So over the past days during my weekend I was thinking about what I want to talk about, until I came up with (at least to me) interesting idea how to categorize anime in a way it doesn’t tell you simple black and white good and bad but a more nuanced way.
The Anime Matrix
Based on a similar matrix called the political compass, I thought of a way to put anime into perspective.
Beginning with the Y axis you have a spectrum going from (top) a serious tone, to (bottom) a less serious or light tone. This refers to the intentions of the creator. A movie like Ghost in the Shell would be very high at the top of this spectrum while a lighthearted comedy like Nichijou would be closed to the bottom. This doesn’t tell you about the quality however which is why…
On the X axis you have a spectrum on how well the anime was executed. The more left the less well executed the anime was, the more right the better.
Which brings us to the 4 squares. The red one says ‘Pretentious‘, meaning the show tried to be serious but failed because of something making it a poorly executed serious anime. An example could be Mars of Destruction which is one of the worst anime ever but tried to be serious.
The green square south west is called Trash and just generally refers to any anime which is just mindless but fails to be entertaining. I don’t have an example for now (but will add some candidates of mine here later) so just think of any show that didn’t try to be serious but also wasn’t good in being light hearted. (well maybe something like Vividred Operation could be considered here)
On the right side we have both Art and Fun. While fun is easy to pin point, it is basically just shows which are very entertaining but also well crafted at doing so. Example could be Baccano which is more on the light end of the spectrum but was also very well made.
Art is something that might not be easy to pin point at first but it is basically something that takes itself very seriously, has a consistent tone and also is well crafted. A good example would be Mushishi, which is not particularly fun to watch but is more a piece of art.
Now to some of my picks this season:
Wixoss clearly tries to be serious and also does it quite well. It is not perfect and also not super serious. Chaika also falls into the “art” category, while ‘art’ surely doesn’t suite all as a description it basically means well executed serious show. Chaika is less serious however than Wixoss but is pretty well executed. Unlike Mahouka which lies in the realm of pretentious. Not that ‘pretentious’ is the one and suite it all description but you get the idea.
Akuma no Riddle lies somewhere between absolute trash and absolute pretentious. While it tries to have this serious tone, it throws in all those stereotypical shit and ecchi and fan service and fetishes etc. It just does it all very badly.
Dragonar is a guilty pleasure. You know it is shit, but you still kinda like it. It is somewhat serious as it tries to have a plot but also throws all this fan service at your face. Similar is No Game No Life, which is better executed than a mediocre show like Dragonar however is also less serious as it does not only rely on ecchi fan service but otaku pandering, breaking the 4th wall and reference humor. On the furthest right is JoJo as is encompasses everything you have to do in order to create a “fun” show, a show which relies more on entertainment than on deep thought. It’s so over the top and campy but also extremely well made in its own right.
This all of course is debateable as this is merely a beta version of this Matrix. Feel free to use it yourself, expand it and put in your shows!