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Things anime should borrow from American TV or vice versa.


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JacobC
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:12 pm Reply with quote
Sorry for the long title, but I wanted it to be self-explanatory. This hit me the other day when my brother was asking me why I buy so much more anime than American TV shows on DVD. I gave him the obvious reason first: anime doesn't come on TV too often where I can watch it incessantly if I like it. (I've yet to buy Whose Line is it Anyway? or Frasier because they're still on late at night on some channels.)

But then other reasons sprang to mind. Some other stuff I sure wish american TV would borrow from anime:

1. Theme songs. Seriously. I miss great theme songs. Nowadays we're lucky if we get a two-second piano riff before a show. All in the Family and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were upped the awesome just for having a shweet theme song. All anime have at least two theme songs, one before the show and one during the credits, and oftentimes they get more, or special closers for landmark episodes. It's so cool, it makes you want to check out certain shows. (Or know to immediately change the channel.) Some anime OPs are actually really great songs in and of themselves.

2. Bookended contiguous storylines. Sadly, the thirst for ratings is what drives all TV series in the States. I've no doubt that it works this way in Japan to an extent, but it doesn't take such a brutal toll on their storytelling. For every obnoxious neverending Bleach or Inu-Yasha, there's twenty or more 13-26 episode series with a good old beginning, middle and end. Sometimes we get a "read the manga" ending, but there's enough anime that aren't based on manga (and some that are) that give us fantastic endings in a nice understandable period of time. If these are successful, they'll get second seasons regardless, but even if they don't, we still have a satisfying story.

By contrast, what do we get in the States? Even the most dramatically driven shows (Lost, Prison Break, 20-frickin'-4 really suffered this) refuse to close off a contiguous storyline. They just go ooooooon and oooooooon until they jump the shark, sometimes jump an entire ocean, and soil themselves on what could have been an awesome show. Lost sort of spares itself this problem through the "ten little indians" season breaks (aka "and then there were none, almost")...but still... Desperate Housewives escapes this by establishing from the beginning that it's going to be ridiculous and have a little merciless fun with continuity...but I hate Desperate Housewives, so yeah. House hasn't done this to itself yet at all, kudos, but I give it three more seasons before it gets retartled. I never stick with American dramas well, because this ALWAYS happens, and we never get the ending we want, if it ends at all. I kinda limit myself to variety shows and some funny sitcoms...not that there are very many of those.

Side note: Is it...just me or is this becoming less common in anime? Out of the "new stuff," I'm seeing more and more titles that just END on a pivotal moment as if begging for a second season. Crap. Don't be America, Japan! (Actually, I shouldn't say that. Maybe anime creators could learn something from American TV? For all my complaining, we are in a second television golden age in terms of writing. I disdain a lot of American TV still, but I watch a lot more of it than I used to, because there is far more good out there than there used to be. So yeah.)

(I know a lot of people here aren't from America, so feel free to share the trend of TV shows from other countries, too. I don't really know that personally, so you'll have to educate me.)
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9hoenix_



Joined: 18 May 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:26 pm Reply with quote
I agree with you on the long series like Inyuasha.Having to sit through every episode of that show is what I imagine Hell is like Twisted Evil

I nice 24 episode show will suffice(with an ova of course)

But I don't think we can take anything from america though.

(p.s. Why the spell check says its wrong if you don't capitalize america but it doesn't do it for japan Confused
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Tony K.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:32 pm Reply with quote
For U.S. TV -- less commercial breaks. Or at least better commercials.

But creativity-wise, I do agree with the storyline thing. I started watching Heroes a few months ago, and that's about as live-action anime as you're gonna' get. Of course, then there's the issue of Heroes losing it's wind after the first season, though I personally didn't mind the 2nd. It did bump my overall rating down a notch (as season 3 is on the verge of, yet again... stupid Petrellis), but at least it's more entertaining than where I stopped in Smallville.

