There you go, I’m being political again. I guess that’s a good way to end this post. See you tomorrow for more.


6 comments

  1. I get what you’re saying. Also agree that it’s impossible to “get politics out of anime”, or manga, games, etc. My only problem really is with the heavyhanded treatment of politics you sometimes see in art — stuff that seems to be made only to advance a political idea without any regard towards the quality of the art itself, or with a message so blunt that it feels like I’m being talked down to.

    Legend of the Galactic Heroes is one of those series that does it right, even though it’s explicitly political, because it’s not very black and white, respects the audience’s intelligence, and delivers a great story otherwise. I don’t know about anime, but there are a few games out there that slip up in this way, making me feel like I’m sitting through a college lecture or a damn TED talk.

    I also have a real issue with people saying “everything is political”. I know it’s a popular saying, but very often it seems to be used mainly to attack series that I think are meant mainly for casual enjoyment, especially fanservice-filled stuff.

    I do hope this year is better, in any case. Considering what’s going on at this moment, I think all Americans at the very least are forced to pay attention to politics right now even if we don’t want to.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. “Politics is in everything, but not everything has to be about politics.”

    People, and anime viewers love shows with meaning and themes and stuff that talks about feelings, views, or ideas. What they don’t like, is half-assed commentary and shoved in virtue signaling by writers who are using the medium to grind an axe. Now that doesn’t happen much in anime compared to other art forms, but it is there.

    Viewers just don’t want to be lectured to. They want to watch something and leave with their own views or ideas. Some may look at ReZero and see something completely different than someone else, but they don’t want some smug youtuber making lecturing like in a video about it, just to prove their own intelligence.

    That I think is the disconnect between the two groups, they are talking past each other, instead of to each other. “Not wanting politics in anime” does not mean they are ignorant or any of the ‘ists’ people claim they are. They view the medium as a place to have fun and switch of. On the same side, people who do like those deeper meanings or themes aren’t trying to transform anime into left/right propaganda. There is a happy medium, one that I’ve seen and experienced plenty of times.

    And really, just don’t run your mouth off on twitter and things will be fine.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. You can’t make a show that resonates strongly with viewers and is completely apolitical. Shows like Neon Genesis and Revolutionary Girl Utena look specifically in certain kinds of sexual politics, but so does something as silly as Ranma 1/2. Or consider the nature of policing in Cowboy Bebop, or the picture of the Catholic church in Samurai Champloo. You can’t make a world real without having some kind of politics in it because politics are a part of the world.

    Nice post! Thanks for making it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Politics and political topics can be done well – look at 2199 for example. Would you shut down a discussion of the situation within the Gamilas Empire with “politics are everywhere”? No, you would not.

    And that’s my central problem with the phrase and the often awkward and torturous defenses thereof. It’s not about the politics of anime as a medium. It’s not about the politics of a particular show. It’s bumper sticker philosophy, a reaction GIF used pretty much for the sole purpose of shutting down *unwanted* discussion.

    I get it. There’s a lot of people who sling around the word “politics” as a pejorative. And they’re often… not people you really want around and they believe other things you don’t agree with. I simply choose not to engage them.

    We, as an anime community, would be much better off if that phrase were simply shot at dawn and buried in an unmarked grave with a silver stake through it’s heart.

    Other than that, much of the rest of what I was going to write simply paraphrases what AK and Dewbond wrote.

    Liked by 3 people

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