Talking about movies and why anime cannot entirely replace them

This post is the result of my ‘Oscar movies marathon’ sessions I have been going through for past few weeks. I watched several movies nominated in major categories of the upcoming Academy Awards. And though I am still struggling to keep up with the current season anime, I have no problem conjuring up another post for my blog :P

Anime cannot replace movies because anime lacks drama

Is it possible to watch only movies and neglect anime completely? Yes, most people fall into this category. Then, is it possible to just watch anime and anime only? I don’t think so. For me who enjoys experiencing fictional stories, anime cannot provide everything I want. From certain perspective, anime lacks many things that live-action movies can give me.

One of the reasons I love anime so much is because anime can easily push the boundaries of fantasy and reality. More than half of anime are at least partially fantasy. I love fantasy and anime give me plenty of it. Anime can also provide actions, sci-fi, romance, comedy and even horror. But anime severely lacks drama genre when compared to live-action movies. And before you start giving me examples of drama anime, I would like to point out that most of the drama in anime revolves around high school life. But life does not end when high school ends. Instead, life starts after high school ends. With the exception of Ristorante Paradiso, Satoshi Kon’s movies and few others, anime rarely deals with the stories of grown up people. So when I need one, I have to find that in movies where countless of stories of lives outside high school are being told.

This thought occurs to me when I was watching all these Oscars nominated movies. I watched the stories of a King who tried to overcome his stammering, the nerd who invented facebook, a ballerina who was spiraling towards mental breakdown and many others. These are intense drama with phenomenal performance. These cannot be found in anime. I used to think that anime is not just for kids but when I really think about it, does anime have enough to offer to general adult audience?

My opinions on The Academy Awards 2011

Since I have already brought this topic up, I would like to discuss a little more about the upcoming Academy Awards. Despite the lack of nominations for African-Americans, this year’s batch of movies is quite exciting to watch.

The two front runners for the big price are The King’s Speech and The Social Network. The King’s Speech is your typical Oscars favorite; an old-fashioned, performance-based story of real person suffering from mental or physical defects. Plus, this movie also deals with World War II. It is a very good movie and also very Oscar-baiting. The Social Network, on the other hand, talked about more modern subject and current social phenomenon. The script was smart and the acting was solid. But can it prevail and take the top price? I seriously doubt that since many Academy voters are old and some may not appreciate movie about facebook which is filled with talented yet very young actors. And holy shit! Justin Timberlake could act!

Black Swan has very good shot in Best Actress category thanks to Natalie Portman’s brilliant performance. Inception has little chance in taking the top price since Mr. Nolan was not nominated for directing awards, for the second time. Maybe he should start making movies about WWII or movies based on someone’s biopic. True Grit was also nominated in many categories but seriously, what was Jeff Bridges mumbling about the entire movie? I didn’t understand a word he said. Toy Story 3 was warm, fun and fluffy. But too bad it’s animated so getting nominated for best picture was as far as the film could get. 127 Hours was purely and exclusively the actor’s movie and everything depended on his performance. James Franco apparently delivered his best performance to date.

So basically, it comes down to whether the voters will choose the old or the new. The results will be revealed at the end of February.

29 responses to “Talking about movies and why anime cannot entirely replace them

  1. I see anime as not separate from film but a part of it. It exists as a niche genre, in some respects. So, it is very possible for people to neglect anime and not film. Also, from a Western perspective, there are all types of cultural hurdles, the biggest of which would be the misconception that animated films and shows are for children, not adults. One of the things I love about anime is that it exists in this niche, almost liminal, space and thus has a greater freedom to be offbeat and more daring – although a lot of anime is far from daring. Anime is not for everyone, and I agree with your points, drama is perhaps as not prevalent as in film, but even if it was, do you still think it would attract an adult Western audience?

    • Your points are very very interesting :)
      That ability to be offbeat, to be extreme is one of the reasons I cannot get enough of it. And for your last question; I don’t think anime will be able to attract more adult Western audience even if it tries to be very very dramatic. The very nature of anime (and the fact that it is animated, not live-action) will turn many people off or prevent them from getting emotionally involved.

