Despite how good or bad a show might be, there are some concepts that some anime series have that will surely draw in a viewer or two simply because of the inclusion of that particular concept. Sometimes, it will be a visual cue that only barely shows up in an opening sequence/promotional video/poster, and even though that particular element isn’t shown any further in the series, it served its purpose by drawing the audience in for the first episode.
These particular concepts or elements are dubbed as fandom biases, according to the author of Daydream Sanctuary, in a post brought to my attention by a tweet from Tangle-sama. Inspired by that particular idea, here is a list of five fandom biases in anime that I will eat up like gravy. Beware of the lame puns ahead, because I just finished a long TV Tropes session at work, thanks to a very dull morning. Feel free to ignore the League of Legends segments, because honestly, I’m quite addicted at this point.
There’s nothing more awesome than the ability to time travel. As a plot device, time travel is such a fun concept to write around. It requires heavy attention paid to events that happen in a particular order, and having to weave the time-traveling characters in and out of those events without completely messing everything up and becoming his or her own grandparent.
Time systems usually fall under two categories: single time loop, or multiple/infinite timelines. I love single time loops particularly because of the fancy plot-weaving involved when done reasonably well (Haruhi), to the point where grandfather paradoxes don’t really concern me if Rule of Cool applies. Multiple timelines are pretty neat as well, since there are more possibilities to show the effects of characters trying to change history (Steins;Gate). My only concern for multiple timelines is that the main character sometimes only gets to save the one timeline which is deemed all-important, whereas all the other failed timelines have to reap the consequences of his mistakes.
Either way, there’s been a resurgence of time travel related anime, namely Steins;Gate, Madoka, and The Tatami Galaxy from last year. I wonder if time is running short on the fad. Only time will tell.
(League of Legends Bonus: I just tried Zilean, a time-manipulating champion, and he’s ridiculously fun to play. I’ll be auto-locking him until he’s no longer free, and will end up buying him as he rotates out)
Ice Elemental Powers
For some reason, the power to freeze things just sends shivers down my spine, definitely in a good way. It’s definitely my favourite superhero power. From a writing standpoint, I like characters that have that power, and like seeing the differences in personality in characters that do use them.
They tend to be distant and a bit cold, but as of late, Blue Rose from Tiger and Bunny is a refreshing take on the archetype. She’s not an Ice Queen per se, but ignoring her horridly executed and ridiculously awkward crush on Tiger, she had a very awesome spotlight episode in the first cour of the series. Her catchphrase is so freaking awesome too. “My may be cold, but your crime has been put completely on hold!” It was such an ice way to end that episode.
(League of Legends Bonus: I own pretty much all of the ice-based characters for this fandom bias alone. I use Anivia for AP, Ashe for AD, and Nunu for tank/jungle. Ice-based support hero fucking WHERE?)
It can be a show that is centred around music performance, like Nodame Cantabile or BECK. It can be a show that has an episode suddenly featuring its characters performing music, like Haruhi Suzumiya or SKET Dance. Hell, it can be a show that supposedly centres around music performance, but the main characters just dick around all day, like K-ON or Idolmaster.
I think all of those shows rock, and quite hard at that. I don’t even care about little details like syncing instrument movements with the music. I value the passion of the performance itself, as well as the character-driven motivation behind the performance. In anime and other shows, the performance always has some sort of subtext to it. In SKET Dance, Bossun’s rendition of the pillows was a reflection of his hard work, and his own message to motivate the “client of the week” into going back into music. When the performance is capable of bringing that subtext to the viewer as well, it plucks at their heartstrings.
The slice of life element outside of music is also quite fantastic. It separates stage persona from the person behind the instrument as well. K-ON spends more time depicting the girls drinking tea and being all moe, but it’s only because of those character traits that the music that they perform makes their characters go beyond who they are.
With an instrument in hand, characters become larger than life, and when executed well, it’s just music to my ears.
(League of Legends Bonus: I’m saving up IP for Sona just for this reason alone. I hear she’s an amazing support character as well, and I love playing supports like Soraka and Zilean!)
I could very well write a manifesto on this genre/aesthetic/culture/etc., but I’ve already written quite a bit on it before, particularly in regards to expanding the concept of steampunk beyond Victorian context. In short, the things I love most about steampunk is the can-do attitude of its characters, the self-made enterprise, relentless efforts to create the perfect war machine and the refusal to use it for anything war-related, the spirit of defying social imbalances set by the onset of an industrialized age, and knack for discovery of both the inner self and the outer world.
Steampunk in anime is lacking, and even those that try their hand at it either miss the mark slightly, or are too afraid to incorporate the concept into the story completely. Last Exile comes marvelously close, but the Guild’s technology often overshadows the vanships that symbolize the freedom sought out in Steampunk. Steamboy is beautiful in so many indescribable ways, but sacrifices a lot of story to achieve such beauty.Miyazaki’s works are rife with beautiful technology, but lacks the do-it-yourself ethos. Where’s the truly Japanese steampunk? Where are my karakuri ningyos and automated geishas? I guess I’ll have to write the damn thing myself, as I always have.
Just talking about genre gets me shooting smoke out of my ears, which is why whenever a show comes along that seems to hint at the possibility of representing the medium in the genre, I can’t help but gear myself up for an amazing watch. My fascination is automated at this point.
(League of Legends Bonus: Last week’s hero rotation was astoundingly fun, and I had a blast playing with Heimerdinger and Blitzcrank. This week keeps up on the technology-porn with Rumble, though I’ve yet to try him out because someone’s always insta-locking him in my queues. /sadface)
Anything that takes place in the sky is bound to get bonus awesome points just for being in the sky. It’s a marvelous place where one experiences true freedom in flight, and the worries of earthly limitations are miles below, utterly jealous. The sky is open, yet so filled with artistic possibility. No cloud is the same, and in their beauty alone, I’ve started a tumblr with the sole purpose of showcasing the awesomeness of clouds.
Nowadays, when there’s nothing to watch due to the transition between broadcast seasons, all I do is watch old episodes of anime just for sole purpose of staring up at the sky (via the computer screen, but you get my point). You’d be surprised just how wonderful that place can be, even in the most mundane of shows.
It’s hard to believe that I’d be interested in something as mundane as the empty world above us, but believe me, I’m rather cirrus about it.
(League of Legends Bonus: I got relentlessly and repeatedly whirlwinded by a very skilled Jana player the other day. That bitch. I should buy her after Sona and Zilean)
So there you have it. Five of my major fandom biases. I’d love to hear yours.