I’ve ranted about this before, though not on this blog. Someday I may need to port over the post. But let’s start fresh, and rant anew.
Starting at the beginning: I hate anime. I could give you a lot of reasons, like the fact that most of it is animated at about 2-4 fps, that people’s eyes are too big, that noses and mouths all look wrong. But the more reasons I give, the more I get this response:
“Oh, you just haven’t seen the right anime. You’ve only seen the trash. Try this, I know you’ll like it.”
And that reply is like clockwork. I brought this up again recently and someone said I should check out Ghost in the Shell or some other thing. I’ve heard that a hundred times before; if I could have bet a million bucks that someone would say it, I’d be rich right now. Dude, what the frell? Are all anime fans nothing more than talking dolls that parrot the names of their favorite series when they sense movement?
No, of course not. They’re people and they’re entitled to their own tastes. But mention you hate anime, and boy howdy they’ll turn into a friggin’ parrot, with precious few exceptions. And it happens more with anime than with anything else a person can hate.
To clarify, what I hate anime for—and I say this freely and often to anyone who will listen and especially anyone who won’t—is its visual style. Now this does, obviously, vary from production to production, artist to artist. The cheapest anime looks terrible in comparison to the high-end stuff, as any fan will tell you at excruciating length. But my problem is it all looks like anime. The very best of the genre will always have that anime “look”. It’s part of what it is, and there’s no getting around that. No matter how good the story is, no matter how (relatively) good the art is, I’ll hate it, because it looks like anime.
This is insurmountable. And no, I don’t think I’m missing out, any more than I mourn the fact that I can’t eat potato salad because I gag on mayonnaise. And yes, I’ve actually been made to try it. It did not end well.
What’s really galling to me is that otherwise intelligent people are so quick on the draw with the Chatty Cathy response. Can’t they see that this is like so many other things?
If you tell most people that you hate country music, they usually get it; you don’t need to explain it to them. It doesn’t matter that most country singers are vocally in a class above what pop radio accepts; it doesn’t matter if they’re great musicians or their songs are very well written. This is in fact usually true. What matters is that it sounds like country. The country sound comes from several elements, from the accent to the arrangement of instruments and some of the signature sounds they make. (Any idiot can tell the difference between a violin in country mode and a violin playing classical.) Its border is easy to mark, except by a few really thick people who think “crossover” is a legitimate thing. If it’s country with strong pop elements, it’s still country.
Okay, maybe the die-hard fans there have the same problem accepting this, but at least they’re not so reflexive about it. I’ve never heard anything along the lines of, “Okay, maybe Toby Keith isn’t your thing, but have you heard Lady Antebellum?” Maybe they’re less defensive than anime fans because country music, as a rule, produces less garbage by volume. Anime fans freely admit that their favorites are jewels floating above a sea of junk.
Oh, so you don’t like most music produced after 1991 that calls itself rap? Maybe you should give Jay Z a listen; he’s almost pop.
See how stupid that sounds?
Think of it like mercury contamination. Does that help? I don’t want mercury in my lemonade, thanks. I don’t want country in my music, and I don’t want anime in my cartoons.
And it goes both ways! Not everything I like will be liked by all people. Surely everyone must have a genre they despise right up to the edge, and don’t want any part of it. It’s simple human taste. This is the exact same reason my hatred of fish spills over into lobster; I’ve tried it, and although the seafood taste is subdued it’s still there. Some people hate chocolate ice cream (usually, because it doesn’t remind them of real chocolate). Some people hate the color yellow, or roses, or crickets. It’s okay!
For fun, try these phrases out with your friends and family when the occasion comes up:
- “You haven’t had really good sushi.”
- “You just haven’t been to a good prostitute.”
- “Trust me, Mom, Reservoir Dogs is different than his other films.”
- “You won’t even notice it’s directed by Tim Burton.”
- “Most of the sequels to Love Comes Softly suck, but you really need to see the original.”
- “You don’t know what you’re missing. Tuna surprise is delicious!”
Some of those—well, not the hooker thing—I’ve actually heard. Sushi fans like to say the first one, though many are quick to acknowledge that it still won’t be everyone’s thing. And tuna surprise is a dish my brother-in-law makes, that my mother would like to try and everyone else would like to run away from screaming. He gets that not everyone will like it.
(And to digress briefly on the Love series: I saw part of one of the dreadful sequels a few weeks ago, just like a few minutes of it while my wife and I were busy with something and didn’t bother changing the channel, and I was transfixed by the sheer audacious fanservice of it. It was like 60-second period-piece vignettes without context, all dripping with saccharine and forced emotion. I had an epiphany that day: It was Hallmark porn. Hallmark could literally produce something that was nothing but those vignettes, no story to tie any of them together, and air it constantly; people who like that kind of thing would watch.)
Everyone has a no-man’s-land. You’ll never convince them to go beyond its borders. Maybe they’ve been there enough to be sure of it, and maybe they haven’t, but it’s their call. Just try to be at least a little discerning of whether someone says they hate something because they know enough to hate all of it, or because they’ve simply had a couple of bad experiences. If you’re an anime fan, try harder; it’s not a gross generalization to say you’re all blowing it, because an anime fan that says “fair enough” is the rare exception, not the rule. Rare as in I’ve never met a unicorn, either.