  2. I know this is totally irrevalent, but upon seeing that picture of the Black Swan reminded me to google about its contents. I’m curious to see what it mgiht behold…

    But nevertheless, great awesome review as always ;)

  3. I’m not sure how comparable a 13 or 26 episode anime television series is to a feature length live-action movie. In most anime there isn’t a sense of urgency to the up the ante like there is in film. Generally I attribute that more to the format than to quality of the anime. For instance, Shiki had some truly boring moments in the beginning but as the show progressed the show became more intense and the final episodes were chock full of tension and drama. Compressed to feature length it would most likely not have had those boring moments. Plus most anime series aren’t going to win oscars anytime soon. It’s easy enough to say that live-action is better when you are watching oscar nominated films, it’s a little harder to say when you are watching…say Yogi Bear or Little Fockers. If you compare the best anime and the best live-action films though you generally are right they don’t stand a chance. However it’s much the same with american animation, they can nominate Up or Toy Story 3 all they want for Best Picture it will be a cold day in hell when such film wins. Even classic Disney films can’t stand up to Citizen Kane, North By Northwest and To Kill a Mockingbird.

    All that being said, did you see 127 Hours? It was my favorite, I was a little surprised Danny Boyle didn’t get a director nod after Ebert called it “an exercise in the unfilmable” but he’s already won so I guess no big deal. I doubt Franco will win Best Actor either since Colin Firth lost last year to Jeff Bridges, he is due. Still I loved the crap out of the film. I’ve seen all the best picture noms except Winter’s Bone, The Fighter, and The Kids Are All Right. The final 30 minutes or so of 127 Hours is a huge rush and I love the music. A.R. Rahman got nominated again for it after his awesome Slumdog Millionaire score.

    • OMG, please don’t mention Yogi Bear or Fockers too often. It made my head throbbed so bad I needed to swallow two tablet of Tylenol immediately.

      I’ve just watched 127 hours right after you wrote your reply and I added it, along with Toy Story 3, into my post. 127 Hours was a triumphant horror movie but horror movie rarely took home big price from the Oscars except Silence of the Lamb, of course :)

  4. I used to be a movie buff and less of an anime fan. But once I consumed anime, I don’t give a damn about most of the movies anymore, except for a few that I wanted to see like Toy Story 3 and the upcoming animated film starring Johnny Depp. But yes, I agree with the lack of drama part. It’s not lacking per se but kinda less with the emotional impact.

  5. “I watched the stories of a King who tried to overcome his stammering, the nerd who invented facebook, a ballerina who was spiraling towards mental breakdown and many others. These are intense drama with phenomenal performance. ”
    Uhhh…not really. None of them moved me even a bit.

    “It’s not lacking per se but kinda less with the emotional impact.”

    I dont know about you, but for me, from anime i get a much wider range of emotion than from movies. TV dramas are coming in second. Movies are dead last.

    Also, it doesnt help that not only USian movies have turned to complete and utter shit in the last 20 or so years, but in the world at large, cinematography has become quite shallow and fleeting.

  6. “With the exception of Ristorante Paradiso, Satoshi Kon’s movies and few others, anime rarely deals with the stories of grown up people.”

    It can feel like this, but I sometimes wonder if that’s because most of the anime I am exposed to is the stuff that makes it way over to the U.S. In the US, animation is still seen as a medium for kids, so I think the idea is that stories about kids and teens will sell better – I figured companies were concentrating on licensing the stuff they figured would have the widest appeal, stuff that teens and adults could enjoy.

    That said, I disagree with this:
    “These are intense drama with phenomenal performance. These cannot be found in anime. I used to think that anime is not just for kids but when I really think about it, does anime have enough to offer to general adult audience?”

    While I own and have watched a lot of brain candy anime, I do think that even the stuff that takes place in high school has a lot to offer adults. There is an emotional range in these kinds of stories that adults haven’t necessarily left behind, or you wouldn’t see adults getting hooked on series like Fruits Basket or His and Her Circumstances. Heck, you wouldn’t see adults falling in love with YA literature.

    Also, adults aren’t necessarily absent, even from the school stories. I didn’t pay as much attention to them when I first started watching anime as a teen, but I notice and appreciate them much more now. The adults’ stories aren’t always as prominent and spelled out as the stories of the kids and teens in these anime, which, I think, makes their stories all the more fun. For instance, Hikaru no Go is filled with adults. The main character may be a kid, but there are adults everywhere, each with their own rivalries, backgrounds, and personal issues. Fruits Basket, too, has adults (and I’m about to become older than some of them…so sad) that I find I can enjoy on another level now that I’m older.

    I think whether you can subsist entirely on a diet of anime depends upon the kind of anime you watch. The stuff that’s just fanservice and gags…probably not. But there are plenty of anime movies and shows out there that pack an emotional punch, whether they star adults or not. I see live action movies in the movie theater because, well, that’s one of the only things you can do in my town for fun, unless you like bar hopping, but if it weren’t for that I’d probably watch almost nothing but anime and not miss much.

