Random Curiosity

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Focal Point – Thinking is not Entertaining


If you can’t tell by now, I tend to be garrulous, verbose, and rather redundant when I’m trying to make a point (probably comes with teaching, being long-winded and all that). In fact, when I first sit down to write an editorial, I typically spew out pages of material in a short amount of time, but this verbal diarrhea is messy, unorganized, rambling, and not really enjoyable to read (I already get several TLDR comments on the articles I have published so far, not that I really care about that). This article, in fact, was originally drafted as 7 pages with 0.5 margins, and I wrote it in about an hour. It has since taken me a week to cut it down to the following, which is still probably too long for a lot of you, but that’s how I write, so tough noodles.




Omni recently wrote about Code Geass R2’s low television ratings. And while I couldn’t care less what a large number of Average Joe’s and Josephina’s amassed into a mindless herd-like mob collectively think about a show I like (regardless of whether they are Japanese or American), I did start to wonder why I STILL have episodes 9 and 10 sitting unwatched on my hard drive.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love Code Geass (both the first season and the current one). With all the different genres of anime, I tend to lean towards large and epic plots with characters developing over several episodes (or dying thereafter), smartly written edge-of-your-seat cliffhangers, and a decently conclusive ending. The problem is that such shows often require a certain amount of intelligence and brain power to fully understand and enjoy them.

Before we descend into the immaturity that is calling someone too stupid to appreciate a show, let’s just acknowledge the fact that NOBODY is always capable of processing mentally intensive information ALL the time. I am sure you have found yourself at one point sleep-deprived, maybe from marathoning an entire 26-episode classic anime series your friends have been bugging you to watch, such that even though the latest episode of Code Geass R2 (or whatever plot-intensive anime you recently watch) came out, you just can’t quite find the energy to A) stay awake while trying to watch it or B) fully appreciate and enjoy it, so you opt to watch it with a fresh mind after some sleep.

Thus, it’s not hard to extrapolate the same reasoning for someone who is dead tired after a long day of work. Let’s say you woke up at 5AM, scrambled to put together a lecture and an experiment before your class started, yelled at some unruly students during class, dealt with some students who were complaining about their grades after class, met with some parents of some bad students to discuss ways to resolve the problems, attended a boring after-school faculty meeting where the principal went on and on about teamwork, graded 125 pages of homework, fought rush-hour traffic to get home, and (after dinner) decided to try to relax and unwind by watching some anime. You have your choice of the intellectually-stimulating-yet-mentally-exhaustive Real Drive or the refreshingly-cute-eye-candy-with-a-plot-thiner-than-Kate-Moss To LOVE-Ru. Me? (considering who the hypothetical situation described above is most directly applicable to) I’d go with To LOVE-Ru. And it’s not that difficult to change the job scenario to something that is more applicable to your situation; you could even make it a school scenario with Final Exams time.

ON THE SOAPBOX (even more so than normal)

Oh, but if you’re the type of student who pours all their mental energy into watching and enjoying such intellectually stimulating shows such that you have so little brain power left to finish an assignment or do a test well (if at all), then you have no right to complain if you get a grader lower than what you wanted. The same applies to an employee who doesn’t do their job right and gets berated by their boss, gets their paycheck cut, or gets fired – you don’t have a right to complain if you don’t put sincere effort into your work. I find it ridiculous that there are FANS who frequently stay up all night watching anime, such that they are regularly late for work, and, as a result, lose their job (and then have the audacity to complain about it).

OFF THE SOAPBOX



This is what happens when you watch anime (or play eroge) all night long…

So, all we have to do now is take the argument further and apply it to people who don’t want to HAVE to think when they are being entertained. My wife is a good example of this. While neither of us would call her an anime fan whatsoever, she did enjoy watching CardCaptorSakura, Angelic Layer, Kare Kano, and Fruits Basket (so much so that she had me buy the DVDs for her), and she does help me make cosplay, as her sewing skills far exceed mine (I mostly make props). But when I showed her Neon Genesis Evangelion, I think she made it through 2 DVDs, before she called it quits.

Me: But we’re getting to the good parts. Just give it one more DVD.
Wife: No, it’s too confusing. I don’t get it. What are the angels exactly? And why aren’t they pretty with white feather wings?
Me: Well, we don’t really know – it’s kinda left up to interpretation, but they symbolize-
Wife: And who’s the bad guy? Is it NERV? Is it Shinji’s dad? And what’s this about SEELE?
Me: Well, you’ll find out about it later, but that’s part of the intrigue of the conspiracy in the st-
Wife: Half the time I can’t tell what they’re talking about, because there’s no context!
Me: You just have to take in the scene and remember it for later. It comes into play later.
Wife: That’s too much work.
Me: All you have to do is think.
Wife: I don’t want to think. I want to be entertained.

When a show becomes so “intellectually driven” that it exceeds the viewer’s desire to output that much mental effort, then watching it becomes work and not fun, just like trying to give every single character in Final Fantasy VII their own set of every single type of Master Materia or trying to get a triple star rating on all the courses and in all the different difficulties in Mario Kart Wii (yes, I’m still WORKING on both of those). In terms of why I haven’t watched the latest episodes of Code Geass R2, I find myself feeling the need to go and watch the previous episode, especially because we had a week without Code Geass. With each episode being so heavy and full of plot (with possible exception to the occasional school episode), there was just so much information to remember that I sometimes need a refresher (which is why I often rely on episodic summaries, like Omni’s, to help me out).



