Having been a part of the anime community for a while now, I can say there are certain series more talked about than others. I have seen my share of anime of this kind, and at the same time, there are still many series that I have yet to download illegally and see what all the fuss is about. Having not seen these series can sometimes be a pain in the neck, in the age of spoilers running rampant on the internet(Nagisa dies), references to the shows(GIGA DRILL BREAKER!!!), and annoying people harassing you to watch them(dude, you haven’t watched blah, blah, blah yet? And you call yourself an anime fan?), it can be a hassle mixed with anger and confusion to have missed them. This is especially true for me now that I’ve thrown myself into the aniblogosphere, as people expect me to at least know half of what I’m talking about. The purpose of this post is to analyze how and why exactly did these series became so popular. Anime good, bad and trash is being churned out faster than ever, there must be a good reason why some stand out more than others, whether it be because of militant fanboys/girls urge to overrate or legit people who actually have an eye for what is truly art. Note that I will be discussing about both series that I’ve seen and have not seen yet, to provide you with insight from both perspectives, since it is equally important that we see the influence these popular series have on people who haven’t even seen them.
School Days can be considered a popular series, although it is not a masterpiece, it maintains its popularity with a catchy “Nice Boat” meme and a violent and gory end to an otherwise innocuous(not) and ungory story. People want to know exactly what this “Nice Boat” is, and even though they can just look it up on Urban Dictionary or see it on YouTube, the true essence of the “Nice Boat” cannot be felt unless one sits through the agonizing 12 episodes to witness and understand the boat in its true glory.
Elfen Lied obtains its popularity much of the same ways School Days does, through its violence and brutality. Although what is different is the fact that Elfen Lied is held by many to be a masterpiece. To me, however, Elfen Lied and School Days sits on the same boat(hahahaha…) in terms of how they are recognized. Maybe it’s because Elfen Lied is School Days’ violence times 10^9000 that people inadvertently mixed up a good story/tragedy with limbs flying away like popcorn cooked with an unlid pan.
To stray from the more violent stories, we have Clannad. Although Clannad could be associated with violence considering I’ve very much felt the need to induce some heavy violence after I saw the abysmal ending to an otherwise masterfully pulled off tragic tale. Clannad does live up to its popularity though. Its ability to emofy its audience is most legendary. Being the macho/men-don’t-cry-for-no-piece-of-fiction-mentality kind of guy that I am(yeah, that’s why my favorite genre in anime is high school rom/coms…) being that type of guy, Clannad was the first series to force a couple of tears out of me when Tomoya promised to be a father to Ushio in the flower fields and again when Tomoya patched things up with his father. I realize I’ve only talked about Clannad After Story, although I cannot really back up the first season’s popularity at all. I guess being tied to the tragic second half of the story/bewbs(Kyou)/hot stud Tomoya helped a bit. For me, Clannad (not After Story) was a very mediocre, shall I dare say, harem. The reason behind Clannad‘s popularity could be associated with the other Key adaptations, Kanon 2006 and Air. I have seen neither of these series and it becomes somewhat of a bother when they are talked about among the anime community and I have no idea what is going on. Although I will say that I have little to no motivation to start one of these up(Kanon’s character designs are fucked up), for if they are anything like the emofest Clannad offered me as most fans advertise them, I think I had enough of that with Clannad itself.
Code Geass and Death Note are giants in the realm of popular anime. If you’ve been hanging around anime forums for a while, the only reason you would have not heard of these two series is if you are stupid and forget things too quickly and happened to forget these two series momentarily as I just asked about them. Death Note, in my opinion, deserves all the praise it has been showered with. It is one of the few cases when actual genius in storytelling, suspense, originality, and controversial philosophical topics dominate an anime series’ popularity. There is no time for fanboy/fangirl squeals or other dubious factors that comes into play when we are talking about this series’ popularity. Although many will disagree and call it overrated, as I do with Code Geass(though it is already an “in-thing” to do to bash Code Geass beyond what it deserves). Code Geass is an odd one, it combines mecha action with the mental battles/psychological action present in Death Note. In a way, it borrows Death Note’s popularity and combines it with the popularity of giant robot anime to achieve such a high status in recognition among anime fans. Does it deserve it? Maybe… I am very torn about the quality of this series, as the entire latter half of the story was filled with so much trite and the first half of the story was filled with so much win that I am at a loss.
