My long-assed response to the previous post – sorry it’s not quite anime related, so if you’re not interested yadayadayadayda…

Sorry, but my reply to the previous post got so long that I just have to make it into a post. Take it as a rant if you want, skipping it will probably relieve your boredom – unless you need a really good sleeping aid. (EDIT: I added a link to the prior post in question. –mh)

Anno, like many old fashioned (GASP!) Asians, has a stereotype in his head about how “Adults” should be. But artist of the visual medium never quite “grow” up per se, I mean, they can and I hope they do get more mature in their works, but if growing up means not able to find a favorite escape, a break from the oppressive reality of the real world (especially the Japanese working environment) perhaps at all during the midst of daily responsibilities, then that kind of maturity isn’t worth living. More on the artists and escape later.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think that it’s “embracing the world” that one has to do, but “face it, deal with it, and then from time to time, put it down.” – a quote from a Budhist monk in Taiwan. I added the from time to time part.

Anyway, what is maturity? It’s taking responsibility for one does, right? Reading manga isn’t a sign of immaturity if the person still goes to work, get it done, and then later meet someone, have kids, and live in a suburban area with a van or in today’s case, SUV – but oh, that’s more like a middle-class American thinking. I’m sure one can find similar Japanese counterparts. However, is that the true meaning of maturity?

Let me get back to film and animation industry. I wonder if one can say that people at Disney, Dreamworks, and other animation and movie studios are immature? What about filmmakters? Let’s take Quntin Tarrantino as an example. Was he more matured when he did Pulp Fiction, as opposed to the more comical/anime-like style of Kill Bill? If yes, has he regressed in his maturity? So how is maturity measured?

When Anno responded in HORROR to the young woman’s comments, his mind set was most likely the mindset of a typical older Asian male, living in a society where there are more social stigmas than the amount of grains rice in a Japanese rice bowl – the bowl maybe smaller compared to Chinese and American bowls, but it still holds a lot of rice. Had he grew up in western societies, especially in the States, I very much doubt he’d have the same attitude.

But not going so far off topic, it is very true that a lot of people my age and younger (or sometimes a couple of years older) don’t seem to be as mature and responsible than people of much older generations, such as my parents. It’s probably true that in some (or perhap sadly, many) levels that we as a group isn’t mature by yesterday’s measures. Then again. 40’s and 50’s and even ’60s really weren’t so complicated and stressful as today’s world. No, they weren’t. To counter argue my statement, one could say that people had to work harder (for countries other than the US), or people really learned how to be mature and be responsible back then, and that was complex enough. But really, take a look at the societies back then and one will discover that what they had to face was really simple then – get food, get shelter, get enough money to buy clothes, or in the American version – get a job (often very stable), pay taxes, get married, buy a house, and living the American dream. But if one takes look at today’s world, one discovers that everyday, the world turns a different but complex face toward us, like Shiva changing faces. One day it seems benign enough, another day it turns destructive.

For me, a way to adapt to this environment and even rise above it is to find an escape like anime or manga. For others it maybe watching a baseball game on a Sunday afternoon (Lord knows a lot of people work on Saturdays and by “working”, I’m including household chores), or to God (or any religion one prefers), or to building models, or even watching porn. I personally think in this environment, it’s easier for people to turn to more simpler, and perhaps more child-like things. However, porno manga isn’t “child-like”, and I think it’s more like a repressed sexual desire being relieved in a different way – an adult-like expression. In any case, reading manga/porno manga, is a way of escape. As for Anno commenting that people aren’t ashamed anymore reading these on the train, but people 30 years ago would (I paraphrase), when the government system was different. To me, that signifies another stigma that Anno himself has about what a salaryman should do on a train. People do different things at different eras, and what we do today may seem very immature to people from 2, 3 centuries ago if they were alive today – for example, today’s people not getting married before 20, and more and more often, not until after 35. That’s not a sign of immaturity in this day and age, but for many people, it’s out of necessity. One thing about that government that he was talking about was that government was oppressive and had its mind on doing one thing: rebuild and make an economy super strong. More on that later.

A lot of these salarymen probably has families and maybe even a kid. I’d say that they’re just being bored (OK, that statement sounded lame and not as smart sounding as before!). Anyway, since Anno himself is an animator and director, I think part of his comments have something to do with how he perceives his own profession. He even married a manga artist. They have a family. Hence, with presumably his stimgas and the social values that he seemed to imply, he’s pretty mature (assuming that he IS being responsible in his marriage) by a lot of standards. But he himself is practically the alpha Otaku.

Last but not least, it’s just so easy blaming it all on the Americans, isn’t it? I’m no expert on Japan as Anno is (or at least as he should be), and I haven’t went through anything he has and perceived as much as he has on his own nation, but it’s so easy to play the blame game. I think Japan has “grown up” ever since the ’80s, where they once thought, perhaps not quite so privately with their own style of glorified humbleness, that they were taking over the world, and (GASP!!!) beginning with “AMERICA” (which they never seem to get that it is composed of Canadians, Mexicans, Brazilians, and other groups of people, other than just US citizens)! That they were invincible and can do anything (One of my older student told me that he really did miss the ’80s precisely because everyone thought they could do anything they wanted). By that time, the US government wasn’t really just simply taking care of them, was it? Japan had started becoming an economical partner, a “weaker” partner perhaps, but still a partner. Hence, the Japanese could easily grow out of US government and from the American Big Daddy Protection. I think they have, today’s Japanese younger people and even a lot of older people no longer thinks the US as the greatest thing since fried chicken was introduced to Japan. The Japanese has already made a life style on their own, long ago. As for the Japanese constitution, to me, I think it affects very little on Japanese people’s lives.

When I was in Japan, people just lived. Nobody gave a lick about the Japanese constitution, because it just doesn’t affect their daily lives enough. I guess except the fact that it doesn’t give them a full-fledged military force, and the social stigma is against joining the SDF, but hey, they did send the military to help Bush, didn’t they? That decision was made by the Japanese.

For all most all of Japan’s time on this planet, they learned from a more powerful culture, adapted some of the things from it, made some modifications and made it their own. The stress here is “MADE IT THEIR OWN”. Hence, they took western capitalism and other influences, and made them their own. So I’d tell them to quit blaming the States already. They had their own choices and they chose to do practically nothing about the American influence, and they adapted and even in a sense, adopted what the US gave them into their own culture pretty contently.
Before I go any further (I’m sure everyone has fell asleep or at least close to it), the last I heard is that Anno is happy now and not taking any drugs for depression any more. I suspect that his family life is turning him into an average, Japanese adult (read: adult in any wealthy nation) who complains about young people’s immaturity. I’m not saying what Anno said is not true. However, once a man gets married, he usually matures a lot, and every younger person, especially those not married, would seem immature to him. But it shouldn’t mean that the man cannot find an (hopefully) temporary escape from his daily life. Especially in this day and age where the world can easily turn on you. :)

3 thoughts on “My long-assed response to the previous post – sorry it’s not quite anime related, so if you’re not interested yadayadayadayda…”

  1. I have a paper to write, so I can’t reply in too much length or detail. I will share one of my favorite quotes from JRR Tolkien, though: the people who complain the most about escapism are jailers.

    And when it’s coming from a man like Anno…it’s just funny. :)

  2. yea i agree with all that, often times i get people telling me ‘omg you read this stuff? grow up out of it!’. it is something we all like doing, and has nothing to do with maturity. oh well, they’re missing out.

    btw! have i ever thanked you for introducing anime to kevin lin and I? that time we went to ur house and watched first 5 eps of gatekeepers. good times good times

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