Once in a while I post random screencaps I have taken, to twitter without context. It’s a fun little game. What can I say, I’m easily entertained! Since I watched Land of the Lustrous recently, I was posting caps from that show and posted one of Cinnabar blushing. This one to be precise:
To this I got a response along the lines of “I just realized this but how is she even blushing in the first place”. From there on we went on a series of tangents of how the intrusions being organic microorganisms may be chemically reacting or maybe it’s the natural mineral pigment peaking through the powder…
It was the sort of useless nit picky little conversation that completely misses the point of the series. The sort of thing that makes people dislike Cinema Sins so much and bemoan the decline of cinema criticism as an art. I agree, in the grand scheme this detail doesn’t matter and has no bearing on the quality of the storytelling or the anime in general. I don’t think the answer or lack there of should affect anyone’s enjoyment. But I kind of like this stuff as well.
I just find it really fun to explore and ferret out all the little aspects of an anime I enjoyed. I loved measuring chasms in the universally accepted unit of “Isabellas” to pretend to math out the Promised Neverland. Yes it’s fiction. Yes these details are not to be taken at face value. And I appreciate that a lot of people think that putting in so much thought on these little things is a waste of both time and brain capital.
Nevertheless, I not only enjoy going on these little though journeys, I really like when other people do it too. Mythbusters was one of my favourite shows for the longest time. That’s why I wanted to take a minute to see if I could find anything commendable about the practice beyond the that I personally enjoy it. And the answer is no…
I mean not on most levels. It’s true that if you have tunnel vision and latch on too much to the viability of every little detail in a fictional universe, you’re very likely to lose track of the greater themes and sort of miss the forest for the trees. And even if the person pointing out the nit picks isn’t doing that, I can see how it might influence others. On a critical or review level there’s really not that much to be gained.
And even of a narrative level… Although I do appreciate attention to detail and authors who do their homework to inject stories with real world science and history always earn my respect, I have also seen stories get unpleasantly weighted down by such considerations. In the end, injecting realism doesn’t guarantee a superior fiction. In fact most of my favourite series tend to be deeply allegorical and surreal, where the actual things happening are almost arbitrary or at least mostly symbolic. The types of stories that would be destroyed by being confined by the laws of physics.
I really enjoyed Land of the Lustrous. I’m so happy the writer wasn’t trapped by the improbability of deeply emotional rocks or that no one felt compelled to spend the entire season explaining the rational of localized memory constructs. (No one ever gets memories right…). And I’m grateful it didn’t explain how Cinnabar was blushing.
But I still enjoyed thinking about it with a fellow fan.
And this is where I finally make a point. The value of nitpicking anime for me is on a dreamer level. It brings nothing to the fiction, it doesn’t make me a better reviewer in any way and it won’t make me appreciate an anime any more or less. The only thing it does is that for tiny little moments in time, it allows me to sort of share the same universe as series that have captured my imagination. It gives me the chance to tackle just tiny little manageable slivers of lore and hold them in my mind and shape them into something I can almost touch. Something that could exist in the same world as I do even if just for a split second.
That is the one thing I get out of nitpicking anime but oh my, what a great thing it is! And to me, it’s also very valuable. It’s all that magic and wonder that draws me to imaginary worlds in the first place slowly bridged into my own personal every day. I love it. Even though I’m not inclined to it, I think that pointing out continuity errors or acting gaffs is a similar impulse. A way of projecting oneself into the production. There’s a lot of longing and admiration behind it. But sadly both my time and mind are limited so I can’t do it as much as I want. It’s not that easy to create a good nitpick you know. There’s a lot of research involved. So that’s why I want other people to do it for me…
O.k., now that I’m rereading this it really is just I’m defending anime nitpicking cause I personally like it. Succotash. (I’ve been told that children read this blog occasionally which is deeply disturbing to me)
Here’s my TL:DR on this one. Yes, nitpicking the realism of little details in anime is completely useless and adds nothing to the experience of watching or reviewing said anime. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing it any way as long as you send me a link!
Do you enjoy going into way too much detail about anime and taking every little thing may too seriously? Does it annoy you when other people do so? Is there a nitpicky little issue that has always bothered you about an anime you love?