What will they think of next...?
I have been watching anime for over four years, and I have seen a number of different titles. The art and music of anime has changed throughout the years, so I didn't want the stories get stuck and never evolve. One thing that I worry about is that with hundreds of titles, will the creators of anime be able to continue to make original shows?
Recently, this question was put to rest with the viewing of two particular shows, Midori No Hibi and Elfen Lied. After viewing these titles, I feel safe that anime will not become too repetitive. There shall forever be innovative ideas for various tastes.
Midori No Hibi proves that the romance/comedy genre can always add something new. Elfen Lied validates that anime in general will always offer something fresh. I hear people compare anime by saying, "Oh, this show is just like that one", or "That anime is just a copy of this one". Anyone will have a difficult time making an accurate comparison with the previously mentioned titles.
Once in a while, an anime is completely different and so far out that you wonder how they came up with it; Midori No Hibi and Elfen Lied fall into this category. You might eventually ask, "Joe, what are these writers on?" Or perhaps, "Joe, what are you on, because we can't take this seriously". I am honest in saying that these titles are not just original shows, but good shows as well.
After surveying Tenchi Muyo, Love Hina, Ai Yori Aoshi, the Pleases, and Ah! My Goddess, the romance/comedy genre can get a little stale. I am not saying these shows are bad (Ah! My Goddess and Ai Yori Aoshi are two of my favorites); the romance/comedy area just has not seen much innovation or creativity.
Midori No Hibi changes the over-done shojo perception. It is about a tough guy who wants a girlfriend and a shy girl who likes him. "But Joe, how in the world is this original or creative?" I have a good answer for you. During the first episode, our lead character wakes up and something is different. What's different is that said shy girl is now his right hand. Yes, you read that correctly. The quiet girl is now his right hand.
There have been some wacky things throughout my anime experience, some unique stories and plot twists, but having one of the lead characters become another lead character's body part is certainly something of note. Midori No Hibi is quite remarkable. It is a cute, sweet and funny title. I have no idea what the writers must have been thinking (or even if they were serious), but for some reason this show works. It truly nails the romance/comedy genre perfectly. Great elements of romance occur between the main characters, even if one of them is now a right hand. As you might expect, great comedy elements shine in Midori No Hibi. The jokes are not stupid things that you won't laugh at, nor are they cheap attempts. It's simply good humor from an original story.
When you see an anime, you can probably classify it into around three different genres. After perusing Elfen Lied, many would have a hard time stopping at the half-dozen genre mark. This is a title that might invent a new category because it is almost mind-boggling. You get horror, sci-fi, drama, romance, comedy and fantasy, just to name a few classifications. After the first episode, you have dozens of dead bodies, ripped off limbs, removed heads, bodies used for shields, smashed-in eyes, along with deep character emotion, lovable fan service and misunderstood groping! Now tell me that show doesn't sound like a winner to you.
Elfen Lied hits every area of the spectrum. It nearly impossible to describe or classify this show accurately, but I shall try. Think about the darkest moments in Akira, followed by the lightest moments in Fruits Basket, with the drama that you can feel during Witch Hunter Robin. Perhaps you could almost say it is a mix between the movie Predator and Chobits.
Another area where Elfen Lied shows its uniqueness is in the opening and ending themes. The opening song is a dramatic, classical opera piece, whereas the closing sounds like the Japanese version of Hillary Duff. Original and different are thrown around a bit, but with this show, they have never been truer. The writers either had no idea what they wanted the show to be about, or they suffer from multiple personality disorder.
I feel confident in saying that anime will always be able to provide untamed ideas. A show being original is one thing, but a show being inventive and good is what we want. Throughout the years, you have seen anime change in many ways. Looking back on the art in Dragonball in comparison to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is like night and day. Hearing the music/sound from Lupin the 3rd then listening to FLCL shows a huge difference (though I am fond of the Lupin opening).
I am happy to say that the stories of shows are progressing and becoming more innovative. We will not be watching the same anime over and over again.
However, I enjoy watching the classics, and while it is comforting to see my favorite shows, being able to pick up recent anime and see something that I've never seen before is really nice.
For those who do not like change, I'm sure that another Neon Genesis Evangelion rip-off will be coming out soon.