By now I assume a good number of you have seen Paul “Otaking” Johnson’s fansub angry docurant. This is not about that. This is about his exceedingly idiotic post on what makes anime look good.
In his comic/tutorial, Johnson here first showcases how the anime of the 80s is superior to both western cartoons and modern anime because of the level of shading and detail used. He can have his own opinion on what looks good. That’s okay. My issue is with the fact that his opinion lacks perspective.
The problem here is in the examples he gives of GOOD-LOOKING 80s/90s ANIME versus UGLY MODERN ANIME. On the good-looking side is Top o Nerae!, the original Record of Lodoss Wars, Gunnm, and Macross: Do You Remember Love? On the bad-looking side is Naruto, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist.
Hmm, wait! Something seems odd here…
Top o Nerae!: OVA
Record of Lodoss War: OVA
Macross: DYRL: MOVIE
Naruto: TV Series
One Piece: TV Series
Fullmetal Alchemist: TV Series
All of the examples that Johnson gives here of GOOD-LOOKING ANIME THAT HAVE NOT BEEN SURPASSED are shows with HIGH BUDGETS and short productions, whereas the examples he gives of modern anime, where the SHORTEST show is Fullmetal Alchemist at approximately 50 episodes, are all television programs, with Naruto and One Piece having run for much longer. On top of that, the 80s were a much more prosperous time for Japan in general, so it is no wonder that anime would have more budget. OF COURSE those shows would have more complex shading.
Even then, this is not the only faulty point with Johnson’s FIVE-TONE SHADING rant. Johnson acts like it is MODERN ANIME which has cheapened itself to the point of using such simplistic, “Disney-esque” shading (and he’s already a dumbass for using “Disney” like it’s a bad word), when in fact the entirety of anime has been against him all along! By saying that five-tone shading is the only visual style that really matters, you invalidate the entirety of the 60s and 70s in anime. According to this, Rose of Versailles is worthless visually. So is Gundam. So is Tiger Mask and Kinnikuman and Voltes V and so many other shows because they lack multiple-toned shading and that sleek look which permeated 80s OVAs.
Even worse, the 1980s disagree with Johnson, where shows such as Votoms and Zeta Gundam also lack shading on everything but backgrounds. Hell, Johnson posts an image of Misa from Macross: DYRL as an example of SUPERIOR anime aesthetics but fails to acknowledge the fact that the ORIGINAL MACROSS TV SERIES had simplistic shading on par with shows like Fullmetal Alchemist.
It’s one thing to have a preference for certain styles, but it’s another thing entirely to tout one’s position using an “us vs them” mentality. There are no “good old days” of FIVE-TONE SHADING and to believe that it existed is to be delusional.