    • Thank you for the great comment!^^
      And you are right about anime providing wide range of emotional impact. I, who is also an adult, can tune in with all kinds of anime (Though there were times when I wondered if I am a rarity).
      Your reply also reminded me of how wonderfully diverse and ambitious anime can be. I can be quite pessimistic sometimes :)

  7. Will have to disagree that anime isn’t capable of handling drama. It totally is. The problem is that the creators don’t focus on that as heavily, probably because there isn’t a huge demand for weighty, emotional fare with adult-oriented storylines. What we’re seeing lately isn’t the best the medium has to offer. When you look at stuff like Monster, you’ll see a wonderful, drama-heavy story that can appeal to adults. They just need to make more of them.

  8. Usually anime is based on manga. There are plenty of manga series out there that are considered more adult but aren’t turned into anime. I’m not exactly sure why these more mature series are often ignored when considering which series to make into anime. My impression is that there is a smaller audience for animated series like these.

  9. While I share your desapointment with the scarce of mature drama in anime, it has to be said that the comparation of Oscar nominates VS general anime is unfair. The academy loves drama, but the general public want varity of entertainment with (sadly) enfasis in light entertainment, so anime in general focus their esforces to kids/teenagers (and maybe adults with mind of teennagers) because there is the money.
    I think that without the Oscar, movie maker will just fucos in win the public of comicon (some say that is already more important that the prestige of winning the oscar at the moment of selling movie’s tickets) is pretty obvious for the numbers of superhero movies and Harry Potter’s clons.
    “does anime have enough to offer to general adult audience?” well, to the adults that like star wars and such it’s a LOT to offer, but is they want mature drama just a small percent.
    Also, and don’t think is so much different, if compare general tv anime VS live action tv shows (the hordes of crapy soap operas are to me the parallel of moe anime series, I’m from latin america and here the adults loves that crap) or anime movies VS all the hollywood’s movies (“raspberry award”, anyone?…) The percent of cuality drama are almost the same, but Holywood has the Oscar, so yeah…We need a anime Oscar to made them do mare shows like Cowboy Bebop, Gungrave, Mushishi, Red garden, Gankutsuou,Terra he, Fantastic children, Michiko to hatchin, House of the five leaves, anime adaptacion od Hoshi wa utau and bitter virgin…too bad the rating will not help.

    • It’s true that most of everything are made for money and to please the majority of audience. I did forget that those movies I mentioned were the best that they had to offer. It’s really unfair to use them as a standard.

      Oh, it’d be great if there were Oscars and Raspberries awards for anime as well :)

  10. I hate the Oscars. Christopher Nolan did an excellent job with Inception, yet he doesn’t get a nomination for best director or best movie. Does he deserve to win these? Not necessarily, but he definitely deserves to be nominated. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of his movies that I didn’t like.

    I read an article on why he didn’t get a nomination, and I can’t remember what it said exactly, but it was pretty much because the voters were bigots.

  11. The thing is that in Japan High School is the time of life when many people move out of their parents house. Similar to how Collage is in America. So to Japanese people the characters in a show that takes place in High School are adults. So when you watch shows like “Fruits Basket” you need to think of the characters as adults. You mentioned “The Social Network” while I haven’t actually seen it I have seen “The Facebook Obsession” and on it he says he was in Collage when he made Facebook.

    • Thanks for the informative comment.
      There is indeed no actual spot that specifically indicates the beginning of being ‘adult’. In anime, we did see many adult in high school uniform :)

  12. I watch movies because there are some actors that I just need a frequent dose of, like Johnny Depp.

    And Black Swan. Ohmigod, Black Swan. That movie is my second favorite of all time at this point in my life. Thus why it warranted a mention on my own blog awhile back, like right after I’d seen it, haha. It needs to win. I think Natalie Portman will indeed win for her role, because she was absolutely amazing.

  13. Anime really is different from movies… anime lacks on that thrilling feel on the climax waiting minutes after the part where they put the suspense part to it.

    but, I can’t say that anime is lacking at all.

  14. Agreed that there’s no way I can go without movies and stick only to anime. Anime is severely lacking in certain genre and sometimes, I just want to see real people too.

    I agree with the high school thing too. In fact, I don’t even know if I’ll still be watching as much or any anime in ten years. I’m already starting to feel a disconnect from all those high school kid characters. It’d be nice to see more stories about adults out in the real world with real world issues.

    Anyway, I’ve seen quite a few reviewers share your sentiments on Inception. It’s a shame because I really liked that movie and would love to see it win best picture, but…

    • I think we will watch less anime as we grow older. It’s not because we stop liking them but because we know at a glace which titles will provide what we what and which titles are not worthy of our time. That’s what I think, at least ;)

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