Analyzing Anime: Suspension of Disbelief

Why do we like anime so much? Why do we need it over western media? We can find a drama  about a dying daughter both in anime as well as in Hollywood, we have Superman  where they have Goku. Genre wise except for maybe the fan service we don’t differ that much, yet if I had to choose never Western movies or shows or Never anime again I’d bow out the first one. Why can’t I consume local  stuff? I try to find my answer. To find that answer I must first understand what separates anime from Western Media for me in the first place. Where are they different?

Today I will address something I noticed when I was watching a Spider-man Cartoon passing on tv. Anime and Cartoons to me have a different line on how far they can push me before they break the suspension of disbelief. For some reason I can take a lot more weird stuff from anime than I could in cartoons?! I am not sure if I am the only one but this to me is a thing.
Let’s take a look at Spider-man for example. Spider-man is written very differently compared to most anime characters. While either side is heroic in a weird way at least to me western heroes and villains are described by their flaws. Spider-man  might not be the greatest examples.. but we know him as Peter Parker the somewhat geeky school kid that loves Mary Jane Watson (or Gwen Stacy). Batman..well that is Bruce Wayne.. he has no actual super powers he is just really smart. Superman is Clark Kent, he can fly and shoot lasers out of their eyes and fly but they are also weak to kryptonite.  He loves Lois Lane and when we root for Superman to be alright and be well we hope he finds his romance with his partner.

Now let’s compare our superhero shows with anime. Put them up against Luffy, Naruto and Goku.  What do all of these have in common?! They have no Alter Ego. Luffy doesn’t suddenly become Hank Mugiwara .. a dusty old liberian bloke, nor does he become “Rubberman” No the human and the super part are interconnected. Why does this matter? Well because we are less confronted with their limitations, we do not see them as human’s persé but more as the heroes. Which means I can take a lot more from those weirdo’s as those humans.  Good Example, the choice Spider-man has to make in the Sam Rami movie when facing the Goblin.. save the cable car or save Mary Jane. He saves both. That feels cheap, the villian would know how fast he is .. he faced him before. Make Spidey at least a bit flawed he is not a god.Yet would it be Naruto of Luffy or Goku to save all of them by some shenanigans I’d be fine with it. First of all there is not as much a dilemma for them because they are less human that whole appeal of torn between two worlds is not a thing, secondly breaking limits is much more a part of that media, rather then where Western Heroes are more focused of achieving within your limits. So anime would make me frown less in confusion.

Of course this does not only take place in Shonen shows this takes place in just about every genre. Let’s make a bold move and compare romantic super natural shows,  such as The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Medium and even less supernatural stuff like Grey’s Anatomy with the more outrageous Japanese romance genre of Harem shows.. just to make a point. When Elena Gilbert has to doubt between picking Stefan or Damon you could add Katherine in the mix to complicated things and Caroline to basically give Stefan his Harem but because it is western media your limitations are within being human.If you dehumanise them and make them want to partner up for very vampirish reasons or own fictional ones, the romance doesn’t work. What the hell are they doing we would ask.  Buffy’s romance are Angel Riley and Spike with Xander trying to fit in. While two are vampires, one a super soldier and one a loveable goofball in the end you can not make them to different. Everyone has to  have the same goals of planning to settle down, treat Buffy right, give her some peace. No one will join that romantic pursuit because they just think the other is cute, or heck for a misunderstanding.  If Sookie Stackhouse suddenly would be in a prearranged marriage with a demon would all think the writers have gone insane. Still.. vampire shoes are kinda like our variants of Harem aren’t they?!

Now.. let’s turn Buffy into an anime. Let’s place Angel, Riley Spike and Xander all in the same timeline. Riley instead of a plain super soldier is this ridiculous pretty boy who believes Buffy is the perfect woman and that their genetic offspring would be the most beautiful thing of all, thinking it’s his duty to create this beauty he pursues miss Summers. Spike doesn’t just fall hopelessly in love with her no instead he initially  does fall in love with her like in the orginal but this time when he asks for a soul he accidentally gets that of Buffies former boyfriend who died during the vampire attack in LA. Angel just wants to use her to lose a ancient gypsy that turns him into a woman during daytime, which he can break during a moment of pure happiness, so he just wants to bed her, but he actually begins to fall in love with her. Xander still stands no chance.. some things never change. Now as an anime I’d immediately see this working.. yet as a cartoon or life action show it would not.. why? Because they are anime characters.. they are on some other sort of level with other laws.. we can accept so much more from them.

Never felt I like this .. broke my suspense of disbelief.. somehow

Now let’s delve into the territory of drama and turn Breaking Bad in both a cartoon and into an anime. Both have a much higher suspense of disbelief and just can push the reality out of the window.. for this experiment I would like to see where the suspense breaks for me when slowly adapting this to other forms of media. For this example I will use the Fly in the Lab episode , as it is pretty self contained. Both in Cartoons and anime you can turn the fly into something more menacing. In both cases it could lead to an experiment blowing in Walter’s face chatring it black or resulting in some comical effect. In both cases we can turn the fly into something more menacing.. like a spy droid for Gus.. he controls to mess with Walter to get his batch to fail to make sure he will die or something. However where cartoons can not change Walt and Jesse while anime can.  We can see Jesse put on a jetpack in a cartoon and chase the fly away.. him spying the fly with a magic eye  seems weird.  Walt can invent a device to swat it.. yet he should not be able to change too much himself . Him creating a type of meth that gives him super powers seem out of cartoons range.