A lot of American shows are either self-contained story arcs in a season or just episodic character studies/interactions like a Star Trek, Seinfeld (the show about nothing), Law & Order, CSI, House, The Office, or Chuck (to a certain degree), but they're nonetheless fun to watch in their own rights. It'd be nice if a series actually had one contiguous, 5+ season, overarching storyline, though. <-- Epic.
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Mushi-Man



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:47 pm Reply with quote
Only one thing comes to mind when I think of what anime could take from American tv. That would be advertising. I think that one of the reasons that anime isn't as big as it should be is because the only anime that most people know about is stuff like Pokemon and Dragon Ball. It seems that most people don;t realize that there is a wide variety of anime to choose from (something for everyone). I think if companies would just try to push their products a little harder they could see good results. i always see adds for a new show on abc or the newest DVD of Scrubs. But I hardly ever see commercials for anime.

The big thing that I think that American tv can take form anime (not the only thing) is good writing. There are tons of new shows out there on American tv and I enjoy very few of them. This is mainly because they have bad writing. TV and movie writers seem to like to put out the same box office hit over and over and over until that well dries up, and then they get another. I'm not saying that all shows on TV are bad, just a majority. This is one of the reasons that I like anime so much.
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doctordoom85



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:06 pm Reply with quote
I'd say I would like more anime to be like LOST, though more specifically, to have such a wide, massive mythology and planned-out story. I mean, the series has its own wiki, and it actually warrants one! Also, the great sense of continuity it has, where everything is nicely tied together. For me, Heroes started off like this as well, but Season 2 and beyond fell apart (Peter Petrelli = most dangerous, main-character holder of the "Idiot Ball" EVER. Seriously, 1/3 of the conflict of Season 2 would have been resolved if he had used normal rationale), and now the creator has flat out admitted he's just making stuff up (which is okay for some writers, but Season 3 is just screaming "insert random plot twists and shocking moments simply for ratings increase").

Of course, I've heard when LOST came out, people said it was "the live-action answer to Evangelion". I sorta see this as well, since Evangelion becomes even better after a re-watch, and certain elements make more sense and work better after you've seen the whole thing. LOST has done the same for me (I watch the whole series each time a new season comes out on DVD), and I wish more animes had this feel. Some have, like Fantastic Children, but never as big as LOST or Eva. One Piece is also a "re-watching it blows your mind to see certain puzzle pieces fall in place", but since it's SO LONG, rewatches are more difficult.

Note: if anyone knows any more anime (or manga, for that matter) like this, feel free to suggest them via-PM.
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Showsni



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:56 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
This hit me the other day when my brother was asking me why I buy so much more anime than American TV shows on DVD. I gave him the obvious reason first: anime doesn't come on TV too often where I can watch it incessantly if I like it.


This would probably be the biggest thing anime could borrow from American TV for me; getting more of it shown over here. I mean, enough American stuff manages to get shown; there's whole channels like "Five US" and whatnot, but nothing for anime any more. We get the American Whose Line is it Anyway on more often than the British one...

As for shows that have a beginning, middle and end, that doesn't seem to be so much of a problem over here. Sure, there are programmes that go on forever like Coronation Street or Casualty, but there are those that stop, like Dead Set recently. Especially in children's shows that are adaptations of books, I suppose... Aquila, the Animals of Farthing Wood, the Demon Headmaster...
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MrVince



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:12 pm Reply with quote
I like this thread a lot because the author doesn't claim one is better than the other. Instead he asks what can each can learn from each other. I'll throw in some suggestions.

1. Japanese TV use more Western songs. I realize this may cost a lot, but there are many older songs which I'm sure wouldn't cost too much to license. I always thought Two of Hearts by Stacey Q would add a great 80s throwback to all the imitation 80s pop sounds the Japanese used in ancient series.

2. Western TV should have worthy soundtracks. I know they've tried this, but they are second rate artists at best. A sad example of this is seeing any TV show that appears on the WB. Don't just limit it to intro/outro songs.

3. Western TV should consider making the line between good and evil more fuzzy. While I believe there is an absolute good and absolute evil, I think it's not always so clear to see what belongs in which camp. Western TV usually spells it out while the Japanese TV makes it a bit more blurry. This would definitely add more mystery to a story. I think Lost attempts this, but it could have done a better job.
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dtm42



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:00 pm Reply with quote
Tony K. wrote:
It'd be nice if a series actually had one contiguous, 5+ season, overarching storyline, though. <-- Epic.


