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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Saimoe 2011 Final:

Well, the final two have been decided. It's an all Madoka Magica final, but the participants weren't whom I expected:

Kyouko Sakura vs. Mami Tomoe.

Both girls are pretty, to be sure. They're also likable. I just can't agree that they're the prettiest or the most likable anime girls of the previous year. I'm not sure how the democratic process arrived at such a strange conclusion. In any event, the final is in a couple days, and one or the other of these side characters who die early in the show will be crowned queen. The results don't sit well with me. Sort of like how Taiga won Saimoe 2009. Taiga is certainly pretty and likable, but the prettiest or the most likable girl in 2009? Impossible. Even Minori from the same show was better in both aspects. Saimoe contests tend to be hit and miss. Azusa, the winner of Saimoe 2010, was definitely a hit. This result is definitely a miss. I could've somewhat accepted the results if it were Madoka or Sayaka, but Mami vs. Kyouko? There's no way they're qualified to share a stage with Sakura Kinomoto, Azusa Nakano, and Nanoha Takamachi from previous Saimoe's.

Still, Saimoe 2011 was beneficial in many ways. Most of the characters I liked did succeed deep into the tournament, showing there is somewhat of a consensus for what constitutes an attractive anime girl, who the best voice actresses are, what anime series were the best last year, etc. It also introduced me to series I'd previously dismissed like Tantei Opera Milky Holmes and Strike Witches via the success of their girls in the Saimoe contest.

As the fall anime season has progressed, it has become clear that the old franchises are still performing splendidly, but the new ones are mediocre. Of the new series, Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai is the best, but it's still no match for the second seasons of Working or Bakuman. (Who is though? They're both within the top 30 anime ever. . .) For that reason, this is a good opportunity to implore Japan once again to stop making new series and concentrate on finishing the series they've already begun but never finished over the previous decades. Hunter x Hunter's remake is amazing, much better than its original predecessor. Why don't they take this chance to learn from their success and remake all the old good series?

The two worst flaws of anime are that they never have a proper conclusion, and they never faithfully follow their source material. Continuously churning out wholly new series when you haven't made a single faithful, start-to-finish copy of your old greats is insane. Why didn't they continue Dragonball Kai to the very end? Why stop at Cell? It's rude to the fans, it's rude to the maker of the series, who clearly thought the Buu cycle was important and entertaining, and it's rude to the rest of Dragonball Kai, which now has no real purpose or merit, since DBZ is still the definitive version -- the only one that includes the Buu saga.

Dragonball must be the most famous anime on Earth, but even it can't get a decent, faithful-to-the-source remake that extends all the way to the true conclusion, the Buu arc. If they won't even remake Dragonball, the anime industry is basically thumbing its nose to anime fans everywhere and saying they don't care about their artistic legacy or their reputations anymore. It's not just Dragonball that's been butchered, it's nearly every single good series ever. Either it didn't faithfully follow its source material, or it never reached the actual endpoint of the series, but stopped animating the source material halfway. I can represent this visually with two symbols: & means it never finished and * means it didn't properly follow its source material.

