No, Anime is NOT Creative.

In response to a recent blog post I chanced across on animenano, I’ve felt compelled to respond with a post of my own. Saturnine says all the good blogs link to each other in posts, so I shall do some linking because that makes me a good blogger right?

The post I shall address is by some small kid who’s complaining that he did some anime thing for art class (art honours class lol, whatever that is) and the teacher said he couldn’t do that because anime was not creative. The small kid then got really angry online, like all small kids do, and his small kid friends all supported his claim that anime is WAY SUPER DUPER CREATIVE AND THE BEES’ KNEES, better than all the other art forms and so good Jesus wept hugging his body pillow of Nagisa.

Creativity was not defined, but I’m saying now that it probably means doing something that’s fresh, unique and not stolen from anywhere else that much.

For some reason, I can’t find this blog post anymore because I don’t remember who wrote it, what blog it was and animenano is really shit at searching. Wait, anime nano is real shit at everything, and I’ll finally be moving my ass and reading blogs via Google reader soon. Well, after I load up the URLs of the good blogs of course.

See, this is the problem with a population getting too large, each of whom has more or less equal access to being heard. You start to get bad blogging clogging up the aggregators, and it appears that I was slow in ceasing the use of these once-convenient platforms. Other bloggers who are of a certain standard have informed me that they have long abandoned RSS aggregator sites in favour of just plain old book marks or RSS readers. Anyway, back to the topic.

Ok, at this point, I found the blog by googling "anime is creative" and it appeared top of the list. Wow, does that mean she (I now know she’s a she) is the only one who thinks that?

Quoted, "If anime’s so uncreative, why are there thousands of series all about different characters, different stories, different [insert story element here]. If the style’s so uncreative, then why can I name piles of series that all have different ways of drawing the “anime style”? Why is it suddenly “not art” the minute you notice the eyes aren’t done realistically?"

By thousands of series all about different characters with different stories all being creative, she probably means the same 5 characters with 3 stories all repeated over and over again. And regarding the creative style, OMG HE MOVED THE EYES, or something, and it’s a whole new style. Or like, HE USES SOFT COLOURS!!!! Or like, THE EYES ARE BIGGER ON THAT ONE!! I once read the history of manga and anime, and while most of the details have been forgotten, the general style all came from a tiny group of people whose styles were then copied. While this also applies to most other forms of artistic expression, anime creators probably do it the worst since most anime really look the same, as compared to other cartoons, like western ones.

I take issue when people, whose literary diet consist of purely anime and manga, take offence at others who dare to say anime and manga are really generic formula-based pop works that reuse the same old designs, stories and character traits. Even the makers of Xam’d and Eureka seveN said in a recent interview said so. I’ve read over 1500 manga volumes and seen probably even more anime episodes, and I do like anime and manga, but that’s because I like things being the same! As my friends can attest to, I order the same food over and over again from the same stalls every day without fail, I listen to either anime music or the same old bands, and I do things the same way all the time. But still, I’m able to honestly say anime isn’t creative. Or at least, the vast majority of anime is really the same.

Is that bad? Not really, if the studios can gurantee income and the fans love it, there’s not much of a need to change the formula right? Just don’t sound like a retard and go around ranting about how anime is like sooo cool and underground and radical all the time.

If you still believe anime is creative, just take a look at some new shows starting this new season. I have conveniently listed and summarised them so that we can see how similar they are to each other and other shows.

Akikan – Harem, bishoujo fighting. Sort of like Sekirei and the other trashy fanservice shows. NOT creative, unless you think using the same formula just with different items is creative. Like next season if a show involving cameras who turn into bishojo named Nikon, Canon and Sony, fighting each other and loving the same guy, is creative.

Koukaku no Regios – Futuristic bug world, harem, bland guy with strong powers who had a past and refuses to show his powers. Creative? That’s like a mishmash of older shows. It’s ok entertainment.

Hetalia – This is unusual for anime, historical satirical humour. But see, Koreans hate it cos there’s not enough dog meat to eat in it or something.

White Album – Just making a live action drama into anime isn’t creative you know.

Rideback – As awesome as it is, Rideback still features cool transforming mecha with a genius pilot. Like almost all mecha shows. Still, the ballet motorcycle bot is something new.

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo – Almost all female cast, the same character designs, and a similar story to the Mai universe, it’s even called Maihime 4 by the fansubbers.

