About five years ago, Tim Rogers wrote a piece for Kotaku titled Japan: It’s Not Funny Anymore. The provided link is archived, so don’t worry about giving a clickbait site revenue for this disaster. I’m going to rip this article to pieces because I feel strongly enough about the subject to bring it back up years later. Then I’m going to show a few more pieces from a different writer at Kotaku to show how the previous one set the tone and what the overal feeling is you start to get as a loyal reader of their website. Also, I’m adding random anime pictures that don’t have too much to do with the article to space it all out nicely because this is a long one.
Just to be absolutely clear on everything about to happen here.
Let me preface this with one thing: I’m not a weeaboo. I don’t have a yearning for Japan to a point of blind faith. There’s a lot of things wrong with Japan, just like there is with the rest of the world. Japanese media isn’t inherently better by virtue of Japanese to me. I’m sure anyone who wants to disagree with me wants to scream whatever slur for Japanophile at me that comes to mind first. Feel free to do so anyway, I won’t mind.
I’ve been wanting to write this one for a while now. Even had several false starts with this post, which is a new experience for me. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should even write about it, since I’m responding to an article originally posted back in 2010. It seems ridiculous to respond to something that was originally posted five years ago. At the same time, I see so many people repeat a lot of the opinions posted in it verbatim, which makes me feel justified in still responding to it. The second issue is that there are so many reasons that the article doesn’t hold up, so many ways in which the author of the piece is wrong, that it feels hard to write about it without falling into repetition because not only do a lot of points not hold up for multiple reasons, several different points do not hold up for similar reasons. It’s a mess of an article that somehow managed to sink into the minds of a lot of people who read it though, contradictions and all, so please bear with me.
Rambling is going to be done. Because sometimes the best way to do something isn’t the cleanest way.
Also, I’m not going to address all the points in the order they were written in. Mostly because I want to save a few of the bigger ones until the end. If you took the time to read the original article, you already understand why. If not, you’ll know by the time we get to certain points.
SO MANY PEOPLE SMOKE
I don’t like people when they’re smoking. I don’t like how almost every restaurant has a smoking section, and you invariably have to go through the smoking section to get to the non-smoking section. I don’t like that people are allowed to smoke in my favorite little organic vegetable cafe, right there on the floor with the open kitchen. I don’t want cigarette smoke near my organic vegetables! Hel-lo? That makes them pretty much not organic anymore! You might as well just be buying them from a hobo, at that point.
I wish you could see my voice when I first saw that “Hel-lo” in this section. Good grief, if there was one way to stereotype yourself as a typical better-than-you-hipster, that was it. Not a smoke myself, but I don’t really sympathize with most anti-smokers. This doesn’t sound like a Japan-centric problem to me. Look around to the insane levels of demonization of vaping you come across these days now that it’s the new popular thing. It’s getting to the point people doing a successful video series about gaming news on a channel dedicated to technology are exclusively getting comments about it now. The response? Aggressive vapor use to piss the people whining about it off further because they don’t care about your first world complaints.
The same thing happened when smoking was banned from restaurants and bars here in the Netherlands. As a response, owners of these places more aggressively pushed smoking in their places because they felt they should be allowed to make the call. The more you whine about first-world problems, the more aggressively people who don’t share your views lash back at you over it, because it’s grating to have to listen to the problems of easy-going people with no real problems in life go on about minor issues.
In a country so dense with rules and polite gestures, you’d figure less people would so flagrantly brandish cigarettes on the street. They walk and run and walk-run everywhere with the things.
See what I mean? Push back against something people enjoy doing, and they’ll soon turn doing it into a statement just to oppose you. The problem is really how the non-smokers treat those who do smokers.
My neighbor, once, smoked in his apartment, sitting by the window. I could never see his face, though I could definitely smell his tobacco, because the smoke exited his window and promptly entered mine. That was a spring nearly ruined. I once put a note in his mailbox: “You know, if you’re going to blow the smoke out the window — if you don’t love smoking enough to just close the windows and turn your apartment into a hot-box, maybe you should just quit.” He never quit.