I’m not ashamed to admit that I fell off the Da Capo train after a few episodes in the first season of the first Da Capo, and now, there’s no way I can get back on it for the second season of the second iteration

This also explains why it’s so hard to get people interested in a show with a complex plot that requires a lot of thinking to sort through, ESPECIALLY if the show is already running. I’m sure you’ve experienced this feeling if you’ve tried to get people to watch (or you’ve tried to watch yourself) 24, Lost, or Heroes after the first few episodes (or seasons) have already aired. The same would apply to a series like Code Geass R2, which has an entire first season as necessary background to know. And so, the show loses ratings by possibly alienating new fans from starting to enjoy the show, as well as potentially temporarily losing old fans who are too tired from work or whatever to watch it.

But you know what? There’s really nothing wrong with that.

The problems occur when people get arrogant or in-your-face about their preference in entertainment (this part of the editorial is dedicated to long-time readers of Random Curiosity; they SHOULD be able to figure out what “drama” I’m touching upon here, but I’m going to behave and not make a link to the incident).

It’s easy to see how someone who enjoys the thought-provoking shows finds people who cannot enjoy them to be of less intelligence. It’s just not very nice to view such people in that way, much less say it to their face. Reviewers, critics, and even bloggers have to tread the fine line of showcasing their opinion without necessarily insulting their readers…unless it’s funny or entertaining, which (I must say with false smugness) I am a master of. Saying, “The plot is so predictable, there is hardly any plot at all,” is different from, “The plot, such as it is, is complete trash and drivel,” which is ALSO different from, “Anyone who enjoys the plot and thinks it’s captivating must ride the short bus.”

It goes both ways, though. Fans of slice-of-life shows or there-for-eye-candy shows need to not be so critical of or, more accurately, rude to those who enjoy the intellectual shows. Interestingly enough, these types of FANS do not tend to be snobby about their preference, but rather, as a reflection of their tastes, they tend to be annoying as they revel over their shows, inundating their posts and comments with frat boy-like cat calls, which for anime and the internet typically results in comments like “pwned” and “desu desu desu.” “Pull the Pocky stick out of your ass and lemme enjoy whats I likes,” is different from, “Those kind of thinking shows are boring,” which is different from, “You like what you like, and I like what I like. Let’s just leave it at that.”

Everyone has their own voice and tolerance levels of criticism, so the best solution would be to present one’s opinion fairly and in a balanced fashion. And in my opinion, both sides need to every now and then taste a sampling of the genre they have decided is not really for them. You cannot criticize something you haven’t even tried out, and while genres help us classify a type of show, really good shows blur those boundaries, such that even if it looks like a type of show you wouldn’t normally like, you might just end up surprised. Isn’t trying new things better than pigeon-holing yourself up in a box of safety and ignorance? After all, this lack of fear to remain constrained by what is canon allows us to ship characters we’d LIKE to see together, even if they will never become romantically involved in the actual story.



Trying someone something new and different from what you’re used to can be surprisingly delicious

But, fine, you don’t want me preaching to you on what anime you should like (which I’m not), how you should be open-minded to try all sorts of shows (which I am), or how you should voice your opinion fairly and receive other’s opinions nicely about shows (which is rather ironic, considering that this is an editorial – and I can already see the comments that are going to call my a hypocrite…). So, as an editorial, let me just leave you with how I personally classify and prioritize shows, based on my tastes and lifestyle:

High-Maintenance
These are shows that I need to sit down and concentrate on when watching. They need my full and undivided attention, because they’re like bratty little buggers who will throw a hissy fit if I’m not paying attention, and by hissy fit, I mean the story will convolute in such a way that I am left bewildered as to where the plot is, where it was, and where it’s going. Often, though, ESPECIALLY in the case of good shows, whatever they’re doing is awesome enough that my attention is regularly glued to them. However, it can still be difficult to give them the attention they need on little sleep or energy, so I must prepare for them like I would prepare to go to the movies or, perhaps, how I would prepare to take a test. Examples: Code Geass, Real Drive, Ghost in the Shell.

Medium-Maintenance
These are shows that I can watch while eating, and sometimes while grading something simple like multiple choice tests. They’re like a good kid who you can leave to their own devices, because you know they won’t do something stupid like stick a fork in an electric outlet, but every now and then they do something cool, such that your attention is naturally drawn to them. And since I have taken courses in Japanese at the university level, these types of shows often have fairly simple dialogue without too many complex words or technical jargon, thus allowing me to understand what is going on even without reading subtitles 100% of the time. Examples: Kanokon, Kamen no Maid Guy, Shugo Chara.

