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Special Report – We’re In This Together!

Stilts Out Loud   015   Crop FAIRY TAIL

If you hurt one of us, you answer to all of us!

Thanks to my persistent laziness, this week yields another Stilts Out Loud: Special Report, where I partner up with another RandomC writer (and/or an underground Fight Club brawler…whoever is available) and talk about whatever entertains us. This week we have an article penned by none other than Stereoman, and to any of you who know her, the topic should come as no surprise. And if it does, I suggest you look at the title of this post. It sorta spells the whole thing out.

Erh, what was I talking about? Right, nakama. Stereoman, take it away!



Stereoman:

Before I start, I’d like to thank Stilts for giving me the opportunity to write this post with him. I am very honored to contribute to his section and I hope my entry will appeal to you.

“Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno – One for all, all for one” is the traditional motto of Switzerland and Alexandre Dumas’ historical novel The Three Musketeers. These are powerful words that unite and motivate people to honorably fight for their companions, a theme most of us have come across at some point. In manga and anime, this concept is more commonly known as “nakama”, which roughly translates to partner, companion, or friend. Oftentimes we find series with characters that have to face various challenges. Some of the challenges involve personal development – in other words, the character has to become stronger or braver – while others may struggle for the sake of someone else, usually either protecting them or overcoming hardships together. These two types of challenges are key issues that drive the plot in most stories, and this post is dedicated to exploring the appeal of the latter.

Fighting for others, or simply being there for someone else, is usually connected with various shounen titles, but in fact it is a concept that can be applied to any genre. While some series demonstrate the importance of being there for your friends outright (One Piece, FAIRY TAIL, and Sailor Moon) there are those with a more subtle way of conveying it (Rinne no Lagrange, Chrno Crusade, and Tsuritama). These are just a few of many examples. With such a flexible trope, it’s very easy to see why nakama stories are so popular. People of all ages can relate to the characters in these stories – there are usually no complex relationships involved in the plot, and everything is straightforward, simple, and honest. There is something for everyone to enjoy in a nakama tale – just that in itself is enough to make this trope worthy of its popularity. Nakama stories are great because they have a good deal of emotional impact on their fans through their ways of portraying issues that commonly occur in relationships (love, adventure, drama, comedy, etc.), something we tend to seek in our own lives. These are just a few of the many fantastic things about nakama stories.

Unfortunately many fans don’t see nakama in such a positive light. Some of their criticism is that when the story is simple, it may become transparent or future events can be very predictable. They’re right, the nakama trope isn’t new – it has been recycled over and over again, so clichés are to be expected. The usual ones involve characters who can take insults but do not accept when their friends are ridiculed, people being overpowered because of their comrades, or villains being taught a lesson when they treat their partners like trash. These are legitimate arguments, but to me, they’re not enough to make a story boring or uninteresting.

Stilts Out Loud   015   Crop Angel Beats

We’re such great friends that we kill each other every day!

What the concept lacks in novelty, it makes up for with stories that are still unique, and that is enough to make it interesting to me. Let’s not forget that the characters are the ones who move things forward whenever nakama is the central theme of the plot. You may have seen a situation being repeated before, but the people involved are new for each and every story. New characters bring in unique personalities and different ways to look at various situations – they make every journey unique, so it will never be the same.

When it comes to clichés, they aren’t a problem to these series either. Friendship is all about support and understanding, so that will never change. We will always see characters come together and overcome hardships in nakama stories because that’s the point in having companions. Aside from support, friends are also a key source of motivation for the characters, so in a way, they’re a form of strength. And isn’t it like that in real life too? One performs better when motivated, so the random power ups in stories are quite normal and not that random at all.

Besides, “nakama” is a theme, not a genre. Basically, when you read or watch anything where people support each other to tackle a problem, regardless of the material’s genre, you’re seeing the nakama trope. So there is more to a story than just friendship. A great example is Angel Beats!, where the main story centers around a certain world while a group of friends move the plot forward through their companionship. In other words, series are seldom solely about nakama, but many progress because of it. The progression itself may vary depending on the type of characters the plot centers on. In addition nakama doesn’t necessarily have to involve heroes. Villains can work together as well to plan their evil schemes, and that’s another kind of friendship or teamwork. There are many sides to the nakama trope.

Stilts Out Loud   015   Crop Nichibros

Nakama challenge: Save that frankfurter!

Supporting a character in a nakama tale doesn’t necessarily mean that you as a reader or viewer have to be partial and chose a side. We simply like to watch people who stand up for their friends regardless of their karmic alignment. A good example is Naruto, where the titular protagonist wants to save his former teammate Sasuke who has become a felon. To be able to support the relationship between friends is just one of the wonderful things about friendship stories. We ignore whether a character is a hero or a villain and simply support the bonds that person shares with others.

