Documentary length: 1 hour
Available on: Netflix
Enter the Anime is a Netflix documentary which wants to explore anime and discover what it is all about. The documentary features anime industry professionals such as Shinji Aramaki, Yoko Takahashi and Kozo Morishita whilst also showcasing anime such as Aggretsuko, Baki and Rilakkuma and Kaoru to try and discover the reasons behind anime and its popularity.
A couple of days ago, I started seeing talks of a Netflix documentary about anime over on Twitter. I decided, since I had an hour to kill I would check it out and see what’s going on with it. I got about three minutes into the documentary and I had a bitter taste in my mouth and a need to make notes and talk about my thoughts on this. I’m not one for being a rant-y style reviewer, even amongst the worst of anime I try to find some positive within it. Enter the Anime however, is probably going to be a massive rant review and I’m not even sorry. I’m not sure how many of you know this but I’ve recently finished my second year of university. I’m currently working towards a music journalism degree so the review is not only coming from an otaku but also, a budding journalist who knows about the do’s and don’t’s of journalism.
Enter the Anime starts off with the “host” of the documentary discussing that they know nothing about anime or otaku culture in general but they want to become an “anime expert” within a year. Not only that impossible but you shouldn’t do a documentary about something which you know nothing about and if you do want to learn about something you know nothing about then it has to be well research, well informed and unbiased. This documentary was anything but well research, well informed and unbiased. To top it all off whilst reading up about the documentary afterwards, I saw discussions on the fact that the women you see in the documentary named Alex Burunova isn’t the one narrating and in fact they decided to bring in an actress named Tania Nolan to narrate it. Why? Just why? Normally documentaries which have a featured journalist on camera will also narrate the thing. I’m not even sure if we hear Alex’s voice within the documentary which just makes the b-roll of her matched with Tania’s narration even weirder.
The documentary is mostly made up of edgy b-roll shots and cringy editing and topics of interest and importance which are briefly touched upon before completely abandoning them to move on to the next important topic. Everything from kawaii culture to anime music to the serious overworking problem in the industry could have a whole documentary to itself. Enter the Anime did each topic a complete injustice by just skimming over it casually. I found that especially with the overworking problem since that is a huge issue which needs to be talked about more. Not only did the anime do a lot of topic skimming but it would also jump from one thing to the next without any coherent plot or connections. One minute they would be focusing on Toei Animation and how it is a very child oriented studio in terms of the content they create before they would completely change directions and begin talking about how badass anime music is only to really discuss the Neon Genesis Evangelion opening and not much else.
The interview content throughout just seemed, kind of lazy. I know from experience that putting interviews together isn’t the easiest thing in the world especially when you’re dealing with language barriers. But, most of the interviews seemed kind of pointless and I only got a few pieces of interesting information from the range of interviews they did. For example the 7Seeds interview seemed really fleshed out and interesting as they showed behind the scenes footage of how they go about CGI animation but then you would also have interviews with one of the minds behind B: The Beginning and for some reason they made it an interrogation, and they were asking him a range of really pointless and seemingly random questions such as his favourite colour and what he last searched for on Google. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the “time traveller” guy. Also this scene which I’ve included a screenshot of below made me want to die from the cringe.
On top of the lazy, unstructured interviews the documentary went with the angle that despite how reserved, polite and respectful the Japanese are as a culture, the minds behind most of these anime are “crazy” and “deranged”. That seemed rather insulting and unnecessary as these “deranged” creators are no more deranged than similar creators in places like Hollywood who come up with extreme concepts such as that of Saw and the Human Centipede. Sure anime and manga has its fair share of mature and disturbing content but calling someone “deranged” because they have made a more violent and bloody anime made for mature audiences makes no sense to me whatsoever especially with the examples they were using.
Enter the Anime also felt like one hour long advert campaign for Netflix and their anime original series. Any clips of anime which were used throughout were usually from Netflix original series which made the documentary feel like it was living in a world where no other anime exists. Most of the interviews conducted were from individuals working on Netflix originals such as B: The Beginning, Aggrestuko, Rilakkuma and Kaoru and Baki. The documentary portrays over one hundred years of rich and ever evolving anime history and squeezes it down to Netflix originals which have only been going for a couple of years. Now don’t get me wrong, Netflix have done some fantastic original series which myself and many others love but that doesn’t excuse the fact that everything else in the anime sphere was basically ignored because they don’t have the license to it.
In conclusion, the Enter the Anime documentary didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I feel that the documentary gave use very little in terms of genuine and educational content which is no benefit to either the already established anime fans or newcomers who may have stumble across the documentary looking for some info on the subject. The documentary didn’t do anime and its industry justice as there is so much to learn about Japan and its various subcultures and industries. The topics were all there but the execution was so poor. I would love to see in-depth documentaries about anime and why it is the way it is, kawaii culture and how it all began as well as the issues the anime industry is facing. I just wish Enter the Anime had been that kind of documentary instead of what we actually got.
Overall rating: 2/10
Until next time thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a great day!
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