Low-Maintenance
These are shows I can “watch” (more accurately, listen to) while plucking my pubic hair (not that I really pluck my pubic hair, but that sounds funnier than “these are shows where I simply turn up the volume and listen to while cleaning up the house”). They’re like a bed-ridden senior citizen, who you know you should probably keep watch over, but all they do is lie there and lie there, and you simply have better things to do with your time. Sure, sometimes, they’ll make a loud, elongated grunting noise beckoning you for something, and so you come over and give them attention, but after some time, they go back to sleep or their blank stare of the ceiling, and you can go about your business. For such shows, pretty much any action scene requires you to stop what you’re doing and watch them, although some of them are horribly prolonged with unnecessary internal monologues. Examples: Naruto, DragonBallZ, Super Sentai (Power Ranger) Shows

Regardless of my labeling of whatever genres or shows you particularly like (which may illicit some hateful comments or cries of hypocrisy), the point is that I pretty much sample ALL types of shows (including J-Dramas and kiddy shows), and watch them according to what mood and/or state of alertness I am in. Can you say the same?

Natron-e?
who was so very sad that a couple of students stopped watching Gurren Lagann in the high school anime club because they lost interest (especially once Yoko’s breasts stop being a visual gag after the first few episodes)…

June 24, 2008 at 8:56 pm
142 comments »
  • June 25, 2008 at 6:37 pmKaioshin Sama

    Sorry for the double post, but it would be nice to see people giving some of their own maintenance lists instead of complaining about Natrone’s. Don’t like his? That’s cool, give us your own then instead of just saying “Well no Natrone, lol, your a fool because this show is really shallow and empty cause I say so”. That type of negativity proves very little if anything at all (as Natrone is trying very hard to point out in his article)other then that one is sore over somebody enjoying something on a higher level for themselves then they think they should be. It really just makes people look grumpy and elitist.

  • June 25, 2008 at 7:15 pmMinikui

    >From a cynical standpoint, I felt the makers deemed the show enough of a success that >they wanted to continue it and tacked on more story

    Well that’s how I feel about the second season for now. It doesn’t seem like they planned to continue another 25 episodes from the start. The mecha upgrading is really getting ridiculous. Also, the fight against Xingke looked like filler to me, maybe in order to get Kallen captured, but I kept wondering why Xingke and Zero don’t simply team up as they can easily combine their goals.

    >If you were dumped into a random episode of Code Geass without any background >knowledge (with exception to the school episodes), I think you would be lost way more >than something like To LOVE Ru or Naruto (even though Naruto has such a HUGE >background, and random episode might just have enough of a drawn out fight that you >don’t need to know any of it).

    Well yes, but I think that’s the case with about any series that is not episodic (I think you can count To love ru as episodic).
    In Naruto, even if you watch some random fighting episode, you don’t really know what is going on without knowing at least a bit of the background. Actually I just happened to watch the newest Shippuuden episode without ever watching more than 20 episodes of the original series. And yes, I knew the basic story, I knew who Naruto was … but there were quite a few characters I didn’t know and I didn’t really understand what was going on, why they were fighting each other etc.
    In fact a random episode of Real Drive should be easier to follow, if you just know the idea behind the Metal stuff, because those are pretty episodic so far.

    Kaioshin: For example from this season the show I would consider “high maintenance” is Kaiba. It’s in fact, at least to me, pretty much the only series right now that makes you think and during which you really have to pay attention, because they don’t explain everything in detail. But since, at the beginning of each episode they do explain the basics you can watch some of the eps without knowing the others (those which are episodic).

  • June 25, 2008 at 8:11 pmMelchior

    To me, a series is only “high maintenance” if I have ever had to:
    a) Pause the episode in order to read the subtitles more than once (*not* due to poor grammar in the subs).
    b) Rewind at any point (*not* due to taking a break. Be it household chores, bathroom breaks, or going to work, etc). I mean *while* watching the episode.

    Pretty much, if I ever have to break the flow of the episode to reacquaint myself with the plot. This can include anything from Ghost in the Shell, to Pani Poni Dash, on down through Lucky Star.

    Everything else falls under “medium maintenance.”

    I can’t say I’ve met all that many fans that only extol the virtues of the “Thinker’s Type Series.” Most fans I’ve had contact with either only enjoy the “low-mid maintenance” series, or go for a good balance, like I do. The kind of fans who love Darker than Black to death, but also can’t wait for the next episode of ARIA to come out.

    Another great editorial though, a bit hard to read at times, definitely a “high maintenance” post, but stimulates the brain in all the right places.

  • June 25, 2008 at 8:14 pmmiasmacloud

    Code Geass is not high maint unless you watch it using only 1% of your brain.

  • June 25, 2008 at 8:23 pmSmurf

    Interesting article. I’m curious as to how you would label shows that in a glance would be considered Low Maintenance, but have many hidden layers that take some attention to notice (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya).

  • June 25, 2008 at 9:12 pmNatrone

    @Melchior
    Actually, that’s a whole ‘nother facet I had to edit/cut out of this editorial. Shows that require a lot of brain power just because of too many cultural references/jokes and too much on-screen text (Excel Saga, any SHAFT work, etc.) Those ARE high maintenance, to me, too….

    @Smurf
    The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (at least to me) required high maintenance, because (if watching the non-chronological aired version), you had to pay really close to attention to the details that would be explained in a later episode (in an event that came before).

    Example: the early baseball episode showed Haruhi thinking that Mikuru would look good in a ponytail and that Kyon took interest, much to the dismay of Haruhi. The point of that doesn’t hit home until later, but it makes so much more sense ONLY if you’re thinking hard enough….

  • June 25, 2008 at 9:37 pmMing

    I enjoyed reading this but I agreed with few that you are kind of over thinking about this.
    Sunrise tropes with Gundam baked with Death Note serves with fanservice is not “high-maintenance,” in my opinion. Code Geass is a pretty simple show, actually.

