Random Ramblings: The Information Age in Anime

vlcsnap-7622090Hack the planet ya Gaijin.

Once again, another post inspired by my rewatch of Kara no Kyoukai. I might have another post about all of that once I finish it. Maybe it’ll be about suicide and depression? Hideaki Anno’s influence in the next generation of Japanese storytelling? There’s a lot to mention so that’ll be a project worth looking out for. For now, we have another Random Rambling! Wow, I’m writing a post only a day after the last one? Let’s hope this continues to be a consistent activity of mine; writing random thoughts and somewhat common knowledge onto a somewhat dead blog. So what’s the deal with Technology and the Information age? Are studios afraid of hacker crackers and google image search?

It’s been bothering me how unincorporated the Information Age era is used for scenarios within Anime. We’ve had successful iterations with Steins;Gate and Durarara where the use of search engines and message boards are a vital part of conveying plot points, questions, and answers. We’ve also had some awry series with the use of phones as a terrible gimmick like Mirai Nikki. Eden of the East is both a great example and a blow over when it comes to the Information Age. The titular app “Eden of the East” uses augmented photos and useful nerds on message boards to solve character identity and miscellaneous information. Yet, the fact that everything each selecao does to better Japan is activated by Artificial Intelligence is barely touched on or is explained through some sort of Mother Brain super computer mumbo jumbo. Recent series, from my perspective, haven’t really used the internet as a key figure for processing information. It’s become more of a convenience rather than a funnel for true storytelling. Terror in Resonance had the Youtube Terrorists, Yuyushiki had google girls, and “living in tha vidya gaem” shows are just about living in the database database. Not to mention that half of what comes out that wishes to have some sort of commentary about technology is set in the near or far future. Ironically, a show set in the far future, Ghost in The Shell: Stand Alone Complex hits the nail on the head within the first season. (Spoilers) The main antagonist is revealed to be hoarding a database of information available to nearly everyone, but only tapped by him to better hide his identity and go all Julian Assange on everyone’s asses. It’s a stretch to call it accurate, but it predicts the future of our technological and information storage abilities with a sensible taste. Addendum, it’s become a one sided coin to use the whole hacker theme for storytelling these days. Dennou Coil and Summer Wars come off as more triumphant than informative. Cool social media is cool. Hacking is cool. Root for the Hacker.

Before this starts to sound like a rant, which it really isn’t, let’s ask some questions. What is so scary about setting a serious anime series within the present day? Why is it so hard to place characters in the world of technology we currently live in and actually use it to their advantage? Let’s take a trip back a couple decades ago first.


As I mentioned before, this post was inspired by Kara no Kyoukai. KnK takes place in the 90’s; a time where information was available, but very hard to get a hold of. Characters have to travel to get answers. They can make phone calls, but only get what they need if someone actually answers. The convenience isn’t there yet and the risk is higher. You can get a sense of how much the characters are struggling to solve mysteries because not everything is available at the fingertips. Shows set in the past have the exact same tendencies. The reason why our wandering samurai wanders around, is to collect information. He can’t just pop out google maps and figure out if he’s gonna make it to Kyoto in time for some dope ass udon. It’s hard to convey a mystery or goal within a series where things could be figured out instantly. This is why most show’s forego the information age as a setting. Viewers will just ask “Why didn’t he google it?”. Shows even forget that they’re so technologically advanced that they end up being illogical with their own plot. For example, in Aldnoah Zero, we are immediately shown some martian princess being assassinated. It’s later revealed it was a body double that was killed. For some unknown reason, no one does a proper investigation or knew that it was a body double. Therefore, a war breaks out. This is a mecha show. Giant fucking robots. Yet, we can’t just fly our fat asses down to earth and investigate the obviously terrorist associated assassination? It’s this illogical ignorance of available news and information within shows that is the problem with most series’ today. No one can care enough to touch on the fact that questions will be asked and can be answered or assisted through the use of technology/communication.

Despite my frustrations and the questions i’ve asked above, I would still prefer series to be structured like Kara no Kyoukai. Limiting a character’s communication and forcing their instinctive decisions is a much more interesting way to carry out a plot than sitting in a chair and doing menial research. Shows that are set in the present day don’t have to touch on the fact that we have google or bing (eww) to do our dirty work for us. A lot of the cell phone conversations being used in anime are from Slice of Life or Romance shows. They do the average post 2000’s relationship texts justice, even if there hasn’t been a spam text about “give me ur noods” yet. Let me dream okay.

I have faith in people to come up with something concrete in the future. I won’t be cynical if it sucks. At least they tried. We need more shows that relate to today’s issues of information security and information consumption. Who knows when the internet will be done right. I just know I’ll be watching it when it airs.

For an interesting look at the visualization of internet and texting in filmmaking, check out Tony Zhou’s video:

I know I didn’t mention Lain. She’s the internet goddess. She’ll always be with us. Spare my soul…

About Kefka
Writer for NeoParadigm City. Aspiring Jpop gravure idol. Look out Shakira.

2 Responses to Random Ramblings: The Information Age in Anime

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