Friday, April 16, 2010

The Great Shounen-3

As a passionate shounen fan with a love for epic stories, sarcastic humor, monstrous fights and loveable protagonists, I really adore the great shounen-3. They are long, mainstream series, loathed by almost every self-respecting site reviewer, but I personally happen to love them.

I'm not that retarded that I can't understand the reasons people could have for despising them, but I just don't feel the same way. Sure, some of them may be falling apart from shounen-cliches, with goofy, slightly dim-witted protagonists, ugly villains, betraying friends and all the other archetypical shounen features. Two of them contain at least 40% fillers. They don't dig into brilliant, real-life characterisations, political games or high ethics.
But do we always want to be plagued by reality, even when we're looking at fiction? Do we need to see mental struggles that equal Neon Genesis Evangelion? Gore that rivals Elven Lied? Wit that reminds us of Death Note and Code Geass? What's up with originality anyway? There are so many anime series that only very few of them could still be called original. What counts is the execution, in this case. Let's not thrash series for not being something they're not even aiming to be.

One Piece, Bleach and Naruto are simple, humorous, epic, and intense series with a great cast of characters, located in engaging parallel worlds. All three are almost equally loved by me, for a lot of different reasons. In One Piece, it's mainly the humor. I love the story of Naruto. I get intensely pumped up by the fights in Bleach.

My relationship with One Piece slowly but steadily went from severe annoyance to unconditional love and devotion. While I was first disgusted by the art style and the utter stupidity and lack of any subtlety in the series, after watching for some time I found myself half dead of laughter because of the idiotic humor, I loved all the protagonists (I'm an incurable zoro-fangirl, he's one of the most awesome anime characters ever made xD. I mean, he can cut through walls. WALLS. He won't hesitate to chop off his own limbs if there's no other choice. The lack of his sense of direction is hilarious. How could a character get any more badass than that ^_^?).

I caught up with the Bleach anime in a mere month. Great fights, great cast of characters, although the story suffers at times. Nevertheless, I get as irresistably drawn to series featuring epic sword fights as a moth to a lamp. Swords are cool. I just can't help feeling any other way.

Naruto was the first series I even watched, so it will always occupy a special place in my heart. I'm really into the inner demon thing, the handsigns and I love the world created for the naruto-universe. Again, the archetypical but inevitably engaging characters got to me. I'm a huge fan of Shikamaru's genius. The fillers at the end were a pain to sit through, but Shippuuden made up for it by presenting a slightly more mature tone than before.

As I already said, I love these three series equally (although One Piece might secretly have the most special place in my heart :-P), but to my surprise I've seen so many different combinations of likes and dislikes considering the great shounen-3! As I personally can't fathom the reason why anyone loving Bleach wouldn't also love Naruto and One Piece, I'll try to analyze this matter a little bit.

People who only love Bleach think the epic fights and the badass air in Bleach are great. They think Naruto is childish and they detest all the explanations and the flashbacks (so they don't make it to Shippuuden) and One Peace is nowhere cool enough to be given a try. The Naruto-lovers, on the other hand, likely think Bleach suffers on the storyline (or they didn't make it through the first 16 episodes, which were painfully boring) and One Piece is screwing around too much to become engaging. Finally, People who only love One Piece think the shitload of fillers and the predictable shounen-sequences in Naruto and Bleach are too much of a pain in the ass to watch. They love the humor and the creativity in One Piece.

Naruto and Bleach lovers, by the way, are disgusted by the art style in One Piece and can't believe that a lame looking series like that could ever become as funny, kickass, and emotionally satisfying as the other two.

Combinations like loving One Piece and Bleach but detesting Naruto, loving One Piece and Naruto but detesting Bleach, or ultimately, loving Naruto and Bleach and detesting One Piece, can all be explained by the reasons mentioned before.

Some people drown in the long Naruto filler at the end of the series, and therefore can't make it to Shippuuden. The same happens with Bleach, so it's quite logical if they are dropped for this reason. One Piece, on the other hand, features almost no fillers. While I can perfectly understand people dropping One Piece 'til about episode 80, I can't grasp any reason someone could have to drop it when they've already made it over 200. The only thing I can come up with after some brain-wrecking is that someone actually might not find the humor funny, which is an almost unthinkable thing in itself.

Anyway, in addition to people who love all three of them or combinations of these series, there also are the ones who hate them with a passion. While I think it's perfectly understandable to hate these three series altogether, I don't think it's a reason to excessively thrash them and spit in the faces of the fans of these series while at it. One should always keep in mind the higly personal nature of anime preferences, so I won't make fun of anyone who loves series that I personally detested. I'd also like not to be mocked by people acting high and mighty about their own great skills of analysis, political and ethical insight, their knowlegde of themes, patterns and structures. I'm not stupid myself and perfectly capable of rationally analyzing the good and bad parts of anime series. I recognize the simplicity of the shounen-3 and the non-originality of Naruto and Bleach. I can see their weak points. Even though I said all of these things, I still love them. You might call it a separate rating system; enjoyment value against rational analysis. It just happened to be so that the enjoyment value of these three series was excellent for me. While they weren't realistic, deep or mature, they were just so much fun to watch that all of them ended up in my top 10.

While I think everyone has the right to love or hate any series they want for whatever reason they please, I also believe from the bottom of my heart that we should respect eachothers opinion here. I mean come on, we're not little kids anymore and we should be able to discuss anime series without personally attacking others, even when our opinions clash. Let's all act a little mature and just agree to disagree. I promise everyone, delightful conversations will follow.

1 comment:

  1. I've got to agree with you, unfortunately the web is littered with condescending anti-conformists who enjoy belittling mainstream anime in order to assert their superiority. Perhaps it's an insecurity issue.