One Outs – Sports, baseball, featuring a godmoded pitcher who doesn’t lose, like almost all sports series. Possibly creative for some due to the use of microtactics that go beyond just pitching the ball with great passion.

Munto – A shitty Escaflowne ripoff. Fuck you Kyoani.

Asu no Yoichi – A powerful guy gets a harem, who love him. Creative!!! WOOOO.

Druaga 2 – RPG-style adventure, with RPG-style job classes. Anime is creative.

Kurokami – I’ve seen at least 10 shows where some sort of power contract is formed between a guy and a girl. Even in this season, Akikan has a similar concept.

Birdy 2 – See above, Tsutomu has a contract with scantily-clad Birdy. But Birdy’s dead anyway lol. This show has intergalactic cops and aliens doing shit on Earth. Sounds new? Not really.

Maria 4 – Wow, yuri girls in a elegant high school! This HAS BEEN the formula for yuri shows since the dinosaurs ruled the world.

Major 5 – As above, unbeatable pitchers. But of course, I love this show.

Souja no Erin – Slice of life with a crisis in each episode, sounds like all the kids’ shows out there.

There you have it, not one stands out and I even mistakenly placed One Outs in there. The most creative in story and characters is probably Hetalia but that’s because it’s unusual for anime. Political caricature has been done to death everywhere else. The most creative visuals probably come from NOWHERE, none of the series above.

So, where’s the creativity again? Sure, you can always find stuff that pop up once in a while that’s really new and fresh, but these are mostly only new and fresh in the anime realm. An example is Death Note, everyone thought it was the most badass intelligent thing ever or something but that’s because they don’t actually read books with words in them.

The rest of her post goes about ranting at the failings of her art teacher, who does sound really useless. But while I’m in agreement over her stand that she should be allowed to do anime shit for her project, I’m disgusted by the fact that she thinks anime is actually creative. Truth is, the medium has been stuck in quite the rut in terms of freshness and groundbreaking designs.

Please name me shows that you’ve seen recently that you think are creative. I probably will have watched them before, but we can then discuss whether they are. But whether a show is creative or not, a good show is a good show.

101 Responses to “No, Anime is NOT Creative.”


  • i remember i started to learn the anime style and after about 2 years or so of practice i gave up because whenever i looked at my drawings i thought to myself ‘im nowhere near creative enough to make this style look good’ of course i could get the style and technique down real good but applying imagination to drawing was nowhere to be found. Im a composer of music and i own my own recording studio so i 100 percent know where my creativity lies and have identified what it is and how it works… what im basically trying to say is that even though im specifically creative in the musical medium i identified my flaws in the anime style as a lack of creativity, both very different i know but thats what i naturally felt at the time… its the same feeling when i write an original song and have a block\loose the feel of the track…it felt the same…or maybe im just terribly terribly hopeless when it comes to drawing or even sticking a pre-made formula ;D. peace x

  • Ok, since you seem to think that most anime use the same styles and have the same characters, I’m going to list my favorites, all of which draw their characters using different formulas (and I mean manga, actually, the animation has to come out on a weekly basis [requiring a buttload of frames] and thus REQUIRES that it is all drawn in a similar fashion).

    Bleach – Compare Ichigo’s face to Ikkaku’s, then to Yumichika’s, to Hitsugaya’s, to Rukia’s, and to Orihime’s and Chad’s and everyone else’s. They’re all drawn differently. Now as for plot, Kubo improvises. Everything. So EVERYTHING comes right out of his mind. And what does he do for inspiration? Listen to music.

    Naruto – Kishimoto draws a lot of different face shapes and has a very distinct method of drawing the eyes – they’re not as exaggerated as most other anime, but they get the point across. Plot-wise, there are of course a lot of plot devices that have been used before, though he’s the first mangaka I’ve seen actually illustrating a war – and he does a damn good job of it.

    Kuro Kami – Compare Nam’s face to Kuro’s and Akane’s. Then compare Keita to… To that one shishigami dude. And Steiner to the dude with the crazy scars with the beast arm and he friggin’ kills everything and god damn, why does no store carry this one? Plot-wise, I’m in love with it. The world is fairly simple, and there is some obvious “Koreans are better yo” statements (Kuro finally kicks a dude’s ass and then Nam [the Korean] shows up and kicks Kuro’s ass without really trying). This one was drawn and written in Korea.