Considering the meaning of “nakama”, the importance of relationships in this trope is a given. While some people prefer to live isolated from society, it is undeniable that life as a loner comes with hardships. We seek to form relationships and therefore stories about them can be inspiring because they bring up so many examples of the struggles one goes through in forming them. Bonds between friends are attractive to us and in turn we become attached to them. Love is said to be the strongest feeling one can have and that is probably true. Whether it’s agape, eros, philia, or storge, it doesn’t matter. Our curiosity and longing for love is, in my opinion, the reason why nakama stories are as popular as they are and have such broad fanbases. Scenes where a group of people accomplish something through teamwork are some of the most epic ones you’ll come across because love and success are two of the main ambitions in most people’s lives. It’s part of human nature, and perhaps that’s why we enjoy seeing our dreams realized through fictional characters.

Aside from that, friendship also walks hand in hand with merriment. While nakama in epic manner overcome various hardships together, they also have a lot of fun which gives companionship stories a comedic value. Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou is a great example of a nakama comedy. Hilarious incidents between characters show how close and carefree they are with each other, so comedy is definitely an essential component for many nakama series.

To wrap things up, we can say that the nakama trope may not be very innovative now that it is so common, but it still manages to deliver in every aspect because of all the unique characters we have in friendship stories, and they have the ability to bring us what we seek in our own lives, especially relationships. Love, action, comedy, naïvety, and idiocy are all part of friendship, and these are the things that make nakama stories such great and memorable adventures. There’s no question about why the concept has been recycled over the years – it’s simply a theme that fires you up!

Moete kitazou!



Stilts:

Ever since this column came into existence, Stereoman has been wanting (see: bugging) me to write a post about nakama, but that’s always a troublesome prospect for me. Why? Well, my reasons for liking this theme aren’t all that logical. From a cold, clinical, “scholarly” point of view, such an unoriginal and oft-repeated theme shouldn’t elicit the squeals of elated glee that so many of these stories summon forth in me. I’ve seen it all a hundred times, so why should one more entertain so much?

To me, nakama has always been more of a visceral thing. It’s storytelling at its most basic, not logical or clever or innovative, but emotional, primal, instinctual. Note though that basic does not equal bad. Just as we shouldn’t ignore our basic physical needs – food, shelter, safety, sleep – neither should we denigrate those of the mind and soul.

Love is one of the bedrock desires of the human race, which is why we’ve been telling stories of romance since we first learned you didn’t have to wait for lightening to strike to get a campfire going. Is it at all strange that we would be drawn to stories like these, stories not of the love between lovers, but of that between friends? Because that’s all this is. The theme of “nakama” is the love between friends, an eternal bond that, at its best, not even time or trials or an untimely heroic death can shake or sunder.

Perhaps that’s why it’s for the best that I can let Stereoman do the heavy lifting this time around, and merely say this – basic though it may be, simple though it may be, I love seeing this theme, for it’s one I wish to hold true to in my own life. How about you?

Stilts Out Loud   015   Crop together forever

Friends forever, to the end of the universe and beyond.

November 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm
62 comments »
  • November 6, 2012 at 3:18 pmPinnochio

    Stilts calm down.

    • November 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm†Croos†

      I second this :D

    • November 6, 2012 at 3:23 pmStilts

      But I don’t want to! Didn’t you read the title!? We’re in this together!!!

      P.S. it’s mostly Stereoman anyway. She’s the crazy one!

      • November 6, 2012 at 6:21 pmMasterDragonKnight

        Ah, but if you say that you are in this together, you can’t blame her for being the crazy one. You have to share the blame too, crazy Stilts-oniichan. ^.~

      • November 6, 2012 at 8:26 pmD-LaN

        So many shonen hero(ine) here XD

      • November 6, 2012 at 10:15 pmCybersteel

        Cue well-timed insert

      • November 7, 2012 at 8:16 amStereoman

        Hey! :|
        I’m not crazy! …I think

      • November 7, 2012 at 10:53 pmStilts

        If you have to think about it… :3

  • November 6, 2012 at 3:34 pmTonameki

    Awesome post by Stilts oniichan and Stereoman. Thank you very much I enjoyed it :D

    • November 7, 2012 at 7:59 amMrRei

      People getting used to calling Stilts “oniichan” still creeps me out. :\

      • November 7, 2012 at 10:54 pmStilts

        Nyahaha, I’m winning! >:D

      • November 8, 2012 at 5:51 amZen

        Personally, I find it to be kind of charming. Shows that everyone loves him- but I do see your point; what if the person calling him onii-chan happens to be a female of *ahem* Rikka’s age…seriously creepy…O_O (jk)

        @Stilts: I always thought I was rather old compared to the rest of the readers, having found this site in my late teens during the bygone era of Omni solo- but you’re actually significantly older than me, wow…maybe I should start calling you “onii-chan” too…XP

      • November 8, 2012 at 11:12 amMasterDragonKnight

        Stilts-oniichan~ *tilts head*

  • November 6, 2012 at 3:52 pmc2710

    Interesting collaboration you got there. XD

    Anyway, Moomba, when’s your next OST post coming?