Supposedly Alias had an overarching storyline and did last five seasons, though one suspects that they were just making it up as they went along. But yeah, that's pretty much the only example that immediately springs to mind.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Americans are not any worse at writing plots than everyone else; just look at The Dark Knight (though Christopher Nolan is admittedly half-Brit, but still). I wouldn't be surprised if the lack of long storylines is more to do with the viewers want (or what the executives think the viewers want) rather than because they haven't got the talent.
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Steventheeunuch



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:09 am Reply with quote
Anime can have longer, overarcing storylines and 13 episode series because it's geared for a very specific audience that gobbles it up, as well as subsequent merchandise etc. A lot of American programming has to appeal to people who's commitments lie outside of TV, or having it as accessable as possible. Notice that even popular shows with long running story arcs eventually lose ratings as they go along, because it's harder to have new fans enter in to an already running series.

As far as themes go, I would like to see openings that aren't of regular length and aren't designed entirely to sell CDs. A show like Gundam does not need a hip-hop opening. But once again, that's a cultural thing, and to remove that as a rule or without precedence would just feel out of place.

I think every culture has their own merits and do not nessecerally need to 'learn' anything from other places. You're making the mistake of comparing what is supposed to appeal to tens of millions of lax, casual Americans and what is ultimatly appealing to Japanese children and/or supernerds.

UK comedy wins though.
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ikillchicken



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:47 am Reply with quote
Yeah, it's a shame American TV is so ratings driven. Unfortunately, it's just more profitable to keep milking the popular shows you have even if it's until they're driven into the ground instead of just presenting a complete story that's of higher quality and then starting over with a new show.

I'd actually say though that anime ought to take a hint from TV and just do away with opening themes altogether like many recent shows have done. They're outdated relics that only serve as a needless waste of time that disrupts the flow of the series. Now without a doubt, there are times when they can be beneficial if they bother to actually put some effort in and get a good song and images that work. It can really help set the mood. Dexter is a great example of this as is Hellsing or Cowboy Bebop on the anime side of things. Still, it seems like with so many anime you just end up forced to sit through another shitty J-Pop song with another interchangeable pointless montage of the characters. Hell, it would be better if they just made the damn thing a minute shorter, I'd rather sit through more commercials.

Quote:
Side note: Is it...just me or is this becoming less common in anime? Out of the "new stuff," I'm seeing more and more titles that just END on a pivotal moment as if begging for a second season. Crap. Don't be America, Japan!


Yeah, don't even get me started on that. This drives me crazy to no end. I wouldn't say I accept this kind of thing from American TV but I at least understand it. Concurrent seasons are pretty frequent, and pretty much required if your show is to be called a success. However in anime, it just doesn't happen save a few shows like Bleach, Naruto, InuYasha, etc. So why oh why do they not just bring it to a conclusion. It's just lazy and pointless.

Quote:
For all my complaining, we are in a second television golden age in terms of writing. I disdain a lot of American TV still, but I watch a lot more of it than I used to, because there is far more good out there than there used to be. So yeah.


Oh absolutely. There are so many quality shows out there now.
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larinon



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:59 am Reply with quote
Tony K. wrote:

A lot of American shows are either self-contained story arcs in a season or just episodic character studies/interactions...It'd be nice if a series actually had one contiguous, 5+ season, overarching storyline, though. <-- Epic.

One that sort of comes close is Supernatural. They're in their 4th (and it looks like last) season right now, but the main storyline has been continuing since the very first episode. Not every episode progresses the main storyline, I guess you could say that there's filler so to speak (there's a negative connotation there that I don't like to invoke in this case), but I would say that more than half of the episodes have dealt with the main story throughout. I'm told that the show also has a pretty dedicated fanfic community associated with it as well, similar to anime. I guess that's not too uncommon with this type of show, though, since Buffy & Angel are/were the same way. Heroes comes close too, as you mentioned. I agree, though, in that I'd like to see more shows with continuous character and story development and overarching plots.

