349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

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Andrew
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349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby Andrew » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:57 am

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The term deconstruction gets thrown around quite a bit in anime, causing quite a bit of confusion and claims of misinformation. The hosts of the Otaku Animecast spend this episode examining why this term has been attached to many of our favorites.

Topics this episode: Narrative, Art, Structure of creativity, Meta, Parody, Deconstruction, Subversion, and more!

The intro for this episode is the OP for Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash called “Knew Day” by KNoW NAME. The outro for this episode is the ED for Puella Magi Madoka Magica called “Magia” by Kalafina.

We hope you all enjoy!
http://otakuspirit.com/2017/11/animecas ... ded-anime/
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Re: 349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby BlueSpark » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:04 am

That was a pretty long-winded explanation on art to start things off ;). Not that that's a bad thing. I consider anime series a form of art - everyone takes away from it what they want. It's just a much more straightforward art form than, say, paintings because animes usually have a clear-cut story to tell (Although every now and then, shows like Penguindrum like to throw a wrench into this nice and orderly structure).


From what I've heard about the term "meta" and my personal experiences with it, I'd say both of you weren't quite on point there. Well, that sounded kind of arrogant... I'm just going to say I disagree. Meta refers to the meta level, so when the subject in question is an anime series, the meta level would be the anime medium (or a subcategory such as a particular genre of anime).

Now, when an anime character breaks the 4th wall, I don't see that having any meta reference at all. If anything, it'd refer to the meta level of "video" (which usually employs a camera / point of view which the characters aren't supposed to be aware of). Also, I don't think self-reference has anything to do with it.

A perfect example of meta commentary, in my mind, is a line by Konoka from Negima!? in reply to someone suggesting that another character might have taken a toilet break: "Anime girls don't go to the toilet." That's meta humor because it references (a common convention in) the anime medium.

You hear the term "meta" used a lot in the gaming scene. Different people have different understandings of the word there, as well, but most of them are pretty similar: The "metagame" does not look so much at the actual happenings in the game itself but rather at the way the playerbase sees it and approaches it (which you could call "conventions").

Lastly, I agree with you that instances of meta commentary are not something that's only for hardcore otakus to grasp; my above example should be comprehensible to most anyone who has watched just a handful of anime series (possibly even to non-anime-watchers if they put 1 and 1 together). Of course, there can be obscure meaning in there which requires a lot of anime knowledge to interpret, but that's coincidental.


Also, I think narrowing down the meaning of a parody is much easier than you made it sound :P. At least from my point of view, a parody simply makes fun of another work of art (by pointing out its silly aspects or adding such silly aspects to it), usually of the same kind (i.e. anime). I suppose it could make fun of itself (like short anime specials of, for instance, Toradora! or Accel World) or the medium as a whole, but I see that as an exception to the rule.

As I mentioned in a different thread before, studio Shaft's Negima!? gave me vibes of a parody to the earlier Magister Negi Magi, simply because of all its goofy (-> silliness) character comedy, which wasn't quite there in the former show. Strictly speaking, I don't think it qualifies, though, because Negima!? very much tells its own story which can be understood just as well if you haven't watched the first Negima! (which is sort of how a parody is designed - targeted at an audience which is familiar with the original work).


One last point: I don't quite understand your angle on how deconstruction is strongly tied to words. Yeah, words carry different meanings (more precisely, connotations) for different people, but I honestly don't see how that's relevant to interpreting a deconstruction. For that reason, I don't follow why Bakemonogatari's wordplay would bring it any closer to being a deconstruction. At least that's not something that would completely subvert my expectations of a harem series...
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Re: 349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby Andrew » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:38 am

BlueSpark wrote:That was a pretty long-winded explanation on art to start things off ;). Not that that's a bad thing. I consider anime series a form of art - everyone takes away from it what they want. It's just a much more straightforward art form than, say, paintings because animes usually have a clear-cut story to tell (Although every now and then, shows like Penguindrum like to throw a wrench into this nice and orderly structure).

I agree that Ikuhara is more abstract than most, but it's not to say other creators in the realm of anime are completely straight forward. Some leave hints of ideals or messages that aren't always plain to see.