I’ve talked about some popular series so far, but none of them is even near the status that is achieved by these three behemoths: Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. When I talk about the anime community, I’m talking about the one that relentlessly and violently treat these three series on the same level as we treat the dog shit we find on the streets. Of course, there are other communities that find these three heavy-weight shounen series as the second coming of a certain godly figure. Be it notoriety or popularity, these three giants are a force to be reckoned with. In fact they are so popular, that their existence stretches beyond the walls of anime fandom. You can’t say that about something like Clannad. Now, I’ve seen Naruto (about 90 or so episodes) and I can testify that it is neither dog shit nor a masterpiece, the only two reasons why a series should be popular. I am left with no choice but to declare its popularity a product of the clash between two demographics that painfully does not understand one another.
High speed mode for the rest of the post because I am now officially tired from writing(I don’t put this much effort into my college essays) and the fact that I just want something new out on my blog today as I’ve been facing a slump in the quantity of my posts recently…
Furi Kuri – This series is a love it or hate it series. One thing is for certain though, both factions does not know what the fuck they just watched. The haters hate it because they don’t understand it and the fans love it because they don’t understand it. It is funny how art works isn’t it? Such diverging opinions coupled with its acid tripping what the fuck did I just watch this shit is wack storyline, no wonder Furi Kuri is popular.
Neon Genesis Evangelion and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – Why did I group these together other than the fact of being really lazy? They are two highly praised mecha shows with really long confusing titles that are tremendously popular (duh, if I grouped these series in terms of popularity, this whole post would be one bulging paragraph of tl;dr). TTGL holds the crown for the most highly rated series on MyAnimeList. The series is not perfect, but it is godly enough that there its number one ranking is generally accepted, save the once-in-a-while topic starter of “Why is TTGL so high up?” in the MAL forums. To me, TTGL has everything it takes to be popular. There is over the top energy and comedy, sex appeal, intense mecha battles, characters you care about, and drama dealing with love and death. In addition, the series spawned memorable and ridiculous catch phrases like, “GIGA DRILL BREAKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!” as mentioned way earlier, “Believe in me who believes in you”, “Who the hell do you think I am?!”, “Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb!” and others, no wonder it’s so popular. As for NGE, I saw the series during the last school year, and I cannot for the life of me understand how it can be held so high in regard by today’s standards. It revolutionized mecha anime? It was the first of its kind? I really don’t care about any of that. I’m straying off the topic of popularity to ask why is this show a favorite among so many comtemporary anime fans. High art in literature like something written by Shakespeare is highly praised, but that doesn’t mean more than half the people praising actually read any of it. Same goes for NGE, it might have been revolutionary, but from what I can tell, the characters were all uninspired, the story was confusing and boring beyond words, the music was mediocre, the animation was crap(even for an old show. They clearly ran out of money during the last couple of episodes), and yet it is tremendously popular to this day. This is one mystery I will never solve. Well, so much for High Speed Mode. >_>;
To wrap up, I would like to mention a few other talked about titles I have yet to see. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni(actually, I’ve already seen the first episode and it is already sucking me in), Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Baccano! (This is more of a self induced popularity if that makes any sense. Ever since I found out about it, I’ve noticed more and more praise for it, the series look extremely interesting), Mars of Destruction, Lucky Star (I saw the first 10 mins of the first episode a long time ago and was turned off from it, however, I might start it up again due to the frequency the series is mentioned in the community and the fact that I doubt my abilities to gauge a series during those early times), Mushishi, and Fate Stay Night. These series have caught a lot of attention from me and are relatively popular. Are they just purely overrated or do they live up to their popularity? I will find out very soon… Somewhere out there, there is an underrated masterpiece that I will never even know about…