How about confronting him in person about it? Leaving notes like that is awfully passive-aggressive. If I’d get a similar note, despite there having been clear chances to being confronted personally, I mean, you obviously know when he’s home, I’d ignore it too. You don’t exactly come across as the good guy here.
What this has to do with videogames:
Absolutely fuck all. You’re reaching to try to make a connection to video games because you realized you’re venting about personal issues to an audience that doesn’t give a shit about this. So you try to link everything to video games in a sad attempt to draw that audience into sympathizing with you. Knowing that the only people you just told yourself are going to care for you really don’t. Getting a few quick Kotaku bucks out of it just sweetens the deal.
Also, I suspect that the Pokemon “Koffing” isn’t a symbol of the evils of pollution — he’s Japan’s Joe Camel, hooking kids on the power and might of smoke.
Read this and tell me that you’re not reaching. I fucking challenge you to tell me this with a straight face without bursting into laughter. Even as an attempt to lighten things up, it’s reaching pretty far. Oh on, I just said lighten things up, I must be hooked on this smoker’s lingo. Curses, Koffing! You brainwashed me into believing in the power of smoking cigarettes!
EVERYTHING IN JAPAN HAS MEAT IN IT
Everything in Japan has meat in it.
As an American, this must make you feel right at home then.
What does this have to do with videogames? Have you ever played a game, really liked it, and then found that the sequel went and added something you didn’t want, or something that just didn’t apply to you? I hate when that happens! Also, that many times the people old enough to make important decisions at the companies producing your favorite videogames are literally stupid and/or ignorant enough to think that bacon is not meat.
Did I say you’re reaching with these “What does this have to do with videogames?” bits yet? Because it’s still true. I almost cannot believe a human being typed these words, sent them in to a company, had an editor read them, approve them, and publish them as is. What does this have to do with Japan exclusively? What does this have to do with your points? What does this have to do with videogames, that one form of media where sequels have a higher chance of being better than the previous installment? Isn’t it generally the American part of the gaming industry that reaches with weird ill-fitting inclusions in sequels because “Every other franchise has it now”?
There are merits to thinking things through, but when you start to find ways to rationalize why you’re writing about something entirely off topic, then no amount of thinking will save your article’s relevancy.
THE MANDATORY PARTIES
The Japanese are so serious about work that even work-related parties are mandatory. If you don’t go to a company party, you’re not part of the team. If you’re not part of the team, it’s possible you’re not actually working at the company.
This isn’t a Japanese problem, this is a corporate problem. Go apply for a job in sales and see how much stress is placed on thinking and working like a team, with mandatory parties, breakfasts, and lunches. I’ve been to these things outside of Japanese employment, and generally the stress within the western locations was a lot worse than with Japanese people.
Either way, I’ve never heard a story about someone who got fired directly because they didn’t go to a company party. I’m sure it’s only ever happened indirectly.
Either way, I’m talking out of my ass here and don’t really have any basis for what I’m writing about. I’m sure it happens though! My uncle told me so!
The “rules” of working adult society so very mathematically dictate that
1. Drinking = having fun
2. Good employees like to have fun
3. People who have fun are good employees
4. Good employees will never, ever get fired
The funny thing is that, while you’re writing about how terrible it is that this is mandatory for being successful in Japan, you’re completely ignoring that, without similar pressure, this is the exact same kind of life most normal people set up for themselves working their jobs in the west. Whether you give them the freedom to decide for themselves or not, people tend to make similar decisions themselves for the sake of conformity anyway. The kind of life these “rules” you decided everyone in Japan is living you decided for yourself are not different from the “rules” most of modern western society lives by. You likely just never worked or lived in the kind of cycles where you’d have realized this, or spent the years where you’ve awakened to these facts in a foreign country you can now tie this experience to.