    Half Prince – Different face shapes, and body types. Eyes change from character to character – and honestly the plot is pretty different. It’s about a girl who gets pissed at her brother for making fun of her being a gamer girl (granted in a virtual reality RPG) because she would just get free stuff from guys. So she logs on, asks her moderator to make her a dude, and runs around getting drunk, kicking ass (getting ass kicked along the way) and leading a double life. But to be honest… I love the way the action is drawn.

    Knites – Ok, not Japanese either, but written by Yumeii on DA and drawn in an anime style on Paint Tool Sai. Yumeii wrote this after being inspired by her life in China. Original plot, lots of references to nursery rhymes, and beautiful artwork. It looks painted.

    Samurai Champloo – I’m speaking for the anime rather than the manga, as the manga doesn’t seem to be where I can read it. :( But the anime has absolutely stunning animation, the characters most certainly do not look the same, and most of it is filler/played for laughs, I’m assuming. The weapons are cool, the action is beautiful. And the characters have very different faces, and eyes. Also… Damn, that squirrel…

    Wolf’s Rain – Lots of variation character to character. I haven’t had the time to watch it all the way through. But Tsume’s face to Hige’s, or Hige’s to Kiba’s to Tomoe’s. I find the concept kind of cool, and plan to watch the rest of it over the summer.

  • You are an idiot, and this is why you teach third grade art. Any real art professional, anime artist or not, will show you the merits of doing good work in ANY art form.

    Have a good day, and try not to corrupt too many children with your narrow-minded way of thinking. An oxymoron, that – the artist of a narrow mind. It’s a good thing you’re not an artist.

    ;)

  • I really don’t agree with this, but people do have their own opinions. I think that there really are different styles to animes. I can really tell because I myself am an anime artist. Some make their characters skinnier than normal(which really bugs me) Some animes are drawn amazing, but others are just plain shitty, which is a shame to anime. The way animes are shaded and the way the hair is drawn varies widely. I’ve seen some really beautifully put together animes. Gosick is a very good example. Not only does it have an interesting storyline, but studio Bones did an amazing job on the graphics and animation. The anime is simply beautiful. Now if you compare that to Inuyasha, there’s an obvious difference in the way it looks. People put their heart and soul into their anime. Just simply by choice of color and facial expression, it can convey the artist’s feelings. Even the way an artist chooses to dress their character can convey a bit about the artist’s personality or personal preferences. And when you watch an anime, it’s not just characters, is it? The artist has created a whole world! In Fullmetal Alchemist, none of those places are existent. The artist would have had to have taken a lot of time brainstorming for new ideas of places and what sort of people would be there. Like I said, the artist puts their time and soul into their work. It isn’t fair to say that they’re doing nothing. They aren’t just drawing, they’re creating a universe for the viewer. It’s like reading a book, watching a movie, and looking at a drawing all combined. Everyone is different, so no two animes are really completely the same. Don’t take what these people do for granted. It’s spoiled and selfish. And that teacher needs to try drawing anime. It’s not as easy as it looks and a lot of work goes into it. And art is about conveying feeling to the viewer, not the way it is drawn. Any artist knows that. Isn’t that what we were taught art was about in the first place? I think that people are losing sight of that.

  • I’ve actually taken AP studio art when I was in high school, along with a lot of college art classes. While the student acted like an idiot when they hit the net, I honestly have to say that the art teacher was wrong.

    If you put together an AP portfolio for submission, you know full well that there are two sections to the portfolio, one that demonstrates the technique that a person is able to use, while the other is based around a theme. There were a few students who did in fact use Anime as their portfolio theme, but they also showed that they had the basics down.

    That said, my teacher did suggest not going with the Anime theme, not because it wasn’t true art, but because the people who were going to be judging the portfolios tended to be old school artists who didn’t think that anything of the graphic novel industry was an art form.

    It is just like many people don’t accept the graphic novel as a form of literature. However, this is honestly changing and people have come to understand that the graphic novel/animation is the art form that crosses pictorial art with the art of storytelling beyond simply picture books.

    That also said, I honestly get the feeling that the person who created this article really has no idea what goes into planning out a Manga or Anime, let alone becoming an artist in this field.

