Yuli Ban wrote:That sounds like commie talk to me.
And by that, I mean "there's a reason I didn't entertain this possibility." The only way for this to happen is for something to come along and be twice as successful as Dragon Ball. When I said that Dragon Ball is currently at its commercial peak, the implication was that Toei is going to double down on what they see fattening their wallets. Capitalism doesn't work by taking risks— if risks = $$$, then risks will be taken. But more often than not, you have to be conservative and follow what works. Risks are a byproduct. If everyone took risks, we'd never have copycats, genres, and categories in the first place. Of course, if no one took risks, we'd still be living on the East African plains right now.
First of all: yes, I understand how capitalism (and moreover, how corporate logic) works, thanks very much.
Second: you might be misunderstanding me. I'm not talking about what I think is LIKELY to happen. I'm talking about what I personally would WANT to happen. What one wants and what is are two TOTALLY different things. I understand more than full well the nature of where we are and how we got here: that having been said, I'm not in favor of voicing any kind of support for it.
I have no personal interest whatsoever in seeing the current anime/manga paradigm (and indeed, the anime/manga paradigm of the past 15 or so years at least) continue, in any form or fashion. What I want and what I will continue to voice my interest and support for is for someone or something to overturn the table entirely. I've wanted this just as much more than ten/fifteen years ago in the early/mid 2000s as much as I do right now: I've been beyond finished with this whole streak of "post-Dragon Ball Battle Shonen Dominance" since, at a minimum, all the way back when this forum first launched, and I've been cheering for its demise as one of the primary movers, shakers, and trendsetters within the industry consistently ever since then.
I've many times in the past made the comparison between Dragon Ball and Neon Genesis Evangelion only insofar as both those respective original series are perfectly fine and still hold up on their own, but the impact and legacy that both have had on the broader medium and fanbase for anime and manga in the wake of their completion have been beyond toxic and corrosive to said medium on a creative/artistic level (for very different and diverging reasons as those are two VERY fundamentally different series). However just because I can still derive enjoyment from them as individual works, divorced from what they had ultimately lead to, doesn't mean that I still don't want to see the landscape that they helped forge completely upended and swept away entirely in favor of something else.
So yeah, I fully get that this is going to continue on no matter what anyone else things because $$$: but since this is a discussions forum about what people think as individuals, and the question in these types of conversations is invariably "What is it that you want to see out of the franchise going forward?" my answer is, and will always continue to be "for both it and its imitators and would-be successors to stop being a thing entirely, and get out of the way for something else to have the floor for a change".
Yuli Ban wrote:For example: one could argue that Astro Boy was the Elvis or Chuck Berry of Japanese cartoons and Dragon Ball was the Beatles. In which case, where is the Nirvana? Hasn't come yet. We're still in the era of hair metal and new wave, that very faint echo of the British Invasion. There's clearly rumbles underneath, but the return of Dragon Ball is basically the equivalent of the Beatles reuniting in 1988. Not only did it delay whatever was coming next, it outright prolonged the current paradigm. Toei's looking at their coffers and seeing some of the prettiest pennies they've seen in quite a long time. This isn't going to make them want to look for a new paradigm. This is going to make them want to double down like Neil Breen.
Replace "Japanese cartoons" (i.e. anime as a whole entire entity) with "Japanese children's cartoons" (i.e. Shonen) and that analogy holds, since the entire history of the medium cannot and should not be boiled down solely to this one particular corner of it.
And also, to varying degrees, one could make the argument for either Akira or Evangelion as being Nirvana analogs for anime (albeit within VASTLY different corners and realms of anime from Dragon Ball: since once again, anime is a MUCH bigger and denser medium than just merely Shonen).
That having been said, Nirvana also didn't just come up from complete nowhere: there was a particular strain of an underground punk rock movement running all throughout the late 70s and entirety of the 80s that had made Nirvana possible in the first place. And that punk movement also didn't just spring into being out of thin air from whole cloth: people who were dissatisfied with the status quo and wanted to rebel against it had made it happen via years upon years of new and ambitious bands toiling away creatively (with almost zero interest in commercial viability) and fans championing them and spreading their work throughout various niche communities.
It took more than a decade and a half to nearly two decades of this to lay the groundwork from which a band like Nirvana could then rise forth from and lay waste to the mainstream paradigm (without even purposefully trying to do so
on their part no less). Because Nirvana was an organic phenomenon from the bottom up, and not a manufactured one from the top down. As Dave Grohl himself has always said (correctly): Nirvana didn't come to the mainstream, the mainstream came to Nirvana.
I find it very appropriate that you used this very specific musical analogy, because it fits in with my overall perspective perfectly: I'm not in this to see the commercial Hair Metal status quo get tweaked around the edges so that the next Shonen manga/anime equivalent to Poison or White Snake can be better polished up. As someone who cares about Japanese anime and manga as medium's from a standpoint of creative and artistic growth and integrity, I'm in this to see the status quo of the past 15/20 years be torched and ripped down and replaced with something vastly better and more creatively ambitious.
