Ready to fight.

For a change from my usual listlessness and apathy, this time I do have something I want to say, but I am actually restraining myself from saying it. I suppose this paradox stems from my not really knowing why I have this blog in the first place: I want to be able to let my thoughts and opinions be heard, but I also want it to remain all inoffensive and unobtrusive. And so when an issue like this arises, I find myself just bursting with things to say, but not actually daring to point fingers and use harsh language. I don't like conflict, but what I have to say will probably entail some amount of conflict sometime in the future.

So I'm sure most have heard of the recent kerfluffle about KyoAni's decision to animate Clannad. The progenitor, so to speak, would be this Freezeframe commentary on Random Curiosity. Now, I have my own opinions about Freezeframe's history of controversy, but I have to at least maintain a semblance of professional courtesy. Putting that aside, the issue here is that KyoAni is now making an anime from Key's Clannad game, and some believe that this is, and I quote from the original post, "a total waste of ability and resources". Some others disagree.

(In fairness, the original Freezeframe did mention that KyoAni doing Key works may well be a good thing. However, the phrasing used could definitely have been improved to be less, well, condescending. But since I've already made my criticisms of the Freezeframe commentaries before, I guess the author has already taken it under advisement.)

Myself, I have my own opinions about the whole issue. Well, perhaps not so much opinions as a sort of burning rage of a thousand suns into which puppies covered in napalm have been violently thrust that is only tangential to the actual animation of Clannad. But as mentioned, I have to maintain calm and rationality, because to actually vent and let loose to my feelings would be impolite. It will not be nice. And considering that the entire point of my blog deals with an aspect of anime that many people wish to see forever erased from existence, and have said as much, I think that I should probably not throw away any advantages I might accrue from a reputation of being mostly harmless.

Just in case any of the unconscious vitriol leaks through, though, I will have to warn that anything below the cut is likely to be less judiciously edited for tone of voice, if not content.


Most of the back-and-forth seems to come from the classification of Kanon (and Air and Clannad) as "harem". There's a lot of debate going on about the definition of "harem", although since it appears to be mostly people just loudly repeating their opinions at each other, it's not so much a "debate" as a "flaming row". There's another term that may be abbreviated to "FW", the first word of which is "fan", but since I'm supposed to keep this blog at least somewhat PG (save for the usual juvenile innuendo), I can't actually spell out what it is. The sticking points appear to be whether having a male protagonist surrounded metafictionally by at least three girls counts as a "harem" genre, and whether the Key works, having been described as a collection of short stories which just happen to share the same main male lead, count as such.

And… that's about it, as far as I can tell. Readers are invited to look through the comments in the various posts (assuming one is able to stomach the insults and condescensions), and draw their own conclusions.

Let's take an analogy break here. Now, as many of you may be aware, I'm a big fan of the City of Heroes/Villains MMOG, by Cryptic Studios. Been playing it since the latter days of Issue 2 back in December 2004, and I joined the forums on the day I signed up as well. I've not really "seen it all" yet, but it should be fairly close, since I've noticed several broad trends that tend to happen, and which are fairly easy to predict.

One of these trends happens around every major content update (called "Issues"). Now, Cryptic is not, compared to, say, Blizzard, a very large game company. They have a huge list of things that they'd love to put into the game, but everything has to get prioritized, especially since adding something in is likely to break something else entirely, whether in terms of exploits or code.

The trend in forum posts that thus occur go along the lines of "why are Cryptic wasting their time with such-and-such feature, and something-or-other is being ignored?" This can lead to ironic situations such as in Issue 7 where City of Heroes players complained that they were being ignored in favour of City of Villains (and therefore CoH is DOOMED), and then in Issue 8 where City of Villains players complained that they were being ignored in favour of City of Heroes (and therefore CoV is DOOMED). The gist of it would probably boil down to: "why is this company concerning itself with things which I do not have an interest in or actively dislike?"

Apply that last sentence to this situation. Does that sound familiar?

KyoAni is allowed to do whatever they want to do. They answer to the fans in that the fans dictate whether they get money after the airing and merchandising, but in the case of Clannad, the fans have no more say in whether they will continue. It is all too late. Some may think that it is that "total waste of ability and resources", but evidently KyoAni thinks otherwise. This isn't to say that Clannad will automatically be good, or even decent; it just means that right now, at this moment in time, the wheels have turned, and KyoAni is doing Clannad, for better or for worse, based on a decision made some time ago that it would not, in fact, be a waste.

If it makes you feel better, if it flops, you can point and say "I told you so."

Playing a tune...