  • The ignorance in this is amazing. If you truly believe that all anime is the same, then you my friend have been watching the wrong series. Amazing, original anime of the top of my head, Mushishi,Fullmetal Alchemist, Ouran High Host Club, Fruits Basket, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Baccano, Gankutsuou, Great Teacher Onizuka, Eden of the East, Claymore, Maria-sama Ga Mitseru, every single Studio Ghibili film. Watch Gankutsuou and tell me that all anime looks alike, watch Baccano and tell me it’s an overused concept. Sometimes even the ones that aren’t all that original turn out to be great, like, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Yu Yu Hakusho, Gintama, Darker than Black, Raxephon, Gurren Lagann, Eureka Seven, there’s so many more I can’t name them all.

  • What you have written is truly ignorant, and equally arrogant.

    To begin manga and anime are completely different. It appears you know very little to begin with. Anime stands for animation based on a popular manga. Whereas manga is the equivalent of cartoons.

    With such a limited variety of manga you have read, or anime you have watched you cannot prove ANYTHING.

    We are talking about at least 35-50, other wise it would be biased.

    __________

    Back to you main argument.

    There are many good mangas and animes out there that are simply breathtaking masterpieces. There is no limited that what you can do and the style you can take on.

    There is realistic to the point it looks like us, everyday humans. There are ones that that people who barely know manga and anime imagine.

    In manga they combine both amazing storytelling and art thoughout the volume/series. The art is always drawn at different angles and perspectives.

    The most difficult part is naturally how much they can draw in the short time they are given. (Deadlines) As well as the fact that they have limited pages.

    There is an endless amount of creativity put forth in the manga. From the plot to the small details such as the character’s names. Naturally they also design the scenery/towns/cities etc. In the end of a good anime or manga the characters are almost like your friends as they feel so close to you.

    To conclude it is not really their art that is create but the harmony between the story, imagination and art that makes it what it is.

    ______

    Lastly, what makes you think that other art is creative?

    Most artists have their own style. When you look at famous painting (assuming you know a fair amount about art) you can easily recognize another painting, painted by that artist.

    Now to explain it the runt’s level .
    Most humans looks very much the same. They may look different due to aging, facial features etc~

    In the end if you were to draw them you draw them almost the same way. It’s just the detail, such as the shape of their head. (oval, circular, square ec~)

    ___

    I apologize in advance for any spelling and grammar mistakes.

  • I’ve noticed the countless mistakes I’ve already made in the first two paragraphs.

    Manga I suggest for reading:
    Coppelion- Named after Coppelia, a comic ballet. It’s a science fiction piece that deals with the meltdown of nuclear power plant. A little hard to understand without a somewhat strong bio/chem background.

    Gintama- I suggest the anime since I’ve watched all the episodes. It’s absolutely hilarious. Basically samurai and aliens living in Edo.

    Also suggest, Death Note, anything by Matsuri Hino.

    Rosario vampire (the art in the first season isn’t much but in the second season it’s stunning.)

    Naruto (The story is appealing but not until shippuden where it truly captures your interest)

    Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji, since the manga is so far behind i suggest the anime first.

  • …I am way late to this party, but I found this post so I might as well make a comment.

    So, anime is not creative? Neither is any other medium on any given day of the week. You just can’t write a story that somebody hasn’t done before in some way, unless you start writing some really bizarre shit just for the sake of being different.

    Hollywood recycles the same story structures for half its films, TV beats entire genres into the ground with their spamming of the same stories. Books are a bit better due to having little to no budget, but you can count on the fact that whatever you think is original probably was done before by somebody that you may or may not have heard of.

    As far as anime being creative… it is more so than the other mediums, but not compared to itself. See, anime has fucking insane story ideas that would never fly in a million years in other mediums thanks to cultural and audience differences, but those same ideas get re-used within anime itself all the time.

    We’ll never see an American TV show about a testosterone fueled pilot who fly’s giant caped robots against evil itself, but that idea isn’t that amazing compared to other animes.

    And just like any other medium, you see the radical writers and directors occasionally flip off the mainstream and make something that transcends the limitations of commercial art.

    Also, I doubt you still read these, but I gotta say that this post exaggerates a lot of stuff, and not in a good way. 5 characters and 3 stories in anime? Death Note is unoriginal crap to people who read books? Yeah… I’m not so sure about those.

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