Maybe you know the story about how Gran Turismo got started because Kazunori Yamauchi, on his first day in the Sony Computer Entertainment offices, wrote out a sample game design idea consisting only of the words “I want to drive my car on my television.” What you may not know is that this is more or less the way many Japanese companies have been doing everything creative for maybe fifty years.
You know that thing writers tend to tell each other as a piece of advice? “Write what you know?” Sounds like this is a success story for that advice. Often when people move outside of their field of expertise they stumble and fail because their efforts come across as disingenuous. You should know about that by now, writing for Kotaku and all.
What this has to do with videogames: Once, when I was working for a Japanese game company as something of a liaison to help them develop games with a more future-proof “western” method, I suggested that every employee be, at all points in the process, encouraged to offer input on things such as game design. The initial reaction was, “That’s what the game designers do!” It took days of near-futile conversation to uncover the controversial finding that, prior to designing a game for the first time, people like Shigeru Miyamoto had actually never designed any games. To be most blunt, modern Japanese games are so soulless because the only people who make them are people who make games.
Because western games with their bald, gritty, male protagonists voiced by Troy Baker have that much more life to them, right? As do all those games with unnamed, undefined characters for you to create and have run around massive automatically generated fields or empty scenery, with randomly placed shoot/slash fodder? Don’t even make me laugh. The deadness of Japanese-made games five years ago wasn’t a Japanese problem, it’s a generational problem. Much like a lot of anime made during the early days of digital animation have aged badly. There’s a large gap between what has become possible with the new technology and the mastery of developers to really put it to use. The tight deadlines and pressure to analyze isn’t helping bridge that gap either.
SOME JAPANESE OFFICE TRADITIONS ARE GENUINELY TERRIFYING
Hi, you’re a white guy in a foreign culture. Guess what? This is what a lot of people coming from outside of western cultures feel like when they work for large western companies. Traditions aren’t logical, but they put people who grew up with them at ease. You didn’t grow up with them, and the lack of traditions that put you at ease are at odds with these other traditions you’re not familiar with. Welcome to being a foreigner. This is one of the shared secrets only people who have lived abroad can truly understand. Just like how nearly every thing you take for granted as a mutual understanding no longer exists. There are thousands of articles about these things dedicated to the various gaps between just about every combination of countries you can imagine, even ones you wouldn’t think are all that different or that far apart from one another.
Some poor guy, during the Mandatory Daily Morning Gather And Scream in the middle of the office
Oh hey, there’s a thing I’ve been through in England. And a thing I know exists in the Netherlands too. It’s not a cultural phenomenon exclusive to Japan.
How this relates to videogames: That company I talk about in the above paragraphs? They were a (pretty big) Japanese game company. These are the kinds of things the people who make your favorite Japanese games are forced to do every day.
So? The companies doing similar things here in Europe have absolutely nothing to do with videogames in any capacity. I understand the experiences feel alienating to you, they did to me too, but they don’t have that much of a relation to videogames at all.
Years later, I was dating a woman who might have really hated me. I think the thing she might have hated most about me was that I didn’t hate her. Anyway,
This feels incredibly revealing about the kind of person you are. Most regular people wouldn’t reveal this kind of thing about their past because the underlying message that kind of statement gets across is that you’re an incredible suspicious person who gives everyone around him a hard time. And looking at the rest of the things said, it doesn’t seem like that’s too far off from the truth.
There you have it. Many of the words used perfunctorily in the Japanese language have both useful purposes and cold, hard semantic meanings. That kind of bothers me.
The fact that this statement was conveyed in English is hilarious enough by itself. I have nothing to add here.
Of course, it’s all a front. You might have heard that the Japanese work insanely hard, or that some people die from overwork. That’s a joke. They don’t. You know how they die? The same way that kid in Korea died while playing Counter-Strike: The very act of sitting and staring at a computer screen becomes something of an addiction in and of itself; they simply forget to use the toilet, or maybe have an aneurysm.
