New research indicates creativity is inversely proportional to viewer enjoyment. An article published by an undergraduate student has isolated the variables believed to be the cause of objective consumer satisfaction. To illustrate his point, he has dissected some of anime’s most popular titles from the past nine years, and what made them so successful despite being mediocre at best:
This product of Nishio Ishin’s masturbatory ejaculation has garnered a huge cult following despite its lack of humor or any semblance of a story. Its lead character, Araragi Koyomi, acts as the humble medium through whose eyes the viewers observe the events that unfold around the girls that make up his harem. To be accurate, the “story” (monogatari) is not about him, and never will be. The most accurate summation of the anime is that there are “cute girls doing things” which may or may not be important, depending on how much you actually care about the series.
Thanks to its use of brightly colored cue cards in lieu of traditional transitions between scenes, usually full of intermittent text that test our visual acuity, and the oddly erotic Popotan character designs, it is not hard to see Monogatari as a one-hit wonder that should have burned out as soon as people realized it is written by the “genius” behind Medaka Box. Yet this has yet to pass. Every new iteration of this series follows the same tiresome directing and fast-paced dialogue-heavy script, laden with esoteric references most of its fans have no way of understanding. Fortunately for the people who watch this anime for its “animation”, “creativity”, “humor” or “storytelling” there is at least one guarantee that accompanies this predictable refuse: oddly erotic Popotan fanservice.
Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
I actually enjoyed this anime; and there was nothing groundbreaking or exciting about it. If anything, its success can mostly be attributed to its solid script, and the lack of anything new or exciting that could potentially have ruined it. The heroine, Kirino, was a flour tortilla wrapped around all that is wholesome and good about anime: lesbians, incest, hot loli sister, perverted girl gamer and short pants. Essentially nothing that exists in real life. Anime is widely believed to be a method of escapism, and nothing fits the mold quite like Oreimo for this purpose.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
This is an example of history repeating itself. During the magical girl boom of the late 90’s, people were looking for new ways to define their magical girl product and merchandise to stand out from those of their competitors. Like all anime with a target demographic of “preteen girls”, most of these series end up being watched by middle-aged men. However, it was not until the turn of the millennium that people started realizing the true potential for magical girls. In the wake of the international success of magical girl series such as Sailor Moon, Saint Tail, Wedding Peach, Fancy Lala, Cardcaptor Sakura, Ojamajo Doremi, Full Moon wo Sagashite, Futari wa Pretty Cure and Mermaid Melody Pichipichi Pitch; and the ensuing onslaught of pornographic doujinshi based on them flooding the market, big business realized it was time to get rid of that ignominious subterfuge of “shoujo” branding.
While parodies have existed for a while, such as Tonde Buurin and Nurse Witch Komugi-chan, nothing signified the death of the Magical Girl sub-genre more so than Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. This Seven Arcs production sported a technology-based magical system accompanied by over-the-top explosive magic and aerial battles. This was a turning point in magical girl anime, as it was no longer an option to keep things sparkly and clean. The next year, Futari wa Pretty Cure featured a magical duo actively engaged in fist to fist combat with their opponents. Moyoco Anno introduced her Sugar Sugar Rune, an innocent series about two childhood witch friends competing to win the hearts of boys, a strange narrative on society’s expectations of females. Notorious ecchi mangaka Peach-Pit soon entered with Shugo Chara!, filled with an unprecedented level of perverted jokes and fan service. It became evident the only logical course of action in the ever escalating world of magical girls was to have it explode at the apex like the festering super robot genre of the 90’s that preceded it: aka Evangelion.
This is where Urobuchi Gen stepped in with a series that he trolled on twitter would be a heartwarming series families could enjoy together… After episode three, he admitted he lied. But to anyone who grew up in the angst-filled 90’s, this series was nothing new, like the many reboots of the Batman franchise. There are many small reasons for Madoka’s success, including a generation of young fans that didn’t grow up in the 90’s, but I believe the primary reason for Madoka’s success is just a matter of timing. Madoka aired during the middle of a series of natural disasters in Japan including tsunamis and earthquakes, and any show that depicts scenes of destroyed cities is considered poor taste in the face of real life tragedies. Fortunately for studio SHAFT, misery does enjoy company, and the two month delay in airing only helped build up anticipation. It’s questionable whether Madoka would be so venerated had it followed through with its original airing time, which is to say the only evidence is the lack of evidence, but it is certainly an angle worth approaching.