Anime Carnival: What Makes an A+ Anime

du5k decided to hold a “blog carnival” among anime blogs, in which we all discuss the same topic for a week. The idea is that we’ll all publish a post on the topic today, discuss, other people will join in, and everyone will do a wrap-up post on the last day, January 15th.

So here’s the topic:

What makes an A+ anime?

The Answer

I could say that an A+ anime needs detailed and memorable characters. I could say it needs an interesting story. I could say it needs to entertain me. I could say it needs beautiful, fluid animation and an exquisite soundtrack. I could (and do) say it needs to revolutionize the way you view the world.

But all these “answers” simply raise more questions. What is a good character? What is a good story? What entertains me? In the end, we won’t be able to come to any set of criteria (much less objective criteria!) to define what an A+ anime is. So I can’t really say what makes an A+ anime.

But all is not lost. An A+ anime is much like obscenity. I may not be able to define it, but, in the words of Justice Stewart,

I know it when I see it.

Or equivalently, an A+ anime is

Simoun.

Simoun

Simoun is the only show on my list of favorite anime that earns an A+. Since I can’t define an A+ anime, let’s look at a related question that I can answer: what makes Simoun an A+ anime?

The first thing is the characters. Simoun has a large and diverse cast, and the show leads me to care about each and every one of them. Some I love, some I hate (Neviril), but I am never indifferent. A good story can make you feel morose, angry, joyful, peaceful, and everything in between, but never indifferent. This is the unforgivable sin of storytelling, and the unforgivable sin of anime as well.

The second characteristic that makes Simoun earn an A+ is its setting. It involves steampunk, flying, yuri, time travel, politics and religion (i.e., everything in this world that is awesome), and stitches it together into a vast and detailed world as it chronicles the fall of an empire.

Finally, Simoun has fantastic artwork, one of the best musical scores I’ve ever heard, and one of the most loving fansub jobs ever made. An A+ anime combines the whole package: characters, animation, music, acting, a script, and more to tell a good story, and Simoun blows its competition out of the water.

Is Simoun perfect? Well, it’s the closest to perfect I’ve ever seen, so it gets the closest score to perfect on my scale. Nothing else comes close, and there’s a big gap between A and A+.

I’m always hoping Simoun will gain some peers in the A+ range. But will they share the same traits as Simoun? Certainly not! These are what makes Simoun an A+ anime, not what makes an A+ anime. I don’t know what the next A+ anime will be like, but I’ll know it when I see it!

Go check out what the other carnival participants had to say!

(Article) Ace Railgun
(Article) Anime B&B
(Article) Anime Viking
(Article) Ephemeral Dreams
(Article) Hachimitsu
(Article) Leap250′s Blog
(Article) Lemmas and Submodalities
(Article) Listless Ink
(Article) Mainichi Anime Yume
(Article) Nopy’s Blog
(Article) The Otaku’s Study
(Article) One Minute of Dusk
(Article) World of Yamaguchi Hoshiko

41 thoughts on “Anime Carnival: What Makes an A+ Anime

  1. Your Answer pretty much sums up the real truth of the carnival question – that there is no definable answer because everything is just so subjective. But in spite of that, we’re all trying to do the best we can to answer it our own way XD Even though we won’t ever reach a full agreement, there’s just some strange fun in all the discussion.

    I really liked what you said about a good cast of characters being one where you’re never indifferent to a character. A lot of people only like to watch appealing characters and don’t like it when the show focuses on characters they hate. This is fine of course, but I don’t mind watching even the most despicable characters as long as they’re interesting. The best shows are ones where I have an opinion on every character, good or bad, and aren’t just “neutral” to them.

    1. It’s not only that it’s subjective, but I don’t think I could even propose a definition that encompasses my own subjective standards. :)

      A good example of hating a character is the Evangelion movie. I absolutely despised Misato— she was a hypocrite of the highest of the order. But that’s much of the reason I loved the movie so much, so because I could continue to hate her!