  • June 25, 2008 at 9:52 pmKaioshin Sama

    @Smurf: That’s exactly what I find about Code Geass. And touching upon what Natrone just mentioned it has those moments like Haruhi that require you to pay attention to something whose significance will come up later, but only if you noticed the initial point.

    The chess game with Schneizel for example where most people I imagine were focusing on the chess game itself (understandable)instead of what the characters were saying and what the pieces symbolized ties into Schneizel’s earlier dialogue in a previous episode about “winning by not winning” (dipomacy or exploiting a weakness that will make the enemy surrender itself) and at the end of the game he mentions Lelouch’s retreat and uses the phrase, “That’s not what the emperor would have done”. That point in turn later ties into Schneizel talking about retreating from the battlefield later in episode 11 and asking the question “What would the emperor have done”. In each situation Schneizel and Lelouch backed down from a situation where the other could have easily been inviting them to take the victory and both times they didn’t when it’s likely that the Emperor in his lust for power would have taken any chance to be the victor without concern for how it made them look.

    Essentially it’s a multilayered situation where at first the chess match looks like a completely buggered bit of nonsense chess, but later it’s significance as a measure of the characters personality as leaders becomes apparent. Essentially plot points you don’t think tie into other ones (or are even significant plot points at to begin with) at all in fact do and it enhances the enjoyment of the series. At least for me. That’s why I will continue to think of it as a somewhat intelligent series with mid-high maintenance reqs.

    Another point is that in order to realize why Lelouch has the new Shinkirou Knightmare Frame you would have needed to pay attention to a quick shot of the hangar where it is visible and Laksharta is talking about them receiving new Knightmare Frames from India. That requires a significant level of attention from the viewers I think in just the sheer number of people I’ve seen that thought Shinkirou came completely out of nowhere. Kind of reminds me of the common belief that Ultimecia came out of nowhere as a final boss in FFVIII when she is referenced near the end of the second disc just before the halfway point of the game.

    @Melchior: Of the two series that I have spent the most time blogging, those being Gundam 00 and Code Geass, I find myself having to frequently rewind them because I think I missed a piece of dialogue with a hidden or dual meaning that I can bring up in my thoughts section at the end and that I think could become important later or gives some insight into the characters or situation. That’s also sort of how I measure maintenance for a series. By comparison my Moetan thoughts (Low Main) are like 4 sentences long, my Sky Girls thoughts were about a paragraph (Mid Main) while my thoughts on Code Geass can go as long as 8 paragraphs or more. The show can honestly be downright cryptic at times or have visual cues that have a symbolic meaning such as Nina dress resembling that of the one formerly worn by Euphemia that hints that she is trying to become her idol. There’s just way to much stuff going on at once for me to consider it medium or low maintenance.

  • June 25, 2008 at 10:29 pmKanna

    Actually to me, high-maintenance shows would be:
    1. Something I have to rewatch at least one time to understand FULLY what is going on. (This is watching the show without distractions.)
    2. Shows that make me go back to previous episodes to see something I missed that was only partially mentioned. (That is critical to the plot in the future.)

    And I can’t really say I’ve watch many, or if, even one high maintenance show, and that doesn’t mean that I’m SUPER smart or anything, it’s just that I rather watch medium-maintenance shows that are enjoyable to watch while eating some snacks/food and while thinking at the same time. (Not critically thinking, just a “Wait, he said what?” and such comments, or a “So, blank just …..and so and so just…..so that means that…..is going to happen,” and such.)

    P.S. Keep up the great articles Natrone! I really enjoy the articles you write!

  • June 25, 2008 at 10:46 pmShiNN

    Great article, I enjoy your writing style and the fact that despite being so verbose you produce a lot of interesting discussions and debate among the readers of this blog.

    That said, I just felt like addressing a quite silly matter. Do you really think that “slice-of-life” shows could really be classified as Low-Maintenance? I suppose some could, but I am sure that if you have watched Kino no Tabi or Mushishi (if you haven’t watched them I really, really recommend you to do so, I believe you might enjoy them) you would feel a bit hesitant about including a whole genre in one of your categories. These two shows are valid proof that even slice-of-life genre can provide food for thought and require the viewer to pay attention and mentally elaborate all the inputs (on all kind of “levels”, wether it’s empirical, visual, metaphors and so on) that are being conveyed during any of their episodes. ;)

    I hope my post made sense, it’s 4 AM here, I spent the night studying electronics and I think my brain is not exactly processing my thoughts that well anymore. :X

  • June 25, 2008 at 10:52 pmCamario

    Once again, a series doesn’t have to be “better”, “smarter” or even just “liked” in order to demand or simply allow a certain level of maintenance, you know…paying more attention, if one chooses to do so, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s superior to anything else.

    Minikui: I don’t like some of the developments -or at least their execution which is a subtle difference (I’m fine with all the mecha upgrades, though not with how they are being used most of the time)- in R2 either.

    I would have also liked it to be either just a 25 episode show or, at most, 50 episodes straight through.

    However, the way the first season actually turned out, I really don’t think the staff wasn’t thinking of getting a sequel or at the very least hoping for an extension. The cast was too big and the plot had too many threads, for better and for worse, so I can’t really imagine a good, premature ending that wasn’t, say, making Lelouch fail but still giving him a “symbolic victory” of some sort.

