Monday, January 12, 2015


Looks like there are still anime out there that don't have a harem or only feature characters of one gender and actually have a story. Psycho-Pass is a sci-fi show that reminds me very much of Ghost in the Shell. Well, its done by the same studio, Production I.G.

The concept of Psycho-Pass is that in the future, this super computer system called Sibyl will be able to detect people's personality and mental state. What this means is that Sibyl can tell people's propensity to commit crime and their potential or abilities. It is an utopian Japan where almost everything is automated and everyone who exceeds the crime index is mostly locked up for the good of society.

Psycho-Pass is a rare anime that takes a high concept and runs with it all the way. No surprise that the writer is Urobuchi Gen who wrote Madoka. Expect violence, unexpected twists and of course lots of people dying. What was most enjoyable for me was the story exploring all sorts of themes flowing from its sci-fi premise such as happiness and free will. I'm not going to address the philosophical issues because there are too many things to cover and I would not be able to do them justice.

I really hated the main character Akane in the beginning because it seemed to me Urobuchi made her so incompetent as if she never had any training so as to be able to explain everything to the audience. Not to mention the incident with her friend but as I came to understand the world of Psycho-Pass more, I could understand why Akane started out the way she was; namely a person living in a society governed by Sybil.

It is so fun watching a mature anime that actually has a story to tell and not made to sell figures. It takes awhile, about 5 episodes for the story to get going for me but once it did, it was a thrilling ride to the end. I've only got two complaints; firstly there were some action scenes where characters are suppose to be quiet and they keep discussing philosophy without worrying about giving their position to the enemy and secondly, the music wasn't that good. There was an episode in the middle where I suddenly noticed some nice action music but generally its nothing memorable.

Thanks to Shane for recommending Psycho-Pass. I mostly get my anime news from Sankaku so its always famous anime that usually turn out to be crap. Must watch once you get past the early episodes and realise what the story is about. 


Shane said...

Glad you liked it, thought you would ;)

Season 2 has been underwhelming so far (I'm about half way through). But I'm looking forward to watching the movie which just came out in Japan.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesus Christ Supercop said...

"Looks like there are still anime out there that don't have a harem or only feature characters of one gender and actually have a story."
"It is so fun watching a mature anime that actually has a story to tell and not made to sell figures."

Today's received wisdom says that anime is now nothing but "moe" and "harem" shows, but it's not actually true at all. It's a myth. People take hearsay for granted, assume things based on almost nothing, don't want to try watching anything, and don't pay any attention to what shows are airing. Then they complain there's nothing worth watching. This has been repeated so often for so long that it has become "common sense."

Aside from Psycho-Pass 2, last season there were/are shows like Akatsuki no Yona, Unlimited Blade Works, Gundam, Hitsugi no Chaika, Parasyte, Mushishi, Shingeki no Bahamut and Shirobako, and many more that don't fit the stereotypical (and mostly imaginary) categories that almost all anime is automatically expected to fall into today.

What most people think is representative of recent anime:

What most anime fans have actually watched and talked about last/this season:

What probably got dismissed as "moeshit" without anyone so much as bothering to watch it:

Anime in 2015 is completely fine, but the popular discourse surrounding it really is not.

Akiramike said...

Fate and Hitsugi no Chaika are not harem anime? Not saying there are no good anime but the popular ones are usually the harem and Love Lives.

There are plenty of good jdoramas but most Japanese have never heard of Lady Joker.

If someone said jdoramas are crap because they are used to push idols and talentos, I would not say they are wrong because that mostly describes what is popular.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

There's seems to be a witch hunt going on with regards to "harem" (and "moe") anime. If something can even remotely be (mis)interpreted as a harem anime then it is a harem anime and therefore also bad. I wonder if this is just some moral panic caused by people associating both "harem" and "moe" with romantic and sexual desires towards 2D characters.

UBW has some "harem-like" elements in it, but it's fundamentally a story about supernatural battles. Chaika is a fantasy action-adventure and the male protag Tooru clearly has only a single love interest (Chaika). Fredrica is rarely in full human form and there's zero romantic or sexual tension between her and Tooru. Akari's occasional antics are just for comedy's sake and don't mean anything, least of all to Tooru. Steins;Gate is theoretically more of a harem show than either of them.