Having lived and worked with Japanese with for five years, I can honestly say that you can fuck right off with this. I’ve never heard bigger bullshit than this statement in my life and I’m starting to believe that you don’t even know what actual work is you overpriviliged clickbait peddler.
How this relates to videogames: We have centuries of literature and decades of film from which to draw artistic inspiration; we have 1080p graphics and processors capable of displaying tens of thousands of high-definition polygons rotating at the scale speed of sound. And though game designers all know that more interesting methods of communication are possible, when you hit enemies in Final Fantasy XIII, huge numbers fly out in every direction. Huge, horse-choking, golden, gleaming five-digit numerals explode outward everywhere. The game never shows you how many hit points the monsters have. It shows you the shit out of how many hit points of damage you’re doing. They do this because this is how it used to be, so that’s probably how it should be, forever.
That’s actually not it, at all. In recent years we had a game blow up that was literally just numbers going up, you might have heard of it, it was this little browser game called Cookie Clicker. Years before this article, similar idle games already existed, but because Cookie Clicker is the last major game to be culturally relevant, I brought it up by name so everyone has a good reference point.
Cookie Clicker, like a lot of idle games, was massively popular due to its simplicity. All that ever happened in the game was that you have an ever-increasing number of cookies. You buy upgrades and buildings to make that number increase faster, then buy more expensive upgrades and buildings from the cookies made. That’s it, that’s the entire game. Numbers are increasing, there is no goal beyond increasing that number even further. You can even restart with bonus multipliers based on how high a number of cookies you had so that you can increase your number of cookies even faster. The increasing numbers and the ease of increasing the numbers even further by playing creates a positive reinforcement loop.
Most RPGs largely operate in the same way. You level up and gain gold, increase in level and get better weapons. Your characters grow stronger and deal more damage against stronger enemies. You feel like there’s enough advancement and improvement just from pressing that Attack button time and time again so it won’t feel repetitive, even though the experience near the end is usually identical to the one at the start, aside from having bigger, flashier numbers.
And that’s fine. A lot of that is what the basics of gaming is all about. There’s a lot more thought behind it than just “it’s always been that way”, especially when you break down the nuanced changes between games that otherwise seem similar on the surface. It stopped working for you, because that’s what happens with reinforcement loops like that when you’ve gone through the same motions too many times, but you never cared enough about the experience you went through multiple times in your life to really think about it. Instead you chose to sneer at it during a tantrum about your failed cultural experience. That’s not fine.
Also, it’s worth noting that certain other expressions, ejaculations, and exclamations in the Japanese language are also full words.
It’s almost as if foreign countries have developed languages.
When someone is hurt, they typically don’t make a surprised sound such as “Ow”, they say “itai“
You might be surprised by this, but a lot of languages respond to pain with different sounds. Like, really. Language is that deeply rooted into thought.
JAPANESE COMEDY IS NOT FUNNYI can’t get behind Japanese comedy. God, I can hardly stand to be in front of it.
While I partially agree with this, I can’t say I entirely agree with the reasoning behind it. Most comedy all across the world is not funny. Good comedy is pretty scarce, and the brand of comedy that you’re complaining about is the most mainstream kind, which is typically unfunny. I could rant about how American comedy is painfully unfunny and then pretend Big Bang Theory is the only comedy show on American television too, see how that works?
It’s not just comedy. Japan is land of the abundant “Famous For Being Famous” class of entertainers. If Paris Hilton were Japanese, they’d literally have her anchoring the fucking national news.
Welcome to the world of celebrities in countries that aren’t America. This kind of celebrity is all the rage just about everywhere across the world, and hey, we also pay attention to the “Famous For Being Famous” class of entertainers from America at the same time! Well, I say we, but I don’t watch television anymore for the same reasons as you. Except I’ve done this in three separate countries now.
