Letters: anime, music, women in blockbusters, RSS feeds

Our letters page is back, and we're chatting Mad Max! RSS feeds! And lots of anime!

How long has it been since our last letters page? Too long is the answer! It must be time for a new one!

Here, then, is the slot where you can write us old fashioned letters, and we give you answers. It’s how things used to work before pesky Twitter/Facebook/too much coffee took over.

Here are your latest missives – details as to how to write in can be found at the bottom…

ANIME PLEASE

Dear Den of Geek

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I’ve not written an email to you before, but I have been a trusting user of your site for science fiction guidance and inspiration for some time now.

I write to suggest a new area for increased focus by Den of Geek, the rich seam of creativity that is anime!

I know that Den Of Geek do recognise the contribution of anime and have written articles about anime series in the past and more recently topics including the proposed live action version of Ghost in the Shell etc., but as anime is such a varied art form I would really enjoy reading more articles on this topic, not to mention I would value your expert opinion!

By way of explanation, after feeling that I had exhausted Netflix’s science fiction films and TV series during the summer, I was looking for something new to fill the void and stumbled upon the Netflix anime section.

Here’s what I’ve found out so far.

Anime is often considered to be a genre in its own right, but really it’s a medium, the use of animation allows for a wide variety of expression and styles, covering everything including folk tales, physiological thrillers, dramas, science fiction and fantasy (some of which contain pretty serious horror and violence).

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Most commonly the stories involve kick-ass action and the most epic of fight scenes. Anime offers unique takes on the age-old good vs evil fight which can be refreshing to those who weary of the predictable nature of current western entertainment. The animation styles also vary, but they are always visually striking and often use film-like camera angles which result in slick productions.

The short length of each episode (25-30 mins) means that the characters and stories have to be engaging and fast paced from the outset, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked. As an obvious point, anime are usually adaptations of well-loved manga and as the current popularity for the adaptation of comics into TV and films is set to continue, branching into anime seems a very logical next step for the same fans. All this not to mention super-catchy theme tunes!

I can only speculate as to why anime doesn’t receive more attention than it does. There is still the belief that all ‘cartoons’ should be for children and cute and cuddly, a lot of people struggle to see beyond this.

There are certainly some themes / topics which are not particularly palatable to western tastes and have led to a tainted reputation, particularly among those who don’t really know what anime is or what is encompassed by that term. I would suggest that every medium has its unsavoury aspects and should not be disregarded as a whole solely on this basis it can be misused. Many of the un-PC themes in anime are no worse than those featured in well regarded 80s movies (I reference your articles on Labyrinth and other creepy films which we adored as children and still do).

One of the most challenging aspects of a lot of anime stories is the role and depiction of women, which by current UK standards is stereotyping at best and downright degrading at worst. However I believe that these attitudes are changing in both the viewers and the authors, and that more discussion and a wider audience will see changes in the longer term.

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Anyway I don’t want to go on too long, but I hope that the above inspires some of your writers to express their opinion of anime in future Den of Geek articles.

Thanks for your time and thanks for being Den of Geek.

Ali Robinson

Ryan writes: Thanks for your letter. Anime’s definitely something we’d like to cover more regularly on the site in future. As you say, the sheer scope of it makes it a medium and not a genre; in the west, we only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sheer volume of anime and manga enjoyed in Japan. Over there, you’re just as likely to have an anime series devoted to cooking or baseball as you are giant robots or alien invasions.

I think the problem, at least in the UK and the US, was that only a narrow selection of anime has made it to our screens in the past, leading to a somewhat blinkered perception of what it can be. For example, Manga Entertainment did a great deal to popularise anime in the UK, but the focus on things like Urotsukidoji, Crying Freeman and Fist Of The North Star led to the mainstream media cliche that it was all violent and chaotic.

Thankfully, the internet means it’s easier than ever to see what a broad church anime really is. We now have everything from One Piece to Attack On Titan to Space Dandy; I even stumbled on a football anime while flicking through channels on TV the other day.

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As for the way women are treated in anime, there are certainly plenty of examples of this, but conversely, some great female characters have emerged from the medium, too: Leona and her pet tank Boneparte in Dominion, Major Kusanagi in Ghost In The Shell, the title heroine in Nausicaa: Valley Of The Wind, and too many other Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki films to list.

The difficult with anime is not so much finding something great to watch, but knowing exactly where to start!

RSS FEEDS
Den of Geek logo with RSS icons

Hello DOG, Merry Christmas and a happy new year etc etc. Thanks for another year of [redacted] articles on your site.

I’ve got an RSS feed question. I use Feedly each day and sometimes notice that the “All” feed (listed as Featured Articles on Feedly) doesn’t actually include everything. For example today it’s missing the Detectorists and River Song Articles that are in the TV feed. Am I using the wrong RSS feed? I don’t mind skimming through them all but just wonder about it from time to time.

Thanks very much,

Mark Champion

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Simon writes: Good question! I’ve got no idea!

All of our RSS feeds are found here – http://www.denofgeek.com/feeds – and all articles should spit out through them. You sent your mail just before Christmas, and so I couldn’t go back and track those two pieces you mentioned in particular. What’s likely to have happened though is that they went up a little later in the day, after the Den Of Geek Morning Refresh Of Doom (DoGMRoD).

We shall fire this one over to our crack team of technical gremlin exterminators, just to be on the safe side, though.

WOMEN HEADLINING MOVIES

Do you agree with me that it’s a bad thing that women are getting lead roles in franchises about men? Don’t you think it’s tokenism for Mad Max, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ghostbusters to be headlined by women?

Peter

Simon writes: No.

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GEEKY MUSIC

Hi DoG,

The thought occurred to me that you’d never (as far as I could recall) done a feature on geek music. TMBG are arguably the most obvious source of regularly geeky output, but it was fairly easy for me to compile a load of geeky tunes from my own music library (link: https://open.spotify.com/user/thisleenoble/playlist/6mlgxIsob3TKf9Xa92doYP).

Would you consider curating your own playlist for fellow geeks to contribute towards? Perhaps give mine a listen while you’re prepping for the DoGMRoD one day?

I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions too as I’m always trawling for new songs to get addicted to for a concentrated period of obsession before casting them aside. The first one on my playlist (Barbarians by The Burning Hell) I only discovered this week and I think it may well be up your street as it seems to be a joyous rendition of the legend of Thor.

k, thanks, [redacted]youbye

Lee

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Simon writes: Not a bad plan, that. Although given my music collection centres on the likes of the Crocodile Dundee soundtrack, I may be the wrong person to help.

Who else would be interested in this, though?

And that’s it for this time! Keep your letters coming in, and we’ll hopefully have another round-up a bit sooner…

Send your letters to denofgeek@yahoo.com. Or write to Den Of Geek, Dennis Publishing, 30 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JD. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope if you want us to send you your letter back once we’ve read it.

Previous letters pages can be found here.

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