    It’s true that R2 has been running around a little too much, and as mentioned before I don’t like how the China arc turned out, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some steps towards advancing the overall plot, and I would hope the upcoming episodes, with a detour or two, accelerate that trend. But I don’t know, we’ll just have to see.

  • June 25, 2008 at 11:06 pmKaioshin Sama

    @ShiNN: I’d like to take a stab at that myself *is a huge blabbermouth* . For me I like to recognize shows within the genre in their own right. In that case I would consider something like Lucky Star, Aria and Minami-Ke (if one really wants to classify them as slice of life) lower-mid maintenance the former 2 of which deal more with moe comedy then with making one ponder what a life is and the latter of which is mostly just about laying back and looking at stuff that is happening on screen in my opinion. Something like Welcome To The NHK I would consider middle-high maintenance because while I believe that NHK has it’s moments of sheer WTFery that make you question the accuracy of it to real life, I also find that it raises some important questions and concerns about a Japanese subculture that is in desperate need of some guidance as well as bringing up themes such as coming of age, trust and the value of life in general. Something like Mushishi or the movie My Neighbours The Yamadas (which remains to this day my all time favourite example of what I envision Slice of Anime truly being like) I would classify as high maintenance because it’s just really cryptic about what point it is trying to make. Not so much My Neighbours The Yamadas, but Mushishi which takes on a spirtual flair that made the first episode a confusing endeavour for me.

    And then there’s some of the Tezuka Osamu stuff like Black Jack, which while most of it was never actually animated has had an overwhelming and lasting impact worldwide in it’s sheer humanity and overriding themes. Like this one manga by him I recently finished called Ode To Kirohito. Wow…….now I really want to read Buddha. Anyway I digress.

  • June 25, 2008 at 11:21 pmminikui

    >The chess game with Schneizel for example where most people I imagine were focusing on >the chess game itself (understandable)instead of what the characters were saying

    you didn’t really see much of the chess game actually and the part that was really shown at the end – the important one – was against the rules, that’s why it captured the attention of so many viewers ;) I don’t think you can miss what the characters say while having Lulu’s shocked face all over the screen, explaining in detail why he wouldn’t take Schneizel’s king o.o

    But you are right, they managed to include a nice “cross over” between the different scenes. But then they resolve an important part of the story = Lulu being absent, by having a maid dress up as him, which is simply impossible, especially considering her bust size ;) This and the part about the chess move against the rules make a lot of the good parts go to waste, because it still looks as if Sunrise didn’t think this through carefully. Not to mention that the whole part about playing chess with a supposed terrorist was quite hard to accept as well. Those are the parts in CG that I have to ignore, else they bother me all the time and take away all the enjoyment of the show ^^;

    Also, having the new mecha come “from India” is about the same as “out of nowhere” to me, since it’s as always a new upgraded super strong mecha that arrives just in time in order not to resolve a battle using any real tactics (Gundam 00 was a lot worse there, but CG is slowly turning into another Gundam v.v). For example, in Bokurano they actually fight all the time using the same mecha, they might discover new functions of it, but they never get a new one which is infinitely stronger. And all that while fighting against many different types of enemies.

  • June 25, 2008 at 11:48 pmKaioshin Sama

    @Minikui: Maybe she’s got Carrie Fisher anti-jiggle tape. ;)

  • June 26, 2008 at 1:35 amNatrone

    @ShiNN
    While I didn’t directly say it, I will admit that there is an allusion to the idea that slice-of-life shows are low maintenance. Really, though, the various “classic” genres (sci-fi, comedy, slice-of-life, drama, etc.) are on a different axis from attention-needing (low or high maintenance), which is on a different axis from whether a show is “good” or “bad.” (Obviously, there are more than 3 axes).

    However, for the most part, when you look at ALL the slice-of-life shows OR if you take the general meaning and/or conception of a slice-of-life show, then you will get a show that is on average low maintenance. There are BOUND to be exceptions, which is why one of the main points I “preached” in the editorial was to try different shows and genres, even if you KNOW you don’t like them – you just might be surprised.

    Yes, I’ve seen Kino no Tabi and Mushishi and both are high-maintenance slice-of-life shows. Here’s another one you might not think of being high-maintenance (but it was for me): Lucky Star. Lucky Star, with all its obtuse cultural references and whatnot became high maintenance, even though there wasn’t really much plot to follow. Rather, I had to think and process the (sometimes) interminably winding dialogue in order to “get the joke” or sometimes just understand what the hell the girls were talking about. It didn’t always flow smoothly for me (NOTE: I’m not saying anything about whether Lucky Star was a good or bad show).

    Comedy shows can also be low maintenance of high maintenance, even though the general perception for most people is that a pure comedy show is low maintenance. Excel Saga, Pani Poni Dash, and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei immediately come to mind as high maintenance for obvious reasons…

    But things like Aria, Sketchbook Full Colors, Hidaramari Sketch, Minami-ke (Okawari) are low maintenance (at least to me) slice-of-life and/or comedy shows….