In anime though you can push a lot further. Jesse saying ‘Yeah Byakugan Bitch’ before his eye turn all white and veiny I can actually imagine. Anime Walt throwing a  disc shaped object or attack with pinpoint accuracy at the fly could remind you off the Pizza power he displayed earlier so he just kept that in the back for his enemies. Holding back is a pacing thing that is much more common in anime as in western media. Testing out your opponent rarely happens in Western comics. In manga and anime it is a constant. Western Narrative is a lot more straightforward, what you see is what you get. Superman and Batman rarely train, nor does Spiderman.. on very rare occasions they get new tech but over all western media characters deal with what they have. In basically any anime you can add on old lady that kills a fly by throwing a chopstick. Even in the more serious ones or dramatic ones, Bloom Into You for example. If Yu was bothered by a fly while pondering what she should do I could totally see her kill it with some super human action. Like tossing a chopstick or a pocky with sniper accuracy. I’d not notice anything to off.. in a way anime caters more to how they are different.. we can relate to THEM rather than that they should relate to us.  They don’t have to be relatable we will find something relatable about them.

This section title asks a very good question?! Why would I think a show is better if it is less relatable.. or further away from us?  The answer is, it doesn’t feel wrong as often. For a Western show to be good, it has to colour strictly within the lines. We know that it is right because we can it is coloured in between the lines.. or in reality we can sense it. We can sense if Tony Stark or Bilbo Baggins are being stretched too thin. Give Bilbo a Power to turn green instead of invisible and I would ask.. what were they thinking. Let Kazuma from  Konosuba wake up green and I would go like… who cursed him now?! The difference.. with Konosuba I am still thinking within the show I am not taken out of the plot yet with LOTR I am thinking of writing. Another good example is that very first episode of Star Trek the Next Generation. Encounter at Farpoint , an interdimensional being plagues the ship. With trials, time travel shenanigans and weird space jellyfish.  I felt very conflicted about this setting.. how do they balance this out? Yet would it have been an anime i would have consumed it without a single question. Exact same scenario. Where I watched the Star Trek episode as an observer through a screen, I would have watched the anime in world.

I would not go as far to call anime the more immersive experience, but once anime has you sucked in.. it can stumble a lot more before it spits you back out. The medium has less limits and as such we believe the worlds despite some really odd choices.  It can hide mistakes. Not everything we see in anime happens as we see it. Take a magical girl transformation.. I do not know how it would like seeing it as a spectator but I know the world does not fade away. When Menacing appears in front of Jojo characters I know they are not really there but I know what they mean. Now imagine Dr Octopus talking to spider-man but to indicate he is lying we see red flags appearing all around him or danger sounds.. it would feel jarring.


Anime has more options at its disposal to convey a message be it through exaggeration, parallel imagery or even side jokes. It all keeps us in that world while with Batman we ask.. would he really be able to lift that.. in Comic 73 page 12 panel 5 he was unable to lift an item that would weigh about as much. In anime.. not so much.. we can nitpick sure.. but all in all we can accept a whole lot more which makes it much more pleasant to watch, nothing seems fake because trough 90% of the medium, anything can happen.

Apologies for the bad quality.. but this. gif served my point way to well not to use!.

14 thoughts

  1. I honestly feel kind of annoyed reading this. You really seem to have some problems looking at how Western media can just do the impossible just as much as anime along with the tone a story/tv series/movie/so on go for.

    Let’s look at some animated weirdness. Freakazoid, a hero born from the internet and goes on wacky adventures is pretty crazy and existed in the 90’s. Or we can talk about Fairly Odd Parents where a kid has wish granting faeries and each episode is a new adventure of insanity. What about Dexter’s Laboratory where a kid genius has a lab under his house and always has a crazy adventure causing trouble each week.

    Or we can talk about the MCU in space where Ego was a person and a planet, dormamu in doctor strange who was stuck in a time loop. Or Thanos’ snap that deleted 50% of the population of the universe. Or we can throw in DC with Wonder woman and her island of Amazons along with the power rings of green lanterns who have adventures in space against other people similar to them with different rings of emotion.

    Or science fiction stories just being weird in general.. Farscape and Stargate SG-1 really push the boundaries of what a live action tv series can do. Not to mention that the genre of science fiction is just weird. If it’s not weird, it’s not science fiction.

    Bloom Into You having characters catching flys using super techniques? Really? That would ruin all the sincerity and feeling of reality the show is going for.

    I just don’t get your point of view at all. I’m not saying it’s wrong to think this way, but it seems narrow to me..