  • November 6, 2012 at 4:05 pmdimasok

    I think the theme of nakama runs the deepest in Fairy Tale… never have I watched a series where everyone was so supportive of each other to such an extent that nothing could possibly drive a wedge there that couldn’t be repaired by the strong personal and guild bonds.

    I am for more interested in that sort of collective nakama feeling such as the one in Fairy Tale than the personal one-on-one nakama which holds far less interest for me than it once did

    • November 6, 2012 at 4:16 pmPinnochio

      Fairy Tail*

  • November 6, 2012 at 4:15 pmewok40k

    Perhaps my most beloved example of Nakama helping each other and overcoming obstacles is found in the Higurashi no Naku Kooro Ni – where literally only combined actions of ALL friends can overcome indomitable will and resources of the Big Bad…

  • November 6, 2012 at 4:28 pmmac65

    I enjoyed reading the 仲間 exposition.

    Nicely executed; it’s fun to look at the brick-and-mortar of some of the pieces that make up a good story.

    Thank you!

  • November 6, 2012 at 4:38 pmWanderer

    Nakama… I love this theme. It can create some truly touching and powerful moments.

  • November 6, 2012 at 5:36 pmEntrav

    One Piece: Nakama

    That’s when I started to appreciate the concept.

  • November 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm†Croos†

    @Stereoman
    Show Spoiler ▼

    >:D

    • November 6, 2012 at 7:54 pmStilts

      That doesn’t sound like something I would do! D:

      Now, cajole and/or trick ingeniously, on the other hand…

      • November 6, 2012 at 10:16 pmCybersteel

        How very UNakama

    • November 7, 2012 at 9:30 amStereoman

      Nah, he didn’t force me. I’m simply too M! orz

      • November 7, 2012 at 10:55 pmStilts

        M! Stereoman is M because she likes to do extra posts!

        …which means so am I, Orz!

      • November 8, 2012 at 11:16 amMasterDragonKnight

        I’m going to quote you on that later, Stilts, when the subject of M comes up again. ^^

  • November 6, 2012 at 6:21 pmjunglepenguin

    The concepts of “banding together” and “morale” are something else worth mentioning. The power that comes out from friendship could be the same power that comes out from nowhere for no particular reason, for all we know. But to see a team holding strong in the face of an adversity that seems nigh impossible to defeat – that, I can believe in, and believe in strongly. It’s what makes the speech that Aragorn makes at the Black Gate in The Return of the King (and pretty much everything that follows after) one of my favourite scenes in any movie. Sure, they won the battle eventually, but does that matter each time I re-watch that scene? Not one bit. What matters is that they were all scared shitless and knew that they were gonna get their asses kicked, but they were nakama, and they would still fight for each others’ lives and give their own for the life of the guy standing next to them.

    The nakama “theme” exists in pretty much every show that has some sort of interaction between characters. I think its meaning has been warped from something that means “relationship between people who care for each other” to become “a power-up cop-out that can be applied when friends are in a pinch”. I can’t understand why anyone would dislike this theme except for this reason.

    • November 6, 2012 at 7:57 pmStilts

      For my money, it’s all about Théoden’s speech before Rohan entered the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Chills man, chills…

      • November 6, 2012 at 10:08 pmjunglepenguin

        Heck, the concept of nakama is practically central to LOTR. What would the tale have been without it? (And yes, the chills…)

        I definitely have to mention the scene where Sam offers to carry Frodo up the rest of the mountain. Paired with that soundtrack, I shed a good few tears the first time watching it.

  • November 6, 2012 at 6:24 pmPasserby

    I think Anohana would have been a very interesting addition to this discussion. We even have its spiritual predecessor Little Busters this season.

  • November 6, 2012 at 10:33 pmKairoru

    After reading the title of this report, my first thought was : “High School Musical?”

    Forgive me @_@

    • November 7, 2012 at 12:40 amDCLXVI

      Stilts is either missing the “all” (as in “We’re all in this together”) or it isn’t really about High School Musical. What’s very clear is that I’m embarrassed at remembering ^that^.

      • November 7, 2012 at 10:57 pmStilts

        So, is that like Glee, but…I’m not watching it? o.O

        I do not know what this High School Musical thing is. Besides, the title was actually Stereoman’s pick, lol. I’m gunna guess that wasn’t her intent either, though.

