Many anime fans have been quick to dismiss URAHARA, myself included. But if you look past the rough animation and the seemingly uninspired plot, you’ll find some insightful commentary which may resonate with anime bloggers and vloggers.
I won’t really try to defend the artstyle and animation for URAHARA – it is, like most aspects of anime, really dependent on personal preference, after all. Some individuals may like the unique look, appreciate the cutesy details, and enjoy how the screen resembles a cluttered session of ViewSync or Multi-Twitch from time to time. Be that as it may, I think many people will agree it’s rather unpolished compared to other titles.
However, I do believe that many people are overlooking how URAHARA has the potential to make self-referential statements regarding creativity and consumerism.
On paper, URAHARA admittedly seems to be just another “fight off the invaders and save your zany town” series. In this case, the foreign invaders are Scoopers, aliens who “scoop up” artwork and monuments to hoard for themselves since they lack creativity. As a result of these fleeting and superficial similarities, I’ve seen several individuals compare URAHARA to Akiba’s Trip. For such comparisons to even pretend to hold merit, however, a lot of key details are dismissed just so URAHARA can be dismissed as generic, mediocre, a “knock-off,” etc.
In other words, these detractors are ignoring how URAHARA can explore (and has been exploring) an important challenge that many content creators have to face, be they anime bloggers, anime vloggers, etc. They’re the focus of this article, but this can certainly apply to artists or novel authors or any individual within a creative field, really.
The Content Creator’s Dilemma
This particular topic is a universal question.”Do you listen to your heart or do you give the consumer what he or she wants?”
The enduring dilemma serves as a primary focus for the sixth episode of URAHARA as Rito struggles with her art. The girl has always drawn whatever she felt like drawing, but she ends up becoming worried that this will never make her popular as an artist.
Rito is shown to start having such thoughts after overhearing her friends (who double as her co-workers), Mari and Kotoko, chat about Kotoko’s success as a popular blogger. Kotoko talks about how she needs to include trendy stuff in the photographs she uploads to receive more hits and that she’s particular about when she uploads said pics. Meanwhile, Mari thinks back to when she overheard a classmate talk about similar things. Feeling smug after gaining some foreign followers, the classmate announces that she plans on adjusting her style to attract even more foreigners and concludes by claiming, “In this world, you can’t just draw what you want.”
Perhaps you have been in Rito’s shoes before as an anime blogger or a vlogger. You might feel pressured to accommodate to provide the consumer (in this case, this would be the reader of the viewer) what he or she wants to read or watch. If you want a lot of hits, then you’re probably locked into writing or talking about seasonal content since that is what most people are concerned about. Such shows are new and discussed en masse! Talking about the same titles together makes you feel like you’re part of the community! It’ll be a shame to be left out, right?
But what if you dislike waiting a week for new episodes to come out? What if you are more interested in older shows, or if you think you can do a better job evaluating a series if you can binge watch a series all at once?
Those are all perfectly fine reasons why one would choose to not write content that covers seasonal shows, mind you. But the Seasonal Effect (a impromptu term used to describe the anime blogging’s focus on current titles) makes it harder to capture people’s attention. Be that as it may, the brave folk who continue to share their thoughts on completed series, classics, and obscure titles are to be admired for not compromising on their principals and preferences.
Rito doesn’t find an answer to the Content Creator’s Dilemma, but allow me to bring up three things anime content creators can consider. The individual points, I must note, actually support conflicting actions and trains of thought, which is rather apt consider how I’m divided on this “issue.”
In other words, I also don’t know the answer to the Content Creator’s Dilemma, just like Rito. People will tell you to just write what you want to write, but I’m not sure it’s that simple.
1. It’s just part of the job
Sometimes you’re forced to do things you’re not crazy about just so you can get by. I’d wager that most people aren’t completely content with their jobs, but they still have to show up, do what they’re expected to do, and receive money so they can pay the bills. They’re not being praised for doing what they’re supposed to do – they just do it.
In a similar way, you can see writing about seasonal shows as something that could be done if you’re desperate for hits. I for one am painfully aware that my most popular post (for 2017) is a post I wrote about Princess Principal. I would never have been able to reach the same numbers by choosing to talk about an older show that wasn’t trending at the time. It really makes me acutely conscious of the fact that a lot of people really cling onto the present.
But it’s for the views, right?
2. Dedication is self-evident
However, if you’re apathetic about the titles you’re writing about, then your disinterest may become readily apparent through your writing. After all, bored and uninspired content means bored readers. Forcing yourself to write about things you don’t particularly care for can be laborious and simply not beneficial for anyone involved. Wouldn’t you rather write about things you actually care about? Wouldn’t your readers or viewers prefer to see your enthusiasm and passion?
Misery sometimes only begets misery, not character.
3. …Why not both?
Very few issues in the world are simply black and white. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably a Sith Lord.
There was a particularly striking moment in Bakuman where a certain manga-ka tries to request a different editor since his current editor wouldn’t let him draw what he wanted to draw. In response, the editor-in-chief for Shonen Jump replied, “Saying you haven’t been able to draw what you want to draw is the same as admitting your own lack of talent.”
To me, that scene represented a blending of two extremes. If what you like and what the public likes (according to the manga-ka’s editor’s opinion and preferences, at least) don’t align, then try to find a way to skillfully combine the two. Maybe you’re not actually all that fond of any of the current seasonal shows, for instance. But you are interested in fashion so you can perhaps write your observations about the kind of clothes that are popular in these series. Doing so would surely demonstrate that you have creativity, allow you to write about popular shows, and gives you room to talk about something you’re interested in. That’s certainly not the only example and the process is easier said than done, but it’s a start, right?