Renn’s 12 Moments in Anime: 8 Noitamina
I usually save the moment till the end of the post, but let’s get this out of the way: moment eight is all about the shift in Noitamina. The shows in the time-slot are not always good and very few are accessible, but they don’t conform to anime trends. They try to use anime to convey something different. I really love that time slot. Or, at least, I did. There’s no getting around the fact that Noitamina changed this year. Most of this year’s eight shows are different from year’s past.
I could put most of the new qualities under the umbrella of “otaku pandering,” but that’s not fair. It’s not that this year’s Noitamina turned into harem anime or eroge adaptations. They just took some jarring elements, slapped them in, and hoped for better DVD sales. How has Noitamina changed? Let me count four ways…
(1) Sex. With most anime, you say, come on, it’s just sex. You don’t need to make it sacred or into some dirty joke. Noitamina shows, by contrast, have had a refreshing view on the subject. Genji Monogatari Senneki, Paradise Kiss, Nodame Cantabile, and Trapeze use sex pretty casually. And at least, none of the Noitamina shows glorified sex as the end-all, be-all, determinator for a girl’s purity.
But this year, I don’t think there was a single sex scene or implied casual sex scene in the Noitamina timeslot. And worse, two Noitamina shows discuss sex in the most conservative, otaku-centric way possible Oh, God, the 15-year-old Phryne is tainted, so her soul needs to be replaced by a 10-year-old Nessa. Anaru must be a virgin, despite her sultry image, or the DVD sales will drop. Come on, Noitamina. It’s just sex.
(2) High school students. Teens have always been a rarity on Noitamina. Pre-teens, children, and adults are the norm. On average, a teenage cast won’t be as mature as a cast of adults, nor as whimsical as a cast of children, especially if they’re in high school. And as “whimsical” and “mature” have been the defining adjectives for Noitamina, slapping in teenagers marks a shift in tone. This year, four Noitamina shows featured teenage protagonists: Fractale, Hourou Musuko, AnoHana, and Guilty Crown. Two of them are about high school students: AnoHana and Guilty Crown.
What’s ironic though is that while Noitamina shifted to teenagers, many 2011 anime shifted away from them. Tiger & Bunny, Steins;Gate, and Fate/Zero all have casts with adults, and they were some of the biggest hits this year. With their DVD sales, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see less teens in the following years. Maybe with high school casts, Noitamina will continue to buck trends, after all.
(3) Moe. Well, it’s not that Noitamina has never had moe characters. Honey and Clover’s Hagu and Nodame Cantabile’s Nodame have moe qualities, for example. But look at Nessa (Fractale), Menma (AnoHana), and Inori (Guilty Crown). They don’t fit into any of Noitamina’s old shows. Guess they’ve gotta sell those figurines.
(4) Ambition. But the biggest criticism leveraged at Noitamina shows this year is that the writing sucked. Okay, look at premises for this year’s shows. Those are big plots, even if they had 26-episodes, let alone 11. Of course they’ll suck.
High-concept premises are not new to Noitamina, but grand-scale premises are. Prior to 2011, only Eden of the East and Jyu Oh Sei had grand-scale, sci-fi plots. This year, Fractale, No. 6, and Guilty Crown all had the fate of world on their shoulders. There’s a commonality between all five of these shows: rushed endings and bouts of bad writing. It’s tough to keep a big story compact, and this year, Noitamina bit off more than it could chew.
The bright side? But look, it’s not that Noitamina was complete crap this year. [C] and No. 6 would have fit perfectly into years past; they’re just as good as stuff like Jyu Oh Sei and Genji Monogatari Senneki. Hourou Musuko, Usagi Drop, and Un-Go are very true to the old Noitamina spirit, and they’re fantastic. And, sure, Fractale and Guilty Crown both defy Noitamina norms are and are awful, but AnoHana is not an awful show. A slight shift isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
And all of these shows did have Noitamina staples: big budget and/or unique-looking animation, planned stories, and high concept plots and/or characterization. It’s not that the time slot has abandoned its roots completely… yet.
So, what does the future hold? Well, for now… it doesn’t look that good. Black Rock Shooter has moe, high school students, and, I’m sure, puritanical views on sex, plus it’s made by the same company as Fractale. I don’t mind a Black Rock Shooter anime, but that it’s being featured on Noitamina is worrying. And, then there’s Thermae Romae, which fits the mold of an old-school Noitamina, but it’s only three-episodes and made in Flash. We will see.
Where do you stand on Noitamina?
Note: This is moment 8 in the 12 moments in anime post. One moment a day, twelve days straight. As you can see, I’m late. Why do these posts have to take place during exam time, darnit? But as exams have finished, and I’m home, I’m going to get three of these out today, and two out tomorrow. Thanks for reading!