Research for a blog post (Eastern vs Western fiction)

  • Plotist Team: Keepers of Code

    I'm thinking of writing an article about cultural differences in fiction, I won't say much more so it's still fresh when I finish writing, and I needed some help.

    As part of my research, I'm looking into anime and I just realized that I know more about anime than about western animation. Does anyone know of any example of western shows similar to Naruto or My Hero Academia?

    Other shows are probably impossible to find an equivalent, things like Monster or Paranoia Agent, but I would expect to have some equivalent to some action shows.

    Any thoughts on this?

  • Plotist Team: Community Storyteller

    As much as I know about Anima, there is only so much I can suggest. What I could state though is one interesting thing to look at is what happens to a story when it's brought over to to the west from the east. As an example, there is a fantastic story (manga to anima) called Tokyo Babylon. I am lucky to own the DVDs for it. I am able to see it with English Sub, or English Dub. The difference between the story from one to the other is staggering. It's a topic unto itself, but sadly I can't think of any series driven concepts that follow one character that is NOT original an anima, or based on anima to start. Heck, even Cowboy Beebop I think is influenced by an anime..

    So, not much help, but there is something to be seen there.

  • I'm somewhat of an anime nerd, so I have some knowledge in regards to some of the cultural influences and differences. I've seen Cowboy Bebop and I think it began out as a manga and was later an anime. I'll need to double check on that. Dubs are very often different to subs because it's often thought that non-Eastern audiences won't understand the cultural allusions in subs unless they really dig to seek them out.

    There are a couple anime I've seen that are pretty good about exploring concepts unique to Eastern culture, specifically Japan. I recommend one called Shiki, which is about a Buddhist monk, his doctor friend, and what happens when new people move into their isolated little town. Another that's been around awhile but was more recently introduced to me is called Saiyuki and is an adaptation of the Chinese novel, Journey to the West but with character/storyline changes and a lot added in to modernize and keep it entertaining. The former was inspired by King's Salem's 'Lot, but has its own feel. If I can find links to either, I'll put them here.

  • Plotist Team: Keepers of Code

    Thanks for the suggestions! Cowboy Bebop is one of my all-time favorite anime, and I'm a huge fan of Yoko Kano so the soundtrack was just perfect for me.

    @Rose I heard of Saiyuki, but not of Shiki, so I'll have a look.

    I was more interested in finding western equivalents to anime in general. I think there are not that many shows that can be compared to anime, and most western cartoons are just for kids (although some are quite enjoyable). Where are the western Bleach and Naruto?

  • Hmmmm... I don't know a lot about anime, I haven't consistently watched any since the 90s, but as far as Western animation is concerned I feel that I need to mention Avatar; both The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra (even though I haven't gone too far into LoK yet, due to now having time for anything anymore).

  • Plotist Team: Keepers of Code

    I'm starting to believe that my hypothesis is right and there are not many western shows that are like anime; they are mostly an exception or something rare to find. This is quite good for what I want to write :)

    @Blackbird Avatar is amazing! It starts very kiddy, but as the season progresses the characters mature and develop in really amazing ways. Korra I started watching and stopped after one season because it didn't have the same feeling/quality/spirit/idk as Avatar, but people told me it gets so much better in the second season so I might give it a try again.

  • @jaycano I didn't make it far into Korra and, at first, I was a bit 'meh' about it, but... My friend told me I need to stick with it and it'll pay off immensely. He knows what I like, so I'm definitely going back to it when I get some free time.

    But The Last Airbender was... pffft... AMAZING. Some things felt a bit disconnected and out of nowhere for me towards the end; plot-wise, but regardless it's definitely one of the best animated series of all times in my book.

  • Late to the party on this, but hopefully I can add something of value.

    Based on the initial question, it sounds like you're looking for a Western equivalent of shounen, in which case - as that's essentially the Japanese children's action genre - I'd direct you generally towards children's action shows. I can see both Avatar series have already been thoroughly recommended, which I thoroughly agree with. If you're specifically looking for another show that attempts a Western take on the anime style while maintaining the core shounen action/adventure direction, the original Teen Titans series might be of interest. If the aesthetic style itself isn't as important, I also hear very good things about Steven Universe; Specifically to the context of this conversation, the premise and tone sound like a sort of hybrid of classic Dragon Ball and DBZ, and the crew lets its own anime fandom show through various nods and tributes (I recall seeing a comparison video showing that one particular fight scene was made to match the choreography and composition of a fight in Princess Tutu).

    If you're looking for something specifically like Paranoia Agent, I actually have a recommendation that may sound a little strange: Twin Peaks. It goes through some very visible growing pains and has a large stretch that's been all but disavowed by its creator, but with the benefit of the new season it actually follows a very similar arc over a longer stretch: The investigation of a murder slowly reveals supernatural, malicious underpinnings as you explore the interconnected lives of those in proximity to the event, with the narrative shifting hard into heavily symbolic, often dreamlike imagery that makes you question the reality of any given thing you're seeing towards the end. If you're at all familiar with David Lynch's work, you know basically what to expect when all is said and done.

    Beyond that, if you're looking for Western shows that are "equivalent" to anime, things get a little trickier. The easy answer would be Firefly given the overt influence of Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star, and the like (whether or not Whedon admits it), but beyond that you run up against the question of what typifies anime outside of its aesthetic. In my experience, when you remove the differing root cultural norms one of anime's biggest defining elements is innate quirkiness - which even in and of itself might just be a component of Japanese culture, but hey, gotta start somewhere. Between the shared elements with the "slice of life" genre and the mundanely outrageous premises, sitcoms with major fantastical components like Greg the Bunny or the 2002 run of The Tick are the kinds of shows I could just as easily imagine being anime as live action.

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