It's Just Annoying
When blogger eats up your post about your entire 30-minute tirade about fantasy anime.
A Revised, Shortened Version
What got me into this in the first place was when I met Vin at Comic Quest since it was on the way to meeting Athene, whom I gave a bunch of blank CD-Rs (because she's cute and kind and... burning me copies of Prince of Tennis
The conversation was going around the lines of getting Elbert into RPGs when it shifted to getting Dean into anime, specifically the fantasy genre. Of course it would have been easy if it weren't for the condition of it being "pure fantasy" and not having any mecha or technology involved.
Before I go on, I'd like to clarify my stand as an anime fan. Just because I'm one does not mean I like all anime. Anime is just like any other medium out there; there's a bunch of crap. With something like 40+ episodes airing every week in Japan, I wish all of them were good. But as it is, we're lucky if a dozen of them are watchable.
Therefor, I like anime not because of all its shows but rather because of the rare jewels that pop up consistently (consistent in the fact that every year, there's a few shows that are actually good). And sometimes, these rare gems are enough to redeem the genres they represent. Emphasis on sometimes.
Occassionally, I like anime not because it stimulates the brain cells but merely for the fact that it's a guilty pleasure. Some call it eye candy, others brainless fun. I watch it, I like it.
The Really Really Shortened Tirade
Fantasy anime has its roots with Osamu Tezuka's Ribon no Kishi
, which is not only a proponent of fantasy but of strong female protagonists as well.
However, the real foray into the fantasy genre was when D&D managed to reach Japan. Its influence can be seen in the popular 1988 OAV Record of the Lodoss War
(RotLW), which was based on an existing D&D campaign. The show would later be adapted into a 26-episode TV series a decade later, mainly due to the fact that a) it was a time when the Japanese ran out of ideas and decided to adapt for TV popular OAVs like Shadow Skill
and Yamamoto Yohko
, and b), because the campaign the show was based on wasn't really finished during the OAV production process and this was a viable way to serialize their exploits.
RotLW was the pinnacle of fantasy anime and would soon be the standard with which future fantasy anime would be measured against.
Of course RotLW was originally a transcript of the D&D campaign that managed to get serialized in a magazine. This would soon spawn the publication of various fantasy fiction that eventually got serialized in magazines (especially Dragon
, not to be confused with Wizard of the Coasts's D&D magazine of the same name). These magazines would then be the source for future anime/manga fantasy titles such as Slayers, Ruins Explorers, Shadow Skill,
and Sorcerous Stabber Orphen
For better or for worse, these titles were vastly different from the norm RotLW posed. For one thing, it was either spoofing the genre or had lots of comedy mixed in (such as Lina Inverse, a breastless sorceress, or Fam, a swordswoman/wizard who turns into a mouse whenever she uses magic). Serious fantasy became scarce and the fantasy/comedy genre became prevalent. More inventive shows include Bastard
, which had names derived from Heavy Metal bands, and Those Who Hunt Elves
, involving the quest of three humans to get home by asking elves to strip naked.
Not that these were the only proponents of fantasy at the time. Mecha fantasy was already existent with the show Dunbine
and eventually Escaflowne
. There's also the hentai satire Dragon Half
and other anime which had fantasy settings as a backdrop.
Since we're talking about Japan, how can we not talk about video games? Whereas the West were still using pen and paper methods to play their RPGs, the Japanese converted this system to code and formed the basics of video game RPGs. Soon, video game RPGs were known as "interactive novels" and later adapted into anime titles. One such is Dragonquest
, which is also done by Dragonball
artist Akira Toriyama. Even anime with good production values such as Fire Emblem
was nothing more than a 30-minute ad for its video game counterpart (which is why it has a rather "incomplete" ending... they want you to play the game).
Video game RPGs would also thrust the mecha concept into fantasy with Final Fantasy
. The OAV Legend of the Crystals
(a flop and should never be watched by anyone who plans to maintain respect for Final Fantasy) and TV series Final Fantasy Unlimited
incorporated both technology and magic with its line of airships, gunblades, and other paraphernalia.
This is the point where popular fantasy in Japan got mixed into one of two categories: the fantasy/comedy type or the fantasy mixed with sci-fi. Even popular shows like Magic Knight Rayearth
had epic fantasy but had the protagonists's avatars be huge robots. And Silent Mobius
is the perfect example of futuristic fantasy as an earth in a post-apocalyptic setting is faced with magical demons and the only defense against it are psychic powers, powerful magic, a sentient demon-sword, and even hi-tech guns and androids.
The only exception to this rule seemed to be Hayao Miyazaki's theatrical features like Nausicaa
, Mononoke Hime
and the like. Then again, Hayao Miyazaki sells.
We could also go to the non-European fantasy like Heroic Legend of Arislan
or Inu Yasha
. Then there's fantasy that's thrown in with the other genres such as El Hazard
, a typically shonen title with the male protagonist surrounded by lots of cute women, albeit in an Arabian Nights setting. On the other side of the spectrum, there's Fushigi Yuugi
with Chinese lore and a mishmash of its history thrown in for good measure.
Lately, the latest evolution of fantasy in anime is the multimedia platform. Dot Hack
, for example, is not only a video game but a manga and anime series as well. And each medium tells a different side of the story. You play the main character in the video game while the anime is sort of a meta-RPG show.
I don't think we'll see the likes of serious, epic, "pure" fantasy such as RotLW anytime soon but that isn't necessarily a bad thing in my opinion. Of course that also means tough luck for Dean... (or us, since we're the ones trying to get him into anime with those "no sci-fi" constraints)
And I Can't Beleive
I actually managed to somewhat reconstruct my entire post at a time when others would have given up.