BlueSpark wrote:From what I've heard about the term "meta" and my personal experiences with it, I'd say both of you weren't quite on point there. Well, that sounded kind of arrogant... I'm just going to say I disagree. Meta refers to the meta level, so when the subject in question is an anime series, the meta level would be the anime medium (or a subcategory such as a particular genre of anime).

Now, when an anime character breaks the 4th wall, I don't see that having any meta reference at all. If anything, it'd refer to the meta level of "video" (which usually employs a camera / point of view which the characters aren't supposed to be aware of). Also, I don't think self-reference has anything to do with it.

I probably should have used the example of Shirobako as meta, but I still hold firm to Re:Creators being meta within meta. I've never heard it being used as Metalevel. I've always known it as self-referencing or being itself within itself. An anime about making anime (Shirobako), or a show about a creator being created within its story about creating (Re:Creators).

But no, I still don't technically agree with Chris that it's 4th wall breaking.

BlueSpark wrote:One last point: I don't quite understand your angle on how deconstruction is strongly tied to words. Yeah, words carry different meanings (more precisely, connotations) for different people, but I honestly don't see how that's relevant to interpreting a deconstruction. For that reason, I don't follow why Bakemonogatari's wordplay would bring it any closer to being a deconstruction. At least that's not something that would completely subvert my expectations of a harem series...

In regards to deconstruction and words, we were going back to its birth in the use of literary deconstruction. It was to breakdown the use of words by showing how useless they are in actually communicating. One of our main points that ended up coming from this "thought experiment" was to prove how useless it is to critique the use of it when it's technically not originally created for it. Our point was that it was adopted to mean something significantly different than its origins. At least that's how I felt we came to a conclusion on.

I didn't agree with Chris on Nisio Isin's works. From what I understand, the difficulty in translating his work is his play on words and use of different characters to have separate meanings. He's not proving that words are useless.

Anyhow, hope that helped clarify some things. I hope you enjoyed it despite our ramblings and incoherent blabbering!
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Re: 349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby BlueSpark » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:41 am

Andrew wrote:I've never heard it being used as Metalevel. I've always known it as self-referencing or being itself within itself. An anime about making anime (Shirobako), or a show about a creator being created within its story about creating (Re:Creators).
I would agree that Shirobako and Re:Creators are meta phenomena, though not because they're referencing themselves, but rather the medium they belong to. It's splitting hairs at this point ;).
Anyway, it seems my 'definition' wasn't quite accurate, either, but "metalevel" is definitely an established term. This just goes to show how different experiences coin our interpretations of certain words. On that note:

Andrew wrote:In regards to deconstruction and words, we were going back to its birth in the use of literary deconstruction. [...]
Thanks a bunch for explaining again. I must've simply lost the context along the way (I believe I was playing Hearthstone at the time of listening, which can be semi-distracting) – now it makes much more sense.

I also liked your discussion on some specific titles and in how far they fit into the category of deconstruction :). I'm still not really sold on Bakemonogatari, myself, but it's all subject to interpretation in the end.
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Re: 349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby Chris » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:56 pm

BlueSpark wrote:
Andrew wrote:I've never heard it being used as Metalevel. I've always known it as self-referencing or being itself within itself. An anime about making anime (Shirobako), or a show about a creator being created within its story about creating (Re:Creators).
I would agree that Shirobako and Re:Creators are meta phenomena, though not because they're referencing themselves, but rather the medium they belong to. It's splitting hairs at this point ;).
Anyway, it seems my 'definition' wasn't quite accurate, either, but "metalevel" is definitely an established term. This just goes to show how different experiences coin our interpretations of certain words. On that note:

Andrew wrote:In regards to deconstruction and words, we were going back to its birth in the use of literary deconstruction. [...]
Thanks a bunch for explaining again. I must've simply lost the context along the way (I believe I was playing Hearthstone at the time of listening, which can be semi-distracting) – now it makes much more sense.

I also liked your discussion on some specific titles and in how far they fit into the category of deconstruction :). I'm still not really sold on Bakemonogatari, myself, but it's all subject to interpretation in the end.



Nothing wrong with that honestly. My point was that by the strictest definition of deconstruction ( pointing out flaws in communication ) that nisioisn is the closest to deconstruction. I was not saying bakemonogatari was a deconstruction. I was however saying that our fandom has changed what a deconstruction is for our use.