  • November 6, 2012 at 11:08 pmNeo

    I like nakama theme. Show like One Piece, Fairy Tail, Rosario + Vampire, Negima, and other show with similar theme. Thing like declare war to the world save friend (One Piece), break to enemy base because they hurt their “family” (Fairy Tail), storming to an enemy castle and flying fortress to save a friend (Rosario + Vampire), earning money to free friend from slavery (Negima) really touch my heart.

    • November 7, 2012 at 10:58 pmStilts

      This is another reason I need to watch Rosario + Vampire. And eventually take the bullet and marathon One Piece. Though fuck if I have time for that!

      • November 7, 2012 at 11:48 pmNeo

        No Stilts don’t watch Rosario + Vampire read it more recomended. Anime is fanservice heavy with very little character development and plot(thought I have to admit it have good OST). The manga is very deep and Tsukune is more baddas as the story progress(season 2 in particular).

      • November 8, 2012 at 9:24 pmStilts

        Noted! Though that pushes it further back on my list ‘o things to read, alas…anime I can handle, but manga I always end up losing four days to marathoning it, and I just don’t have the time for that anymore :X Damn my lack of self control!

  • November 7, 2012 at 12:37 amDCLXVI

    Can’t talk about nakama if it doesn’t include Gurren Lagann!

  • November 7, 2012 at 1:18 amZen

    I’ll be the first to admit that I love shounen shows like Fairy Tail, Bleach, Toriko, Gintama and Beelzebub; I see no logical contradiction arising from a critic enjoying generic shows that tend to be of (relatively) low objective quality, least of all “nakama” ones. The (perceived) “problem” arises from the human tendency to equate subjective personal enjoyment to objective quality- when in fact, a non-frivolous logical distinction between the concepts can be easily constructed.

    A person isn’t (or shouldn’t) be asking him/herself the same question when attempting to determine whether a show was subjectively enjoyable or objectively good. When you’re deciding whether you enjoyed a show, you’re essentially asking yourself whether all of its elements came together and formed something that entertained you, whereas when you’re evaluating objective quality, you’re asking yourself if the show did what it was trying to do well, based only on objective, quantifiable elements that can be meaningfully compared.

    One should not evaluate the objective quality of shows based on the presence or absence of subjective, unquantifiable ideas (themes) that provide no meaningful means of comparison. Only quantifiable elements that can be easily and fairly compared on a continuum like (how strong was the) character development, production values, steady pacing, originality and plot coherence should be considered. Thus, an evaluation for enjoyment can be said to incorporate all elements of a show, whereas an evaluation for objective quality only includes those that are quantifiable.

    The best critics are able to distinguish these two concepts; in theory he/she should be able to detach himself from his/her own subjective preferences and evaluate a show for objective quality based on the merits alone. He should be able to give a good review to a show from a genre that he absolutely hates if its quantifiable elements indicate that it is objectively meritorious.

    Conversely, if he happens to be the kind of person who likes “best worst movies” like Birdemic, he should be able to set aside his personal preferences and condemn the dreadful movie for what it is based on its objective, quantifiable qualities, in spite of the fact that he enjoyed it personally…

    • November 7, 2012 at 9:33 amshadowalker

      even though i had to read this a couple of times in order to actually understand wat u were saying, i really think people who write blogs should really take note of this.

      • November 7, 2012 at 11:12 amgoodstuffs

        we were simply expecting his TL;DR cliff noteesss D: it never showed up! it usually drives home all the key points!

    • November 7, 2012 at 5:59 pmPasserby

      While I completely agree with you in theory, it is often very difficult for a given person to separate evaluations from objective ones. This is especially true for anime, which are supposed to be first and foremost entertainment. If an objectively “good” anime fails to entertain a viewer, that viewer would naturally conclude that the anime did something wrong. Conversely, if an objective “bad” anime entertains, then the viewer will conclude that the anime did something right. This holds true even for relative comparisons; if one anime entertained more than another then the viewer will conclude logically that one of the anime did something better.

      Take for example the infamous Endless Eight arc of the second season of the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. Objectively speaking, it was a very important piece of the narrative which delivered its intended purpose in a very effective way. But since it failed to generally entertain (though I sometimes do hear of people being entertained by Endless Eight) it must be considered a failure.

      As far as themes go, I do not think they form a component of the quality of an anime. Rather, it is the delivery, consistency, coherency and overall effective use of those themes that should be part of an analysis about quality. Of course when it comes to discussion about anime in general discussion of themes come forward.

      • November 7, 2012 at 6:42 pmZen

        While I completely agree with you in theory, it is often very difficult for a given person to separate evaluations from objective ones.