    Like

    1. I am sorry that I annoyed you but this is how I feel. Feel free to call it narrow minded all you want but I simply feel that within anime there is a larger distance between us than the characters that allows for a bigger suspension of disbelieve.

      Freakazoid is an exception maybe.. but that is a rare occasion. I am not saying a show should cater to these things all the time.. nor that it hitting a fly with a chopstick would really work into Bloom into you.. I am simply saying I would believe it easier because of the medium it is presented in. Like imagine Bloom Into You as a cartoon or a real life show and the chopstick throwing kill IN A SINGLE SCENE …would stand out least in anime form.

      I am not saying I like western media any less, I am SIMPLY saying that anime can get weirder before I don’t buy things.

      SG-1 is great, but it think if we translate it to Anime.. in general, Teal’C would have more abilities. Daniel Jackson might be even smarter. Sam Carter as she is would be kind of bland for anime.

      Look at Anime like Dokuro-Chan which is a bunch of insanity..could that work in another format as Anime? Could they loyally translate it to live action and still have the same impact? I do not feel they could.

      Now take Thanos.. could you turn him into an anime character, yes, and fairly good one at that. I am not saying that Western Media doesn’t deal with the impossible AT ALL… I am simply saying that anime can push those boundaries further.. on average.

      Marvel’s Disc Wars .. the anime.. or the Anime rendition of X-men for example push the envelope further to me than their original series, that doesn’t mean I like them better than the original. It just gives it A benefit of watching it over another medium.

      As a counterpart I feel more connected to Western Media than to Anime. I can relate to Thanos more than a standard anime Villain.

      So again sorry that my feelings annoyed you and make you think poorly of me! I enjoy all media equally, I am just trying to explore my feelings towards anime. Yet it people think I am petty because I try to explain what makes anime different to me I guess I shall just stop!

      Please don’t leave a like if you actually hate the post that much! That kinda hurts. I just want to share my take on things!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Here’s the thing,I don’t hate it. I just don’t understand this point of view. I don’t understand how a slight medium change can make you go “they can be more powerful now” or things like that. I am a weirdo that watches shows like legion without questioning what is on screen, so maybe it’s me that’s in the wrong

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s not like I question Legion either, still I feel that intrinsically western characters are more humans with powers or traits while anime in my perspective more builds characters around powers and traits, and as a result.. I feel Peter Parker might be more believable as a human than Luffy.. but say both are fighting and losing.. and getting angry I would be very surprised if Spider-man can get “flame web” while I would be less weirded out if Luffy could ignite his Haki in anger to flight with flaming fists.. or punch so fast the air frictions causes fire…
        I am not saying that Western Spider-Man would always lose to Anime Spider-Man in a fight.. but I do feel the way the could obtain powers would differ. Maybe it’s because of the anime I have watched or prefer that I am locked into that mindset. Nor am I saying It is good if the medium pulls a Deus Ex Machina.. I would just be less surprised and less annoyed when it happens in anime.. because based on anime i’ve seen so far such things occur a fair bit more regularly.. like a new power coming from the sky..or how the Vongola rings suddenly changed in Hitman Reborn, Western Anime doesnt do that as much so when it does it feels stranger to me. That could take me out of a show for a brief moment. I just don’t experience that as much with anime.

        I am truely sorry I annoyed you though, my posts are always from the perception of my mind and nothing more than that. So I am unsure why I annoy people by telling how I feel.

        If my opinion annoys people then that is the opposite of what I want to do with blogging. I’d rather not make your day or anyone else’s less plesant by forcing my crazy ideas down your throats. Perhaps it be better to keep those thoughts to a journal then.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this post and the comments and I agree that Pinkie did write this post from her perspective.

    And although there are times where she expresses opinion as though it is fact, subjectively from her position it is, or seems like it and any perceived flippancy is more likely an attempt at verbal expediency.

    I’m of the opinion that the closest truth to objectivity is the saying “Different strokes for different folks.” and that certainly seems to apply here no matter what your subjective opinion is.

    Also, there is of course those unforgettable Queen lyrics…

    “Carry on, carry on
    As if nothing really matters”
    ~Freddie Mercury

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I indeed should have added I feel like more to this post .. but to be fair in my about page used to be that everything I write will always just be my opinion and if I write it as fact.. it always should be read as if I added I feel to it.

      Of course I could have handle the comment a bit better but this was my first negative one and I somehow had mega amplified emotions today! It’s beginning to calm a bit now but I lost myself there for a bit.

      I shall re-add this to my about page that if I ever write “Spider-Man can’t just get powers from a rage boost but anime characters can” that I mean it as “I think” .. however articles sound extremely weak if I constantly add those maybe’s and side notes so if I feel strongly about something . I might accidentally miss adding that its just an opinion! I am still sorry for the trouble caused though!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Prepend something along these lines to your posts:

        “WARNING: The following is opinion and written for adults who’ve had the morning coffee… further disclaimers… addendum’s, caveats and quotations!”

        ;-P

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s