“Deep:” a vague notion in any forum, but far worse in the hands of an anime blogger. Whether it’s the highbrow type, wielding his mastery of symbolism, or the anti-intellectual everyman on the hunt for pantyshots, most have their own ideas about what’s deep, and all of them are idiots.
Well, those people aside, there is an underlying current of thought among some fans today, and that is the idea that certain series are immune to judgment on certain levels. What’s perplexing is the inconsistency of it all. Shows directed by the same person are given different treatment based on the audience’s preconceived notions of taste. Granted, this is perhaps unavoidable, as all works of art are contextual; and if these biases cannot be neutralized, perhaps it’s best to embrace them, and attempt to better delineate how they affect our views of the works we consume.
“Deepness”, then, is only an abstract concept connotated as being good, vaguely informed by an ethos-based sense of the highbrow. It is an exclusivist moniker intended to guilt people for enjoying simpler entertainment; entertainment that perhaps engage emotions or “pander” to physical responses. Other times, it may be in distinction of works produced for profit only; that is to say, pretty much every work there is. While a so-called auteur such as Ikuhara or Kenji Nakamura may enjoy a bit of freedom within the medium, even they must ultimately pledge fealty to the very concept that allows for what detractors may call with a mocking tone a “deeper” reading of anime.
Structured literary analysis has as its foundation criticism. In other words, fans complain about anime all the time, and by doing so implicitly subscribe to the idea of what one may call a tyranny of “good”, suppressing truly fresh ideas which may conflict with the whims of the existing old guard of taste. Indeed, this critical lens being the dominant one has a clear chilling effect on the artistic and critical landscape at large. Works which cling to an existing standard of what is vaguely conceived as “high-brow”, then, are celebrated for their apparent rejection of the profit motive, especially at the “cost” of offending polite (essentially Victorian) sensitivities.
Suffice to say, the cult of “deep” is merely a modern expression of anti-populist, aristocratic attitude of hierarchical, class-based appraisal of cultural products.
- waver art by soto