@captainN2 i like anime, i like hentai. its all very progressive in my opinion. i like japanese culture a lot for being daring with their content compared with the conservative cartoons and other censorship in western culture. Hope that never changes.
One of the best points this article makes is about western gamers. "Western game fans and creators alike to brush off this trend with glib, often borderline-xenophobic disdain. Ho-ho, Japan's so wacky and backward, no wonder it's failing" So true.
Meanwhile, the most interesting and creative games are STILL coming out of Japan, and are ignored by the xenophobes. Platinum releases Wonderful 101, a game that by all rights should be showered with accolades for it's depth and innovation, but instead is met with indifference. Meanwhile people are obsessed with the latest Battlefield, a stale and bug-ridden game.
I'm not a big fan of shallow moe games either, anymore than I'm a fan of the stale, shallow AAA games from the west. But a lot of the best games continue to come from Japan, even if it is mostly in the portable arena. But I enjoy portable gaming, so I don't mind. It's not necesarily because they are technologically backwards, it's because portable systems are all the rage in Japan and consoles just aren't as popular anymore.
@MHWilliams I can see that side of things, but I don't really think that we can call 18-49 males a niche market in American comics like moe-infused games coming from Japan. The article basically calls it a subset of a subset because of the ever-shrinking domestic market. In comics, 18-49 males are (sadly) all that industry knows.
Also agree with you about the New X-Men run if we're being honest. Still better than the post-Claremont 90s, but like a lot of Morrison's stuff to me, it's better concept than execution
@captainN2 While I agree with your overall statement, and I agree with your criticism against Nomura, I am also annoyed when people bring up some random work and say, "What happened?"
Personally I never got into Lone Wolf and Cub so I don't hold that up as some pillar of amazing storytelling. I understand people who do. I'm not saying it's bad. I'm just saying it isn't a refection of all anime or manga at the time.
Wacky hair has been used to define personality of anime/manga characters since the medium was invented. It isn't some recent trend. If anything, they had wackier colors in the 80s, where now, everyone typically has normal colored hair.
Sex and cute characters have always been a major staple in manga/anime. It isn't some recent trend.
And yes moe is annoying, but it has ALWAYS existed. It just used to be Harem anime. Then someone realized along the way no one cares or like the hapless male lead so why not just remove him and focus on all the cute girls.
I'm in my 30s, I grew up with the same stuff and I can be as bitter and curmudgeoned as the next guy, but the idea that anime/manga has suddenly gotten crappier because of moe is a huge misconception.
Chances are you just aren't looking in the right places.
The issue of demographic appeal is different from the issue of creative success.
@kidgorilla Marvel's gotten much better over the past two years and five years before now DC was doing better. I can honestly say I enjoy Bendis current All-New/Uncanny run more than New X-Men. Though Morrison added a lot to the universe a re-read over his three volume run shows an uneven story, like his recent Action Comics run.
That said, the point is outside of the past two years, Marvel and DC were aiming exclusively for a single demographic: 18-49 year old males. DC still hasn't learned, but Marvel's trying new things with Marvel NOW.
@MHWilliams I'm not sure I agree with that. Compared to the decade before it, the last ten years of DC and Marvel have been creatively light years better. Can you honestly say that any X-book in the 90s was better than Morrison's run on New X-Men?
I think cash strapped capcom stating they are pumping $40m into mobile gaming tells you all you need to know about the Japanese games industry.
They just dont know how to appeal to the mass market anymore.
Solid article, and the opinions of the USG team are pretty interesting.
For me, who has been on various sides of the Japan gaming fence, being first a "Love all games!" guy, than a "Moe and quirkiness is the shit!" through "Story first: Gameplay Second."
But at this point--- I mean, I dunno. I'm totally apathetic to the moe stuff anymore: it's just too blatantly commercial. While I recgonize the billion dollar industry that is gaming, the moe stuff, in my eyes, is simply far more transparent than, say, hulky Americans who shoot up worlds and don't give a damn about themselves probably being the bad guy.
But honestly, I'm pretty bored with just about all games anymore, and while the western market may be more successful I really can't see it keeping up with this increasing bottle-neck of conservative game-design. At this point I keep an eye open for games from Suda 51 and Platinum, and that's really about all. They're the only guys consistently putting out titles that challenge the norm, and keep gameplay the 100% priority of their games, which sure is refreshing in this super boring period of hired novelists for game-scripts, way too long cinematics and cut-scenes, and "emotional conveyance," which wouldn't be that bad if it didn't come at the point of sacrificing fluid gameplay 95% of the time.
Fingers cross that Tango Gameworks joins my meager list, but outside of them--- gaming just blows all around anymore.
(Indies are cool though, but I only play them when they inevitably go free on PS+ :P)
@dimasok "Western culture" as manifested in games and cartoons has many faults and shortcomings, but upskirt drawings of 11 year old girls is Japanese culture at it's worst. If that is what you'd like to preserve, then by all means. But I don't have to respect you for it.
Ehmm no thanks no need to clean up Akihabara. I don't want Japan to turn into the disgusting Western culture.
Well. I'm reading the old manga classic "Lone Wolf and Cub" right now. As I'm flipping through the gorgeous pages, the entire time I'm thinking: "What the hell happened?".
As many early eighties kids, I grow up under the vast cultural influence of japanese pop culture. The games and anime were right there as the representation as maybe the coolest and most visually striking entertainment I could imagine. And I look at the games now, and that includes Final Fantasy and "Tales", and it's clearly not for me anymore. Clearly! Not at all made for someone in his/her late twenties - early thirties, and especially if he's from outside of japan.
