Another issue I had largely dismissed as irrelevant until a friend pointed it out to me is that some people are put off by anime. Titles like Avatar are hurt as well as helped by the label. That’s another example of how it’s become a loaded word for some people. Some people who like Exalted like it because of its anime inspirations, others like it despite them and play up the Greek myth side more, and still others dismiss it entirely because of the anime slant. (And amusingly, Andy has mentioned that the Japanese publisher of WoD–Atelier Third–found Exalted just too overwrought for Japan).
My ideal model for drawing inspiration from anime and manga would be Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s comic, Scott Pilgrim. There are a lot of elements that are reminiscent of manga, but if he was inspired by Japanese comics, he’s fully metabolized them and he’s doing what he wants to do with them. No imitation, self-consciousness, just a kickass comic. (Also, Scott Pilgrim needs an RPG).
Anyway, this time around I’m going to post my thoughts on what things in anime I think would make for really neat RPGs. (Though there are some more that I’m going to save for future installments of “Role-Play This!”).
- Horror Heroes: While Japan does have a tradition of scary-as-hell horror stories, there’s also a genre of anime about good guys fighting the to protect us from the supernatural. These range from deadpan titles like Blood+ to the wackiness of Phantom Quest Corp.
- Miyazaki: Hayao Miyazaki’s animated movies are in many ways unlike mainstream anime–deliberately so–and they have captivated audiences of all ages. I’d love to see one or more games try to capture some of Studio Ghibli’s modern fairy tale feel. Yuuyake Koyake is probably the RPG that comes closest.
- Postnuclear: In Japan the atomic bombings of 1945 have been so politicized that no one has really made any effort to confront those issues directly in art. Instead, anime series like Yamato and Evangelion express the repressed feelings and urges while studiously avoiding real-world blame. Bliss Stage‘s scenario starts with some of the same end of humanity nihilism, but I’d like to see a game that tackles these issues more directly.
- Sekai-kei: Sekai-kei is a genre that focuses on a relationship between two young people, juxtaposed with the end of the world. Jake Richmond’s The Year We All Died is very much based on Saishuu Heiki Kanojo, but The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Voices of a Distant Star, Iriya no Sora UFO no Natsu, and Evangelion are all considered part of the genre.
- Otaku: Dramacon, Akihabara@DEEP, Aoi House, Genshiken, and Megatokyo all show different ways that stories about obsessed fans can make for interesting characters. I want to see a game with the otaku troubleshooter agency angle of Akihabara@DEEP, and the zany, exaggerated, and deep setting sensibilities of Megatokyo.
- Sci-Fi Western: I want to see a totally over-the-top Western with sci-fi elements a la Trigun, and maybe some fantasy gun magic like in Kurohime.
- Shinigami: At some point someone needs to write a pretentious essay analyzing the Japanese fascination with shinigami, or “death gods.” In the meantime, I want to see an RPG that draws on stuff like Bleach, Death Note, Soul Eater, Shinigami’s Ballad, and so on.
- Super Robots: This is the other end of giant robots: cheesy, cinematic, and bold. The robot is an extension of the hero’s blazing heart. Gurren Lagann is the most recent example of the genre to make a splash.
What about you?
In Other News
The layout of Maid RPG has begun. I got to see a sample today. It’s directly based on the original Japanese sourcebooks, and I really like how it looks so far. Andy’s been plugging away at the editing too, so while there will be a lot of rushing around on everyone’s parts, it looks like things are on track. Also, I’ve been poking at my own Maid RPG material (tentatively titled “Maid RPG 120%”), mainly putting together a table of scenario seeds covering old west, reality shows, superheroes, and more.
I’ve started playing with WordPress’ “pages” feature. There are now pages for “About Me” and “My Games.” I didn’t realize I had SIXTEEN different games in various stages of design (from a mere idea to a more or less final draft). Sigh.