If we look at that ANN poll, the first harem show is probably Nisekoi at #18. The next one is maybe When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace at #38. On MAL, according to statistics and going by "weight," the first one is again Nisekoi at #28. On both lists, Love Live is at #42 and #27, respectively. Even if we establish Nisekoi as a harem show, that isn't really saying anything. There isn't just one way of doing a harem show, the harem aspect may not be the main focus, and something is not automatically bad just because it's a harem show. Many harem shows are focused on ecchi, but Nisekoi is more of a traditional love comedy (they didn't even de-censor the BDs, and I don't think SHAFT ever has nudity in their shows anyway). Supernatural Battles is along the same lines.

Ping Pong is rated higher than Love Live on both lists, and was completed by more MAL users (they aired during the same season for the same length of time). And how about Zankyou no Terror? Completed 86 thousand times vs. Love Live's 19 thousand. Rated higher. Incidentally, it was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe who also directed Cowboy Bebop. As far as most people know Bebop was his last show, but in actuality this is his fourth one since then. I also recently saw someone opine that Ghost in the Shell couldn't even be made today, but a four episode OVA series (or was it movies? Not sure) was released between 2013 and 2014 and a new (animated) movie is coming out soon. And people have no idea. They also don't know, for example, that Katushiro Ootomo didn't retire from anime after Akira finished filming (neither did Mamoru Oshii after GitS). They've never heard of Steamboy or his segment in Short Peace. This all just goes to show what a big gap there is between what people think they know about modern anime and what they actually know. If you're someone who only occasionally watches anime then it's no wonder you think Love Live was the big hit of 2013/2014 and harem shows were everywhere, because that's what everyone keeps stating as fact (Love Live is much more popular in Japan though).

Anonymous said...

I can not forgive Akane for her friend's incident. Can you explain it for me?,lol. She can be the most harmful obstacle, with her naivete and stubborness. But I can still understand why she chose to obey Sybil, though, with her personality.

Akiramike said...

JCS: If you're looking at from from the Western anime fan's perspective, then its a different matter. However, its the Japanese fans that drive the content and we know what sells.

linhcu: I hated Akane for not shooting as well and wanted to stop watching but as the series went on, it became clear that this was an utopian society where there was hardly any violence and Sybil made the choices for everyone.

Cops like Akane were not trained to make tough decisions in the field. She had become so reliant on Sybil making decisions through the Dominator that she shut down.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

Japanese viewers have their own preferences that don't always align with those of Western viewers*, but the fact is that we do get shows like Psycho-Pass and the ones I listed in my first post, and that should be the only thing that matters. There is all kinds of anime but not all of it is for everyone. Unfortunately there is now a trend among casual viewers to focus almost exclusively on shows they don't want to watch (or think they don't, based on hasty superficial impressions and lazy stereotypes) and ignore 99% of the rest. It's only a rare few shows like Psycho-Pass and SnK that get acknowledged. This season there will be people complaining about the new Idolm@ster show or Kancolle and lamenting the death of anime, and they will not even mention Death Parade even though it should be exactly what they're looking for. Other potential shows of interest like Yurikuma Arashi, Tokyo Ghoul S2, Assassination Clasroom, Jojo, Aldnoah.Zero S2, Rolling Girls, Junketsu no Maria and Yoru no Yatterman will likewise be firmly ignored.

* Or it might be more accurate to say that otaku viewers have their own preferences that don't always align with those of non-otaku viewers.

dgundam said...

i dont think you'll win the argument with him mike. hes too passionate about this with his claims of witch hunt and such.

well as for me as a long time anime viewer from the 90s and now, my view is that there has been a decrease in Original anime not based on mangas. and there has been more and more harem and moe like elements creeping into many shows.
also youre correct in your thinking of the japanese perspective on anime. their catering it to the otaku and thats what earns the money $$$ when they buy the merchandise. although one thing i did notice though when i was in japan last year, is that kuroko no basket was EVERYWHERE in all the gift shops i went too. even those gifts shops in temple tourist areas lol. thats a pretty mediocre manga/anime not as good as slam dunk and is only really popular because of all the bishonen characters and has a huge female following.