1. Clannad (2007-2009) &*
2. Pretty Cure (2004-2011+)
3. One Piece (1999-2011+) &*
4. Code Geass (2006-2009+)
5. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha (2004-2010+) &
6. Seikai no Monshou/Senki/Danshou (1999-2005) &*
7. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (2006-2011+) *
8. K-On! (2009-2011+) &*
9. Naruto (2002-2011+) &*
10. Dragonball (1986-2011) *
11. Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-2010) &*
12. Kanon (2002-2007)
13. Fairy Tail (2009-2011+) &
14. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007-2009)
15. To Aru Majutsu no Index/Kagaku no Railgun (2008-2011) &
16. Angel Beats (2010) &
17. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)
18. Da Capo (2003-2011)
19. Katanagatari (2010)
20. The Idolm@ster (2011+)
21. Vandread (2000-2001)
22. Full Metal Panic! (2002-2005) &
23. Kobato (2009-2010) *
24. Working! (2010-2011+) &
25. Toradora! (2008-2009+)
26. Record of Lodoss War (1990-1998)
27. The World God Only Knows (2010-2011) &
28. Bakuman (2010-2011+) &
29. Sora no Woto (2010)
30. Hayate no Gotoku (2007-2011+) &*
31. Evangelion (1995-2009+) &
32. Basilisk (2005)
33. Galaxy Angel (2001-2006)
34. Saki (2009+) &
35. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
36. Major (2004-2010+) &
37. Sailor Moon (1992-1997) *
38. Air (2005)
39. Prince of Tennis (2001-2011+) &*
40. Hanasaku Iroha (2011+)
41. Usagi Drop (2011+) &
42. Inuyasha (2000-2010) *
43. Ranma 1/2 (1989-1996) &*
44. Angelic Layer (2001)
45. Ore no Immouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (2010-2011) &
46. Ef (2007-2008)
47. Rurouni Kenshin (1996-2001+) &*
48. 12 Kingdoms (2002-2003) &*
49. Uuchuu no Stellvia (2003)
50. Utawarerumono (2006-2009)
51. Summer Wars (2009)
52. Mononoke Hime (1997)
53. Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (2010-2011+) &
54. Cowboy Bebop (1998-2001)
55. Battle Athletes (1997-1998)
56. Samurai Champloo (2004-2005)
57. Amagami SS (2010-2011+)
58. Macross (1982-2011)
59. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (2011)
60. Zero no Tsukaima (2006-2008+) &*
61. Berserk (1997-1998+) &
62. Claymore (2007) &*
63. Valkyria Chronicles (2009-2011) &*
64. Negima! Magister Magi Negi (2004-2011) &*
65. Read or Die (2001-2004)
66. Sora no Otoshimono (2009-2011) &*
67. Bleach (2004-2011+) &*
68. Card Captor Sakura (1998-2000) *
69. Shakugan no Shana (2005-2011+) &
70. Nichijou (2011+) &
71. Strike Witches (2007-2010+)
72. Hunter x Hunter (1999-2011+) &*
73. Gundam (1979-2011+)
74. Martian Successor Nadesico (1996-1998)
75. Break Blade (2010-2011) &
76. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) &*
77. Kimi ni Todoke (2009-2011) &
78. Spice and Wolf (2008-2009) &*
79. Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka (2008-2009) &*
80. Bastard! (1992) &*
81. Mahoromatic (2001-2009)
82. Alien Nine (2001-2002) &
83. Fatal Fury (1992-1994)
84. Bakemonogatari (2009-2010+) &
85. Iria: Zeiram the Animation (1994)
86. Guyver (1986-2006) &*
87. Lucky Star (2007-2008)
88. Azumanga Daioh (2002)
89. To Heart (1999-2010+)
90. Spirited Away (2001)
91. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
92. Fate/Stay/Zero (2006-2011+) &*
93. Scrapped Princess (2003)
94. Steins;Gate (2011+)
95. Gunbuster (1988-2006)
96. Shamanic Princess (1996-1998)
97. Akira (1988)
98. Moshidora (2011)
99. Soul Eater (2008-2009) &*
100. Tamayura (2010-2011+)
101. Ninja Scroll (1993-2003+)
102. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
103. High School of the Dead (2010-2011) &
104. Sora no Manimani (2009) &
105. Kanokon (2008-2009) &
106. Hikaru no Go (2001-2004) &*
107. Gosick (2011)
108. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
109. Ghost in the Shell (1995-2006)
110. Flame of Recca (1997-1998) &*

And that's just the ones I know about. Ten of the top 13 either didn't follow their source correctly or didn't reach a definitive ending. How maddening is this? Shows that should be the greatest works of art known to man are left dangling in the wind due to inscrutable decision making processes that abandon every single project halfway. Kyoto Animation is the worst culprit in this. They created their own filler ending for K-On instead of following the manga exactly, made a joke of a Haruhi Season 2 then just discontinued the series entirely, stopped Full Metal Panic before any of the romance elements were resolved or the last boss Leonard Testorossa was defeated, refused to animate the followup to Clannad, Tomoyo After Story, and have basically non-stop screwed us over. It's like they delight in spoiling the quality of their own works. Shows that would be perfect instead all end up the same way under the care of Kyoto Animation: unfinished and unfaithful.