  2. Excellent! Kudos for nominating such a godly series as an example of all-around excellence. I fondly remember waiting at the edge of my PC for the fansubs as they (slowly) came out, bought the sub DVDs when they were released, bought the soundtracks. A unique and intriguing setting, engrossing plot, a large cast of individualized characters you could care about, plenty of surprises without giving the impression of simple emotional manipulation, superlative voice acting, a majestic and memorable soundtrack…oh yeah.

  3. I’ve only seen one episode of Simoun, but I think that it’s very interesting. The first episode is already more creative and interesting than most of the anime currently airing.
    /just wrote own blog carnival post yus

  4. Well, now. It appears I have yet ANOTHER anime I must watch, and watch as soon as possible: Simoun. Steampunk and flying? Hell, yes!

    It’s funny to me reading all of these carnival posts how so much of what we says overlaps, and yet how much our personalities show through. I think you’re the first one I’ve read that sets one specific anime as an example of your criteria. Doing that really helps me understand, to a certain agree, you better.

    Indifference really is the death of lots of anime for me (like..*shudder*…Chrome Shelled Regios). Nice writing!

  5. It isn’t easy trying to pin down what a perfect anime is. I haven’t actually heard of Simoun myself, but a combination of steampunk, flying, yuri, time travel, politics and religion does sound pretty awesome. Now I have to look into it >.>

  6. “You know it when you see it.”

    Very true. When I was still new to the anime community, I would try to use numbers and a set of criteria when I review anime. Now that I think about it, reviewing anime that way is quite pointless. I still hold on to my belief that anime should be rated according to entertainment value as subjectively and biased as possible, but all the factors, such as music, characters, story and production values will surely play a part in that rating.

    Also, I’ve been meaning to watch Simoun for quite a while now. Someday, I’ll get around to watching it and I hope I’ll enjoy it as much as you did.

    1. as subjectively and biased as possible

      Yes, exactly! Trying to make a review unbiased is just bullshitting yourself.

      You’ll love Simoun! (and yes, I am completely biased)

  7. Ooh, looks like a pretty “mixed up” type of anime. When it’s blended nicely though, it’s always these shows which are the most epic ones^^ I haven’t watch this yet but I’ll sure as hell give it a try. What’s more, there’s yuri <3

  8. I agreed. A seemingly perfect A+ rate doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect” or “flawless”. This is just like saying “almost surely perfect”. It’s so close to perfection that the flaws won’t make that much impact on its overall result, but good enough to get the highest mark.

    I haven’t finished Simoun and your A+ rating is forcing me to watch it.

  9. Pingback: Nopy's Blog
  10. I just finished Simoun. I knew it was your favourite anime so I just had to watch it.

    At first, I didn’t get it. It was slow. The setting was weird. The girls spent too much time talking about their feelings than actually doing anything productive. I was frustrated and bored to no end.

    But then, at one point, it suddenly clicked. Simoun wasn’t a war story – to me it wasn’t even about the yuri. It was a story about people overcoming their insecurities and finding the courage to embrace the unknown. Everything about the bizarre setting made sense. In the end, it was one of the most human stories I’ve ever encountered in anime. I think I’ll have a lot to mull over for quite some time.

    Btw, my favourite couple was Dominura x Limone. Their relationship was bizarre given the age gap, but it came across as strangely heartfelt and beautiful, much like the show itself.

    1. Sweet! I’m glad you liked it!

      Simoun isn’t about the yuri at all. So many people I’ve tried to get to watch it have been put off by this, but the kissing really isn’t the point at all. I think you got it right. One of the “most human” stories. I like that wording. Reminds me of this quote from Thomas Merton:

      You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope. Shall this be the substance of your message? Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.

      To be human in this most inhuman of ages— that’s what Simoun is about to me. The characters are surrounded by all these inhuman systems— the military and priests of their own country, the mechanized invaders, and the cruelty and indifference with which they treat each other. Yet they still find a way to live in dissent, to be human amidst the inhuman world in which they live.

      Dominura and Limone was one of my favorites as well (although if you had put any character there I could honestly say the same thing).

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