12 Days of Anime #4 – Too Old For Shounen and my Mahouka Blog Flamewar.

Mahou Sensou (Magical Warfare), Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High School), Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Fairy Tail 2014, Gokukoku no Brynhildr (Brynhildr in the Darkness). This year had a lot of shounen shows which made me realize some things about how I watch these shows, and what I think of them. I still like these shows, or I wouldn’t watch them, I always have high hopes, and sometimes they are met, such as with Hunter x Hunter, or even Tokyo Ravens, but more often, I realize I’m not enjoying these shows as much as I wish to, and as much as I once had. It didn’t help most of the shows mentioned earlier were either outright bad, lacking, or just lacking in a certain way.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei / The Irregular at Magic High School  - Shiba Miyuki loves her brother

Darn straight, you tell them, /sister/! – Mahouka

This realization actually started more towards the tail-end of 2013, with shows such as Unbreakable Machine Doll and Strike the Blood, but back then I ascribed it to the bad art and over-reliance on fan-service, in part. But it’s more than that, it’s also more than just me being too old and tired of these shows (my love for I spoke of before, more than once) – it’s the difference in how I watch them. Shounonsense (the female version would be “Shoujunk”, thank you AniTwitter) often just don’t have enough happen every episode, and you need to watch several episodes in one go to get anything out of them, and hopefully think slightly less on the episodes as you go, which my note-taking interferes with.

But no, some of the aforementioned shows are definitely not up to snuff. I’ll talk about it more at a later point, but comparing how I watched Sword Art Online, Mahouka, and Fate/Stay Night was and is a very interesting thought process. I do think if a show isn’t good (Brynhildr) or even terrible (Mahou Sensou), one should point it out. Did the anime scene change? I do think we get more “second generation light novel adaptations” now, light novels written based not on so-called mainstream teen literature or real life, but on other light novels. Mahouka Koukou was the best example of that, and the flame war on my blog is today’s moment.

Gokukoku no Brynhildr / Brynhildr in the Darkness anime - Kuroha Neko swimsuit

With this in the first episode, why would I not take Brynhildr seriously?

What, a flame war? You see, I’ve read the Mahouka light novels, so I knew what was coming, and that it’d be problematic, but I hoped the anime would just make everything better. Of course, facing the same message again, I wrote a pretty long mass on the problematic messages contained within Mahouka, and the world-view they stem from and might lead to. I’ve named that piece “Mahouka Koukou is an Ode to Meritocracy!”, but I thought more about the negative aspects of it, see modern libertarianism, objectivism, etc.

Enter Mentar. Mentar went around the anime blogosphere, searching any mention of Mahouka he didn’t agree with, which denigrated the show or its messages ever so slightly, and argued endlessly, telling people passively-aggressively how foolish they are, and all that good jazz. Of course, of special note is him being a fan of the material since 2011, and although he often stresses how he’s not a “siscon”, the last time he went on such a crusade was with regards to OreImo, where his favourite character was Kirino.

Anyway, I did call out the fans of the show, to a degree. I did call out the show, and called out that identifying too strongly with material, any material, can have bad repercussions, and if the material contains such hurtful messages, it’s even worse. You can scroll down in the comment section, you can see someone trying to spam me with comments, who I then blocked, who then also took it to ask.fm. It was funny, he was trying to make a point of how I’m the one with a closed mind censoring the truth, while making my point for me that identifying too strongly with the material you consume, to the point where any attack on it is seen as an attack on your own person is unhealthy (see also my write-up for Log Horizon 2nd season’s 10th episode on the same topic.)

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime - Emiya Shirou and Archer face caster

Sometimes when a show takes itself too seriously, you just can’t – Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works.

This comment chain amused me, and annoyed me, and was a bona fide flamewar. Parts of it could be seen on other sites, but it also marks the point where Mentar more or less gave up on us heathen anibloggers, who can’t understand the greatness of The One True Tatsuya. He then also began blaming all the woes of the show on the anime staff, while most of the warts of the show come from the novels.

And we’ve had a topic drift here, eh? I may or may not be too old for shounen shows, I think much of it just comes from “watching them wrong”, which for me means one episode at a time rather than marathoning them, but I’m definitely too old for flamewars, except where I make fun of how involved participants get, because nothing worthwhile comes out of flamewars.

So, dear readers, any change in your tastes in anime you’ve discerned over the past year? Alternately, stand-out moments with regards to either shounen or shoujo? Positive or negative!
Bonus question, the time you’ve got most emotionally invested over anime this past year. Flame-wars require investment.

12 comments on “12 Days of Anime #4 – Too Old For Shounen and my Mahouka Blog Flamewar.

  1. Falconhaxx says:

    “So, dear readers, any change in your tastes in anime you’ve discerned over the past year?”

    Yes, as a matter of fact, but it’s not a change I’m necessarily happy about. To borrow from Something’s(who runs the ever so useful someanithing.com) terminology, my taste has lately begun leaning toward “no het”, i.e. avoiding shows with male main character, specifically harems and other shows with arguable self-insert characters(mostly LN adaptations).