        Eliminate the overly-general labels of “good” and “bad.” Instead use the terms “enjoyable” and “unenjoyable” for evaluating enjoyment, and the terms “high quality” and “low quality” for evaluating objective quality. Instead of evaluating shows using one overly-general category of “good” or “bad” you are now evaluating them for two different, concise categories of “enjoyment” and “quality”- each of which has its own distinct evaluatory criteria, the former incorporating all elements of a show, and the latter only including those that are quantifiable and can be meaningfully compared on a continuum.

        The cognitive dissonance that most people have trouble with arises from associating the term “good” with both “high quality” and “enjoyable” (And conversely, the term “bad” with “low quality” and “unenjoyable”) simultaneously- of course, doing so is an over-generalization that inevitably leads to logical deadlock because “enjoyment” and “quality” are two distinctly different concepts. It’s a logical fallacy that arises from the human tendency to oversimplify and over-generalize for the sake of efficiency; under no circumstances would I say that overcoming it is easy because most people are just wired that way- but any critic who manages to do so is transcendent…

      • November 7, 2012 at 8:20 pmZen

        Darn, mis-posted at the bottom, anyways…

        …Endless Eight arc of the second season of the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. Objectively speaking, it was a very important piece of the narrative which delivered its intended purpose in a very effective way. But since it failed to generally entertain (though I sometimes do hear of people being entertained by Endless Eight) it must be considered a failure.

        I haven’t watched Endless Eight and know nothing of its objective quality. So setting aside Haruhi, and focusing on the substantive issues at hand, it appears that this thing you call “general enjoyment” is your measuring stick for overall “success” or “failure.” Yet going by your logic every cult classic and art house indie film in history would have to be categorized as a “failure” simply because they “failed to entertain the masses/generally entertain.” But surely that isn’t what you meant at all, is it?

        Alas, the word “failure” as applied here is yet another over-simplification of terms, a classical case of causal reductionism- you’re basically saying that whether something succeeds or fails as a whole is determined only by whether it is massively appealing. In reality, there are numerous subsets of factors that must be considered independently for success or failure before a proper conclusion about the overarching superset for general success or failure can be attained.

        It wasn’t massively appealing and didn’t sell well? It’s a fiscal failure. But it was artsy and introduced a lot of novel new plot techniques? Then it’s an artistic success. And it had atmospheric music? We have a musical success. The list goes on and on unto infinity- of course, it is impossible for any mortal to consider an infinite number of factors, so we choose the ones that are common to the media being evaluated (style, plot coherence, etc. for books) or typical to the genre (innovativeness, visual style, etc. for indie art house)- things for which there is a substantial amount of precedent that provides easy comparisons- and only after evaluating a large enough sample of these individual factors for success or failure independently can we obtain a reasonably accurate aggregate conclusion about the overall success or failure of the piece of media that is being examined, by means of mathematical limits, of course.

        And finally, I implore that we do not confuse the two distinctly different concepts of “success” and “quality.” “Quality” is but the name for a superset of factors that that in turn falls within the superior superset of overall success or failure and consequently must be considered independently before arriving at a conclusion on the final matter (overall success or failure)…

      • November 7, 2012 at 11:12 pmStilts

        First of all, nobody tell verdant we’re talking about subjectivity/objectivity. He totally loses his shit for this kind of stuff.

        Now, Zen is totally right. Like, I love taking exception with the things you say, ’cause they’re usually well thought out and thus fun to refute, but I’ve got nothing here. Spot on. The thing that separates a true critic from a random Joe or Jane on the street is that she has such a body of knowledge about the field in question that she can separate her own enjoyment from the objective mechanics and tell you whether it was done right or wrong based only on that.

        That said, a true critic will never grade something wholly on whether it’s done well or badly. No one can be completely subjective, and in trying to weed that out we’re liable to under- or over-correct for it, thereby rendering our critical appraisal faulty. Better is to judge it based upon objective qualities, and then add in mention of the subjective as well. Make sure to note where the subjective is, of course – that’s important. Yet it’s still good to note it, because all critical appraisals boil down, in the reader’s eyes, to one thing – do I want to watch/read/partake of this art form? A clinical analysis alone will not tell you that.

        TBH, this is all something I’ve struggled with here. I’ve never really thought of myself as a critic, as I don’t consider myself having any credibility. Rather, I feel more like Jon Stewart – a joker and an entertainer, just the jester in the corner who prattles on about the things he likes and maybe makes people smile a time or two. Of course, like with Stewart, sometimes wisdom can pass among the oppai jokes…but it’s not my intent. So where, then, does my duty lie? Where should I draw the line in the sand between critical authority and entertainer’s flair?