If deconstruction doesn’t fit for Madoka then it doesn’t fit anything but don’t turn around and argue try to explain what deconstructionism is point at monogatari series and say it’s not a deconstruction when it is the closest to a deconstruction.

Hope that makes more sense. We weren’t really making a list of deconstruction more then we were discussing that deconstruction is just a term people are using for analysis.
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Re: 349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby Scribblenog » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:41 am

I’m one of those folks guilty of throwing around the deconstruction term on a regular basis (often while engaging in a defense of School Days). I’m not even certain where I picked up this particular verbal tick, it feels like it’s been around a long time. The shorthand term seems to have stuck however, and most people seem to understand exactly what I’m saying.
Well, any endeavor that involves people eventually generates its own specialized lexicon and anime and manga sure has its fair share of specialized and highly contested terms.
Altogether the show was very interesting. Breaking down what might or might not be meta was particularly fun. I get a kick out of Chris and Andrew’s back and forth while trying to drill down to points they can agree on.
I really do like these deeply analytic episodes.
Thanks for spending your time digging through everything and presenting it to us. Heck, even if you’re just wikiing that stuff, I appreciate the effort to keep us all entertained.

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Re: 349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby Andrew » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:55 pm

Scribblenog wrote:I’m one of those folks guilty of throwing around the deconstruction term on a regular basis (often while engaging in a defense of School Days). I’m not even certain where I picked up this particular verbal tick, it feels like it’s been around a long time. The shorthand term seems to have stuck however, and most people seem to understand exactly what I’m saying.
Well, any endeavor that involves people eventually generates its own specialized lexicon and anime and manga sure has its fair share of specialized and highly contested terms.
Altogether the show was very interesting. Breaking down what might or might not be meta was particularly fun. I get a kick out of Chris and Andrew’s back and forth while trying to drill down to points they can agree on.
I really do like these deeply analytic episodes.
Thanks for spending your time digging through everything and presenting it to us. Heck, even if you’re just wikiing that stuff, I appreciate the effort to keep us all entertained.

And that's really the gist of it. Heck, if I asked someone what a "Trap" is, they say it's something that catches something. Like a bear or mouse trap. It may not mean it's original intent, but it's something that serves a purpose to those that discuss and use it for a different purpose.

Glad you enjoy these casts! They always seem to create the most interesting discussion, despite being the most stressful in how people will take them. Haha!
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Re: 349) How Deconstruction Invaded Anime

Postby BrOtaku » Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:57 pm

Hey guys, catching up on my podcasts now that finals are over. Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this cast, and for the most part I agree with you on the subjectivity of the media / use of the word deconstruction. I never really got into breaking down the shows farther than the genre level, so this was an interesting insight into the thoughts of the community. I'm fairly certain that most would agree on your point on Madoka, but I will admit that I'm pretty ignorant of this argument. Honestly this is the first I'm hearing of it being an issue in the community.

A couple of points I did not agree on lie in the minor points you guys. I agree that the intention of the creator is not always what gives meaning to the person consuming the anime. However, the thought that successful writers can afford to forgo laying down the foundation of their work before hand is ludicrous to me. While someone can write random nonsense on on a page and somehow garner meaning from a reader, a successful writer knows how to manipulate the audience for better or worse. Gen Urubochi's is most assuredly skilled in this, no matter how fun it is to imagine him having a magical girl vendetta :lol:

Secondly I disagree that a visual / audio medium can't be analyzed with the tools we use for literature. They certainly can't be held to the same standards, but utilizing analysis methods we use for literature can help us understand the story on another level. They can also help us create hypothesis on the aforementioned intentions of the creator. They don't have to be right, but the speculation itself is worth it. For example, I wrote papers on Japanese creators Isuna Hasekura and Kore Yamazaki, and the ideas I was able to craft on the meanings they may (or may not) have intended made them fun to write and interesting to research. While I could be (and probably am) completely wrong, literary analysis is still a useful tool for helping us understand storytelling mechanisms that can point us towards the overall message of the story.

Again good stuff with this cast, and I enjoyed it overall. I really dig these discussional type casts and I'm looking forward to dipping into more as my break continues.
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