Yuli Ban wrote:In a better world, we'd have moved on. But that's not the world in which we are currently living.
Also: I can't imagine it'd be very easy to make shonen manga that's not for grade-schoolers. That's like trying to make young adult fiction that's not for young adults.
Well that's also part of my point: most fans in communities like this one aren't grade school children. Part of my issue is the sheer number of anime fans that are out there who aren't kids, but still focus primarily on children's anime and manga. The companies themselves are one thing, its in their nature to double down on whatever is selling: but you cannot have something sell without there being legions of people to buy it.
I've got NOTHING at all against small children buying this shit. Its who they're aimed at, and kids are gonna be kids (though by all means, parents ought to at a minimum ATTEMPT to encourage them to not wallow 100% exclusively in this type of plastic shit). My issue rather is with the fanbase of grown-ass adults whose anime and manga habits revolve primarily, if not exclusively, around both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball-esque Shonen derivatives.
To once more run counter to your "Shonen anime as rock music" analogy: Shonen isn't
the only game in town, and never has been. If you're a small kid, that's one thing. If you're an adult who's into a few scattered assortment of Shonen titles for laughs, but they aren't your main overarching focus, that's also fine. My issue comes down to the vast swath of fans throughout the past 20 some-odd years whose relationship with anime/manga boils down exclusively to what they grew up on as kids - which in most cases throughout the past 20 years has been either Dragon Ball or one of its legions of wannabes - to the express detriment of anything else.
I know that there's a LOT of kids out there: but kids alone in NO way account for 100% of the entire expanse of the Shonen demographics' global success across the 2000s and 2010s. With Shonen in particular, there has been a MASSIVE post-90s growth in a periphery demographic for it made up of both little girls and adult men that has further bolstered its sales. And while I could care less about the former (I think that Japan subdividing its demographic categories by gender is, at a certain point, fairly stupid and unnecessarily reductive to begin with), the adult men is CERTAINLY something that I have been a vociferous critic of rather consistently throughout the years.
Again, I don't care whatsoever if you're an adult who from time to time engages with some (SOME) children's media: hey, guilty as charged here myself. But part of the issue is with SO much of the adult fandom for this stuff being made up of grown men who - to a point that seems almost pathological at times - CANNOT let it go and give their time, focus, and moreover for this topic, their $$$ for almost ANYTHING else that isn't in some way connected to their grade school iconography.
This isn't like something like healthcare, or some other life-or-death necessity that people need to survive (which would lend a WHOLE different wrinkle to things that would change the fundamental nature of what I'm about to say here entirely): this is commercial art and entertainment. Within that context, at a certain point you can only place so much of the blame on the corporations and the throngs of current 8 year olds: at a certain point, there's SOME stretch of the grown adult fanbase with whom the (literal) buck must stop at.
Its in the very core nature of a capitalist corporation to only do what will make them the most amount of money (and whether or not that's even a good thing in itself is a WHOLE separate rabbit hole of a discussion entirely): but no one is holding a gun to the typical Otaku Weab's head and forcing them to dedicate the lion's share of their time, money, and online attention to reliving their childhood playground fantasies, whilst generally ignoring and not lending much of ANY financial or word-of-mouth weight to something more fundamentally grown-up and more artistically and/or intellectually ambitious.
As someone who is on the "regular fan" side of the equation, there isn't a damn thing that some random schmuck like myself can do to impact the corporate end of things, apart from not supporting it financially as an individual (which I for one generally do not). But a regular fan CAN however at least attempt to help try and steer the broader fandom discourse and "overton window" so to speak at the ground level into different directions and raise some basic questions like why it is that most of us place so much exclusive emphasis on just this one, lone corner of an entire broader medium that is MUCH much bigger overall?
To once again harken back to your musical analogy: imagine going back to the early 1980s and telling some hardcore punk rocker kid something along the lines of "Why are you wasting so much energy raging and rebelling against the mainstream? Forget this Black Flag shit, just relax and enjoy some Robert Palmer or Eddie Money. Play within the middle lane like everyone else." Said punk kid would (rightly and justly) flip you the finger, spit his drink at your Phil Collins record, and tell you to go fuck yourself.
You can either accept the status quo at face value and act like its this solid, immovable mass which is forever and permanently impervious to any outside stimuli: or you can be one of however many numerous voices it takes to slowly ebb and chip away at it until one day its suddenly NOT the status quo anymore. These things only have as much power and weight as people give them. All change of any kind begins with one's perspective: and the first step in cases like this is for people to stop perceiving these types of paradigms as if they're solidly permanent, eternally entrenched, and invincible to influence from the outside. They're not, and historically never have been. Nothing lasts forever.