Sometimes my friends ask, Whats wrong with American cartoons? or What is so great about anime? and the ever present, you still watch cartoons?.
First let me just say, yes. Between school, work and frequent trips to the coffee shop, I do still manage to watch cartoons.
If you have ever watched an episode of The Simpsons, The Family Guy, or Aqua Teen Hunger Force, you do too.
Although I like American cartoons, I must say there isnt much to choose from as they pretty much stick to the same format. They criticize, ridicule, or emulate whatever is playing in the 5 oclock news, from Paris Hilton to Pres. Bush. If anything dramatic happens at all be assured that next week there will little or no reference of anything that occurred in the past.
There is no story to follow.
That is where, at least for me, anime steps in.
Anime can be as simple and humorous as Bugs Bunny, or as complex and artful as Shakespeare.
Most people disagree with me, especially on the beautiful part. Their idea of anime is “Pkemon”, “DragonBall Z” and “Yu-Gi-Oh!”. Good vs. evil all the way.
Let me point out that those shows are geared towards your average preteen child, therefore they lack the complexity and subtleties of more adult series.
Take Neon Genesis Evangelion for example. This series was created in 1995 and it was airing in the U.S. as recently as 3 months ago.
On the surface this is your typical mecha, villain of the week, kind of series. However, the characters are so complex and multidimensional that its hard to agree on what they represent.
Some see it as a philosophical exercise, while others see it more as a psychological struggle within the characters themselves or any of us for that matter.
“Evangelion” has been linked to religion, philosophy and psychology for its references to Freudian theories and use of symbolism. Things that speak to the very core of the human psyche.
When was the last time Homer questioned the nature of reality? and I dont remember Peter struggling with an Oedipus complex either.
Sure, you may say those are comedies, not intended to be deep and philosophical. True, I agree.
So I ask you, what else is out there?