JAPANESE MOVIES SUCK
Go watch some Kurosawa, you uncultured swine.
THE PASSIVE AGGRESSION
It’s hard to find a garbage can in Tokyo. That’s why the city is so clean — the people carry their garbage everywhere. In addition to being a metaphor for the en-masse bottling-up of passive aggression in Tokyo, it’s also the truth.
You know why this passive aggressive attitude is such a big problem for you, right? You’re used to playing the passive aggressive role in life, but you’re now being outplayed. How do I know this? Everything else in the entire article. You are a master of bottling up negative emotions, saying things are just fine in a tone that makes it clear it’s not, trained in the powers of leaving notes, and yet people are beating you at this game your paranoia has ensured you everyone is playing. Your negative outlook has fucked up the way you see everything, and as much as you want to point a finger at entire countries, you only have yourself to blame.
SHIT BE EXPENSIVE UP IN HERETo exist in Tokyo is to stand in a packed rush-hour train with your nose pressed against hard against the back of the head of the black hole named “Supply And Demand.” It costs like $25 to see a movie.
There’s this concept that’s been spreading globally, you might have heard of it, I dunno. It’s called “the recession”, and it seems to have hit the developed world pretty hard. Sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you.
NO SUBJECTIVITYMaybe this is the reason games and movies suck: Barely no one in the media ever says anything subjective about anything.
Gee, that sounds awfully familiar. Isn’t that very similar to how Kotaku staff handles all their writing?
TEMPLATE CONVERSATIONS CREEP ME OUTI swear, at every party I’ve ever been to in Japan, this exact conversation has occurred, word for word:
“This beer is delicious!”
“Yes! This beer is delicious!”
“There’s nothing quite so delicious as a cold beer after a hard day of work!”
While it’s true Japan employs template conversations a lot, it’s interesting to note that without these templates, western society seems to fall victim to the same problem. Template or not, people will still talk about the same shit repeatedly. You can fluff it up with different words, make it look like a different conversation by saying things out of order, but generally, people repeat the same opinions and thoughts to each other all the time. Visit any bar after the typical work hours for a few weeks and you’ll see the same people stop by holding the same beats of conversation every time. There’s nothing wrong with this. There’s comfort in these traditions for those people. Maybe not for you, but most people like this kind of predictability. Even if they don’t like to admit to it.
THE “DRINK TICKET” SYSTEMWhen you go see a live musical performance, the venues always force you to pay at least 500 yen for a “drink ticket.” They do this even if you’re on the guest list!
Not a cultural thing. This is pretty normal everywhere Sorry to burst your bubble again.
I DON’T LIKE PACHINKOI don’t like pachinko. I had never played it until just last year, actually. It’s a pretty idiotic capsule form of the entire Japanese entertainment industry.
I don’t like windmills. It’s a pretty idiotic capsule form of the entire Dutch cultural tourism industr… Wait, who the fuck cares?
Now that the tone has been set, let’s dive into the one thing I really want to write about. All of the above are things I still see regurgitated, often verbatim, in some shape or another by other people who read this trash article and took all of it to heart. Even amongst crowds of self-professed anime otaku who keep talking in this weird format that I can only describe as guilt-ridden cultural identity confusion. Hey, I’ve been insecure about the things I like and dislike too, and that’s fine. But when you’re going through something like that, the last thing you should do is write in an authoritative tone to deflect responsibility towards others. All that does is confuse other people. It’s a disgusting practice, and I really wish people would grow up and get over themselves whenever they start talking in terms of “cultural appropriation” and the significance of their views of the sexuality of a bunch of drawn lines on the screen as someone who can only think in terms of their own native culture.