It's sad because I miss being wowed by japanese artists and the unique perspective a non-western society brought to storytelling and design. I grew up with that pop-culture and as such I am pre disposed to liking it. But I see nothing building on the legacy of yore from either a visual or narrative standpoint.
Even beyond the atrocious influence of Moe and the many awful social and cultural implications that carry, I find the whole Tetsuya Nomura/hair-centric/catwalk aesthetic an equally strong sign of the cultural death and perpetual naval gazing Japan is suffering from.
There was a recent quote from Nomura where he talked about using the various hair styles as a means to reinforce the characters personalities. It's such a clueless remark. The only thing you're suggesting when all your characters have eccentric haircuts straight out the catwalks, is that everyone in your world is overtly concerned by their outward appearance and the latest fashion developments. How am I supposed to believe that someone is a badass and a strong-willed independent spirit, when they clearly spend an hour each morning in front of the mirror before heading out? I just can't take a bunch of adventurers seriously if they all look like a pre-teen centric pop band. Pardon my french but why would I ever hang out with a bunch of shitheads like the cast of Final Fantasy XV? I'd go on an adventure everyday with the sky pirates from Laputa or the hunters from Cowboy Bebop. I'll be a biker punk in Akira or just hang out in the police department of Ghost in The Shell. But I'd never want to spend 2 seconds with "Noctis" and his boy band crew.
@Funny_Colour_Blue Yeah, Pete, do you mean stacked flat or connected end-to-end?
@Natabuu Ben Judd.
The problem is when so many of them are catering to the same group.
"It's a pretty safe bet that no one who worked on All The Bravest was like, 'Yes, finally! This is the amazing video game I've always wanted to create!'"
I laughed, I cried.
Warning: Rant Incoming
Moe style only bothers me because you so seldom see anything else nowadays. It's all "cute" and lacking in detail. A severe lack of the gorgeously detailed stuff from the era of Macross Plus, Ghost in the Shell, or Cowboy Bebop. Not to mention, it's never cute when these adorable little girls have Double-D Cup ta-ta's. That's just perverted (I'm looking at you, Senran Kagura. And, like, HyperDimension Neptunia)
I'm happy to have seen the Japanese industry put out some quality product on consoles again this year. Stuff like Ninokuni & Tales of Xillia were big, big releases - plus, Sega brought us Project Diva F, which I frickin' love. But there are still too few teams who want to learn new tricks, and marry it to their artistry & gameplay. Xillia, for example, for as gorgeous as the aesthetic may be, is still built like a "Super PS2 game" at it's core. In the same year when we saw GTAV push open worlds up a notch, it's super depressing when you wander into a "city" in that game, see repetitive NPC's NOT MOVING, and taking forever to even fade into view.
Of course, there ARE teams interested in tech and more mature art directions. You can look at Team Ninja's games, Kojima Productions, or most content from Platinum and see technically accomplished, confident teams who can put out product that equals that from any other dev. Plus, weird, lovable devs like Grasshopper, Marvelous AQL (who absorbed Cavia), From Software and Access Games who are slowly but surely getting themselves up to speed with the rest of the world, technically. Time & Eternity also was a nice, ambitious try by Image Epoch.
Until Japanese devs universally decide to accept middleware, and move beyond their mastery of PS2-era tech though, this will continue to be tough for most of 'em. Which is why the handhelds continue to thrive and get content from developers. Which is fine. I personally would just like to see more efforts on other platforms - consoles AND PC's. And larger productions beyond the "Super PS2 Games" we see in titles like Ragnarok Odyssey & Ys Celceta: Sea of Trees.
I thought it was rad that Mark Cerny and Sony's Studio Japan got Puppeteer & Knack out, by the way. I may have read too much into that, but I feel like that was about completely recalibrating their Japanese teams. The Last Guardian's rocky production must've really gotten to them if they had to call in Cerny.
I'm happy with what Japan has put out this year for sure. But I am certain they have much more to do. There's still a resistance to new tech, middleware, and looking outside of the country to see how other developers do things that I want to see erased over 2014 and beyond. I also sincerely hope their attitude towards "keeping down" indie developers changes, because there's definitely an interest there. Whether we're talking about games like Kamui Hikae or bigger productions like Mighty No.9 and Project Phoenix, there's SOME talent there for sure who wants to do bigger things, but can't do it traditionally. If the doujin scene is willing to adapt to newer tech, than perhaps the veterans should move on, help them out, and "let them in the club".
Can't wait for 2014 though! Tales of Xillia 2, Persona 5, Xenoblade 2, Metal Gear Solid V, Psycho Break/Evil Within, Bayonetta 2, D4, Majin Station, Lily Bergamo, Drakengard III, Mighty No.9 and more are all games I'm looking quite forward to, and should all be really, really cool games regardless.
"not to mention a backlog of PS3-era JRPGs that stands almost as tall as I do" you'll definitely have to share this list sometime.
...and who's this classy fellow?
The saddest thing about J-gaming is that every time it seems a corner has been turned and good news starts to accumulate, the other shoe drops HARD and we're in a worse position than ever.
The recent news mobile revenue doubled and leapfrogged traditional gaming leading to a deluge of stomach-turning news bites of "Breath of Fire VI", the rotting bulk of SE going heavily mobile, and the like comes to mind.
Hey, it's Mielke!
The moe stuff doesn't typically appeal to me, but doesn't typically bother me that much, except that it makes it harder to justify products I enjoy (like the recent Stella anime) to people who might not understand the memes.
I watch a lot of NHK World, and it creeps me out how the host pervs out about things like, and I'm quoting here, "the gap between the top of the kneesocks and the hem of the skirt," which admittedly can be kinda hot, but not in the case of the middle school age characters he was discussing. ;)
You can see a similar contraction during the last ten years of the American Big Two comics market.