4545 said...

Damn, I wanted to watch this after your 1st review, now I'm not sure if I'm going to... knowing the 2nd one is not gonna be as good.

Anyway, gonna throw out two names which I feel *might* be right up your alley, Mike: Kiseijuu Sei No Kakuritsu aka Parasyte (as mentioned by jcs) and Imawa no Kuni no Alice (which just started airing this season).

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

dgundam, I have seen people complain about "harem" and "moe" anime for long enough and often enough that I think it constitutes a witch hunt at this point. You say that there are "moe like elements" creeping into anime, but moe only means an affectionate response to a fictional character, and as such is completely subjective and dependent on the viewer. "Harem like elements" presumably means, based on what I've heard before, that there's a male protagonist and more than one female character. That is to say, it doesn't mean anything. And underpinning both of these is the implicit assumption that if anything is even suspected of possibly being related to "moe" or "harem" it's bad and we should all feel bad. For some reason.

Received wisdom says that everything now revolves around otaku and that's why there's too many "moe" and "harem" shows, but I again point to the existence of the many shows that don't fit those (real or imagined) categories. The shows that everyone wants to ignore and deny the existence of because they don't fit the pre-determined conclusions. What people also don't take into account is that at the turn of the century the total number of shows on the air increased tremendously and has kept on increasing because of the rising popularity of late night anime and the switch to digital television which provided (cheap) space for more shows. Anime that used to be released straight to video started migrating to television ("otaku anime" didn't appear from thin air). Western awareness of and access to anime has also increased tremendously.

Also, "otaku" does not mean "person who only watches 'moe' and 'harem' anime." It means (primarily) a person who is deeply into anime, manga and games, including all the "serious" and "artistic" and "Western-friendly" shows that air in the middle of the night. And the line people like to draw between "otaku" and "non-otaku" is way, way too black and white and strict, like all of Japan is neatly divided into these two groups and there's no overlap between them, i.e. the respectable citizens thoughtfully watched Psycho-Pass while the otaku were busy masturbating to some shameful moe harem ecchi show where all the characters are 8 year old high school students who flash their panties every two minutes. This has definite parallels with the way people like to cast animators as "normal" people who the "otaku" force to make anime they don't want to make.

dgundam said...

i dont think youll change your mind and i wont change mine but heres a couple of random points.

anime has grown and plenty are produced in japan compared to decades ago. but with the mass amount of shows out there, people are having to pick and choose what they spend their money on (they earn through DVD sales and merchandising) and as a side effect some anime producers dont earn as much and have smaller budgets. and now they have to cater to certain audiences and have certain gimmicks to get viewers. Not all anime studios do this of course.
you still have your gundams but their gimmick is model kit sales
or you have your mainstream shonen jump shows that follow the mangas.
or the other popular mangas that get anime adaptation.

like mike mentioned, MAL isnt representative of what is being produced and whats popular in japan. western fansubbers get to cherry pick the good shows and drop garbage shows.
psycho pass is not something the general anime viewing public watches.
not all anime fans are anime otakus. just like jdramas theres plenty of shows out there of wide range of genres and quality. like jdaramas, theres sequels and remakes made by studios to make a quick buck.
theres shows that go for the sexual stuff.
not all otakus are males since theres plenty of fujoshis.
the people that are willing to spend a ton of money buying overpriced anime dvds in japan are the otakus (dvds are 40-50$ compared to the 15-20$ in NA) hence why they try to cater to these people.

an example of a bad anime from 2014 that had a harem, crappy animations where they just show the lips moving of characters and hardly let them move around since it would cost higher production values and pretty much is catered to guys with all the boobs boobs and more boobs is fuuin dai ishin shogun. terrible story and pretty much tried getting viewers by having plenty of female characters in tight clothes clearly showcasing the boobs.
a mech anime that has purposely an mostly all female casts doing yuri stuff in cross ange in 2015.
harem creeping to mech anime shows in knights of sidonia. (although to be fair since its not second season yet the harem is not large yet since its not at the point of the manga yet where the main character has 8+ female characters liking him with the stereotypical anime type characters like the tsundere female, the older more experienced comrade, to the younger kouhai, to the older sempai, to the cool collected boss. just to be clear the manga is one of my favorites lol).

