October 19, 2014

MANGA MONDAYS | The Pros and Cons of Long-Running Anime

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By MICHAEL MAUER

I’m going to be clear from the start. I do not like long running shonen anime. There. I said it. One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, even Ranma ½ — not my cup of tea.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not telling you that your favorite anime is bad. In fact, I’m willing to bet that all of the anime I just listed are pretty darn good. But I won’t watch them.

To explain, I must first define a long running anime (I won’t even begin to address all of my issues with shonen in this post). The rule of thumb is quite simple, actually: any anime airing for more than four seasons, or running over 50 episodes (this rule is by no means set in stone – I love Shakugan no Shana and plan to watch Monster one of these days).

My issue with this sort of anime is simple. In the two years it would take me to catch up with something like One Piece, I could watch countless other anime that are at least as good, if not better. For example, I’m told that the action in Naruto is extremely impressive. I can easily assure you that the action in Fate/Zero, Eureka 7, Code Geass and Hamatora is at least comparable to Naruto’s. Yet one could watch each of those anime twice in the time it would take them to complete Naruto – all while experiencing four distinct types of action.

My next issue is the lack of an ending. Anime like One Piece exist to run forever, while essentially printing money for the creators. If they run forever, how can one experience the emotional power of a perfect conclusion? I’m reasonably certain that 11 episodes of Anohana have at least as much emotional power as One Piece’s 600. Yet instead of wasting years of my life with filler, Anohana told its story in a single night and left me reeling from one of the most powerful conclusions I’ve ever experienced.

I’m often told that long anime help get the view attached to characters over a long period of time. However, I question whether sheer volume of episodes is necessary for this. Madoka Magica and Angel Beats are both renowned for reducing viewers to tears over characters they’ve known for only three episodes. Pardon my snobbishness, but to me that simply suggests vastly superior characterization and plot development from anime that care about more than running for as many episodes as possible.

Michael Mauer is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences He may be reached at mrm355. Manga Mondays appears Mondays this semester.

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