But hold. Assume that I'm reading this Dramafest incorrectly, and the problem lies somewhere else. I cannot see any other points of dispute other than the harem/non-harem quarrel, however; and surely we are all rational and intelligent enough to realize that this is an absolutely trivial distinction, right?


Comes forth another random analogy: Geneon recently registered the domain (don't bother, there's nothing of substance there yet as of this writing), leading to some discussion about the licencing status of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. There was a lot of talk about Geneon possibly changing the name to simply Nanoha or something, and I had no idea why this seemed to be a popular opinion. (Rumour control: we don't know anything about the licencing, much less whether the name will really get changed or stay the same.)

The reasoning given to me was that the original name had "magical girl" (well, "mahou shoujo", which translates commonly to "magical girl") in it. This, apparently, meant that the show automagically (no pun intended) loses potential audience who would be turned off by what they assume to be a "typical magical girl show", whatever that means. Try as I may, I simply could not figure out why.

I just don't get it.

The closest thing which I could grasp at would seem to be that same viewpoint which rebels at calling anime "cartoons", since "cartoon" has connotations and associations, even though it is just a word. If rabbits were suddenly called smeerps, I wouldn't mind, because it is, again, just a word. And "magical girl" is just, well, two words. Book-lovers know how difficult it is to classify certain books neatly into genres, and so "close enough" is often the method used. It may not fit well, or even fit at all, but it is Close Enough.

But then I sincerely do not see why it has to matter. If you like Kanon, what does it matter if it's classified under Romance or Drama or Harem or Supernatural? How would you classify The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (and since I know how a certain sort of commenter likes to snark, I mean that seriously, if slightly rhetorically)? There's the whole saying about a rose by any other name, and I think it applies here.

So after all of this, what was the point of the sound and fury? I'm well aware that I am, in fact, complaining about complaining (about complaining). In fact, this will all likely blow over soon enough, since, as mentioned, the source is completely and utterly trivial.

However, there are three things that I hope to convey while writing this entire rant in one long red haze of quiet fury: firstly, KyoAni, or indeed most companies in its position, does not need our permission to do whatever it wants. Secondly, it doesn't matter whether or not Kanon or Clannad or whatever is a "harem" or not, and it should not have any bearings on whether you like it for what it is, not for what it's called.

Thirdly, what makes me truly angry is when things like this happen, regarding the way people treat each other. This is not about the vague and nebulous subject of morality, but more about the equally vague concept of common courtesy and respect. That, I do not think will ever be trivial.

The aftermath.

10 Responses to “Rhymes With Rankery”
  1. Kalium says:

    How would you classify The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

    Is 'weird' a category? How about 'Douglas Adams'?

    So after all of this, what was the point of the sound and fury?

    People like to make noise.

  2. GreyDuck says:

    Oooo, two nice pictures of Mai.

    What? Did you say something?


    (Okay, seriously: You hit the nail on the head with the comparison to and analysis of the CoX situation. Dumbassed DOOOOOOM-cryers can go hang themselves for all I care. If you, for values of "you" meaning "any given dumbassed DOOOOM-cryer," don't like something the company does then stop partaking of their products. It really is that simple. They owe you, individually, precisely nada.)

  3. Skane says:

    It's probably just a mixture of envy, ignorance, jealousy, greed, selfishness, etc… In other words, basic human nature. :p

    Fan-bitching is not something new, no matter what the medium is. I just roll my eyes at most of the "commentary".


  4. Shadro says:

    What I think is that it comes down to two things.
    1. People want things their way
    2. People want everything to be in a certain Category
    Thats what I see at lease, everybody wants things to go there way, as you said in your COH/COV part. Then people I think care too much about the category, all it is really for is given GENERAL guidance to what something is. For me personally I don't care about either, if I like the series I do, I don't care if some people see it as something and others as something else. I don't care how they classify it as well. So there is my sent, and I may have just gone way off topic, sorry if I did.

  5. sagematt says:

    KyoAni is allowed to do whatever they want to do.

    I just thought I would quote this, for fucking truth.

  6. Zeta says:

    And that is true, KyoAni can do whatever they to please the fans…and I thank them for that.

    Also, after seeing Kanon, Air and Kanon (2006), I'm looking forward for Clannad. :D

  7. Alias says:

    Actually, the majority of the people who hate Kyoani doing Clannad(Other than the brats and kids) are the Haruhists, because Kyoani doing Clannad would mean that they would have to wait longer for Haruhi season 2….which is also one of the main points of conflict, other than Jaalin's starting post about the waste of resources…..