But Full Metal Panic, Clannad, K-On, Haruhi, and Dragonball aren't the only victims. The World God Only Knows was cut off far too soon, right when the series was getting more involved and more interesting. Rurouni Kenshin never animated the revenge arc properly. Sailor Moon never followed the manga properly like it should have. Ranma 1/2 is a mess of filler and left out scenes. The entire plot of Spice and Wolf was to reach this town in the north, but the anime stops before it even gets there. Are you kidding me? The entire plot of a story is 'let's get to this town' and the story ends before they reach it. Who thinks this crap up? Oh the fans will love this. There's endless more Index light novels J.C. Staff could have adapted, but instead they're busy making nonsense like Tantei Opera Milkey Holmes which can't hold a candle to Index's quality. Why? It makes no sense. It's completely ludicrous. To think how many fans of the Index anime there must be left dangling in the wind because J.C. Staff didn't immediately dive into a season 3. Does Touma ever get with Misaki? What happens to Accelerator? So many questions -- and no answers. Thanks, anime!

The best scene in the Negima manga, Negima vs. Chao, isn't even animated. The anime butchers and leaves gaping holes in the rest of the series it does pretend to cover, and now it ends while the manga is still ongoing. Thanks for nothing, anime studio! You take one of the best mangas of all time and turn it into dog food by treating it in such a ridiculously disrespectful manner. Anime studios complain about low sales to justify their butchering of anime projects, but did they ever stop and think that maybe it was because they always butchered everything that it didn't sell well in the first place? Maybe if they had followed the Negima manga faithfully they would have had spectacular sales. It's not like the manga itself sells poorly. But we'll never know, since they were so sure their filler was a better idea. How convenient to blame customers for their own mistakes as an excuse to not satisfy their customers! It's like a wife-beater asking his wife why she keeps 'making him do this.' The fault is entirely the anime studios for not just following the source as it was laid out for them, but somehow it magically becomes the viewers' faults for not liking their altered version of events. Just calling an anime Negima doesn't make it Negima. Only following the source makes your Negima-named anime a Negima anime. If you don't follow a good source, of course you'll end up with a crappy, low-selling series.

Sales figures are no excuse. Madoka Magica sold 50,000+ blu-ray discs per volume. Why? Because it didn't have any filler and it had a definitive ending. If every series followed the Madoka model, they could be just as popular and sell just as well. It's the anime studios' own disrespectful business model that is causing all of their problems with customers. We don't want another mindless fan-service romp through the gardens of love. What we want is more Haruhi, Claymore, Berserk, and everything else you refuse to animate. Until you start making what we want again, of course you'll keep losing money. Do car industries blame customers for not buying their cars while stubbornly refusing to change, or do they try to build cars customers will actually buy? How about Apple? Google? Do they make profits by ignoring their customers' wishes?

Have they even tried, even once, to actually follow their source faithfully all the way to its definitive conclusion? Until they do, what right do they have to complain about the product's sales? Who knows, maybe if people knew what they were watching would actually reach a conclusion, they would buy it. But since every anime starts and then just trails off into oblivion, it's such a turn-off that no one wants to get involved in the first place. What's the use? It's not like you'll ever find out what happens to these characters you're introduced to anyway.

At the very least these companies could give us a written promise that they will someday go back and remake/complete every series they previously quit midway during. It doesn't have to be this coming winter season, but fans of a series have a right to know what happens at the end of the series. They shouldn't just be left in eternal suspense, not ever knowing what happens to any of their favorite characters in any series ever made. This is why Wheel of Time was continued until the very end, even after the author of Wheel of Time died -- because the fans of Wheel of Time had a moral right to know what happened and not just be left in suspense. Why don't anime producers understand this simple concept? Wheel of Time did right by its fans. So now Kyoto Animation needs to do the same. Drop all the junk, drop all the new projects, and complete Full Metal Panic and Haruhi all the way to the actual ending. Engaging in any new projects at this time is simply a betrayal of all their fans and all their customers of the past. By producing the first half of an anime, you get people excited and interested in a series. Turning around and starting a new series, when our appetites have already been whetted for the old ones, is acting like a tease. It's immoral. It's flagrantly immoral. And it has completely permeated the anime business. Aside from a few wonderful exceptions like Code Geass and Pretty Cure, barely a single good story in the rankings actually has an ending. Fixing this should be the anime industry's one and only priority.

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