  • June 26, 2008 at 2:55 amKGFJ

    There is only one reason if people take Code Geass as a disappointment. They expect too much from it. I myself consider CG as one of the best animes I’ve ever watched (with the plot twists, love triangle, etc). I must admit, R2 might be a little disappointment for those plot-twist-intelligence-viewers. But, basically, you watch anime to enjoy it, right!? If it was too heavy, not everybod would consider watching it! Not all people love watching heavy anime. Right now, I see CG as my fav anime. Yet I don’t really believe not many people watch CG in Japan, even though it got low rating. In anime grand prix 2008, CG wins almost all of the nominees. And the most important thing: CG HASN’T ENDED! All of you who complain about how lame CG is, must be still continuing watching it, right!? At least, most of you. Let’s see how good it is till the end. At least, be grateful since CG is not as awful as Gundam Seed Destiny.
    bACK TO heavy, middle, low maintenance, it depends on everybody. Hey, not all people are as smart as you, right!?

  • June 26, 2008 at 3:34 amminikui

    >I must admit, R2 might be a little disappointment for those >plot-twist-intelligence-viewers. But, basically, you watch anime to enjoy it, right!? If >it was too heavy, not everybod would consider watching it! Not all people love watching >heavy anime.

    Well, that is exactly what this whole post by Natrone was about … expect it put CG among the “heavy” anime ;) Which is what the whole discussion that followed was about.

    >At least, be grateful since CG is not as awful as Gundam Seed Destiny.

    which isn’t really that difficult though. Luckily there are tons of shows better than GSD, else I could stop watching anime altogether XD

    >Yet I don’t really believe not many people watch CG in Japan, even though it got low >rating.

    Yep, it doesn’t really have low ratings anyway. I think Code Geass just gets exactly the right combination of suspense, fanservice (girls, yaoi, as well as mecha), action and not too obvious neither too difficult plot + typical anime character designs by Clamp (so many viewers judge a series only based on its art style) to appeal to a mainstream audience.

    Kaioshin: Yea, you must be right … but I bet that hurts O.O

  • June 26, 2008 at 4:09 amKaioshin Sama

    @Minikui I’m just grateful that CLAMP isn’t actually writing the script for Code Geass. I’ll personally take Sunrise’s extreme writing over CLAMP any day of the week. I’ll also take the siscon Lelouch over him being “friends” with Suzaku. *Imagines Code Geass as a part of the Tsubasa Chronicles Metaverse*…..*Breaks Down In Tears* :(

  • June 26, 2008 at 4:24 amminikui

    Yup, Lulu would have been licking Suzaku’s neck for a long time, like Kamui and Fuma xD

  • June 26, 2008 at 5:25 amoutcast

    I tried to read it. I found it wittely written but when i clicked the desu link (still playing btw) i can’t concentrate on what your point was going to be.
    From what i read it’s a make peace not love kinda piece where everyboday should appreciate eachothers show. You sure are a nice teacher making everybody getting along.

    Btw What kind of fake vegetarian makes chicken tough noodles :P

  • June 26, 2008 at 5:27 amoutcast

    Oh wait it was about watching anime in the appropriate mood.
    U need a lot of selfdiscipline to be able to watch the shows in the correct mood instead of marathoning all you have just so you know what will happen next.
    But your way does gets you more out of anime shows

  • June 26, 2008 at 10:53 amSolaris

    I got bored after the first paragraph. I struggled to read till the end but i missed your point somewhere in that sea of words. Could you tell me the point of this editortial in a simple sentence pls?

  • June 26, 2008 at 3:36 pmOmisyth

    “You cannot criticize something you haven’t even tried out”
    Unless its YAOI.

  • June 26, 2008 at 11:39 pmjitensha

    amazing post. hope i could write a blog entry using your style.

    by the way, are you omni-senpai as well? (its just that you’re not listed on the authors…)

  • June 27, 2008 at 12:29 amRandom muser

    I do feel at times that shows such as Code Geass tend to unnecessarily over complicate themselves as well as rely heavily on insignificant cliffhangers at times. This kind of formula worked well in Death Note seeing as its genre catered to intellectual thinking. Code Geass on the other hand tries to be too much all at once(mecha/mystery/drama/harem etc.)sometimes so its nice once in a while to see mindless mecha blowing stuff up.

  • June 27, 2008 at 3:22 amLe Sigh

    I’ve got to say, that wasn’t an entertaining article at all. In fact, it was pretty … pathetic. Really, I hate to say this, but Code Geass? Intellectually stimulating? I stopped caring right there and began skimming your article. Long-winded arguments that go in circles and things that just felt outright wacky to say (Real Drive being called mentally exhausting for one). You basically go nowhere and spend a lot of time getting to your point:

    “I’m really lazy and possibly stupid.” Code Geass is borderline mindless and comparing it to Ghost in the Shell on that respect is just … unbelievably off. Really, I’m not even sure what to say about this article. The entire thing is just unbelievable period. The thought of somebody having to mentally digest Code Geass is crushingly depressing.

    P.S. get an editor. It sounds like you get lost in your thoughts and neander around in your writings too much. Remember that quantity is not quality. Also try to cut back on the pretentious overtones.

  • June 27, 2008 at 3:25 amLe Sigh

    Random muser: “This kind of formula worked well in Death Note seeing as its genre catered to intellectual thinking.”

