Superhero insularity

Many superhero readers seem to misconstrue superhero comics as mainstream, if we go by readership numbers they’re practically cult. Many people are into superheroes but not for life so their affection’s fleeting or passing at the very least. These people will outgrow them, leaving them to their more diehard counterparts.

The diehards are smaller but more persuasive. They have far more spending power and say on the industry than casual fans do. This has the unfortunate effect of producers coming to cater to them a lot as well as growing numbers of these fans becoming producers themselves.

The same can be said of any industry or thing with cult followings. The mainstream has moved on, said idols are left with cultists. For every gateway drug like Superman and Black Sabbath, there’ll be those with devout, angry followers and those that need an acquired taste.

So superhero comics are as mainstream as heavy metal is, recognisable but cultish to the core.

Self-referential

It’s become a particularly dominant aesthetic in superhero and Japanese animanga media. Not that it’s bad for as long as it’s balanced by other influences like fashion and pop music for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures but superhero and most recent animanga stories seem to be created for those already in the know. For every story that can easily attract outsiders, there are those that don’t and don’t bother.

I suppose it’s because it’s that hard to accept or try out new things and ideas, even if that’ll enrich stories and make it easier to create characters that aren’t like the author. Maybe easier’s not the precise word but perhaps more willing. Either way, it’s a matter of open-mindedness and opportunism.

While it’s understandable to feel wary of outsiders writing stuff with minimal interest and experience, one wonders if it’s a sense of entitlement where one has to share space with them. Might a writer who seldom reads fiction but writes those anyways be more apt to write characters that act like actual people?

It undermines a number of problems with geek stories, perhaps disturbingly invoking unsavoury stereotypes and why they’re so insular to begin with.

The original Bronies

Bronies are part of a long line of heterosexual adult fanboys co-opting and sexualising little girls’ media and entertainment. Keep in mind that not all of them do this and there are Bronies and their ilk who actively refrain from this and shun their peers for doing it. What I’m saying is that Bronies are not the first people to do it.

Before them you have people sexualising stuff like Kim Possible, Tiny Toon Adventures (which gave us Dennis M Falk), Sailor Moon, Creamy Mami (I’m serious about it) and Minky Momo. The very last one had a studio worker get freaked out by those unexpected fans. It’s been said that these fans have not only sexualised girls’ entertainment but also turned it into the blueprint for certain genres.

There were straight male fans that eagerly devoured girls’ comic books which similarly angered editors. So it’s not unique to the Bronies which is the point of this post.

Bibliography:

The Moe Manifesto by Patrick Galbraith

Meet Dennis “Quozl” Falk, the man who got Tiny Toons cancelled by being INCREDIBLY creepy

American anime

There have been some attempts at making anime style American productions before, sometimes proper Japanese-American coproductions at that but it seems with Netflix’s Castlevania and the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed adaptations there’ll be many of more of those. Unsurprisingly they’re made by people who grew up with anime and adapt or modify those sensibilities for American audiences.

Earlier attempts include Samurai Jack, Power Puff Girls and Megas XLR. Even without the anime aesthetic, there’s a growing number of animation productions like Steven Universe that are made by people brought up on anime. It becomes obvious not so much in the aesthetic but rather the choice of references and storytelling.

They’re not Japanese animation per say but reflect a big influence anime has on them.

Speak to others

Writing autobiographies or autobiographical stories and poems aren’t bad in and of itself, the real trick here is to make it appealing and relatable to everybody else. That’s hard but it can do a lot of good when it comes to reaching out to others, bothering to show empathy and condolences. Sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it’s deliberate.

But appealing to everybody is admirable. Some stories don’t bother and are content with appealing to small audiences interested in that topic to begin with. While someone could relate to Marianne Faithfull’s bad school experiences and losing a parent or relative at a young age, it’s predictable that anime nerds will gravitate to stories featuring them.

Even if or when not all of them do as what Serdap said in his blog. Similar things can be said of other stories outside of anime where the same problem persists. It’s one thing to write what’s autobiographical, it’s another to write only for the intended audience in question.

In another world

There’s a number of anime stories where an ordinary character lands in an extraordinary world. That itself isn’t anything unusual, if you count Alice in Wonderland and The Divine Comedy as precedents. I think I remember watching this anime on AXN about two women landing in a world full of magical, not medical, dwarves. It’s called Strange Dawn.

Some of the most recent include Sword Art Online and In Another World With My Smartphone. Characters that resemble the author itself or the people the author knows isn’t new either, the real trick is to make the work appealing to anybody else. It’s unsurprising that Alice in Wonderland and Divine Comedy are still widely known and read (to varying degrees).

Meanwhile most other ‘isekai’ stories are well-known to geeks, fewer still are famous to anime geeks and even then some of these are polarising. Probably because they don’t appeal to anybody else but fans who want to live vicariously through those but the same can be said of harems or any other genre if they have those at all.

 

Gonna Make You Vomit

Animated pornography and violence isn’t anything new, it’s one of those things that not only Japan has a near monopoly on but also gets it into trouble many times over. Now it seems other countries are catching up with it if the likes of Castlevania are any indication. Adapting a video game into a dark, violent cartoon is one of those first steps.

The next one would be adapting from more disturbing fare like 120 Days of Sodom and the like. It can be said that it has come close not only with storyboard jams, demo reels and certain animated shorts but also legitimate Japanese productions like Midori and Elfen Lied. Animation will go where live action wouldn’t for legal and ethical reasons even if it’s still practically the same.

Someone could do a telly series based on the life of Marquis de Sade (the author of that work) and use animated segments to represent his violent fantasies and stories. They could even use it to get away with what they can’t do in live action. Again like I said, it could be done without the purest intentions. That’s something to be cautious with.