As individuals, we all have a unique way of assigning a certain amount of value to specific places, people, and things. What one person might find relativity unimportant, someone else might consider the object in question to be of great significance. Influenced by environment, preconceived notions, time, and other factors, this assignment certainly makes for rich discussion when comes to certain aspects of daily life. Thinking about it in terms of media, entertainment, and the talking points of such discussions, the words “forgettable” or “memorable” is usually not far behind. Being purely subjective in nature, there is a plethora of personal taste and honored ideas in making such a determination. So what does it really mean to be forgettable or memorable in the realm of anime?
Growing up, most of us were taught that first impressions are everything: the adage itself implying to make a positive one. After all, you would like someone to refer to you or remember you for strengths instead of shortcomings. Likewise, for anime (or any type of media) that I have found the most striking began on a strong note and conclude on an even more solid one. They are the type of series you can’t help but want to recommend to others at the drop of a hat and those that have qualities that make the end product not necessarily stand out from the crowd but pushes the boundaries of what is possible. From series like Neon Genesis Evangelion breaking new ground in mecha genre that had never been touched before to Puella Magi Madoka Magica praised for pushing the magical girl subgenre to new heights with its typical features in stark contrast to the macabre motifs, these series gained the recognition they deserved for acting as pioneers for virgin soil. Where the popularity followed due to success, having the qualities that made for them to be where they are today started with grabbing fans from the first episode and never letting go. I feel that I should be giving a greater shout to Space Battleship Yamato and writer for Kazuo Koike respectively for the influence they had on the aforementioned titles.
Of course, while great first impressions can influence success, I feel that even the most abhorrent of productions have a shot at memorable territory just for the simple fact of….well…not being that great! When you think about, where someone would be quick to tell you how great something is, people sure love to point out what they don’t like in such a hurry it will make your head swim. It is just human nature. That being said, anime series that are upheld as appalling probably didn’t do it by choice, yet simply tried to be different or were deficient in resources (I.E: time, money, etc). For something that cost between $1,000 to $5,000 USD just for a couple seconds of things to happen on screen and staff working down to the wire, I highly doubt anyone would callously throw that effort away for the sake of it. Not to pick on any particular series, but Hand Shakers, an anime series that is of recent vintage 2017 is one that fits the bill. Whether it be the garish artwork and animation or amount of brain power used to comprehend the story, I haven’t seen something widely deemed as an atrocity since Mars of Destruction? Wait, no I think it was My Sister, My Writer for what was going on with the animation? Granted the series has received and likely to continue to garner negative reception, I would think twice before saying someone just didn’t care. Those still willing to talk about it in negative terms or not sure do. Then again, I would like people to remember that the 90’s existed and with that period, Gundress was also a thing. If you haven’t, I beseech your attention to some truly horrendous animation that all but seems to be lost to the ages.
As a visual medium, most anime that excelled or floundered with aesthetics is another strong contender when it comes to making a mark or lack of. Having been impressed by the scenery of the dreamlike world of Aria to the nightmarish vision Masaaki Yuasa unleashed upon with world with Devilman Crybaby, another interpretation of Go Nagi’s most popular work, I can always count on visual presentation to be something that draws me into a series every single time. RahXephon is a favorite example of this case as it brings together some beautiful and symbolic imagery that does well speaking for the series as much as any of the dialogue would. Another series that I enjoyed for the style is Mononoke, an already mental rabbit hole that is enforced by the evocative artwork to create a surreal and engaging take on the psychological horror genre. Not being the only tool in the animation toolbox, I can say that visuals themselves play an important role given the fact the lengths animators go to in the first place just to have it ready for TV broadcasting. Did I mention you should really watch Devilman Crybaby? Just stop reading now and do it.! Wait, no, I’m not finished yet!
In this age of viral videos that we are in, having iconic moments or specific sequences don’t hurt either. Heck, having the equivalent of one noteworthy scene in a game, anime, or manga might not put you on the map, but will get you trending for a couple of hours at the most. I think most manga, light novelist, and anime creators realize this and don’t waste a minute scrambling to see how much or what they can get away with to get some staying power. One of my favorite examples I wish I could forget is the infamous toothbrush scene from Nisemonogatari. Not to spoil it for those that haven’t watched it yet, but I’m not sure how something can be so laughable, uncomfortable, and oddly entrancing all at the same time. Like a vehicular accident, you can’t look away from, I feel that moments like that are why some people decide to try a specific anime in the first place and if the team can make it work for them, all the more power to them. After all, If I wanted to recommend something to a reluctant viewer, a short conversational snippet works better than trying to sell them on it by description alone. Pretty sure one clip, in particular, sold Nichijou to people not even into anime. Cmon, tell me this wouldn’t get you a tad curious!
Where I could go on to include factors like characters, music, and personal impact, the gist of forgettable or memorable series have a lot of multifaceted parts that are just as varied as the people interacting with them. Feeling like my own question has come full circle like a serpent trying to eat itself, series longevity and the place it occupies in time and memory has a lot to do with the people in front of them. Opening myself to a wide breadth of anime titles, my own personal taste and preferences changing over the years thanks to the passage of time and those in the community I have interacted with, a measure of true series staying power for me are the ones that are the ones most interesting to discuss. Of course, with almost every title falling into that category, in my case, I guess I can’t truly find anything truly forgettable unless it lacks some reason to be mentioned.
What anime series would you deem easy to remember or have fallen into passing? What makes a specific title standout or faded into the background?