    Except it … totally wasn’t! Death Note was directed at the shonen demographic and the author himself expressed delight at aiming it at this younger audience for one reason: they could just sit back and enjoy without HAVING to think. She/he acknowledged that debate could spring forth from it, but he doesn’t intend for it.

  • June 27, 2008 at 4:29 amMiran

    I agree with the show categories, but I tend to think of Code Geass (R2, anyway) as a low-maintenance show. It’s fast-paced and enjoyable when watching the episodes, but if I stop and think about the actual story for a moment the plotholes and logical faults begin to overwhelm my suspension of disbelief. To fully enjoy the experience I have to check my inner critic at the door and try not to think too hard until the episode is over.

  • June 27, 2008 at 6:33 amSolaris

    >“You cannot criticize something you haven’t even tried out”
    Thankyou Omnisyth :D
    Well wasn’t that random rant of Natrone a little too much just to point what’s obvious in the first place?

    What was all of that paper for? To tell that Code Geass needs brain power to be understood? Oh man! What if you were to watch to Angel’s Egg? That anime is full of symbolism and quite cryptic itself. I bet your brain will crash, if it requires so much attention to process such a light anime like Geass…
    What if somebody likes light and entertaining shows like kanokon or toloveru? Are they losers only for that reason? I personally hate Kanokon for some reason i’m not to explain here, but i’d never call stupid he who likes such stuff!
    On the other hand i’d never call “smart or intelligent” who likes Geass. That’s the best example of average anime aimed for the mass audience. That’s all of it…

    Lol Anime in general IS something for the mass audience. It’s made for entertaining. That means there’s not much to think of in the first place.
    There are some rare exceptions of anime made of art. There are indeed, and Heibane Renmei, Paranoia Agent, Miyazaki or Studio 4C anime are a good example of anime art. But OMG, don’t enen dare to put Geass in the group!

    I find natrone’s editorials verbose and weak. he makes a big fuss on nothing and spends lots of ords to point out meannesses. It’s like eating cotton sugar candy. When you start tasting it there’s no substance at all

  • June 27, 2008 at 9:27 pmjitensha

    i think appreciation of anime comes from the watcher. If you don’t like the genre then its impossible for you to like it. Unless there is something that triggered you to like it.

    anyway, just to share…code geass was my first mecha anime… and i learned to appreciate mecha animes because of it . Now i’m watching gundam stuffs as well.

  • June 27, 2008 at 9:42 pmRandom muser

    Le Sigh: “Except it … totally wasn’t! Death Note was directed at the shonen demographic and the author himself expressed delight at aiming it at this younger audience for one reason: they could just sit back and enjoy without HAVING to think. She/he acknowledged that debate could spring forth from it, but he doesn’t intend for it”.

    -If drama, mystery and psychological are genres that don’t lend themselves to thinking then Death note would be a typical shounen title where light would have ended up fighting shinigami in hell slowly progressing his powers as he went along. Yes, the creators did succeed in producing a series that made thinking entertaining as it was relevant to the themes and direction of the show.
    There always is a degree of thinking needed when watching anything. If you aren’t responding(thinking)to a show in any way, you simply aren’t watching it.

  • June 28, 2008 at 12:49 amKaioshin Sama

    I personally do a lot of in depth analysis for Code Geass in my blog where I try to pick up on things I think others might have missed and I tend to find hidden meanings to scenes or hints about the nature of the characters that pop up in what looks like normal banter. I still think the show has an intelligent side to it, but if one insists on watching it believing that there is nothing one could possibly be missing because the show is just a fanservice toy vehicle then one will never see it. It’s an interesting situation where people create their own self-fulfilling prophecy and I’d call it slightly prejudiced, but again it’s peoples choice if they don’t really want to worry about the more intelligent narrative I’ve seen is there.

  • June 28, 2008 at 7:33 amMinikui

    Kaioshin, I certainly would like to her your thoughts on series as Seirei no Moribito, Bokurano, Ergo Proxy, Haibane Renmei or Paranoia Agent ^^ I looked through your blog, but apparently none has been covered there yet (or I didn’t see it).

  • June 28, 2008 at 1:02 pmCamario

    And still, some people continue to misunderstand what was meant as far as “maintenance” goes. Or just simply have a different opinion, I guess, but at least they should try to understand the original point instead of misrepresenting it, as if being “high maintenance” automatically meant that a show has to be intellectual, profound or even “art”.

    No, that’s not the case at all. But I guess this debate is never going to end, so might as well stop here.

  • June 28, 2008 at 4:41 pmminikui

    Camario, I think the problem is in fact that the original post mentions things like “The problem is that such shows often require a certain amount of intelligence and brain power to fully understand and enjoy them.” and “thinking”. From there you can easily get to debating if Code Geass really needs intelligence to enjoy it etc.
    While on the other hand “maintenance” means just how much attention you have to pay to a series while watching, if you can watch while being half asleep, do other things at the same time etc. That mostly depends on the pace of the series, episodic or not, the amount of dialog = subtitles to read … so a comedy series can be high maintenance as well.

    imho it’s kind of hard to draw a line between those two ideas.

  • June 28, 2008 at 11:13 pmneilyo

    I think your mistaken that code geass takes thought lol. I find anime entertaining at times only because it does not challenge my mind and tends to be very simplistic and single planar. A good book will warp the window through which you view reality. A good anime, video-game or manga will lull your mind with age old thoughts and paradigms. There is no contest between the writings of tite kubo or hideo kojima and the likes of kurt vonnegut and tagore. essentially, you watch too many cartoons, and need to broaden your scope of media if you really think anime can be genuinely ‘thought provoking.’

