Friday, July 16, 2021

Hayate Reflections Revival Episode 2: Are Recent Anime Really Superior?

 When I was a child,  I used to love stuff like Transformers, Archie Comics, He-Man, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers... basically, any cartoon or kids show that I could watch at that time.

As I grew older... perhaps around the time I hit high school, I realized that some shows just didn't feel right for me anymore. While I could still watch stuff like Pokemon, Batman: The Animated Series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest and of course, anime, I tried to avoid watching animations that didn't have this mature vibe to them.

At that time, I thought that this was merely a consequence of growing up. After all, I was now a teenager, therefore, my tastes had matured. Those kiddy shows from my childhood just didn't fit with my more adult tastes nowadays.

I continued to adopt this kind of mindset when it came to animation for the next two decades or so. Anime always got a pass since where I'm from (in the Philippines), it was always seen as ok to like anime. For example, the local tough guys who frequent the basketball courts here are all aware of Sakuragi and Mitsui from the anime Slam Dunk. 

It was only when I reached my late twenties when I began to realize that: you know what? I still like cartoons after all. Which leads me to the point of this video.

A few days ago, while surfing youtube, I came upon a particular anime review. While I agreed with the content creator's analysis, there was a moment in that review which had me thinking: wait a minute, that's not right.

Basically, without being too specific, the reviewer mentioned how a particular anime that he liked back then wouldn't hold up to his own scrutiny nowadays. This wasn't the first time I'd heard or read something similar online. I remember an anime review site from the early 2000s that reviewed a DVD release of Magic Knight Rayearth and how it's just not that magical in modern times.

Have you ever thought this way about something you liked from your younger days?  Something like: "It was fun back then, but it just doesn't hold up in hindsight."

Well, because I've been guilty of having such a mindset myself, I'd like to present a different perspective on the matter. It's not that the things you loved back then aren't as enjoyable anymore -- they still are. It's just that you accumulated a lot more preconcieved notions now. For example, I believe that a show like Ranma 1/2 is still just as enjoyable to watch today as it was back then. Then, I started watching the author's previous work, Urusei Yatsura Lum. At that time, the jokes all had that been-there, done-that  feel to them because of course they did, it used the same formula as Ranma 1/2 but with a more likable, less vulgar and crude protagonist.

Still, because Animax-Asia chose to keep airing Urusei Yatsura over and over again, I found myself watching it anyway and you know what, the show kind of grew on me. The more episodes I watched, the more I realized that I shouldn't be trying to draw comparisons between this show and other more "modern" or more "recent" shows because it was in fact funny and quite enjoyable on its own merits.

The reason that I didn't quite like it the first time was simply because I thought "I'd seen better" with Ranma 1/2... but the truth is that there's actually no objective standard for saying that Ranma 1/2 does things better aside from the more modern animation and character design -- which is understandable because the two shows were released a decade apart from each other. It's not that the older show is necessarily inferior, it's just that my values had evolved to be more receptive to the more recent animation quality and the more timely use of comedy in Ranma 1/2.

I think the same thing is happening for younger viewers and readers of anime and manga nowadays. It's easy to look back in hindsight and say that a show that you enjoyed back then doesn't quite hold up to scrutiny when compared to recent shows because of more modern animation quality and writing that's more in-line with the taste of current audiences... but the truth is that it's just your personal taste having changed because of the type of media you have consumed and the type of social circles you've frequented over the years.

I believe it's arrogance to claim that something you liked back in the past has somehow become inferior when it's really your tastes changing and reflecting the values you hold nowadays and nothing more than that. 

Perhaps, of course, I'm just looking at things through the lens of nostalgia -- but then again, do you really think that there can be any objective universal standard for personal taste?

In any case, I invite you to try it. Just watch an older show that you might have enjoyed but never really had the time to watch from somewhere like the early 2000s and even before that. Don't think about how it compares to the current seasonal anime you're watching. Just watch it for what it is and try to discard any preconcieved notions you might have while you're watching. Then come back here in the comments and tell me: was it really that bad based on your own personal experience with it?

This has been Hayate Reflections Revival and this is lordcloudx out.

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