- Genre : Slice of Life, everything else
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: DMM Pictures
Minoa is having a grand ol time. As an adorable high school student in a prestigious private academy, with a loving and supportive family, there’s really nothing missing from her life. Or at least that’s what Minoa thought. When she is suddenly informed by glamourous classmate Arisu that she will from now on become an avid otaku and member of the newly formed anime research club, Minoa finally realizes the one thing her perfect life had been lacking all this time. Anime, just tons of anime, ALL the anime. Been there…
Self-referential art is a classic standby in any medium. Most people tend to have a natural kinship with those they perceive as peers. This is why movies about the art and industry of cinema get a disproportionate amount of awards, why articles detailing the hardships of the journalists get recognized for Pulitzers and why every chance they get, studios try to find a new demographic to shamelessly pander to. It’s an easy sell. Obviously, an anime for anime fans, about anime fans and presumably by anime fans was bound to be warmly received. It should have been, right?
Animegataris is a prequel/expansion on the Anime-Gatari short. I have not seen the short but it seems to have been fairly well received because the production values of the series are decent. Angles are occasionally a little odd but overall detailing and animation are pretty consistent. I would consider them slightly better than average. The colours on the other hand are fantastic and often played with for subtle thematic references.
The designs here are, both singular and extremely stereotypical. That’s part of the joke though. They are purposeful archetype anime characters, carefully drawn to be as cliché as possible. It’s heavy handed and very obvious but you know what, they’re decent designs. The overall aesthetic is brought together quite well so although their individual stylistic quirks make them seems as if they are characters from different anime genres, they still come together well to present fairly unified visuals. My favorite designs were Kai’s skinny chunni boy archetype and Miko faservicy megane cool girl.
Visually, I found it pleasant to watch and was impressed to see the small stylistic choices used as nods to the industry. This is done in a very obvious way in the latter half of the series but if you pay attention to these things, you can actually see interesting art choices throughout. Again, I have to imagine some pretty serious otakus were involved in the project to put such effort in details that are bound to go almost entirely unnoticed.
Basically, I’m saying the show is generally pretty with sustained production values throughout. Somewhat generic but fun enough OP/ED and good voice acting all around. There is no reason to fault this show on its technical merits.
However, as I’ve said time and time again, because I’m not good with coming up with original thoughts, an anime is more that the sum of its sheer practical components. At its base, it’s a story, an idea, a form of communication. Everything is built upon the premise and without it, it all crumbles.
Animegataris is about the simple love of anime. It’s like an overeager classmate trying to retell you the plot of their favorite show even though you haven’t asked. It’s an anime fan in anime form in all it’s awkward disjointed cynical glory. It can be hard to follow, it’s definitely unsophisticated and obvious in most aspects, it tries way too hard and is desperate for approval. Maybe the neediness was a turn off, maybe viewers got reference exhaustion, but for one reason or another, it was largely denied the approval it so desperately sought and is considered by most a rather large flop.
I really liked it.
Lately I’ve been considering what makes one show successful, while another very similar one is met with ire. It doesn’t help that some anime fans seem to have very little else going on in their lives and project actual rage unto to generally harmless shows. Anime Gataris presented yet another riddle for me. I can clearly see the faults in the series. It’s essentially just a collection of clichés (as someone who regularly spends hours on TV Tropes, I consider this a feature rather than a bug), it fails to commit to any one genre long enough to truly resonate with the established fanbase but is initially similar enough to turn off detractors of those genres and it doesn’t have any clear message.
What I mean is, it doesn’t judge any one style or genre as better or worse than any other so you have nothing to cheer for or against. It simply embraces anime and all its silly quirks as a whole. You can argue that it’s a bit reductive of the medium, concentrating only on the established stereotypes and topical or popular titles and ignoring the larger relevance of the anime. It’s a solid argument in fact. But I read a lot of those negative reviews, it’s not the argument given.
Yes, Animegataris is a string of tired clichés and otaku references strewn together in a lighthearted not too ingenious matter with a lot of pretty pictures in between. So? There are a lot of self-referential animes out there. Quite a few coarser and less entertaining and yet we give them a passing grade without thinking too much about it.
I think it bears mentioning that from my super informal and unreliable research, the fanbase is quite split. This silly little show which gets accused left and right of lacking in substance is actually rather controversial (not a common trait of superficial features). Some fans adored it, others hated it with very little in between.
Wait, did you think I was going to give you an answer? Did you expect me to have a brilliant analysis to explain why Animegataris failed to resonate with viewers when all the prerequisites were in place. I mean – I gave you some loose, not particularly insightful half theories. That’s what I do. I really don’t know why some rather misogynic and much less entertaining shows with similar visuals do very well while this one tanked. It makes me a little sad. I can tell you that I found it a nice light distraction at the end of long days and I had fun trying to pick up on as many references as possible. I really like anime so hearing about it always makes me happy. The again, maybe I just like shows featuring talking cats with fancy honorifics…
Favorite character: best girl Miko
What this anime taught me: When you love something, you love all of it.
Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but they say: love your enemy.
Suggested drink: Bacon Cherry Creek
- Every time we see Roppongi Sensei – take a sip
- Every time Arisu ropes Minoa into something – take a sip
- Every time their advisor is eating – have a snack
- Every time we get and Erica/Prez flashback – take a sip
- Every time Minoa’s dad goes full otaku – take a sip
- Every time anyone calls bloni Aurora– take a sip
- Every time Miko’s glasses break – take a sip
- Every time someone gets anime homework – envy them
- Every time you get the reference – pat yourself on the back, don’t drink – you’ll die!