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

MAL and ANN are indicative of what is popular in the West and also indicative of what is being produced... because if it isn't produced then how is anyone watching it? It ultimately doesn't matter what the Japanese are (supposedly) watching, it only matters what shows are being produced. And there are many, many shows being produced that don't fit into the "moe" and "harem" stereotypes that so many Westerners are so hysterically afraid of. If people simply acknowledged that those shows exist, we would rarely talk about this. This is an entirely manufactured "problem."

Almost every show is subtitled these days, either by a licensed streaming service or fansubbers. And it isn't necessarily the case that the fansubbers flock to the "good" shows and ignore the "garbage" ones. Nozaki-kun was (very deservedly) a popular and well-liked show (#11 on the ANN poll) that aired during the summer season, and the three groups that started subbing it all dropped it. Chihiro dropped it after the first episode, Underwater threw in the towel at episode 2, and Sekai was last seen in episode 6, months ago. Of the three groups currently subbing Shinmai Maou no Testament I expect at least two will finish it. Absolute Duo is also being worked on by three groups. The excellent Shirobako has only one group on it. I think you are assuming that fansubbers are the "normal" people who don't support "garbage" shows, because only the "otaku" are interested in them. The "otaku" are always this villanous "other" separate from everyone else and acting in opposition to everything that is "good" and "normal."

If the general anime viewing public doesn't watch Psycho-Pass, then who does? That's right: otaku. And it's popular enough to have spawned a sequel and a movie, the latter of which did very well on its opening weekend. Conversely, K-On! and Haruhi—both considered to be awful, awful "otaku anime"—were popular beyond the otaku audience. Evangelion—considered a "normal" anime for "normal" people—had such an impact on otaku culture that it was partly responsible for turning Akihabara into an otaku town.

"the people that are willing to spend a ton of money buying overpriced anime dvds in japan are the otakus (dvds are 40-50$ compared to the 15-20$ in NA) hence why they try to cater to these people."

Who are "these people"? You assume there's this monolithic group of otaku who all like the same narrow range of things that nobody else does.

"fuuin dai ishin shogun, cross ange"

I didn't even know what the first one was, and even after looking it up I don't remember seeing it anywhere. Cross Ange I know of. As a counterpoint to these shows, how about: Parasyte, Unlimited Blade Works, Tokyo Ghoul, Space Dandy, Akame ga Kill, Psycho-Pass, Aldnoah.Zero, Nozaki-kun, Barakamon, Jojo, Zankyou no Terror, Noragami, Haikyuu!, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, Mushi-shi, Shingeki no Bahamut, Ping Pong, Amagi Brilliant Park, Chaika, Gin no Saji, Sailor Moon, Yowamushi Pedal, Mekakucity Actors, Isshuukan no Friends, Akatsuki no Yona, Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, Witch Craft Works, Aoi Haru no Ride, Shirobako, Baby Steps, selector infected, Gundam, Tokyo ESP, Sabagebu, Captain Earth, Buddy Complex, Yuuki Yuuna, Tonari no Seki-kun, Inari Konkon, Glasslip, Argevollen, Wizard Barristers and Sora no Method. These are just some of the shows in the ANN poll, most of which I've seen.

Why do you focus on a few shows and ignore everything else?

"harem creeping to mech anime shows in knights of sidonia."

You mean creeping into Knights of Sidonia, if indeed it is creeping into it at all. I didn't see a harem in Captain Earth, Argevollen, Buddy Complex or Aldnoah.Zero. There probably isn't one in the latest Gundam either.

Akiramike said...

4545, will give Parasyte a go sometime down the line.

dgundam said...

it does matters what japanese people are watching.

anime producers create original anime shows that people will watch so that they will make money. they wont create shows that will barely garner any viewers which wont cover their cost and not give them any profit.
they will also pick and choose what light novel, manga, or game to make an anime adaptation of that they think will net them a profit.

sinces there are so many anime production companies out there making plenty of anime, they cater to their japanese audience to get their attention.