    Looking at the Winter 2014 season, I can kind of see where this mentality comes from. The aforementioned Mahou Sensou was a cookie-cutter example of the stuff I already didn’t like, and Chuunibyou Ren was just disappointing. However, this season had exceptions as well, namely Mikakunin de Shinkoukei(aloof male who was more of a supporting character) and Noragami(Yato and Yukine were not really protagonists in the traditional sense). And, of course, this season also had Sakura Trick, which was my AOTS(not counting continuing shows). Sakura Trick also answers your bonus question, because I still argue about it with people in a chat room I frequent. They say it’s garbage, and I try to explain that I love it because of how different it is. Basically, my argument is that injecting a male character into Sakura Trick would be impossible. It just wouldn’t work. And that’s why it stood out among all the other shows that season. Story development be damned(for the moment), it’s a show that I remember very clearly.

    Now, before you think “Oh, well, anything with only female characters should satisfy you then”, the Spring season unfortunately disproves that. Akuma no Riddle turned out to just be boring, and Gochuumon wa etc. etc. was the first moe show that I dropped since Spring 2013(boring as well). Other shows that fell victim in the Spring season were Kawaisou, Brynhildr, Isshuukan Friends(very unfortunately) and Mahouka(no regret). Shows that I finished but whose MCs annoyed me were Break Blade and Sidonia.

    The Summer season, on the other hand, showed that “no het” doesn’t just mean that I love all-girl casts and hate male characters, because I still had no issues with Free(I will have to finish Season 2 at some point), and Ao Haru Ride had a female version of the annoying kind of self-insert character. I ended up following very few shows that season.

    And now we’re in the Fall season. I absolutely loathe Emiya Shirou, so he’ll probably stand out as the main example of this taste change in the future. In contrast, Shinichi from Parasyte is sort of the kind of character that I’m supposed to dislike(for Migi, he’s even a literal self-insert), but I actually really like him. I guess that just goes to show that trying to create a prediction model for what shows I’ll like or dislike, based on the main character, is a bad idea. And hell, Shirobako doesn’t fit neatly into any category(mixed cast, but there’s no romance, so gender doesn’t matter). I guess I should also dislike Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso for how shounen it is at times(which sometimes does frustrate me), but it helps that it’s actually really enjoyable.

    In conclusion, the Winter season broke the camel’s back. I now ignore LN adaptations completely, and I only try out male MC/harem shows if I’m either familiar with the source material(FSN) or if it’s otherwise highly regarded(Parasyte).

  2. Peter S says:

    I agree that nothing good comes out of flamewars, but that’s for the participants. I read your “meritocracy” post and enjoyed it a good deal, since I agreed with most of it. The flamewar that erupted, I’m afraid, I also enjoyed, but again, I wasn’t participating.

    As for outgrowing a genre, I frankly don’t think this has been a good year for anime in general, apart from the usual handful of good series (mushishi, ping pong, etc). Let’s write it off and start fresh for 2015.

    • Guy says:

      Flamewars can indeed be enjoyable for people not involved, but I still think that nothing good comes out of them, even with said amusement, which can be had in better ways :)

      And no, this year definitely wasn’t anime’s best, and considering how amazing 2013 had been, it looks even worse in comparison.

      • Frog-kun says:

        Actually, something good did come out of that flamewar, at least for me. I got to see close up just how toxic over-identification can really be, and that honestly marked a turning point in how I engaged with fandom.

        Later on in the year, stuff like that silly Gamergate controversy happened, which all but confirmed to the world that being an overly defensive shithead can lead to some horrible, horrible things.

        • Guy says:

          Fuck, accidentally hit “cancel” instead of reply, and Lazarus didn’t save it.

          Most flamewars are identical, or nearly so. And strong identification and entrenchment are at the core of most.

          Back when you said you checked the flame-war every so often with popcorn in hand, I should’ve mentioned, and considered mentioning in the above piece, how you didn’t enjoy it nearly as much when said flames happened on your blog, though that was before your realization. Said realization if I’m not mistaken took 2-3 quite lengthy Twitter discussions as well.

          And that’s the point, the lesson could’ve been learnt without this flamewar, though I guess it might have helped :P

          The one point of light for me each time I read the comment section of said post is that I am greatly entertained each time I see I’ve used the “You’re Platinum Mad” gif. Childish, but that works for me :D

  3. […] of it is certainly connected to yesterday’s post, about “outgrowing shounen” shows. But it’s more about the reasons explored there, that I watched it weekly. I liked the first […]

  4. ninryu says:

    My memory isn’t very good, so I can’t speak of the entire year, but I defiantly got hit hard by Yuki Yuusha. I mean, damn, those last couple episodes.
    Tokyo Ghoul was very emotional as well. That anime turned out better than expected.

  5. Ayanami22 says:

    “Alternately, stand-out moments with regards to either shounen or shoujo? Positive or negative!”

    Positive stand-out moment, shounen. The search feature says that you mention Nanatsu no Taizai in your preview guide, but did you ever watch it?

