People love to bitch about anime, as is made evident by the fact that blogs and /a/ exist. It’s understandable that people want to talk about anime that they don’t like, to possibly exercise the frustrations of having sat through a disappointing show. I know what it’s like when a show suddenly goes down hill or a character gets on your nerves in a show you like and you want to complain. However, it bothers me to see people complaining about things that they were never meant to like in the first place.
Wildarmsheero captured this phenomenon nicely in his latest Mistakes of Youth comic (though he did it in a completely elitist and ass-backward way.) Yes it’s true, there are people out there who will complain that Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is a bad show because it doesn’t have a plot. But that’s the point of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei! It’s a show that was never meant to have a plot, which is the very appeal of the show! If you complain that you want it to have a plot, you are pretty much saying that you wish it was a different show entirely. If this is the case, it’s obvious that the show wasn’t meant for YOU to like.
So why complain about it? How can you be upset that a show which was never meant to appeal to you in the first place didn’t meet your standards? It’s not the show’s fault that it doesn’t meet your standards, because it was never trying to. You can’t blame it for simply being what it is.
The biggest place I see this happening is with ‘shounen’ anime/manga. Before we even delve into this, I want to step aside and make this very clear: a “shounen” or “shoujo” or “seinen” manga is 100 PERCENT defined by what magazine it was published in. Just because it seems like it’s more intelligent or violent doesn’t mean it’s seinen if it’s published in “shounen ace.” If Fist of the North Star was published in “Shojo Beat” it would be a shoujo manga, period. With that out of the way….
I’m tired of seeing people complain about shounen anime not meeting their standards when it is obviously not meant for them. Shounen manga has a target audience of about 8 to 14 year-olds. If you are 21 and you don’t like it, it might be because you are 21 and you shouldn’t like it. Recently, Baka-Raptor did a post about how he hated One Piece because he hated Luffy. He lists a lot of reasons both for disliking the show itself and Luffy as a character, namely that Luffy always gets himself into stupid situations that jeopardize his team.
But it’s a kid’s show! It’s written for an audience that DOES want to see Luffy get into silly situations, because they think it’s funny and enjoy it! They want to see the crying kids and retarded enemies! The value of a kids show like One Piece is not in it’s ability to appeal to a college student like Baka-Raptor and the league of internet toughguys backing him up in the comments, but in it’s ability to appeal to the children towards which it’s aimed. It’s meaningless to complain about the show’s ‘flaws’ from your view if they aren’t seen as ‘flaws’ by the intended audience.
It’s like saying death metal music sucks because it has screaming vocals, or a Pokemon game sucks because it is too easy, or a reality show sucks because it has too much drama, or a rap song sucks because it has offensive lyrics. It’s not that it sucks, it’s that it was never meant for you in the first place. All of these things have an audience who will enjoy them, and that audience is what will determine their real value.
And I mean, it’s not like you can’t like something that wasn’t meant for you. There are plenty of great shounen and shoujo series that have appeal to people outside their demographic. And, in fact, Baka-Raptor himself is a fan of several shounen anime. But if you like it, it’s because that particular story coincides with your interests, and not because it is better than the other works of it’s demographic. I love Soul Eater – it’s a shounen anime. I don’t generally like shounen anime, which makes sense since it’s not aimed at me, but I do happen to like Soul Eater because it has elements that happen to appeal to me. That doesn’t mean it’s better than other shounen anime, it just means I like it.
I know you can’t convince the internet to stop bitching about anything, but it just seems so pointless to whine about shows that you weren’t necessarily meant to enjoy.