  • June 29, 2008 at 8:57 amKaioshin Sama

    @Neilyo: I think that Natrone was arguing in comparison to most anime and not in fact the works of masters like Tolstoy or my personal favourite, George Orwell. Comparing anime to literary masterpieces warrants the old apples and oranges comparison.

    @Minikui:

    I would if I could, but all are on my too watch list still as I’ve been so busy that I only have time to follow a few anime at any give moment.

    Based off of the 2 episodes I’ve seen of Paranoia Agent though I would guess that it seems to be part of the superflat movement (along with Satoshi Kon himself) and is arguing that after WWII Japan lost track of it’s inherent culture (or rather the one based on Bushido ethics) and has ceased to really be a nation unto itself. That and Japan is in denial of it all in trying to wash over the old with a new more shallow culture based on materialistic values that are superficial at best.

    That’s just pure guess work though as I have not seen nearly enough to do otherwise.

    As for Bokurano, guess work again based on reading a couple chapters, but I would imagine it is a character study that is trying to showcase the authors vision of the true nature of humanity when the characters survival instincts kick in. Something like the idea that you can only see the true measure of a human being when they have everything to risk and little to gain once you take hope away. I would like to read more of it once I have the time.

    As for the other 3 I have no idea.

  • June 29, 2008 at 1:20 pmJusuchin

    Hmm, late opinion. I actually read most of your articles (read: MGS4 sucks up my life so far), and I find yours not at all TLDR…but then…I find excitement reading FM 7-8 while other ROTC kids would rather be off doing something else.

    As for things like intellectual shows and fans who are snobby and rude. I admit I am one of them. Especially when things start getting into Gundam and two other Space Operas (Legend of the Galactic Heroes and the Sekai series). There are times where my best friend and I have a ‘don’t talk to me for a few days’ moment when I implied that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was never as great as Gundam 08th MS Team.

    But i digress.

    I enjoy most kinds of anime it seems. And you’re right. I don’t want to watch an intellectually driven anime (if I watch anime) after failing a test because I just couldn’t grasp the concepts (Japanese). I need something light hearted (or something not in Japanese) to make me feel nice. Then, when I’m on a roll, having amazed my Government professors and whatnot, I feel like watching stuff like LOGH, FLAG, or some series where I kinda have to think.

    And…I rambled on…now I’m lost. Damn my mind. Mental image of a HK G3KA4 shows up and it leads to other things (has possibly memorized almost every aspect of the G3…).

    I…I better stop typing now. XD

  • July 4, 2008 at 2:54 amRamsey

    Very good article. I think a lot of anime snobs would be better off if they understood the points you make. But I could have done without the pubic hair reference ^_^

    But I would refine your title a bit and say that it’s Analysis, not thinking, that is not entertaining. I look at shows like Mushi Shi that are quite entertaining while still being thought provoking, but require none of the “take notes for later” level of attention of series like Evangelion. My favorite anime series appeal to my intellect without making demands on it.

  • July 13, 2008 at 4:04 amcrash & burn

    The sort of shows I like are the ones with fast plot progression. Typically the sort of shows that don’t take a dozen eps to move the plot one inch. If there’s any fight scene (that doesn’t push the plot much), I’d like it to just last 1 ep. max.

    I also like the ones that give “AHA! CHECKMATE!” and “didn’t see that coming!” moments. ’cause it keeps me interested and on the edge of my seat. But I also want it to make me curious enough to wonder what’ll happen next.

    As for plot depth, I don’t want it to be too deep to the point that it’s all talk and no action,and it’ll need a 100 replays to understand.

  • August 13, 2008 at 7:51 amPrism

    “Let’s just acknowledge the fact that NOBODY is always capable of processing mentally intensive information ALL the time.”
    “Oh, but if you’re the type of student who pours all their mental energy into watching and enjoying such intellectually stimulating shows such that you have so little brain power left to finish an assignment or do a test well (if at all), then you have no right to complain if you get a grader lower than what you wanted.”
    At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’d like to point out that I watch good shows (which, for me, tend to be intellectually stimulating in some way, be it like Code Geass or perhaps just due to jumbled chronology like Baccano!) regardless of what else is going on (yes, even during study break, yea, even the night before an exam).
    What grades do I get? Mostly A+, a small number of As. Nothing below that.
    I agree with ALL possible situations, I disagree with ALL the time, because depending on (a) how intelligent you are, and (b) how you manage your time, you can live in such a way that at ALL times you are in a situation where you are “capable of processing mentally intensive information”.
    I am certainly not the norm, but I also doubt I’m the only person capable of such things.

  • July 13, 2009 at 5:27 amJel

    This was very interesting to read! I’ve read some of your other entries and it’s very nice and entertaining.

    I also agree about the “Maintenance” labels you give. Sometimes I just read a book while watching those “Low Maintenance” animes and walk around without pausing it.
    The “High Maintenance” ones you listed are also ones I used to have to actually take a minute to realize what was going on and had to listen/read the subtitles carefully in case I might not understand.

    Thanks for the entertaining read!

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