Recently I noticed that the tag #DepressingAnime (鬱アニメ) was trending on Twitter/X, and I made a post about what sad and dramatic anime Japanese fans thought were worthy of discussion. I saw several commentators stating that the saddest and most depressing anime had to be the currently airing BanG Dream! It’s MyGO!!!!! This piqued my interest because I would not have thought that an idol anime could have had such a deep impact on fans. Let’s see if this anime is good enough to overcome its CGI anime style!
I Watched BanG Dream! It’s MyGO!!!!! What Did I Find?
BanG Dream! is a Japanese media franchise from Bushiroad with manga, light novels, mobile games and several anime series and films. There have been five anime series so far, plus several films.
BanG Dream! It’s MyGO!!!!! follows Anon Chihaya, a transfer student who played in the light music club at her old school and is looking to find a band to play in. She encounters several other girls who played in a band called CRYCHIC before its painful disbanding. Eventually, she convinces them to join her in forming a new band, as all the girls try to find a way forward with their music.
Why I Am Not a Huge Idol Anime Fan
While I am a fan of the OG 2D anime idol Lynn Minmei as well as the original Idolmaster generation, I often find myself skipping idol anime offerings. Some reasons include:
- While the girls are fun to look at and sometimes become treasured waifus, often the process of anime studios laying out a dozen or so characters, each with unique character quirks, becomes overly mechanical.
- As with all genres, idol anime can become so popular that things get repetitive unless the studios really innovate.
- The plots can feel limited, usually involving idols who threaten to quit the group but conveniently change their minds by the end of the episode.
- Sometimes the animation in idol anime can be glorious, such as Idolmaster Cinderella Girls. But the BanG Dream! series goes in the other direction, with bargain-basement “cel-look CGI” animation that I just can’t enjoy.
- Modern idol anime are often based on mobile games, which can be a turn-off, especially if they manipulate fans into bankrupting themselves with gacha pulls.
Why Do I Hate CGI Anime So Much?
As an old-school fan who’s seen pretty much all the classics, I like to think of myself as a lifelong student of animation. I’ve watched as hand-painted cel animation evolved over several decades, witnessed the first CGI animation in anime (the animation of space colonies in 1988’s Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack), and looked on as the industry switched from hand-painted cels to digital coloring around the year 2000. I’m at peace with the reality that CGI is an important part of modern anime, especially for animating vehicles and mecha.
But one thing I (usually) am not a fan of is the “cel-look CGI animation” system pioneered by Graphinica. This system tries to re-create the familiar anime that we all love but with only a computer. This animation system brought us some amazing works like Knights of Sidonia and the battle scenes from SSSS.Gridman, although things haven’t always been so great. Some examples of CGI anime gone wrong:
- The three Netflix-funded Godzilla films had an amazing story by famous anime writer Gen Urobuchi about humanity returning to re-colonize Earth 20,000 years after it was taken over by the immortal Godzilla. But the CGI animation was so bad that even Mrs. J-List asked what was wrong with the visuals.
- Some works, like the 2016 Berserk or Fist of the North Star prequel, were so jarring they brought shame to the companies and staff that worked on them…and likely to their ancestors for all time.
- Trying to animate moe style with CGI violates the “uncanny valley” and will generally not be successful. If nothing else, a story that could have been glorious if animated traditionally is turned into something that’s “just okay” and will be forgotten when the next cour begins.
Of course, I don’t hate all CGI-based anime efforts. Some — like Beastars, the Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045, or Land of the Lustrous — were positively amazing. And they clearly couldn’t have been made with standard animation techniques. Other shows, such as Kemono Friends, have so much to offer that fans are well-rewarded for looking past their simplistic animation style.
But for studios to try to take the creation of moe characters out of the hands of real artists and expect fans to fall in love with those characters is too much. And when CGI is being used for economic reasons so animators can be paid even less than their already low wages? Sorry, that’s not something I can support as a fan.
Thanks for reading this blog post about the BanG Dream! It’s MyGO!!!!! anime and my thoughts on why I generally don’t support 100% CGI anime series. What are your thoughts on the show? Tell us in the comments below!
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