Monday, July 4, 2011

Judging anime based on cultural differences

I learned a big lesson last night while watching anime.  While I like to think that I don't judge anyone no matter what the case, Dance in the Vampire Bund showed me that I do tend to be a bit judgmental when it comes to certain topics.  Having watched the entire first disc of that anime, I'm now realizing that I could stand to be a bit less judgmental.

As I said previously, Dance in the Vampire Bund has some very uncomfortable scenes.  Those scenes involve a centuries old vampire that just so happens to look like a young girl.  Things get truly awkward when the series starts exploring the relationship between this vampire princess and one of her bodyguards.  She teases him in certain ways to try and make him flustered...but I think it's the audience that finds themselves in shock.  Audiences outside of Japan, that is.

Indeed I was shocked with what I was watching, and the first such instance of these uncomfortable moments lead me to believe that this anime wasn't for me.  At that instant, I was willing to dismiss the entire story because of these odd moments.  It wasn't until I put some time between me and that viewing that I realized I was coming at things with an American perspective.  That's not exactly the best way to approach any anime, let alone this one.

There are all sorts of cultural differences around the world.  Something that seems commonplace in the states may be truly peculiar in another part of the world.  The same goes for Japanese culture as viewed by Americans.  There are just certain parts of everyday life that we might find odd, but that doesn't mean we should shun the people.  Rather than try to understand where the Japanese are coming from, tons of people just decide to block their culture out.

Obviously, there are things that Japan accepts that will never fly in the states.  While they aren't as big as they used to be, there were indeed used panties vending machines.  That would simply never, ever happen in America.  I'm sure many of you find it weird...and I do as well.  That said, it really shouldn't be our place to judge what the Japanese do in their free time.  It's just part of what goes on over there, and so long as it hurts no one, just let it be.  You don't have to understand or like it, but I think it's important not to judge an entire culture on a few quirks.

That's exactly what's going on with Dance in the Vampire Bund.  These moments of uncomfortable situations shouldn't define the entire series.  It's clear that FUNimation felt that way.  They saw the story shine through, and they wanted to see if American audiences would be accepting of that.  There really is an engaging, touching story being told here, but you have to be willing to set qualms aside to get to it.

Do I think that the uncomfortable content in Dance in the Vampire Bund is necessary for the show's enjoyment?  I think the ideas put forth in the anime could have been handled in not-so-graphic ways.  I also think that some of it could have been removed completely.  That would be my decision if I were creating this series...but I'm not.  I did not put together the anime, and the content on that Blu-ray was not my artistic vision.  It is what it is, I do not care for that aspect of the show, but I'm willing to let this cultural difference slide.  Doing so has shown me a wonderfully intricate and endearing anime.


  1. I don't think it's wrong to feel uncomfortable with certain scenes. You're not judging anyone by saying it's not something you feel good about watching.

    Still, it's probably sometimes hard to watch something that you like so much, but has scenes that leave you feeling uneasy.

  2. Yeah anime has a weird fetish with panties I must say <-<