Q&A – Do I Even Enjoy Anime Anymore?

There’s two questions that I get asked on a pretty regular basis when it comes to Otaku Central and why we’re doing what we do. The first one is “Where did you get the idea for OC?”, and the second one is with how busy life and OC keep me, if I even get the time to watch or enjoy anime anymore.

New anime has admittedly taken progressively more of a back seat for me in recent times for a variety of reasons, but the biggest contributor would have to be that I simply don’t have anywhere close to the level of free time anymore that I used to. In a similar vein, I don’t have a desire to have free time in general.

It May Not Be Just Me

While this response is limited to my direct circle of contacts, and you should subsequently take it with a real grain of salt as a result, the general consensus for us is that there’s become less of an availability of “good” anime in the last couple of years in particular.

Now, it’s probably a pretty easy, generic statement to make to say that anime quality in 2019 is overall lower in than it was in 2014. The quality shortage ultimately stems from the lack of available funding in the industry in general, and lack of funding starves anime projects short of what they could become, as well as lowers morale among workers – slaving away for 100+ hour work weeks for a fraction of what minimum wage is here in the U.S. would be living hell.

This is evidenced through several outlets in terms of overall quality.

Firstly, there aren’t a lot of wholly new or interesting ideas in terms of animation plots, universe settings, or storylines. Nearly everything that hits the consumer market nowadays seems to be a rehash of something that came out 5-10 years prior, or whatever the latest fad is. Take “Darling in the Franxx” for example. Ever heard of an anime from 2008 called “Dragonaut, The Resonance”? While it was nowhere remotely close to as popular as Darling as, if you watch it, you’ll see nearly all of the same identical core plot mechanics in it.

Secondly, lack of innovative ideas has led to an almost psychotic dependency on “tropes” for fan following. What do I mean by that? Well, have you noticed a massive influx of animes that hit the mainstream where they have virtually no new ideas or concepts, but play upon some of the market’s most popular tropes or stereotypes to an almost excessive degree?

Thirdly, the saturation level of ecchi, harem animes in the mainstream here in the U.S. With anime’s global market potential now surpassing the market potential back in its own native Japanese locale, anime is being designed progressively more around the concept of appealing to a foreign audience. And what do foreign audiences want? Accordingly to statistics, ecchi, big-boobed harems. So much for genuine plot. God help us all.

“Anime” In General Is A Broad Term

Animation as an overall term would invariably encompass things that most people would mentally picture as being outside of it. The western term “hentai”, for example.

This generalization also lumps an entire assortment of genres and values into what at the end of the day is little more than simply an artistic medium or transmission method. While the majority of people associate anime with the tropes associated with it, the concept isn’t inherently tied to the tropes and has been used outside of the trope categories not only by Japan but also by every single first-world country outside of Japan.

Animation as a medium has been used for things such as historical documentaries, illustrations of true-story personal struggles, biographies, cooking and trade-related tutorials, and a plethora of other things that have a decent measure of real-world value or significance. It’s by no means limited exclusively to the tropes that are more commonly associated with it.

‚ÄčTo be honest, I love anime for most of the things listed prior, and for next to none of the tropes. It’s the real-world significance that I gain out of anime that draws me to it anymore, and that I find a measure of inspiration from the real struggles and accomplishments of others as portrayed through it. This perspective isn’t dissimilar from that of former Japanese Prime Yoshihiko Noda, who spoke on multiple occasions about his love of ‘Captain Tsubasa’ and how it inspired him to drive Japan to be more in a globally competitive environment.

This isn’t meant to discredit animes that aren’t based on real-life situations as having no value, but rather to show that I naturally gravitate in the direction of animations that have their roots in the real world. Animes like that demonstrate to me that what I want to accomplish in life isn’t something that’s out of reach, but is well within the realm of possibility for those willing to strive towards it.

Let’s Be Honest – Free Time Is A Luxury I can Rarely Afford

It strikes a lot of adults – usually parents or career-focused individuals. You know, the syndrome of almost always having your free time consumed with responsibilities or projects.

This is especially true of myself; had the Otaku Central project been an easy measure to pull off, someone else would have probably done it long before we did and probably aimed to make a larger profit on it than we do (which is none, by the way). It’s been through the day-in, day-out hard effort put in not only by myself but by the entire OC team that we were able to get this far, and it’s that same level of passion that’s going to push us onward to our goal.

I find a degree of satisfaction in filling my life up with work. It gives me a sense of purpose, and goes a ways in trying to sate the sense of inherent conviction I have about striving to make the world a better place than how I arrived in it as.

Work also serves to numb out a couple of passive “pains” that I otherwise tend to feel if I have too much free time on my hands to let my mind wander to them.

Firstly, I’m the kind of person who’s wired in a way that I’m not the most social person in the world in lieu of working to try and accomplish more with my life. It’s not that I’m a shut-in or an anti-social fly on the wall, but to describe it in Hikigaya Hachiman’s famous words: “it’s not that I’m anti-social, it’s just that I hate fake people and drama”.

Secondly, because of the position that OC has placed me in, it’s almost definitely decided that I won’t be able to date or look into getting married or starting a family in the course of my life. The personal, physical and financial responsibilities of my life are simply too much of a burden to try and force on someone else I’d attempt to share my life with (and share theirs, too). While I won’t talk about it at length, this mentally wears on me if I have some downtime where my mind gets the chance to “look through the glass” at alternate life possibilities. If I don’t keep busy, I’m convinced that this would ultimately destroy me in some regard.

At the end of the day, I don’t regret the course in life that I’ve been put down. It’s where I want to be, but I have to commit to it – and I will.

Summary

I still enjoy anime heartily within my preferred scope of entertainment, but it’s limited to that scope and when I can actually get time to do so.

At the end of the day, if this wasn’t the case for me, OC wouldn’t be possible. It’s because of the fact I don’t sink hours upon hours every day into watching anime that OC has become the outlet of hope and good in the world that it is.

While I don’t wish my life upon anyone else, it has some positives to it.

All I can ask is that people ask themselves the question about doing the same in their own small way.

Caleb
Caleb Huggenberger is a 31 year-old systems engineer, owner of the non-profit animation streaming service 'Otaku Central', and Eastern culture enthusiast. Outside of long work days, he enjoys electronics engineering, cast iron campfire cooking, and homesteading on his acreage in the Indiana countryside.

Leave A Comment (please keep things clean & civil)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *