The Passion List Podcast | Robbie Knapton on Anime (Episode 5)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water where the podcasts dwell, another episode of The Passion List Podcast comes along to pee in the pool! This week biology graduate and Geometry Wars 2 professional Robbie Knapton climbs on-board the ship with one goal - to get more people watching anime. That means he's gonna have to draw on his own passion for shows like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer to get some interest. Will he be able to stay afloat for 57 minutes? Or will he sink to the bottom of the ocean where many have tried but failed to successfully master the ruthless tenacity of cel-shaded Japanese-animated waves? I've got a water thing going on here, just go with it...
The show’s logo and primary image were created by the wonderful Molly Massey, whose work and contact details can be found here.
The smooth, jazz-infused piece is again by the talented Kristen Kenyon, whose music can be found here.
*Please be aware this episode features stronger language than usual and even though it's about anime it features spoilers for Primeval season three*
Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'George, even though I've been told not to many times by my GP I'm still shoving cotton buds deep inside my ear canal every single morning and this morning it went so far down that I lost it and couldn't get it out. Now I can't hear with either of my ears and I fear the cotton from them will eventually rot my brain away and leave me with a constant fuzzy feeling behind my eyes!' Well worry not my soft, soft friend. Even as your mind drifts off into that sweet, cushiony goodnight you can still read what we have to say on the podcast! I just so happen to transcribe each episode before release for just such an occasion!
Hope You Enjoy!
GM: Hey Robbie.
GM: How’s it going?
RK: Pretty good yeah, are you doing this again?
RK: Okay can we actually cut? This is so unnatural to be like ‘how are you doing?’ Just move past that dude we’ve been talking…
GM: Alright yeah fair enough. What’s your chosen passion then for The Passion List Podcast?
RK: It’s to get people that are on the fence about anime, into anime.
GM: So you’ve got an agenda?
GM: You wouldn’t tell me about that!
RK: It wasn’t just like loving anime dude that’s…that’s not me. I barely even like it. I just think it has some benefits.
GM: I know this feels like bullshit, but could you tell us what anime is for anyone who doesn’t know…
RK: Yeah yeah. It’s Japanese cartoons. It’s really popular everywhere, like everyone knows what anime is. Basically it’s condensed hype and epicness into short, 20-minute episodes where you come away feeling like you could take on anyone.
GM: When I was doing the research for this, I knew anime was popular obvious but, I didn’t know the numbers and I was sitting there going ‘fucking hell’. 60% of all animation being produced now is anime.
RK: Yeah, I expected it to be more actually. Because they release anime films by the bucketload in Japan and stuff, that’s why they mostly go to the cinema to watch those weird spinoff films of their favourite shows. That’s kind of crazy.
GM: Yeah, some of the stuff we’re gonna talk about later includes the spinoffs and non-canon argument-
RK: I class all anime films as non-canon. Even though some are.
GM: Really? Okay.
RK: It’s because they all fall into the same pitfall. They’ve got a big budget and they need to do well so they max out the power levels of every character in the show, including a new villain that just has ridiculous powers, to make it really cool to watch.
GM: One with this impossible backstory that’s never been mentioned before…
RK: Yeah yeah, and it’s always like…in most Shonen anime it’s in a school, so the film will be set in the summer break between the seasons.
GM: Yeah it’s almost like a sitcom holiday special…
RK: That’s exactly what it is. And they come back to school and they don’t fucking mention it in the next season but they’ve just fought the toughest fucking villain that’s ever existed. Then they never mention it again. So as far as I’m concerned, nothing is canon.
GM: Alright. So you and anime then, what was the first anime you remember watching?
RK: I think my friend showed me Attack on Titan.
GM: That was the first?
RK: Yeah, that’s sort of everyone’s first really, I would assume.
GM: Would you not count things like Dragonball Z and stuff like that as-
RK: I knew this was gonna come up! I was gonna get into this later. I don’t really class Dragonball Z or Avataras anime.
GM: Well Avatar’s understandable because it’s made by a Western studio but Dragonball Z isn’t.
RK: But if it’s on Cartoon Network then it’s not…that’s my philosophy.
GM: Ah okay…so you’re a philistine a bit.
RK: Yeah. Also…I’m not a big fan of Dragonball Z.
GM: Yeah that’s fair enough.
RK: Are you?
GM: I was, I grew up with it.
RK: Ah fuck you, you’re just pandering to the fans listening to this. They’re gonna give me shit and they’re gonna praise you for liking that wack anime.
GM: I’m not gonna give you shit because as we go on we’re gonna very quickly find out-
RK: You’re not gonna give me shit, the millions of people listening to this are gonna give me shit!
GM: Yes, the millions and millions of people who call me up and say ‘I really enjoyed that episode of the podcast, it sounded like I was just there with you listening to your conversation.’
GM: Alright so when was Attack on Titan was that 2012? 2013?
RK: It was when I was in like, GCSE, maybe the year before?
GM: So you liked it, then did you seek out more?
RK: Well I was shown by my friend the Levi vs. the female Titan fight, which I would definitely recommend people go watch – that fight is just insane, and I watched that at his house then watched the first season, so I binged the whole first run, decided I liked anime and…there we go.
GM: What other stuff did you go on to watch after that? I’m assuming it was all Shonen?
RK: Yeah mainly, hold on I’ve got a list of all my favourite shows…
GM: Oh yeah go on.
RK: So…I watched Attack on Titan first then…well, this isn’t actually in chronological order. But, Black Clover, One Punch Man, Parasyte, My Hero Academia, Made in Abyss, Demon Slayer, Hunter x Hunterand some really whacky sports ones that you know…
GM: Yes I do, Haikyu!!
RK: Hell yeah.
GM: I still really like that.
RK: It’s good. The reason it’s so good to binge a lot of anime is that it’s just so feel-good. You never go away from it feeling down.
GM: I think a lot of it is to do with the intros as well. The openings for anime are a cult in themselves.
RK: Yeah, oh my god. They’re the best bit if I’m honest.
GM: Go on, manga then. Do you read manga?
RK: Yeah, a few. I’m up to date with My Hero Academia right now because that’s my favourite anime of all time. I highly recommend that people watch that. Even people that don’t like it normally like it. Apart from you George.
GM: I didn’t mind it! I just…don’t like it enough to now seek it out now that I’m not within your vicinity.
RK: Yeah well you were my one failed project at like ‘can I get him to enjoy anime?’ I think I was close on a couple but…
GM: You were arguably closest with Haikyu!!
RK: Yeah, well you’ve watched the same amount of that as me. A lot of animes that corner themselves into a specific thing like sport or cooking, after like two seasons max it’s usually just the same thing over and over again.
GM: That’s the thing that’s kept me from watching season two.
RK: Didn’t we watch season two?
GM: We watched the first episode and then I think I left…
RK: I thought we watched the first episode of season three?
GM: Oh we might’ve done.
RK: Because I thought the first season was-wait. I might be chatting shit. But we watched like 24 episodes.
GM: We watched a lot yeah. If we were doing something in half an hour we’d sneak an episode in.
RK: It’s the best medium to binge. By far. If someone tells me about a new anime I haven’t seen and it’s like two seasons long…I get fucking excited. Because also I play Runescape.
GM: You just wanted to sneak that into your episode didn’t you?
RK: It’s just good to have stuff to binge while having that on in the background.
GM: It’s lucky, you almost made it ten minutes without mentioning Runescape there…
RK: We’re gonna cut that right?
GM: Oh no god no.
RK: Right, wait…what did I say? Did I say it’s good to binge because I’m also doing spreadsheets?
GM: It’s good to binge because you’re too busy doing women.
RK: Women and spreadsheets for my business. Spreadsheets for my booming business.
GM: Yeah, you’re a millionaire, that’s what you’re saying.
RK: No I’m just starting from the ground up. People like that more. I sound more relatable. If I’m not a millionaire already.
GM: You’re an underdog.
GM: You’re an underdog who likes anime.
RK: I roll up my sleeves…watch some anime…wait aren’t you supposed to be the fucking host to stop bits like this?
GM: I like bits like this!
GM: Are you more interested in the shorter length anime, the 20-30 episode stuff rather than Naruto and One Piece?
RK: I was until about a month ago when I binged the whole of Black Clover which was like 170 episodes.
RK: And I binged it in like a week and a half and now I kind of wanna watch One Piece but it seems a little too daunting to actually do.
GM: Yeah 170 episodes is big but when you look at the others it’s nothing.
GM: I know people who’ve been watching it for years and years and years…
RK: Yeah it’s all fucked. I feel like the fans of that are letting themselves down by not having a…like, when someone tells me to watch One Piece, you know how someone on Reddit did that ‘only episodes you need to watch of Dragonball Z to actually follow the story’ list? You can cut out large chunks and I feel like that should be more commonplace. I feel like when you get recommended One Piece on Crunchyroll or something there should just be highlighted episodes that you have to watch, because there’s a lot of fucking garbage.
GM: There’s a lot of filler, yeah. You get that less with shorter seasons. My Hero’s what 20 episodes a season or something?
RK: Yeah and the first season’s 12 episodes or 11.
GM: And it’s split into two parts so you’ve got that little break in the middle.
RK: Yeah. There’s only probably gonna be like two more seasons too.
GM: Really? See I stopped watching it maybe halfway through season 3?
RK: Season 4…
GM: Ah okay yeah, All Might was retired and-
RK: They were doing the concert?
RK: Everyone sort of stopped watching there that I know.
GM: In research for this I sat and rewatched the latest intros for shows…
RK: Woah you watched anime? Ha ha ha! Loser! How much did you watch?
GM: I didn’t watch a lot.
RK: Oh that’s embarrassing.
GM: I watched the latest opening for My Hero…what’s up with that?
RK: The new OP?
GM: The jazzy one, yeah.
RK: Oh yeah I quite like that. You get into it.
GM: It reminds me of the Jujitsu Kaisenclosing theme, the Lost in Paradise one.
RK: Yeah well nothing beats that. I highly recommend anyone watching this listens to that outro.
GM: I second that, yes.
RK: It’s good shit.
GM: They just pick pop songs don’t they for the opening? They don’t have to necessarily relate to…anything to do with the show at all.
RK: No…um…there’s some that they make for the shows. I’m pretty sure that Attack on Titan has original ones. I think My Hero Academia has ones made for the show…
GM: Do you have a favourite opening for My Hero Academia?
RK: Yeah the third one.
GM: Yeah I agree, again it’s very jazzy. It’s quite positive and you feel good.
RK: That’s the whole show, My Hero Academia is the most beat-you-over-the-head positive. ‘Everyone’s gonna do fine, nobody’s gonna die’ and nobody has died.
GM: No one’s still died?
RK: Some bad guys have died?
GM: The whole time we were watching that show I was just sitting there going ‘All Might’s gonna die this episode’ all the time…
RK: Yeah he seemed like from the start he was destined for a quick end. In the first episode he’s coughing up fucking blood and you’re like ‘oh so he’s gonna die soon.’
GM: If it was something made over here then he’d have to die so Midoriya can rise up and become the next All Might, surely.
RK: Yeah, completely.
GM: So what’s My Hero Academia about, then?
RK: Oh yeah I can do pitches for these. It’s basically the most cookie-cutter superhero show you can ever imagine. But the creator just went so hard in on making it crystal clear as to what everyone’s powers are and who their characters are as well. It’s a really simple idea for what it is. Everyone’s powers sort of mirror their personality as well, which is cool.
GM: Even the character design…
RK: Yeah, the character design is wicked. Basically without fail if you watch it with someone they’re going to have different favourite characters to you.
GM: Although everyone who watches it will love Invisible Girl…
RK: Fuck man…she’s so sexy.
GM: She’s so hot.
RK: So good. You just wouldn’t get it if you don’t watch the show, you know? And they always animate her naked…
GM: It’s weird, I thought I was the only one who picked up on that!
RK: Going on from that dude, what I’m eager to talk about is Demon Slayer. Because that’s a fucking good anime.
GM: And it’s still quite new as well…
RK: Yeah and I think the prettiest anime that I’ve ever seen.
GM: The water in it looks so good…
RK: Oh, all the demon art in it is like pop art that feels like it’s added on after which gives it such a cool effect. Like the red arrows too-
GM: I think it’s cel shaded?
RK: Yeah, yeah.
GM: So Demon Slayer then what’s that about?
RK: It’s these guys that go around slaying demons!
GM: No way!
RK: But the guy that you follow, I’ll probably say this a lot but the main character’s always just so lovely. Like he’s just so nice and that’s why you like him. His whole family’s killed at the start – I don’t know if I’m like ruining this for anyone?
GM: If it’s in the first episode I don’t think you’re ruining it necessarily.
RK: It’s probably bad to listen to me fucking jabber but yeah, his whole family gets fucking massacred by Michael Jackson. His sister’s turned into a demon but through sheer will and perseverance they decided to try and cure her and keep her in a box basically as he trains to become a demon slayer in order to find a cure. And that is a really bad pitch but it’s so good. I don’t know. Do you like it?
GM: I do like it. My favourite bit though is where they’re in the forest filled with spiders. That was how you sold me on it to be honest, you said ‘there’s a bit with giant spiders’ and I said I’m in.
RK: Yeah, I try and get you with any slight horror hook into a show.
GM: Yeah that’s why we’re watching Jujitsu Kaisen isn’t it?
GM: Even though it’s not really, I wouldn’t say any of the horror influences are that huge in them.
RK: It gets huge. It’s like one of the most popular manga ever right now in Japan.
GM: Do you think if they do go deeper into the horror influences it betrays the feelgood feeling you said anime is known for?
RK: I don’t know, it’s either feel-good or the bar slides to totally epic. That’s the two with anime. If the show’s not feel-good then it’s just gonna be a guy like fucking mowing down a hundred, billion enemies in the coolest way possible. That’s probably what it’s more like. But Jujitsu Kaisen seems like it has quite a nice emotional through-line.
GM: Yeah it’s like in the middle so far but we’re still in early days and only on like episode six or something.
GM: Are we on four? Fucking hell.
RK: Dragging on a bit is it?
GM: No I just thought we’d watched more. It’s because we’re doing it weekly I think and we can’t just binge them.
RK: Yeah, I think there is something to watching anime weekly though. When you binge it you have to skip the first 10 minutes every time. If you’re watching back-to-back they do this thing in anime where the first 5 minutes are before the intro, which is just a recap and then there’s like a two minute intro and then after the intro is also a recap but from a different angle.
GM: And they do that thing where the last episode of the season is just all the characters reflecting on ‘boy what a year we’ve had!’
RK: And the first episode of the next season is the beach episode or the shopping mall episode…
GM: Yeah where they just refuse to talk about that special they had where they fought that giant whatever-the-fuck.
RK: Yeah exactly. My Hero Academia for example, they fought this god-level Magneto guy and then this guy who controls nine powers or whatever and he blew up a whole island…then in season three they just come back to school.
GM: Well we were watching it in the cinema and I remember all the shit was going down with the Magneto guy and on the way out I was like ‘oh my god, have they mentioned this in the series?’ and you said ‘no it’s not canon.’
RK: Well they say it’s all canon but I tell anyone who is thinking about watching some anime that the films aren’t canon.
GM: If My Hero Academia’s on the ‘feel-good’ end of the spectrum then what’s on the ‘epic’ side?
RK: Tokyo Ghoul?
GM: Ah, okay.
RK: Attack on Titan? That’s pretty bleak.
GM: Oh definitely, yeah.
RK: Parasyte maybe? His mum gets fucking eaten in the first episode. I don’t know if you’ve seen it…
GM: No I’ve not seen Parasyte no.
RK: It’s pretty good. But those are pretty bleak and people get fucking murdered…it’s like the Asian Game of Thrones you know? They just don’t give a fuck about characters – apart from the main character.
GM: Oh obviously, yeah.
RK: Do you know a show where the main character just like bites the dust and they switch to another one?
GM: I mean the only example I can think of is Primeval…
RK: Yeah yeah that’s fucking good though.
GM: They killed the main guy off in like season 3 episode 3, it wasn’t even like a season finale. I remember he was in all the adverts for the season and I was like ‘oh hell yeah another season of this guy’ and he just gets shot…
GM: In a show full of dinosaurs he gets shot. I like it though, it’s cool. It’s a cool idea.
RK: Just to have him shot in a world of dinosaurs…
GM: You just have to make sure the replacement’s good though. So if you go out and watch anime you have to watch Primeval too.
RK: You’ve got to.
GM: Films then, anime films.
RK: Yeah I haven’t seen a lot of those if I’m honest.
GM: Is there a reason? Do you just prefer the shorter form stuff?
RK: Yeah I think like I said I just…don’t see any of them as canon. They’re just too over the top. There’s a show called Made in Abyss that I don’t know if you’ve seen?
RK: I told you to watch it dude, I fuckin’ told you…
GM: Tell me again.
RK: I’ve said this a lot in this episode but it’s definitely the darkest and most gory of all the shows. There’s only one season out and it’s like 13 episodes but it’s about a little girl that finds this robot boy in this world where there’s huge tunnels down into the ground and this main one’s called ‘The Abyss’ and there’s different levels to it and it’s like, monsters and curses and stuff and people go down mining for precious gems from the world before and stuff. But they don’t pull punches in that. She loses an arm and like, bleeds from her eyes and mouth and nose and shit even though she’s a ten year old girl.
GM: That’s mad.
RK: Wait, what was my point? Oh yeah, the films for that are actually really good. They’ve released three I think and only one season of the show-
GM: So it is mainly films…
RK: Yeah. And they’re all good. They’re fucked as well.
GM: Do you think they seem more fucked because anime kind of has a very naturalistic style? As in human characters look more realistic in anime than they do in any other cartoon type.
RK: Yeah definitely.
GM: So the violence is almost like ‘oh shit that’s actually happening to a person with regular-sized arms and no bulky outline.’
RK: Yeah, and the reactions to death in it are always the same but usually spot on I think. You see their face go white and their eyes go really small, they shake a little bit and call out ‘holy fuck’ and they get frozen in fear a lot. Then you’re like ‘fuck dude, this guy’s mum actually did get eaten by a parasite.’
GM: I’m bringing up Dragonball Z again Robbie…
RK: Please do.
GM: That’s one of the things that stuck with me when I was little. Dragonball Z was cliché in that you’d spend nine episodes on one fight and half the episode would just be *prolonged screaming* all the time, but I vividly remember when Majin Buu shows up and he can just eat people…and he eats one of the main characters and there’s just, I swear like 20 seconds of silence in shock at what’s just happened. But he was gone.
RK: Yeah, wait did he actually stay dead?
GM: Yeah! I was like 7 or 8 and I was traumatised!
RK: ‘George why are you upset?’ ‘Mum this fucking guy just ate a character!’
GM: ‘This pink thing that looks like a marshmallow has just eaten this real human!’
RK: Do you like the film adaptation of Dragonball Z? The live-action one of course…
GM: Obviously I love it. But I love it because it’s awful. What are your thoughts on the apparent My Hero Academia live-action film?
RK: Oh, American? Well you know a lot of anime in Japan have a lot of live-action films as well?
GM: Oh yeah.
RK: Yeah people go watch them in a bunch, but they’re all dogshit.
GM: I’ve seen bits of the Attack on Titan live-action stuff.
RK: Yeah that’s really bad. The Titans in that look so funny though.
GM: The type of stuff in anime though just doesn’t translate to live-action at all.
RK: I don’t think any anime will work in live-action. People don’t react in it like they do in real life. It’s like Death Note, it kinda flopped.
GM: The Japanese live-action Death Note’s okay…
RK: Oh really?
GM: Yeah, there’s a trilogy of them.
RK: A trilogy? Does it follow the show?
RK: Have you seen the show?
RK: Do you like it?
GM: I love it, it’s one of my favourites.
RK: I feel like the anime you like are the ones that don’t have as many of the tropes. Because that really feels like a western version of anime…
GM: Yeah I was gonna mention this. I like Death Note, I like Cowboy Bebop, I really like Space Dandy.
RK: That’s not anime dude.
GM: I mean, it kinda is?
RK: This is my fucking podcast man, it doesn’t fall into my categories. If it’s on Netflix it’s not really an anime. Wait-I didn’t mean that.
GM: Wait a second Parasyte’s on Netflix!
RK: Cut that! Cut that!
GM: What about stuff like Avatar so western animation that copies anime styles and stuff?
RK: Oh I could talk about Avatar ‘till the day is blue. My face is blue and the day is done.
GM: Yeah, it’s one of the greatest shows ever made-
RK: It fucking is.
GM: But what do you think about the westernisation copying the tropes and the styles, do you reckon it’s done for the purposes of the story or do you think it’s just to try and get some of their audience because anime is huge…
RK: But I feel like anime’s not just style. The way people talk is the main thing that throws people off, it’s character interactions. You can’t even English dub over them properly, they sound so whacky.
GM: Did you used to watch stuff like Teen Titans?
GM: Ah, my next point hinged on you watching it.
RK: I know of it though. I think I’ve watched a few episodes with you guys at like 164 or something so I know the gist of it.
GM: Well everyone loved Pokémon when we were little and things like that.
RK: Do you think that’s anime?
GM: No. I know technically it is but it feels like it’s its own thing.
RK: Yeah the more I think about the Pokémon TV show the more it just makes no fucking sense. The games came out first right?
RK: Where you battle Pokémon and the show’s whole message is that it’s wrong for them to fight.
GM: It is weird, yeah.
RK: They get injured and they’re like ‘how could you? How could you use a flamethrower when he wasn’t ready?’ and you’re like ‘wait a minute this whole society’s based on making your pets fight!’
GM: The whole society of Pokémon doesn’t work.
RK: No it didn’t work from the games’ start. They should’ve known that. They should’ve had it as a brutal wasteland…
GM: You say that but it’s the biggest fucking franchise in the world!
RK: Yeah you’re right. Well I’m wrong clearly.
GM: What about standalone feature films? Anime ones, stuff like Studio Ghibli and Akira?
RK: Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to get onto this…Studio Ghibli’s just something special and different though isn’t it. When I think about it, it just kind of baffles me. Every film gives me nostalgia even though I’ve never been an eight year old girl living in Japan with a single dad. Oh man I love it so much. There’s not a bad one. They’re all so good and ethereal-feeling.
GM: Anyone can say a different one is their favourite one and I’d go ‘yeah I get it.’
RK: Yeah dude. Even Porco Russo.
GM: What’s your beef with Porco Russo?
RK: Nah I’m joking that’s just the most recent one I could think of. I fucking love it. It’s so good.
GM: Do you have a favourite?
RK: …no. Honestly, like everyone, I think everyone watches Spirited Away too young and gets really fucking freaked out by it.
GM: By the pigs, yeah…
RK: Just by everything, it’s fucking terrifying. I think I watched it when I was like eight or seven.
GM: I mean it all makes sense. It’s no weirder or more damaging to kids than something like The Neverending Story, technically.
RK: Yeah, I mean, yeah. When you re-watch it, it totally makes sense but when I watched it as a kid it was just so weird and random and the characters were all so different that my brain just collapsed in on itself and didn’t know what was going on. Apart from the fact that this little girl’s parents were turned into pigs.
GM: I had that more with Howl’s Moving Castle to be honest.
RK: Oh really?
GM: Yeah I was like ten or eleven when it came out and that was more head-fucky with me than anything else. To the point where I don’t think I liked it the first time I watched it.
RK: Yeah…I don’t think I liked Spirited Away the first time I saw it. But it left a huge impact. Oh man, so good. I love the way they draw old people in Studio Ghibli films.
GM: Just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of lines and deep, cavernous wrinkles.
RK: Big heads…yeah…what’s your favourite?
GM: I really like Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind.
RK: Yeah, so good.
GM: But that’s mostly because I really like the world in it, the sci-fi world they created for it.
RK: Is that the castle in the sky one?
GM: No that’s the one with the wing glider where she’s-
RK: Oh oh yeah the sand one with the big bugs. Yeah that’s good. I really like that.
GM: I like that whole idea that these giant bugs that are like, the natives of the world, have the power to destroy everything. I don’t know, it’s just this cool sci-fi world. I can see it almost actually working in live action too but it would lose all of its charm.
RK: Don’t do it man. Don’t let people think that that could happen. Don’t remake Studio Ghibli films in live action.
GM: Of course not, I mean it was a manga first…
RK: Yeah but they adapted it beautifully. And animated manga isn’t really a jump at all. It’s basically just a storyboard for a film, isn’t it?
GM: Yeah, definitely.
RK: But even closer than that.
GM: Because it’s in the same style.
RK: Yeah they literally take panels shot-for-shot. That’s so cool when they do that, honestly. If you read some manga and you get to a really cool bit…there’s a few moments that I’m waiting to be adapted into anime now that are gonna look so good when they do because the panel is just like, beautiful. Todoroki in the new season of My Hero Academia is about to do something crazy. When they animated that it’s gonna look fucking cool.
GM: Are you one of those people who will want the side-by-side comparison to see how they line up?
RK: No I already know. You can tell when they go out their way to do it exactly the same, so I don’t need to see a side-by-side.
GM: Do you know if they’re the same team of people that are working on them?
RK: No no it’s different.
GM: Ah, okay.
RK: There’s normally like one person behind manga and then they send it off to a whole studio to animate it. I was gonna say there’s one animator called Arafumi Imai – nice pronunciation I know – his animation style is known as one of the best. And he has some of the best moments to go back and watch. Did you watch Levi vs. the beast Titan with me?
GM: Yeah I must’ve done at 164 yeah…
RK: When he slices up that big gorilla…
RK: Honestly, anime is so funny. There’s probably like five or ten really famous anime artists that do the ‘big’ fights and are known for them. And when you’re watching an anime, when a big fight’s about to happen you suddenly see a considerable mark-up in the animation quality of the clouds around stuff and you’re like ‘something big is about to happen. Some overpowered fucking illustrator just got the wheel.’ And it’s so funny. You just see a character talking and suddenly the lines become really crisp around their face and their sword and you’re like ‘well…time to sit back and enjoy.’ And that happens with Levi vs. the beast Titan, everything just looks so good and he’s manoeuvring around him in this, wait, I guess I’m talking like everyone’s seen this, he’s moving around this huge Titan and angles – I don’t know if anyone knows but animating whilst angles are changing is one of the hardest things to do, like the camera’s moving – but this guy just does it flawlessly as he zips around every angle possible. Oh god, it’s so good.
GM: The most jarring changes I’ve seen are in things like One Punch Man and I know it does that quite a lot. You used to say like ‘get ready because the animation’s about to get a lot better…’
RK: Yeah the same animator actually does a couple of the fights in One Punch Man…
GM: Oh really?
RK: Yeah he does the sparring fight between Saitama and his disciple Genos…
GM: Oh I’m not good with names…
RK: You know the two man guys? When they just have a fake fight and as soon as he kicks into high gear he puts his arm down his side and forms a stance and the animation quality just goes up and you’re like ‘oh yeah…’
GM: It’s weird isn’t it because anime was started because it was relatively cheap to produce…
GM: And there’s so much of it, like you said most of the movement is in the background. You don’t necessarily have to have fluid body movement as long as it dictates the emotion you’re fine. But they’ve progressively become more and more animated…
RK: I think it’s just because cream rises to the top, really. Most popular anime has more people watching it so it coincidently has more extravagant fights and shit. It kind of works perfectly. There’s still bucket-loads of anime that’s made really dirt-cheap that people love too. Any of the cooking anime, not really my thing but I’ve watched a few, they’re like really cheap to make I think.
GM: Did you ever watch Shin-Chan?
RK: No, I don’t even know what that is.
GM: It was just an anime sitcom about this little boy who was just kind of rude and it always ended up with him pulling his trousers down and going ‘oooooooooh!’ so it was funny and it was on Nickelodeon so it was all dubbed and it made six-year-old me laugh. But looking back on it now the animation was just really crude and it was very much like the stereotypical idea of anime, I guess. Quite a lot of static images with quite a lot of screaming, block colour background and that kind of thing.
RK: I don’t know if you’ve seen The Seven Deadly Sins?
GM: No, I haven’t.
RK: They kind of fucked up in season three because the first two seasons are animated by this pretty highly-esteemed animation studio, then in the third they gave it to this small animation studio that’s pretty good but they heavily condensed the time they had to animate. It’s some of the worst animation, like, ever. It just got the shit ripped out of it by the community.
GM: Was the show not doing as well, then?
RK: I think it was doing well, but the studio that was originally supposed to do it just got given Attack on Titan or something. So they just parred it off to someone else.
GM: I remember you saying they swap studios quite a lot.
RK: Yeah they do that an awful lot.
GM: That seems weird. That wouldn’t happen anywhere else.
RK: Yeah you can’t imagine, well actually…multiple VFX studios work on the same film right?
GM: Yeah I guess. But it’s not like it’s just the VFX it’s the whole show. It’s as if some all-knowing leader has said ‘well, we really want My Hero Academia to look good this year so we might as well hand it to this lot…’
RK: Yeah, I don’t know who’s in charge of dishing out all that stuff.
GM: Oh yeah it’ll all be to do with money, branding and merchandising…
RK: Multiple studios worked on the first season of One Punch Man. They were all given like two episodes each and I think they all tried to out-do each other and I think that’s why it’s just so fucking remarkable.
GM: That’s why it was made so quick as well.
RK: Yeah…but then season two’s a bit whack.
GM: Outside of Studio Ghibli for the feature-length stuff-
RK: Dude let’s just talk about Studio Ghibli films more.
GM: They’re all so good.
RK: Honestly I don’t know how you come up with it. The stuff in it seems like the ideas of a madman. This sounds really fucking weird and it’s not really a point I’ve formed in my head yet, but when I saw that catbus…I felt nostalgic even though I’d never seen it before.
RK: It’s so weird. Have you heard about the director and his son? Maybe you told me about this…
GM: What, Hayao Miyazaki?
RK: Yeah, his son released a feature film-
GM: Oh, Tales from the Earthsea-
GM: And it was the least well-received one…
RK: Well, his dad walked out of the cinema crying and said ‘you’ve failed me.’
GM: Woah, yeah…it’s not that bad either.
RK: Yeah but when your dad makes Studio Ghibli films…why even try? Just pick another profession.
GM: He’s made ones since that are better…and Miyazaki’s getting on. He keeps threatening to retire.
RK: I thought he did retire like, twice.
GM: Yeah he did, but he’s doing one about a caterpillar I think next…
RK: Oh…sounds so good.
*The two laugh because they know exactly what he means*
RK: That’s the hold Studio Ghibli films have on me. You could say ‘oh he’s doing it about a dung beetle’-
GM: And you’d go ‘oh, of course he is! Classic…’
RK: ‘I’ve never thought about it that way…’
GM: There’s no other animation studio anywhere that has the same kind of effect.
RK: No, not at all.
GM: Earwig and the Witch is the latest Studio Ghibli film and it’s out this December apparently and IT IS CGI!
RK: It’s not full CGI though?
RK: Well? I don’t know, CGI’s not too bad. If they do it right. I have faith.
GM: Other than that The Red Turtlewas the last one.
RK: You know what? This has got me wanting to talk about Your Name as well.
GM: Let’s do it then.
RK: Fucking so good.
GM: SO fucking good.
RK: I just bought a new TV and this was the first thing I watched on it-
GM: Oh my god that comet must have looked so good…
RK: Oh I came like, four times, watching that film.
GM: I saw it in the fucking cinema, dude…
RK: Actually cut out me saying I came.
GM: Okay (I didn’t)
RK: Let’s keep it PG aye? You saw it in the cinema?
GM: I saw it in Lincoln, yeah!
RK: Oh I’m so jealous.
GM: Do you think it’s weird that a lot of anime films, not necessarily that one, they have a fairytale quality to them that makes them feel timeless?
RK: Oh yeah they all do. And I think the technology in them always helps. I don’t know if Your Name’s gonna age that well but Studio Ghibli films have an old-school, World War II retro-tech in a lot of them. Either that or no tech at all and they’re just in the countryside somewhere so they can remain fairytale-ish. You’re right.
GM: You almost have to do that kind of story or you go into hard sci-fi stuff. Those are the only two options to have a successful anime film.
RK: Yeah, basically all of them are grounded in magic, aren’t they? Magic from the older world or magic that’s still around that only kids can notice and stuff. It’s all very Christmassy.
GM: Yeah because they usually come out around Christmas time don’t they? They’re the sort of film you’d put on for your family at Christmas.
RK: Yeah, come on kids let’s watch Death Note…
GM: Let’s watch fucking Ghost in the Shell…
RK: Oh that’s good but you got me thinking about the bad remake now.
GM: Just think about the original, you’re fine.
GM: Think about that and Akira. I do really like Akira as well…
RK: I thought that was only a manga? Oh wait no, I’m thinking about Alita: Battle Angel. That’s a manga as well right? Wait, and an anime…
GM: Well we saw the live-action film-
RK: No it’s an animated film too. From 1993.
GM: Oh right, the live-action one was a bit…
GM: It wasn’t awful! But it doesn’t work in live-action, does it?
RK: No. Well, I think it could’ve but they westernised it too much. It felt a bit boring. A city in the sky above that holds the elite should be like a really cool thing. And the junk pile they live in didn’t really feel like a junk pile did it? It kinda looked nice and cool to hang out there. They sold chocolate and stuff. Why would anyone wanna leave?
GM: I don’t know if that’s an anime adaptation thing or just an adaptation thing in general though. That’s the same way I felt about the Mortal Engines film.
RK: Yeah yeah. They did my boy dirty.
GM: They didn’t do the world justice at all they just made it really boring and limited. Have you ever watched a fansub where the fans record their own dub for an anime that they feel hasn’t been given the right treatment?
RK: Is that like the one Harry…no. No I haven’t seen any stuff like that. I’ve seen the haunted thing that Harry always insisted on putting on. Where the dub studio had the-
GM: Oh, Ghost Stories! I love that.
RK: I think I watched like five or six episodes of that but I didn’t find it as funny as you guys did.
GM: That’s the difference between us. Harry and I are laughing at it and you’re sitting there going ‘it’s just sad, you guys.’
RK: No I wanted to find it hilarious but I didn’t think it was bad enough of a dub! I feel like you guys haven’t watched enough bad dubs to know that that’s like, pretty normal.
GM: They’re not so much a thing anymore really thanks to stuff like Crunchyroll. Everyone has access to anime now. Like twenty years ago, turn of the century times, the only dubs that were available a lot of the time were on DVDs and bootleg videos and they were very hastily put together and nobody really expected anybody in the west to give a shit. So the majority of the dubs were trash.
RK: Trash but gold.
RK: Can we just take a moment to talk about the Japanese voice actors for anime as well?
GM: Of course yeah go for it.
RK: Fucking brilliant. The voice actor for Bakugo in My Hero Academia…he gives me chills. They go fucking ham when they start screaming and stuff-
GM: Oh yeah.
RK: And you don’t really get that in, well, I don’t know…do you know any cartoons or anything where the character’s like screaming their heart out properly?
RK: Even in Avatar I don’t remember anyone screaming properly.
GM: Well that’s the thing with Avatar isn’t it? It’s for the west so it’s watered down a little bit. I guess that violent screaming is even seen as too much.
RK: But they really feel like they’re going for it in anime and that hypes up the dramatic levels as well. Combined with the animation quality the voice actors in Japan do such a good job. Like Eren Yeager…
GM: Yeah, I don’t know any of the voice actors’ names.
RK: Yeah I should probably have looked some up for this.
GM: But they’re unsung heroes. Especially over here where we don’t necessarily pay as much attention to them.
RK: Oh yeah, no way.
GM: But if they were in any way bad the shows wouldn’t be as good.
RK: Yeah for sure. And that shows in like…um…
GM: Like in Ghost Stories…
RK: Yeah exactly.
GM: And all the old Pokémon dubs.
RK: Oh yeah. Dubs are hard to watch sometimes. Unsung praise for the voice actors.
GM: Have you ever liked a dub more than the subs?
GM: The only one I can think of is Space Dandy.
RK: That’s good.
GM: And that’s purely because so much of the humour seems westernised already and the voice actors are cheesing it up and making it work. It’s sci-fi satire a bit like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
RK: Yeah, it is actually. I think the dubs for Studio Ghibli films are equally as good.
GM: Yes, well they get full Hollywood A-listers for them and stuff.
RK: I feel like they could pay them nothing too and there’d still be as many Hollywood A-listers wanting to do one.
GM: You’d give an arm and a leg to be involved in a Studio Ghibli production.
RK: Oh yeah, completely. Matt Damon’s the dad in Ponyo and he has like two lines so he’s barely there at all.
GM: Yeah, Shia LeBeouf’s in Castle in the Sky.
RK: Yeah, and Liam Neeson plays you in Ponyo.
GM: Okay so if you had to give someone 5 anime in order to get used to the medium in general, what would they be?
RK: And this is someone who hasn’t watched any anime at all?
GM: Let’s say they’ve dabbled, they’ve seen bits and pieces but not much of a general interest. But they’re willing to learn.
RK: Okay cool. Well I’d slap ‘em with One Punch Man season one first. 13 quick episodes of very not-anime tropes. That’s a good jumping off point. Even my brother likes that shit and he’s a football dickhead.
GM: Your brother likes some anime…
RK: Not really.
GM: He likes Attack on Titan.
RK: He only likes the Sasageyo song…he just watches it for that.
GM: I swear he watched some of season three with us?
RK: Yeah because he thought the Sasageyo song was coming back but it never did.
GM: Okay fair enough.
RK: So then My Hero Academia because it’s my favourite. I feel like I’ve talked about it way too much in this podcast…Demon Slayer too because it’s good. Obviously, I won’t say any of the Studio Ghibli films because you should just fucking watch those whether you like anime or not. They’re different.
GM: If you wanna feel like a kid, as in happy…if you wanna just be happy again-
RK: Yeah if you wanna be happy for two hours slap on any one. Oh man they’re so good. Princess Mononoke…that makes me wanna go outside and just look after a plant.
GM: I want animal friends. Not bullshit pets, I want genuine animal friends that’ll help me accomplish tasks.
RK: Yeah…like a big tree boar that’s gonna give me sage advice when I go into the forest.
GM: Do you think the world would be a better place if you convinced people to watch anime?
RK: I actually do. I think some of the people who watch anime come away from it feeling like ‘hey I’m gonna be nicer’ or some bullshit like that.
GM: It is a nicer version of western animation because over here we’re assholes, essentially.
RK: Yeah the whole point of a lot of them is that if you’re a nice person you’ll do well. Hunter x Hunter as well – that’s another one of my recommendations.
GM: Oh yeah that’s your fifth one isn’t it?
RK: That’s my third one ‘cause you rudely cut me off.
GM: Sorry! Keep going!
RK: No no no! It’s fine I’ve done three!
GM: Fine…right, it’s weird Robbie because you don’t have anything to plug because you don’t do social media…
RK: Yeah…is this supposed to be a plug for people?
GM: Well I’m just gonna say instead of following you, people should just go watch your recommendations.
RK: Yeah that’s what I thought the point was. Or just listen to this podcast again.
GM: Just have it on in the background. Don’t turn the volume up, just give it listens.
RK: Yeah, anyway thanks for having me on George.
GM: Yeah thanks for coming on.
RK: I already said thanks.
GM: Well I’m saying thanks again, cunt. Fuck you.
RK: Let the record show the podcast is over…
GM: …and as we always say on the podca-
RK: Ah! No! I’ve finished it already dude! I’ve finished it! You can’t then come in-
GM: I need to get the last word in, cunt!
RK: Oh so you always have to be the last word? Do you always say the same thing?
GM: I’ve got a catchphrase Robbie.
RK: Alright, go on.
GM: Alright, so as we always say here on the podcast…BYE.
RK: …let the record show it’s over.
GM: I hate you so much.
RK: Let the record show it’s over…
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Whilst over here we continue to argue and fight over tiered lockdown continuing and what constitutes a meal so they can justify still going to the pub, the rest of the world continues to have problems unspoken of here in the west.
India's economy continues to suffer a halt which could put millions of lives in danger of not affording food. The rampant slaughtering of the public amidst marches and protests across Africa (and particularly Nigeria) continue to raise their death tolls. In Indonesia a volcanic eruption left thousands fleeing for their lives from poisonous gas, and all this is still happening during a global pandemic that will only keep rising if you aren't smart about your actions.
A useful list of what's going on across Africa right now
A now up-to-date carrd on World Issues.
Remember, it only takes 10 minutes a day of research to stay informed.
Thank You for reading/listening.
Stay safe everyone.
See you next week.