        Hell if I know.

      • November 8, 2012 at 12:38 amPasserby

        I think there is no need to enter into a semantical debate about failure or “good/bad”. I don’t think you really replied to what i said and it may just be bad communication on by part, so let us refocus a bit. I have categorised anime as ultimately being entertainment. If this point is not contested (and let us set aside for the moment the possible existence and merit of “arthouse” anime) then it is not unreasonable to say that anime have an onus to entertain. When I talked about failure it was only in reference to this single, minimal standard. I cited Endless Eight as the best discussion example I can think of: Endless Eight was designed specifically to not entertain, but rather the opposite; it tried to make viewers personally feel the boredom and frustration of one of the characters. I can and have before made arguments on behalf of Endless Eight as an interesting and perhaps even “artistic” experiment, but as anime–entertainment–I still think it is a failure. This is not a matter of “mass appeal”, though notably the masses were overall, per design, bored and frustrated. A cult classic may be have been unpopular, but this is not necessarily (and rarely) a failure of its fundamental onus (whatever it may be); otherwise it wouldn’t have the cult appeal. More often it is a failure of marketing. But there is little reason to discuss that when simply evaluating a show.

        It is not at all a logical fallacy to associate a “high-quality” with “enjoyable” because I think the two necessarily are correlated. It would be absurb, in my humble opinion, to say that increasing the “quality” of the show–most simply by pouring money into it–does not increase enjoyment. I would, however, hesitate to conflate “objective” with “quantifiable”. There are many a show where a commentator disliked the pacing while I disagreed and vice versa and I have never managed to find a mathematical good pacing index that I can point to and automatically demonstrate that I am right.

        The problem I think you have with “enjoyment” (which is not necessarily the same as “entertainment” but let us put that aside as well) is that enjoyment or lackthereof is a gut reaction, an initial impression. It is not contingent on insight or introspection. Yet it definitely is there. The first thing a critic must do upon watching a show is to come to terms with whether he or she liked the show. Then the critic should as “why?”. It is then, I think, that actively separating the objective from the subjective comes into practice. Forgive my intellectual hubris, but I would distinguish the two as follows: there should be objective things that the show does well, and subjective criteria stemming from the critic’s personal characteristics. For example, my parents could have been murdered by a clown when I was young and now I can never never enjoy the circus again. I may well be able to say that the performers are very skilled and highly trained but the facepaint just makes me sour. Or something.

        The only difficulty this categorisation has is with comedy, which is always hard to evaluate. Objectively funny comedy, I think, is hard to argue for with anything more than saying the jokes are well timed and witty or something.

      • November 8, 2012 at 4:36 amZen

        @Passerby

        Show Spoiler ▼

        ___________________________________________________________________________________________

        @Stilts

        Show Spoiler ▼

      • November 8, 2012 at 5:52 pmPasserby

        I mean no offense, but you seem to be getting very defensive about something here, to the point that you’re attacking strawman versions of my arguments. There is no need for that. As you may recall, I started out by saying that I fundamentally agreed with you. I completely support the need for objective analysis. I was simply pointing out the problems in reality and offering a practical viewpoint, which I suppose you have also done now. It would be unfortunate for otherwise pleasant intellectual discourse to be ruined by a misunderstanding, so allow me to reiterate.

        I will maintain that objective criteria are things that the show does itself, and subjective criteria are those stemming from the responder himself or herself. This is simply a matter of useful definitions. I will also maintain that there is no such thing as a non-subjective human being. As such, all wells, as you would put it, are by default poisoned. I did not say at all that bias was a good thing. It is simply that ignoring subjective influences is definitely a mistake. In order to ultimately offer useful analysis, the good critic must also be self-aware. Returning to my clown example, my trauma regarding clowns will always exist. This is exactly why I must be able to identify this trauma before I start to think about my response to the circus act. If I was going to write a review on some circus blog, for example, how I evaluate a circus with no clowns and a circus with clowns may well be different. Therefore first and foremost I must determine whether there is an effect and the extent of that effect. I may even decide that I have to excuse myself from review because the effect or perceived effect of my trauma is too great.

        About association not being synonymous with synonimity, I’m glad we cleared that up even if we may ultimately haved used a lot of words to say that we agreed. If entertainment is the overarching purpose of anime then at some point that is a question that must be answered*. It is one approach to just lay out the bare, untarnishable minimum abnd let the readers answer the question themselves. At the same time, though, if the would-be critic would conclude that a show is high-quality, yet didn’t enjoy, or concludes that a show is low-quality, yet enjoyed it, I think that critic is falling short of his or her “duties”*. If a critic enjoyed or didn’t enjoy a show despite its quality, then there must be something else. It may well just be personal preferences (which some reviewers find useful to share and some readers find useful to hear, but of course not all). It may be a blindspot in the analysis. Humans not infallible, especially not at first draft. I believe in cycles of self-reflection.

