How do you create the ultimate anime? Buy the best director and the best writer and give them infinite time and infinite money? Seems like that’d be obvious, right? Obvious, but wrong.
Leaving aside auxiliary questions like how one can actually judge who the best director and best writer are, there’s a much more fundamental problem with that idea. It’s an thought I often find expressed in critical circles, that the best successes come simply from good talents being able to do what they really want, free of any constraints. It’s the ideal of creative freedom unchained and free to race around the world with gumption and gusto.
The problem with this idea is that it’s too much yang and not enough yin, and it neglects the fact that a lot of the most creative ideas of our time have only come about because people didn’t have the materials or editorial approval to try their first choice and ended up doing something totally new. And how the choice that spends the most money isn’t always the choice that’s best for a particular show. Creative constraint is the polar opposite of creative freedom, but almost as vital in the production of powerful anime.
Different anime and manga, and really all works of entertainment, have different ways of captivating their audiences. Some of them create mental mementos so strong that they last forever whether you want them to or not, and others leave light footprints that disappear with the first snowfall, but are no less beautiful.
I mentioned in our Spring Preview Betting Session that I was worried about both of these shows, as they had first-time directors handling big-budget tv productions, something that is usually a recipe for trouble. Yes, Shishiou Igarashi notwithstanding. Still, I went into both with an open mind, as I enjoy nothing more than a pleasant surprise.
Please Teacher is a show memorable to me for sublime use of natural scenery and subtle characterization overcoming a really dumb plot. It’s also one of my all-time 50 favorite anime. So this show ostensibly has a sequel or some other big franchise project (if I were a betting man, I’d put most of my funds on “anime movie version”) on the way for its tenth anniversary. This is notwithstanding Ano Natsu de Matteru, the spiritual successor it got last January.
Am I excited about this news? Well, slightly. See, I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with my favorite anime getting sequels, and I’d really have to know more than what fictional universe it’s taking place in before I get excited.
Note: Since my tastes are somewhat idiosyncratic, and I’ll be talking mostly about shows I’ve seen and loved, feel free to disagree.