When foreign cultures talk about Japan, they usually talk about anime and / or manga. Usually, it’s anime. Anime is terrible. It used to be okay. Now, it’s not. It’s inbred trailer-trash in entertainment form: Every season’s new Japanese animation places one-upmanship of every single aspect of the last season higher on their list of priorities than even “make something entertaining.” The same can perhaps be said of all Japanese entertainment, though it’s not relevant anywhere else as much as it is in anime. Anime used to answer the questions of kids’ dreams: “How awesome would it be to be a world-class assassin / kung-fu master / robot pilot / baseball hero?” Now it’s just a bunch of shit pandering to perverts and pedophiles. Anime heroes used to be people with amazing job descriptions; now they’re reasonably young men who find themselves miraculously sharing houses with a dozen girls aged six to nine, accidentally almost touching every other scene. Or else it’s just guys with huge hair and impossible weapons shouting jargon. Long ago, manga aspired to be like Dragon Ball Z: graphically iconic, with a story more coherent than it probably needed to be. Now there’s the ADHD-addled Dragon-Ball-Z-inspired One Piece, a manga for the Twitter age if there ever was one.
Oh, boy. I hope you’re ready, because this is going to be a long one to dissect. There is so much wrong with everything in this entire paragraph that I don’t even know where to being, how to categorize the problems, how to cross-reference all the contradictions. What a work of art this clusterfuck is. And, just like a lot of the previous sections where I pointed it out, it shows you a lot about the person who wrote this, and what where his mind was at the time. As the reasoning behind almost all of it is so superficial and shallow, betraying so many different forms of ignorance that I almost want to just shut down and turn the other way on instinct. On the other hand, I’m not writing this for Tim Rogers, fuck that guy. I’m partially writing this for myself, because I like writing, and I like proving people wrong on the internet, even five years after the fact. But I’m mostly writing this in the hopes that maybe some young weebling comes across this piece and recognizes the same misrepresentation of facts from the original article and sees that he/she isn’t alone in knowing it’s bullshit.
First of all, there’s the stance that anime used to be okay, but now it somehow isn’t. Why is that? Why did it used to be okay, why is it suddenly not okay anymore? What really changed here? I’d hate to make false assumptions, but I’m willing to guess that it has more to do with limited exposure in the past. During that awesome golden age of the 80s and 90s, a lot of the same smut most people are now familiar with was already being produced, to the same degree. Why do you think MST3K has so many references to violent Japanese rape comics? When you really start looking at a lot of the shows released in the old days, you start seeing more and more popular anime series from those times that wouldn’t fly now because they’re even more questionable than most of the things airing now. God, just look at Bubblegum Crisis and tell me that only anime now does this sort of crap.
Not only that, but a lot of anime celebrated from all these times as important works everyone with an interest in anime should watch are filled with a lot of this questionable content. Ranma 1/2, Cutie Honey, Chobits, Love Hina, Agent Aika, Excel Saga and Puni Puni Poemi are all shows that had the kind of content that a lot of older audiences have fond memories of but would shun if they’d come out now.
Anime used to answer the questions of kids’ dreams: “How awesome would it be to be a world-class assassin / kung-fu master / robot pilot / baseball hero?”
Because overnight, poof! This kind of formulaic writing disappeared, never to be seen again.
Except that didn’t happen, because that’d be ridiculous.
There’s still a lot of anime being made to this day following this exact premise. You know how most types like this respond to being confronted with those shows? Ew! Stereotypical shonen stuff aimed at a younger age group than mine! Disgusting! It’s so uninspired and horrible! His thoughts on One Piece at the end are a good example.
You want to know what the real difference is between One Piece and Dragon Ball Z in terms of quality? One came out when a lot of people who love one but hate the other where a lot younger. It was their first time seeing something like that, and it changed everything for them. A lot of younger kids have the same experience with One Piece and Naruto. The older audiences have gone through these motions already and look at the newer forms as lesser. I’ve seen something similar happen with Japanese people and their love for Fist of the Northstar, which most of them considered the TRUE shonen fighting show. Why? Because it came out when they were that age and it was the first time they saw something like that.