        *Of course in reality people both read and write blogs for all sorts of reasons, and no one has a non-legal duty to anyone.

        I will end by noting that I do not think there is any such thing as fully objective review. Even such things as character development, plot coherence and pacing have many dissonent voices for any given show. We can even say, to paraphrase Wittgenstein, that all language is contextual and all communication of ideas subjective. As such I believe in practical compromises and openness to debate.

      • November 8, 2012 at 9:06 pmZen

        I mean no offense, but you seem to be getting very defensive about something here, to the point that you’re attacking strawman versions of my arguments. There is no need for that. As you may recall, I started out by saying that I fundamentally agreed with you. I completely support the need for objective analysis. I was simply pointing out the problems in reality and offering a practical viewpoint, which I suppose you have also done now. It would be unfortunate for otherwise pleasant intellectual discourse to be ruined by a misunderstanding, so allow me to reiterate.

        Lol, sorry if it sounded like I was getting defensive. It would be extremely unfortunate if things went south because I stepped into some offensive territory, so I shall lift the veil of my facade and end the game that I constructed. You have to understand, I knew all along that you were offering the practical viewpoint, which is definitely the best approach to employ in real-world scenarios- but I’m the kind of person who argues for the sake of arguing, not for the sake passion; my passion is for the argument; for the game, and not for the issue. So if the other party takes a stance on one side, then I will purposefully place myself on the other, becoming the devil’s advocate- and trying as d*mn hard as humanly possible to make my argument look like it has real conviction behind it- all for the sake of creating a reason for discourse. So since you took the practical stance, I naturally decided to take the idealistic stance and champion an attempt to get as close to perfect objectivity as humanly possible.

        But the truth is as you said; this idealistic viewpoint is nigh entirely impracticable in the real world because no man is perfectly objective and few men are able to attempt to excise all subjectivity without significantly jeopardizing the integrity of his evaluation. Again, I apologize if I took things too far, I was simply having too much fun- and you must forgive me if I, in the heat of it all, took the (admittedly knowing) liberty of resorting to a straw man or two to defend what was clearly the weaker position (That first Endless Eight comment, man; I totally took it out of context)…XP

        It is simply that ignoring subjective influences is definitely a mistake. In order to ultimately offer useful analysis, the good critic must also be self-aware. Returning to my clown example, my trauma regarding clowns will always exist. This is exactly why I must be able to identify this trauma before I start to think about my response to the circus act. If I was going to write a review on some circus blog, for example, how I evaluate a circus with no clowns and a circus with clowns may well be different. Therefore first and foremost I must determine whether there is an effect and the extent of that effect. I may even decide that I have to excuse myself from review because the effect or perceived effect of my trauma is too great.

        Wholeheartedly agree with you- my theoretical man who is capable of attempting to leave out all subjectivity without putting his own integrity into question is quite simply a rarity, or if not, altogether non-existent- and this isn’t a even a man who is capable of perfect objectivity; he is simply capable of attempting to employ absolute objectivity while preventing any significant loss of integrity- if the existence of such a (imperfect) man is questionable at best, what then becomes of the existence of a person who is capable of perfect, absolute objectivity?- It necessarily follows that his existence is altogether null; he is but an idealistic fiction. Men who live in reality should nigh always attempt to employ the techniques that you (and Stilts) delineated above (H*ll, I use these techniques in some of my own comments here on RC, and I can argue with a straight face that I apparently “don’t believe in them,” lol?)

        I will end by noting that I do not think there is any such thing as fully objective review. Even such things as character development, plot coherence and pacing have many dissonent voices for any given show. We can even say, to paraphrase Wittgenstein, that all language is contextual and all communication of ideas subjective. As such I believe in practical compromises and openness to debate.

        That is indeed the crux of the matter. Nothing is set in stone, and even the most controversial of explanatory models have certain subtle merits- the truth can only be approached through debate and practical compromise- which is why I love debates, because it is only through passionate debating that all sides of the argument can be exhaustively examined, and coherent practical solutions to real-world problems constructed from the mangled frames of rigid theoretical models. Again, I apologize if you found my fabrications to be offensive in some way- the knowledge gained from passionate arguments is pathologically intoxicating to me, and you must forgive a man for succumbing to his own curiosity. And thanks for being such a good sport, I sure had a lot of fun arguing with you- let’s do it again sometime?…;)

