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Old 15-02-2007, 07:49 PM   #1   [permalink]
Tenkawa
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Darker themes in anime

Just wanted to poll some of the long time otakus on this one, but I've been noticing that a lot of the newer anime's are dealing with much more adult themes like child abuse, death, mental trauma, abandonment, etc.

Granted I will admit it could be more a function of the US studios being more daring and willing to release more contraversial series, but I was just wondering if people had theories on this.
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Old 15-02-2007, 08:44 PM   #2   [permalink]
Nokari
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Over time, the more serious and dark animes have been pulling more audiences and ratings. It's just common sense to keep putting more of them out there, like Black Lagoon and Death Note for instance.
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Old 15-02-2007, 09:36 PM   #3   [permalink]
Tenkawa
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So what would you say were the turning point / defining anime pieces that sort of started this little trend?
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Old 16-02-2007, 01:51 AM   #4   [permalink]
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It's hard for me to say cause I don't know when the Japanese releases were, but I'd say it began sometime between 1999-2002.
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Old 16-02-2007, 03:52 PM   #5   [permalink]
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Well in general, I noted that one mainstay for anime is the technique of starting a story in the middle (at some relatively light point) ... to have it develop progressively into a serious story. This approach is a reasonably good catchall for a wide demographic for viewage, but since it can lack concentrated "in your face" focus, it can be less effective than the more direct and aggresively paced/plotted IRLesque stories.

I am thinking that the use of more realistic "dark" stories are the evolutionary outcome of this mixed in with market specificity and budget. Add to this the nature of cartoons and their image ... Japanese anime has for a long time the reputation of being more sophisticated and "adult" than its western counterpart ... this tradition then has the consequent impetus to continue to be on what is considered the "cutting edge" of animation media.

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Old 26-02-2007, 12:57 PM   #6   [permalink]
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Descendants of Darkness definately has dark themes... what with rape and suicides.. but i like the way they mix it with humor as well

manga's are usually 'darker' than the animes.. even yugioh!!
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Old 26-02-2007, 05:15 PM   #7   [permalink]
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Originally Posted by kareebo

manga's are usually 'darker' than the animes.. even yugioh!!
I agree, I think this is because that up until quite recently, the manga had more of a stable base as an internal asian market ... whereas the anime had more potential for a wider more global audience ... thus the anime was more susceptible to censorship due to differing cultural mores.
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Old 07-03-2007, 04:01 PM   #8   [permalink]
John Faulkner
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Originally Posted by Tenkawa
I've been noticing that a lot of the newer anime's are dealing with much more adult themes like child abuse, death, mental trauma, abandonment, etc.

Granted I will admit it could be more a function of the US studios being more daring and willing to release more contraversial series, but I was just wondering if people had theories on this.
What new anime are you referring to? I haven't seen much anime, if any, recently. Some of the themes you mention are seen in older stuff like Ninja Scroll, the movie (death, mental trauma, beast-rape), Hokuto no ken/ First of the North Star (death, mental trauma, abandonment), Robotech (death), Voltes V (death, mental trauma), Grave of the Fireflies (death, mental trauma) and Orguss 02 (death). Other series like Gundam and Macross have probably dealt with some of these issues too.

If we include stuff from 1995-9, Berserk (death, rape, abandonment, self-abuse and god knows what else), Trigun, Evangelion, Princess Mononoke and Lain have explored some of the themes too.

So I don't think it's a 21st C phenomenon, the trends have existed in the past, but perhaps it is more in the mainstream now.

Having said that these themes have been explored in anime, that doesn't mean to say they have been explored in some super-enlightening way - on the whole, I find that "dark" themes have been expressed in an anaemic fashion in anime, as if the script has been bowdlerized.

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Old 08-03-2007, 10:02 PM   #9   [permalink]
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Neon Genesis - murder, parental neglect, and angst

Serial Experiment Lain - suicide

Elfen Lied - sexual abuse, murder, psychological trauma

Gunslinger Girl - murder, suicide, border line infantcide (as one girl's parents tried to kill her)

I'm sure there's much more than this, but this is what I could come up with off the top of my head.
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Old 09-03-2007, 07:54 PM   #10   [permalink]
John Faulkner
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Originally Posted by Tenkawa
Neon Genesis - murder, parental neglect, and angst

Serial Experiment Lain - suicide

Elfen Lied - sexual abuse, murder, psychological trauma

Gunslinger Girl - murder, suicide, border line infantcide (as one girl's parents tried to kill her)

I'm sure there's much more than this, but this is what I could come up with off the top of my head.
Right, so you're including the mid-late 90's when referring to "newer" anime. I haven't seen Elfen Lied or Gunslinger Girl so I checked them out on (love it or hate it) wikipaedia. They both look as if they have a sordid atmosphere .... an assassination group formed of part-cybernetic formerly traumatized children (in Italy) is certainly original, if nothing else.

Back to the topic, I hazard a guess that maybe there is more worldwide demand for anime now (which means potentially greater profit), and hence more are being dubbed and released in English-speaking countries (rather than being left in Japanese).

As for defining anime, I think Neon Genesis certainly was quite influential. It spawned the ill-conceived imitator Candidate for Goddess (and influenced Xenogears the video game), and I think increased the focus on the psychology of characters (perhaps for mecha anime in particular). For example, Mr. Tokai in Vandread experienced some sort of psychedelic phase where he discovered the meaning of life or something. However, that's just a hunch and I haven't done an in-depth ethno-sociological study on this.
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