Apologies for another long-ish absence. As has been mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been watching a lot of anime, but I’ve been less good about remembering to follow up on whether or not the things I’m consuming have a manga counterpart. Gomen!
The state I live in (Minnesota) is opening up (despite rising Delta variant numbers in the US in general,) and so my wife and I made a trip to the public library–a place I have not been to since I quit work there. In the intervening months, the Roseville library got a huge influx of new manga titles! So, I filled up my cart. You will be seeing my hot takes on what I’ve picked up, hopefully over the next several days.
First thing that caught my eye is this slice-of-life pictured above: Animeta by Yaso Haramura. The story follows Mikyuki, a mediocre artist, trying to stay afloat in the anime business.
I’m sure that the “Meta” part of Animeta is the fact that Miyuki is 100% a Mary Sue, and no one is even pretending otherwise. She is the idealized stand-in for all of us otaku who would like to believe that our enthusiasm for the genre could garner us a real job in animation in a major studio in Japan. I mean, to be entirely fair to Hanamura-sensei, I literally used to regularly tell my friends in college that my dream was to run away to Japan and work for an anime studio. And, much like Miyuki, I had no actual skills (besides a few art classes) and no real idea what that job might entail.
So, Hanamura-sensei walks us through it.
Miyuki gets her dream job entirely by chance. One of the members of the hiring committee likes the fact that she took judo and so gives her a shot. Apparently, so many new hires wash out that this is actually a thing? You could get hired for a random fact listed on your resume. So maybe I could have gotten a job at a major studio as a novelty, i.e., let’s hire the weird American–she’ll wash out anyway! I don’t know.
Like me, Miyuki has zero clue about how anime works, but, even so–and here’s the Mary Sue bit in play–she catches the eye of the hottie director (above) , Kugo. Kugo sees something in her that he wants to cultivate. Possibly it is the anime heroine’s deep enthusiasm for the art? WHO KNOWS.
A lot of the pacing/tension of Miyuki’s storyline is waiting to see if her talent will actually bud… and or her enthusiasm will actually cause a real break-through. I will tell you? Three volumes in? NOT SO MUCH. But, I am still hopeful??
Interestingly, several times throughout the first three volumes (all I have, though the library has all five currently available in the US) a character will morosely say that you really can NOT survive in this industry on enthusiasm alone. Yet, Miyuki persists. She is aided by mysterious post-it notes of encouragement….
Like a lot of slice-of-life there is actual information about what animators do and how the job works. So, if you’ve ever been curious about the processes that go into anime creation, this might be one to check out.
I’m enjoying it? But, keep in mind that I have a HIGH tolerance for stories that are kind of about nothing. I am big fan of slice-of-life and have literally enjoyed stories about people shopping and fixing up their motorcycles (see: Super Cub, et al,.)
Ironically, so far as I can tell, Animeta does not have an anime. So, it doesn’t ACTUALLY break the fourth wall since it is a MANGA about anime, not an anime about anime. However, the title is clever and I’m learning some stuff? I rather like Miyuki, even though she is a complete stereotype of a perky, endlessly enthusiastic otaku. There is a scene in the third volume, which I just finished, where she is forced to go on vacation and Miyuki goes home to her family. We learn that her mother, in particular, does not approve. Manga and anime obsession, she says, is for children and weirdos. I mean… that punch landed! I felt that! Interestingly, as a counterpoint in real life, I just got a letter from my Japanese pen pal, an older woman, probably around Miyuki’s mom’s age, who said much the same thing. Though she admitted that she an her husband watch the occasional anime, her feeling is that manga is for children….underscored by the fact that she translated manga to “comic books” for me. So, Hanamura-sensei is drawing on real attitudes here.
The other really interesting character is Date Maria. Date is the daughter of a famous mangaka, and is… troubled. We find out in volume three that she is carrying a heavy burden. Most people don’t think she deserves to be at the studio either and assume that she got in because of her famous mother’s reputation.
Turns out she’s hoping to break her mother’s depression/writers’ block by producing an anime worthy of her mother’s perfectionism. OOF. I mean, given that this is senien, I don’t necessarily trust that to work out as you might hope? But, it is certainly an interesting storyline.
All the characters are actually quite fully developed. I also really like the head in-betweener (an actual job title) Fuji (the woman pictured above) who is being harassed by her mother to get married already, since she’s approaching the dreaded 3-0, and might be a lesbian? (There’s a scene when she’s drunk that reminds me of some of my friends who would suddenly be VERY GAY after a few beers.)
So, there’s a lot keeping me reading? I will likely follow this one for as long as the library buys it.