      • November 8, 2012 at 9:33 pmStilts

        @ Zen

        D’aaawww, much luff! And yeah, I guess you’re right about my already knowing…I don’t have to think too hard about all that stuff. Better to just decide on what I want to do (as I have) and then go after it 123%! Even if flawed to some, a lot can be made up for by doing it with one’s whole heart. So I’ll keep doing that ^^

        Also, a quick diversion onto Endless Eight, since I forgot to mention it earlier: I can unequivocally say that it was a failure on all fronts. Why? (I’m not going to spoiler tag this ’cause seriously, it’s Haruhi…and also spoiling it for people would be a blessing) From a storytelling point of view, the point was to impress upon the watchers the depths of Nagato’s loneliness after having relived those few weeks 15,532 times. (That number is ingrained in my soul, ugh.) The problem is that they did it in such a heavy-handed way that the message was lost in the audience’s frustration. That was a potentially powerful message, but it got lost in the signal noise – in people clambering for this gods awful arc to finally end.

        In comparison, Puella Magi Madoka Magica did roughly the same thing in one episode, all while imparting a message that was far more effective. Why? There’s an old writer’s maxim that says “less is more.” In Madoka, the message was so tightly coiled around the episode that it was inescapable, it was hammered into us quickly and deftly and it was impressed upon us, inescapably so. With Endless Eight, any chance of that was lost in the noise.

        tl;dr – Endless Eight sucked and was a failure. KyoAni is not perfect. chu2koi is damn good, though.

      • November 8, 2012 at 11:54 pmPasserby

        @Zen

        Oh, armchair philosophy’s great. It gives me an excuse to break out my pipe. Even though I don’t smoke. We’ve got to do this again.

        @Stilts

        **Implied spoilers for Endless Eight and Madoka. I try to avoid big ones but reader beware regardless**

        As an anime apologist I feel compelled to say a few things in Endless Eight’s defence. From a metanarrative point of view it was a very interesting experiment. A failed experiment, but still a worthwhile experiment. In a world where entertainment is often shamelessly formulaic I would like seeing studios take some risks and do something artsy.

        While the comparison with PMMM is apt, I feel the two need to be distinguished. Episode 10 of PMMM was all about tragedy. It was in line with the general strategy of the show with being fast and hard hitting to emotionally destablise the viewer (I would argue that most of the show was in fact too fast but let’s not enter those dangerous waters). This builds up to a catharsis at the end of the show. Endless Eight, I would argue, is some sort of anti-tragedy. There is no emotional buildup. There is no catharsis. If we must ascribe some analogy to the classics then Kyon would be the Hamlet to Homura’s Romeo. Homura and Madoka are starcrossed. Kyon’s fatal flaw, though, is simply procrastination. And he’s not even Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play, but more Stoppard’s (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead). Endless Eight ends with the conflict absurb, the resolution mundane, and the entire affair rather meaningless. All we’re left with, really, is wonderment about why we went through all that. Oh, and internet rage, I guess. Which is what you called “too much noise”, I guess.

        So did Kyoani screw up? Absolutely. I would, however, encourage them to try these sorts of things again.

  • November 7, 2012 at 6:03 amNitro

    Apologies for offtopic, but I’m still waiting for an editorial/summary for Joshiraku.

    • November 7, 2012 at 6:58 pmNitro

      What the heck? Can’t you guys take a joke!!

      • November 7, 2012 at 9:20 pmD-LaN

        At least yours isn’t as bad as other cases….. Ignore them. It will make lives easier.

  • November 7, 2012 at 8:20 amCherrie

    Awwww… great to hear from you Stereo =) Stilts should have more writers writing editorial pieces with him.

    • November 7, 2012 at 11:07 amShrubbery

      Seems like Stilts is going to have more writers bugging him

      • November 8, 2012 at 11:21 amMasterDragonKnight

        It is all part of Stilts’ master plan to have all the girls flock to him under the pretense of writing. Just like how he already has the rest of us calling him oniichan.

        I’m on to you, Stilts-oniichan!

      • November 8, 2012 at 9:21 pmStilts

        I plead the fifth!! :X

        P.S. So Cherrie, I hear you were interested in writing an article… XD

  • November 7, 2012 at 11:11 amShrubbery

    Oh, and for those of you who want to see the frankfurter scene again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFnTuBgq4uk
    I just had to watch that again, brilliant!

    • November 7, 2012 at 11:30 amgoodstuffs

      LOL 3 sec rule reigns supreme.

  • November 8, 2012 at 3:42 amAnanas

    Eyeshield 21. Period.

  • November 10, 2012 at 6:59 amasterisk

    Nakama, as I see it, is a double-edged sword. Too cheezy (annoyingly cheezy) when expressed explicitly but can be a wonder if subliminally incorporated in plot. In reality though, the latter is not the usual case, so I, more often than not, hate this theme.