MAL and ANN barely has any influence on what japanese animes get produced. the japanese create their animes for an japanese audience. a japanese anime company doesnt think, hmm what do western audience like so
ill make a show on that.

japanese companies basically see the overseas markets as a bonus way to earn extra cash by selling their shows licence. the american companies that buy the licence for what dvds they produced here or what shows they stream here get all the profit for this market. they choose the shows on what they think the western markets would like to see from japan.

western otakus =/= japanese otakus.

the western fansubbers do choose what shows they like to sub and that doesnt necessarily mean its identical as japanese taste. and no, their not the normal people. normal people dont faunsub as a hobby. i think your just feeling defensive as a western fan thiking people are attacking you for liking moe and harem stuff when they think of an anime fan.
you think too highly of the impact of western anime fans' impact on what japanese anime content does get produced.

and just to be clear i am an anime fan not a hater. ive been watching for over 25 years and was just poitning out what ive been noticing.

ive been following tsutomu niheis body of work since he started, and sidonia has a harem chock full of steorotypical female archetypes i havent seen previously, and the show and manga is good enough that it shoudlnt even have to have it.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

It's unnecessary to say that studios try to make money. If you don't keep making money you can't keep making anime, even if you're Ghibli. Regardless, they do create shows that are (or seem to be) commercially unsafe or relatively unsafe, either because they're original and unproven or because they're too "artistic" to appeal to many people and don't have good merchandising potential (but they may boost sales of the original work and become commercially viable that way).

At any rate, the bottomline is that the industry is producing certain shows and when we look at those shows it's clear that all the fear-mongering about "moe" and "harem" shows is just that: fear-mongering. You can talk all day about what Japanese fans supposedly want or how they supposedly impact anime, but the industry's output still is what it is regardless of how you think it theoretically should be. There's no shortage of shows for people who don't like "moe" or "harem" shows. But you, like everyone else, keep avoiding this fact. To what end? You say you're a long-time anime fan, but if that's the case why are you pushing such a dishonest narrative about anime?

"the western fansubbers do choose what shows they like to sub and that doesnt necessarily mean its identical as japanese taste. and no, their not the normal people. normal people dont faunsub as a hobby."

But I didn't say that they don't choose what shows they sub? Nor did I say their preferences are identical to those of Japan. When I talked about fansubbers the point was that they don't choose only the "good" shows and ignore the "garbage" ones, e.g. Shirobako has only one group on it whereas some unremarkable harem/ecchi show might have three. By "normal" people (notice the scare quotes) I meant that you think of fansubbers as people who support only good shows (e.g. Bebop) and oppose the garbage ones (e.g. K-On); they are the normal, respectable Western anime fans as opposed to the "otaku" ones who support bad shows that are killing the industry. But as we can see based on what shows are being fansubbed and by how many groups, this isn't the case. If you look at FFF's site you can see that they're working on a very wide range of shows.

"you think too highly of the impact of western anime fans' impact on what japanese anime content does get produced."

Huh? I never said the industry makes decisions based on the Western market. I cited ANN and MAL to show what Western viewers watch and what shows are made.

"sidonia has a harem chock full of steorotypical female archetypes"

Or are you just seeing what you want to see? Just like people now scrutinize shows for any signs of "moe" and "harem" elements so that they may be labeled and condemned ("This is moe, and therefore bad!"), so do they scrutinize characters for any signs of "stereotypes," "archetypes" and "tropes" so that they may be labeled and condemned ("She's a tsundere, and therefore bad!"). I've seen this many times before. The funny thing is that if we go back to 20th century anime those same character types are all over the place, except now people don't seem to notice them at all. Kind of like how they don't notice "moe" and "harem" elements in 20th century anime and think they're very recent developments.

You can make any character fit some pre-determined template. TVTropes does this on an industrial scale, and no work of fiction is safe from them. Everything constitutes some sort of "trope" according to them. But as TVTropes itself says, tropes are not bad. This is something that people have forgotten, and these days it's not uncommon to see someone criticize something as being "tropey." We can classify a character as a tsundere but that doesn't say whether she's a good or bad character.