It seems appropriate to cap off this set of 12 Days of Anime posts with Anime-gataris, as I think it’s something that both readers and other content creators can appreciate to end the year on a more uplifting note than perhaps some of us may have experienced over the last several months. Anime-gataris itself may not seem to have a lot going for it at first, as many of its jokes start off as being solely referential or just about wacky club dynamics that you can get from plenty of other anime as well.
At first, there may not seem to be enough appeal for a sort of show that runs on those concepts alone though, and perhaps if the show had just left it at that, it would have never really become something that would have been worth talking about in of itself.
The show decided to take a bold step though, and escalate itself into something a little more than referential jokes, using them to paint this picture of a larger picture of community in-jokes that many anime fans would appreciate, with delving into the “3 episode rule” and poking fun at the tropes being used by the show itself that fans may love or hate, but reincarnates them into something lively and fun.
It’s a sort of message that says “Hey, we realize that these may not be the best things and this may not be the best show, but we as creators put our heart into them in order to make them fun, and hopefully you enjoy them watching them as much as we did creating them.” You could call the series a love letter to creators and fans alike if you wanted to for that reason.
But Anime-gataris didn’t stop there either.
If that’s all Anime-gataris was, then it’d probably be worth talking about in a different regard in terms of how its humor ended up reaching a fourth-wall-breaking and eventual “meta” level, but it’d be counterproductive in that I couldn’t replicate the jokes well enough in text form to talk about them, nor would it be interesting relaying the entire show’s gimmick in an explanatory manner.
Rather, I want to talk about the underlying theme of Anime-gataris, which is a core concept beyond all of the other things the series has to offer. The concept of how the art we consume says something about ourselves, but also allows us to meet new people that share those interests as well, with the art form serving as an ice-breaker of sorts.
This is one of the first things that’s touched on in the series as well, with Minoa trying to find a club to join through her attempt to find out what anime she watched as a child, not knowing much about the medium, and ends up joining/creating an anime club in the process. Of course, several others also end up joining the club as well, even though they all act different from each other and enjoy different parts of anime culture, and Minoa struggles to keep up with it at first for this reason.
I think that’s what makes this segment realistic though, as I’ve learned through interacting with various parts of the anime community, everyone loves different parts, and not everyone can know everything. While we do have sometimes clashing ideologies and enjoy different things, I think it’s really neat to see everyone talking about the same medium in different ways about certain aspects that they appreciate about anime.
Anime-gataries has characters that love anime itself, the actual source materials, cosplaying, idols, battle anime, the culture surrounding anime, and all sorts of other things as well, and while they do have their disagreements, they still all decide to come together to discuss anime with each other. They are friends because of anime, and because of anime they are friends; that’s the sort of feelings that Anime-gataris invokes in its earlier episodes as well.
And yet, Anime-gataries continues to progress that narrative as the show goes on.
We learn that Erika, the president of the Anime Club, was once viewed as an outcast at her school because she didn’t feel like she fit in with anyone. Because of this, she didn’t really associate with anyone there, and instead, went home where she ended up watching anime that always made her feel like she was a part of something.
After some time, she ends up going to school with some merchandise from that anime and meets some fellow fans that were also cosplayers, in which she was invited to hang with them, which is one of the reasons she loves cosplaying so much. Anime helped Erika in that point in her life, and she was brought closer to others because of that.
At this point though, I felt both upset at this sort of portrayal and also really glad that it happened. More accurately, I guess it was a form of jealously for knowing that a situation like that probably wouldn’t occur that idealistically in real life. I think that’s another charm of this anime though, in that it’s unrealistic in a very uplifting way.
I know that the situations that this show portrays aren’t going to depict all the drama and negativity that this sort of appreciating and bonding over a medium can create, but I think that’s just fine. We can all use a little bit of positive energy at times, and this show definitely wouldn’t have benefited from trying to depict realism to that extent.
Anime-gataris is all about “fun”; how much fun you can get of being around people that enjoy the medium in the same or different ways, and also about the amount of positive emotion that certain shows can bring in their best moments.
As someone that’s written several posts about various series over the past two years and seen so many more from other creators, it can be really disheartening to try to share all the excellent moments within an anime with someone or a group of people and just have an immediate response of all the negative aspects that particular series can have, without anyone having any sort of appreciation for the positives.
Perhaps that’s me being unrealistic, perhaps that’s just part of the critical analysis, or perhaps it’s the circles of people that I’m surrounded with. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to want to express any of those things, but I think that’s how people lose their spark rather easily for the things they love; being critical isn’t always easy, nor do I particularly think it’s always necessary in every situation.
It may come off as odd saying that, as someone that regularly has critiqued plenty of shows, but I think Anime-gataris really has put this into perspective for me. Of course, that’s not to say that we can’t criticize parts of shows we don’t feel work out, but I think over-extenuating the negatives can really be a slippery slope into having an earnest disinterest in media.
I think it’s something we should keep in mind as a community to appreciate some of the better aspects of a medium, make our points against the bad parts, with fond memories of the good parts if possible. There’s enough negativity in the world to observe daily; we must try and express the appreciation for the positives of the things we love in order to share them with others.
It’s something that I think Anime-gataris didn’t inherently outright say, but could be drawn as a potential message from it. As positive as a show as Anime-gataris is, I think the strongest part of the series is that it never became heavy-handed and never took itself seriously.
The show did many different things in order to garner laughs and smiles from me, but I think it’s overwhelmingly positive message about community and anime was the message that lightened my spirits the most, and I think we can all keep that in mind as the new year rolls around.
Make 2018 a positive and uplifting year for yourself and others.