    As a 35 year old woman, I’m both too old and too female for most shounen anime out there. But I’m finding Nanatsu no Taizai (Seven Deadly Sins) to be a surprisingly fun romp this season, despite the lead female character constantly losing her clothes every other episode. Only Bahamut was a bigger surprise for Fall 2014. It’s primary draw is that its titular characters are all so gleefully overpowered that finding suitable opponents for them makes for fantastic, spectacle-filled fight scenes. And so far, it’s fast-moving enough to keep me looking forward to each week.

    Japan seems to be loving this series so far, so while it’s largely flying under the radar in the US (Netflix license = no simulcast), we can at least expect it to remain a longish-run, faithful adaption of the manga. Which I haven’t read yet. But I hope it stays this fun for a while.

    • Guy says:

      Nope, didn’t end up watching it. Being so far behind on all shows I listened to what people said was good or not and went with that. Had really limited time, and sacrifices had to be made.

      I’ll keep it in mind, but I’ve heard very mediocre stuff about it in general. Japan loving it could be great (Battleship Yamato 2199, which is also pretty unheard of in the west), or it could just them liking a random show I don’t care for much (insert most shows Japan ends up caring for).

      And yeah, what you describe is what drew me to the premise, which is also sort of what I got from Akame ga Kill!. If I do find myself with free time in the upcoming season/year, I’ll try to keep it in mind :) The next month will probably be dedicated to season start and finishing my “open obligations” from 2013.

      Also, lack of proper simulcasting definitely reduces the number of opinions one can see, especially as simulcasting is so prevalent right now that there barely are any proper fansubbing going on any longer :-/

      BTW, why not sign your username (due to the email, I know who you are, which I’m sure you weren’t trying to hide), would make replies easier in general, or for others reading. If it was intended, I’m curious, if not, I can fix it.

      • Ayanami22 says:

        I understand why you wouldn’t have seen it. It’s a fun shounen show, but if you haven’t seen, say, Parasyte or Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso yet this season, you should probably go catch up on those first.

        But the title of this particular post was related to shounen anime, so I’ll continue my defense of 7 Deadly Sins, since I am drinking and have nothing better to do: I understand why 7 Deadly Sins would be described as “mediocre”, but I’m also confused as why it might be compared to Akame ga Kill. I actually watched AgK as Summer 2014 was pretty freakin’ slow, and really its main draw was the whole “more blood, more grimdark, and no one is safe” angles. That made it fun to predict who would live and die, but other than that, there was little that was original about it, outside of some purposely shocking moments and a yandere antagonist.

        7 Deadly Sins instead reminds me a whole lot more of Fairy Tail, which you’ve mentioned your love for multiple times, and I myself have found to enjoy FAR more than I should have (the Season 2 anime notwithstanding). Fast-paced, fantasy action/adventure, with fan-service that is at least played more for humor than titillation. Imagine if Fairy Tail had entered a team of 5 overpowered Erzas and/or Laxuses into the Grand Magic games. Start the story there, and you’d have something similar to 7 Deadly Sins.

        And I did not sign my username because honestly I had forgotten I had friend-ed you on MAL. My MAL is woefully outdated, and I’ve largely abandoned reddit (my source of MAL friends) lately, due to my love/hate relationship with it in general. I’m impressed that you even remembered me. :)

        And I’m also happy that you’ve reinvigorated your blog this Christmas. It has been a real source of entertainment where actual anime airing have been lacking this week. It’s also awesome that you ask questions at the end of each post to spur discussion. And even better is the fact that you actually take the time to respond to most comments (I honestly was not expecting a reply, so thank you for that!).

        So even though I wholeheartedly disagree that SAOII deserves a spot ANYWHERE in a ANYONE’S top 10 of 2014, I do appreciate your commentary, so please, keep at it, and Happy New Year!

        • Guy says:

          As the Winter Preview states, I’m all caught up on Shirobako and Parasyte from this season, and plan to catch up on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso this season.

          The comparison I made to Akame ga Kill! was in terms of feel, of all the comedy involved.

          As for my memory, it’s ridiculously good. I only ever tagged 10 people or so on reddit, and 90% of them were my account or Riot Employees, so I could notice them while quickly scrolling through a page. For everything else, I rely on my memory :)

          The questions at the end of posts is something I think I took from Artemis, whose blog I heartily recommend checking out. I sometimes don’t use it, but for the Kino’s Journey posts and the 12 days of anime, it’s an especially good fit. I started using it when I realized all the extra page-views don’t make me happy, and that my second reason for blogging (aside from writing my thoughts down, which also involves structuring them better) is to have a discussion with readers, to have some sort of community. Which is also why I still post on reddit. A lot of the interaction is actually negative and sapping my energies, but without it, it’s too much of speaking to myself :-/

          Well, I usually have periods of time when I want to watch something simple and fluffy. 7 Deadly Sins will go onto the pile I turn to during those times, though over the past year I usually pick a romance instead of an action series during those periods.

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