Now it’s just a bunch of shit pandering to perverts and pedophiles. Anime heroes used to be people with amazing job descriptions; now they’re reasonably young men who find themselves miraculously sharing houses with a dozen girls aged six to nine, accidentally almost touching every other scene. Or else it’s just guys with huge hair and impossible weapons shouting jargon. Long ago, manga aspired to be like Dragon Ball Z: graphically iconic, with a story more coherent than it probably needed to be.
See what I mean? Dragon Ball Z was his generation’s Fist of the Northstar, so sooner or later it will come back to comparisons to that. Ignoring the fact that Dragon Ball Z features a guy with huge hair, shooting impossible energy balls, named after dumb jargon, in this case the jargon being Kamehameha, named after a Hawaiian king, and Genki Dama, which is literally just “Electric rice cooker”.
Just to further prove how wrong he is about the state of the anime industry due to his nostalgia glasses tainting the way he sees things, let’s take a quick look at what was releases during 2009 and 2010. I’m going to admit to cherry picking here, but hey, if he gets away with it, I feel I should be able to do the same. Because if all of anime is as fucked as he says it is, I shouldn’t be able to just list shows that prove his statement wrong, right?
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger
- Spice and Wolf 2
- Umineko ni Naku Koro Ni
- Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt
- The Tatami Galaxy
Keep in mind that I’m only looking at listings for TV series, so there’s still movies and OVAs that anyone can look up if they feel like it.
The thing about anime releases is that since anime became available globally, the amount of anime that is being created has increased exponentially. However, the same amount of shows really worth seeing has remained around the same. Because of this and the extra exposure everyone has to anime, it can feel like everything’s gone to shit if you’re not paying attention to what has happened, but you couldn’t be further away from the truth. It takes a true pessimist to seriously believe everything is terrible now, and honestly, I don’t think a person like that is fit to cover that kind of material for a site that’s supposed to celebrate this culture.
Which isn’t exclusive to Tim Rogers either, this sort of pessimism is a large problem in nearly all of the forms of journalism covering nerd culture. For the sake of convenience, let’s look at some more modern writing from other Kotaku columnists. Feel free to Google these articles yourself if you want to verify the following pieces, I refuse to give these people clicks from my site.
The Most Mean-Spirited Anime I Have Ever Watched
This past week, I told you about the five anime you should be watching this summer. To prepare, I asked Kotaku readers to vote on their picks. The winner by a landslide was Watamote. I am dumbfounded by this. Watamote is, quite simply, the most mean-spirited anime I have ever watched. – Richard Eisenbeis
WataMote, short for Watashi Ga Motenai No Wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera Ga Warui, is a show highlighting the pitfalls of the negative life choices a lot of young otaku can relate to, or at least recognize in a lot of people. In a lot of ways, it’s a comedy show that is trying to get people to take a good look at the things holding them back in life through recognizable cringe humor. Most people are able to laugh at the absurd situations that appear in the show, as they recognize them from their own thoughts and surroundings, although usually not in the extremes presented. It’s always very clear that the main character is responsible for all the terrible things that happen to her, as she refuses to take responsibility for her own actions. Because of this, it’s one of those shows where you can learn a lot about people just by their stance on this show.
The problem is that Eisenbeis doesn’t recognize it as a comedy. He sees it as a tragedy, stating that Tomoko hasn’t done anything deserving the hell that is her life.
It’s downright painful to see someone paid to criticize anime miss the point of the show that hard, and looking at both the article and the choices he makes concerning series he watches, recommends, and which ones he outright avoid, it’s increasingly clear that it all hits too close to home for him to be comfortable with it. So he chooses to ignore the context in which the events unfold, much like Tomoko ignores everything she sets up for herself.
Sword Art Onlnie is the Smartest Anime I’ve Seen In Years (And It’s Only Half-Done) – Richard Eisenbeis