I went into Enter The Anime on Netflix not really expecting to suddenly become the expert on all things anime, but at least to come out of it having learned something new about Japanese animation.

I may not be much of an anime fan myself, and I wouldn’t call myself an otaku, but I still grew up on it (and still watch it from time to time). My favorites are Fate/Zero and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, so make of that what you will. I’m more of a comics guy anyways.

This new Netflix exclusive documentary film is purportedly an effort of a non-anime fans’ attempt to explain the popularity of anime to other non-anime fans. I’m sorry to say Enter The Anime fails at doing that.

Instead, I found it to be a cringe-inducing self-indulgent piece of content that aims to promote and glorify the anime that are exclusively available and streaming on Netflix. It doesn’t take an otaku to figure that out just ten or twenty minutes into the documentary.

It’s definitely suspicious when director Alex Burunova is supposed to dissect the anime culture and discuss it as a whole, but instead only interviews animators and directors of anime streaming exclusively on Netflix.

In Enter The Anime, Burunova interviews Castlevania director Adi Shankar, LeSean Thomas of Cannon Busters fame, Baki director Toshiki Arano, Aggretsuko director Rarecho, Toei Animation chairman Kozo Morishita, and many others.

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Precious little of them really offer great insights into anime and its place in global pop culture. I was especially fascinated by one from Cannon Busters’ LeSean Thomas, in which he said:

“I feel like as an American, Japanese animation as a medium, as an art form is a truly trans-genre medium. They have animation content for toddlers, to young boys and girls to teens and adults to porn.”

Enter The Anime tries to delve into the world and history of anime but merely scratches the surface. It explores a bit of the role of music in anime, and the many niche subcultures spinning out of anime, but they’re skin-deep and basically just simplistic observations.

It’s not all bad, as the documentary featured Neon Genesis Evangelion fans will appreciate Cruel Angel’s Thesis singer Yoko Takahashi appearing in the documentary, though she doesn’t really provide anything to the overall narrative.

There are also snippets of interesting pieces of information, like how Toei Animation was based on Disney and formed after World War 2 to give hope to children, as well as how Kawaii culture started in the 60s as a form of rebellion to adulthood and authority.

These are what the entire documentary should have been full of, but instead what we received is one full of anime fluff. You’ll leave this documentary knowing a bit more about the anime currently streaming on Netflix, but almost nothing about the wider world of anime.

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Heck, even the director herself admits multiple times throughout the duration of the documentary how she doesn’t really understand anime. She often makes dumb observations and asks inane questions. Lost In Translation, this is not.

Look at how she describes animators and manga artists here:

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Or seeing her prance around like a typical gaijin tourist lost in Japan.

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She finally sums up anime with the following words at the very end:

“The thing that unifies anime and makes it special is the way it makes you a part of something bigger than yourself. How it accepts you into this crazy community. And the way it makes you feel like you’re not alone. Made by misfits, for other misfits.”

Sure, that could apply to anime. At the same time, her statement is so generalizing that it can even be applied to various other industries, like comics, gaming and more. For a documentary that’s titled ‘Enter The Anime‘, it’s all pretty pretentious and presumptuous when it should have been unbiased and more encompassing.

I literally laughed out loud when the credits rolled. This sentence popped up like it wasn’t obvious to anyone who was at least ten minutes into watching this documentary.

“All anime titles covered in the documentary are available and now streaming on Netflix.”

Enter The Anime is an hour-long product placement ad masquerading as a documentary, blatantly promoting only the anime exclusively available on the streaming platform. Netflix could have done much better. I’m not even a self-professed anime fan, and I noticed all this. What would a true anime fan feel when watching this farce?

Enter The Anime is now streaming on Netflix.


 

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