Repetition once again

After my post about the original Pretty Cure, which mentioned the show’s use of repetition, cinco_bajeena reminded me of repetition’s gradual rise to thematic prominence within the story itself.

Unlike most other iterations of Precure, most of the time, the original series frames saving the world as an increasingly heavy burden. The show avoids bleakness, but as it repeats and ramps up its threats we ask ourselves: can Black and White go on? They do, of course they do. But our question about repetition makes them more heroic.

In fact, the ending song stays aurally peppy but has lyrics which quietly talk about wanting to be able to focus on normal teenager things rather than saving the world. That idea comes to a head in the forty-fifth episode, in which the heroes’ class at school picks the ending song to sing in a choir competition—yes, haha, very reflexive—and the plot brings heroism’s burden to the fore. It’s not radical, but it’s well done.

While I was gathering notes, Nick Creamer published a brief, pointed article prompted by Doremi. Like many people, I have my reservations about Crunchyroll, but it’s good to see Nick writing pieces like this’n on their site: the world needs more accessible writing in broad-audience venues which ranges beyond late-night anime. While I’ve never quite gelled with Doremi myself—one of the many character flaws which invariably get me cancelled by taste-havers—it deserves wider attention.

Anyway, that article brings up the ways in which kids’ anime has its own seriousness. This topic is awkward: I sense the risk of sounding like I’m saying these kids shows are so DARK, man. And I don’t mean that.

I mean that they sometimes have a refreshing interest in a real breadth of experience including, yes, loss and mortality. Plus, we might note in passing, they pitch themselves at an audience which accepts cartooning and high tragedy in the same title, even in the same episode.

In some ways, the mere trappings—giant robots, what-have-you—say less about such titles’ nature than the simple fact of airing time.

I write this as someone who will also take up the cudgels for Jin-Roh and ‘Jinsei Best 10’. No one needs to spend all of their anime time watching repetitive shows for kids. But those who spend none miss out.

From the final fusion sequence in GaoGaiGar

Stock or bank animation offers the most acute and total kind of repetition. The re-use of whole sequences of animation isn’t restricted to kids’ shows, of course, but it does quite closely correlate.

Stock animation gets a lot of stick. I think, though, that it has its virtues. When the stock itself is well-made, it guarantees that any given episode will give us something exciting and interesting to look at. Seeing that something repeatedly, we get time to bask in its intricacies. When watching this sort of material, I think an emphasis on originality fails. We shouldn’t constantly pursue novelty.

Repetition: it’s a good thing.


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