In the opposite direction, one thing it'd be nice to see anime companies, at least in the US, borrow from TV is the idea of releasing complete season boxsets. I think we're shifting closer to that as of late with half-season packages, but probably they're hesitant to take that last step because they fear the price will be prohibitive. If you combine the two sets of say Ghost Hunt, the price ends up around $80 (depending where you shop). I like to think most of us understand that these end up more expensive than American TV because of licensing fees and translation/dubbing. At the very least, the days of buying a box and filling it with singles seems to be nearing an end. I have mixed feelings about that, since I'm kind of an artbox whore, but I would no longer feel used when the cheaper boxsets come out later.

dtm42 wrote:
Alias

I have not really watched Alias, though I am enjoying two of JJ Abrams' other shows: Lost and Fringe. Lost seems to be going through the same cycle that I'm told Alias did: It started off great, but then the endless meandering begins in which the producers try to milk the series for all its worth while they drive it into the ground. Fringe, being in its first season, is still looking really good and interesting. But there's still the fear that they're going to drag it out and stomp on our feelings. American producers have no concept of giving us a finished product. They never say "we're going to have exactly two seasons of this show to complete our story and not water it down at all." After the first season of Lost, I thought they should wrap up the story in one or two more seasons because after that it would cease to have any shred of believability. Yet here we are nearing the beginning of season 5, and for better or worse people are still watching it. This includes me.
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lesterf1020
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:15 pm Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:
Tony K. wrote:
It'd be nice if a series actually had one contiguous, 5+ season, overarching storyline, though. <-- Epic.


Supposedly Alias had an overarching storyline and did last five seasons, though one suspects that they were just making it up as they went along. But yeah, that's pretty much the only example that immediately springs to mind.


If I am not mistaken Babylon 5 was a 5 season plot that got condensed to 4 seasons when everyone thought it was going to get canceled. Star Trek Deep Space nine had a three season war at the end of the series which was foreshadowed in the 4th season, if I remember correctly.
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Labbes



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:01 pm Reply with quote
Tony K. wrote:
It'd be nice if a series actually had one contiguous, 5+ season, overarching storyline, though. <-- Epic.


I'm not really sure, but I think The Wire might be what you're looking for. It has five seasons, I just don't know whether all of them cover the same case.

Are openers on American TV shows such a big deal? I mean, of the three shows I have on DVD (X Files, The Wire, Scrubs), all have an opener - I don't care so much about closers, since I find them to be rarely effective (Texhnolyze has a great closer), they are sometimes nice to listen to, though.

I actually can't think of anything I would like those two mediums to "learn" from each other, since they have their obvious limitations and different audiences.
Shows with a fixed amount of episodes and an actual ending would certainly be a great thing to have, though.
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guet



Joined: 17 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:28 pm Reply with quote
Tony K. wrote:
It'd be nice if a series actually had one contiguous, 5+ season, overarching storyline, though. <-- Epic.


The series that comes to my mind from this would be Battlestar Galactica. I've not seen the original series, but a friend of mine got me hooked on the remake. It's one big storyline over 4 seasons and a movie. In my opinion it has some of the best writing on American T.V. right now. I can see a lot of anime fans enjoying the sci-fi setting. Also, one of the bridge crew is played by Alessandro Juliani who voices L from Death Note in the english dub.

There are actually quite a few decent shows on regular television now, it's just a pain having to sort through the garbage to find the good ones. With shows like Lost, Heroes, and Supernatural out there, you have to wonder if American television isn't already being influenced by anime.


Last edited by guet on Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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asimpson2006



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:42 pm Reply with quote
guet wrote:

There are actually quite a few decent shows on regular television now, it's just a pain having to sort through the garbage to find the good ones. With shows like Lost, Heroes, and Supernatural out there, you have to wonder if American television isn't already being influenced by anime.


I think that there could be some influence from anime with some American shows like the ones you have listed, but it's hard to tell unless those who created the show came out and said that their influence came from Anime. Cutting through the crap to find the good shows is pretty much the reason why I hardly watch TV anymore, with the exception of sports, news, and the Speed Channel.
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