The Written, the Animated and the Recorded
Well, I think the post title itself gives a good portion of the post’s substance away; but to hell with that, let’s plow on!
This is another one of those posts pulled from the depths of the icebox of my Iphone’s notes, which in turned was pulled deep, deep out of my ass about 6 months ago. It’s a post I’ve actually been wanting to do for a while now and after feeling guilty for not posting in ages, I’ve decided to break the seal on this one and enjoy writing it (I do take pleasure in churning out a good, long post).
As long as I can recall (which, frankly, is not a great deal. I honestly can’t remember what I ate for breakfast when it’s lunch), I’ve always had a preference for the written work over the other forms of media. To absorb a painstakingly constructed plot and to ease the consumption like a book can is a sensation that no other forms of media have yet to let me experience. Something about holding a physical copy of fiction and to slowly work your way through it at your own pace just clicks with me.
Thus, I’ve decided to write a post today to explain why I watch such a scarce handful of anime over the huge amount of manga I read. I’ve been asked that question a fair amour after all
It’s not a secret that I love reading manga. It’s probably what I spend most of my time on now (well, possibly excluding Starcraft2, gaming in general or sleeping) . Back when I was a few years younger, it was the same exact thing with me and books. I would prefer books over watching the television (unless it was Looney Tunes. That show was my childhood). To quote my mum: “Once that boy opens a book, he’s lost to us until his stomach reminds him that he needs other things to survive”. Embarrassingly enough, that holds a great deal of truth to it. When I begin reading, I don’t stop until I feel completely satisfied with the novel or when nature’s process (say, the urge to have a leak) tear my attention away from the book.
To get the process moving along, let’s being peeling back the layers of this behaviour of mine. I’m quite sure that’s there’s quite a large majority of folks out there that can empathize with me on this.
One of the best things I love about a book is the convenience of reading it. It’s so handy to be able to carry a physical copy of something and enjoy it anywhere. For me, I tend to forget things when I don’t have a constant reminder of it or unless it has a (significant) importance to it. What this means is that whilst it is also very convenient to store a few episodes of anime on one’s smart phone and even though I own one, I tend to forget about it completely. I’ve tried it once with Infinite Stratos. I put 3 episodes of it on my IPhone with the intention of watching them before I went to sleep, on the car journey to school and in school. I only managed to watch 15 minutes of it before my lethargy dragged my body to rest and that was that, I forgot about it till the following day. On the other hand, the weight of a good novel in my slingbag (I always bring one with me where I go. It’s so useful for storage) reminds me of the book’s presence and tempts me to read it; oh so subtly. I suppose to sum this up, it’s just easier to enjoy a book on the go (of course, it’s a lot easier to listen to an audio book on the go but that’s a different thing altogether).
A book also has a ease of reading it. When you’re watching a show or any other form of moving visual media, you’re forced to watch it at the pace the creators set it at. Of course you could speed it up but it ruins the mood and causes all the actors and actresses to start speaking like one of the chipmunks from Alvin and the Chipmunks. However, with a book, you’re your own master! You set the pace at which a book is consumed! You could read it at a page a day if you preferred or you could digest an entire 5,000 page novel in one sitting. You can even flip back to previous pages without feeling a little odd (I know I feel a little odd when I rewind anime. It’s unexplainable). Also, when watching an anime or television show, you’ve got to set aside quite a bit of time to watch the show. You’ve also got to be in front of your selected choice of display, be it a computer or television. It limits the places where one can enjoy and appreciate such media. Of course, with the advent of smart phones, one can watch them anywhere but I think that watching it on the go ruins the mood. If you’re on board a crowded and noisy bus, with any random stranger standing behind you looking over your shoulder, sneaking a peep at your screen, you feel awkward and it ruins the enjoyment you get out of the show. Conversely, if you’re reading a book, who really has the patience and tenacity to read a novel at long range, especially if its in a small font? A book has the magical ability to weave a whole new world in your mind, to suck you into the book itself, and let your experience the plot as if you were there itself. It’s an unexplainable phenomenon that only books seem to be able to do (for me anyways). It cuts off all stimulus from the outside world and gives you tunnel-vision, with the book itself being the crux of your thoughts. That means a book can be fully enjoyed anywhere and at any time (well, I lied a bit about this. It’s not advised to read a book all the time. Say, when crossing a road or perhaps when operating heavy machinery or firearms. That could end in all sorts of bad.)
One of my previous sentences also links to my next point. A book can weave and create a whole new world in your mind. One of the most obvious drawback of reading a book is that you clearly cannot visually see the events that happen or the characters for that matter. Everything is all given as raw resource for one’s rampant imagination. Your imagination deftly constructs every detail from a book. Who needs alternate reality systems when we’ve got books? They accomplish the same for me. It’s a great, almost orgasmic sensation that I get when I indulge in my imagination. They say the human mind knows no bounds in its thoughts and those chaps know exactly what they are talking about. They’ve hit it right on the head of the nail.
Nonetheless, the animated has their own strengths too. Firstly, you can’t exactly have a soundtrack when reading a book. I love music and I crave it whenever there’s silence or when I wish to block out all other noises (say for example, loud chatting on the trains). Of course one can listen to songs as you read but they won’t fit the story too well unless you’re really lucky. Normally, shows and anime have a soundtrack that’s meant to convey the emotions and subtitles that the short length of an episode can confer. It also sets the mood up for the audience. Book don’t have that. I think they’ll be wonderful if they did but I think that’s just silly to try and implement.
And of course, the most obvious point would be that they are visual (well, duh). Although I’ve said that a book lets imagination do it’s arcane magicks with the books’ substance, it’s still in your mind. Sometimes, we do need a literal and visual stimulus to set our brain running. I’m a great fan of art and good pictures so of course I do like having visual stimulant when I want to enjoy a good plot. Of course there’s books with pictures but I’m usually about 10 years too senior to really enjoy reading them (although no one can shit on the Hungry Hungry Caterpillar. It’s a good book). Thus I do like my fair share of shows and anime.
To conclude all that logorrhea (thanks @tumescent4math for this new word that relates to me), both the animated (movies, shows, anime) and the written (manga, books) both have their strong suits and their own special flair that they can bring to plot. I’ve even manage to slip in a bit about audio although it was rather scanty and all over the place. I still prefer manga over anime for those reasons (All them words to discuss this one point) and written media over anything in fact. However, they’re all still enjoyable and all forms of media can accomplish what they’re meant for, to convey plot, emotions and thoughts to an eager audience. So does it really matter?