And here we are, at the end.
I think this is the first time I actually have a solid cap to end one of these little series of blog posts, instead of just stopping doing them, and it’s because of a discussion that my wife and I actually have whenever we watch old anime.
Art in animation, both in terms of what’s available to do and what’s the popular style, is something that changes over time, and that’s an inevitability. Still, it does break my heart a little bit at times to watch older works from the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s, and even early 2000’s that did a lot with amazing backgrounds and character designs across a broad spectrum of art styles…and then look at more modern works all blend into a single mess of the same too-bright coloring, too-bland and blank backgrounds churned out in CGI, or works that are done entirely in clay-like CGI for the entirety of the work, which is a look I cannot stand at all.
That being said, my wife loved a popular series (based on an incredibly popular manga) that I was vaguely-aware of simply because it was so huge, 2001’s Fruits Basket, which last year popped up on Hulu (which has a surprisingly-big swath of older anime works with both dubbed and subtitled audio/dialogue). A sweet teenage girl ends up as the live-in housekeeper of the family of the school’s dreamboat, when he and his family discover her living in a tent on their property after her mother dies and she is unable to live with her elderly grandfather. The series is a supernatural romance/humor story, because the twist is basically that the large extended family is actually cursed to randomly transform into animals representing the Chinese zodiac if they’re touched (“hugged” in the manga) by members of the opposite sex who aren’t family members, leading to all sorts of slapstick.
It’s cute, and it’s funny. In a way, it tries to play with the tropes of romantic comedies (a popular anime subgenre), and it keeps the almost too-much dramatic moods to a minimum. It’s also one of the better looks at the mundanity of daily life in terms of being around the house and day-to-day living, something I find sort of fascinating in fiction (obviously filler episodes to kill time and make space between larger narrative arcs, though the narrative arcs within the show itself are much smaller than the long-running manga, created by Natsuki Takaya that ended in 2006.
Anyway, we watched it and I enjoyed it, especially since news of a new batch of episodes was announced as coming this year, and we’re both pretty excited for that. I guess in a way, somehow, anime still has its claws in my brain and gut, despite how I might feel about how it looks now versus how it looked “back then,” and I’m not entirely sure if it’s nostalgia, a disdain for nostalgia, or just acceptance of how my brain and taste work in weird ways.
We’ll see later this year, I guess.