I work in video games, which means I can’t escape anime. Japanese videogames, although fading in relevance, are still influential to the global industry and will remain so for at least the next ten years. Japanese games take their cue from anime, and together, they create an entire culture of floundering, intellectually-insulting narratives.
Like a child mimicking an adult at work, the Japanese anime writer imitates the ostensible results of real writing without understanding the deeper levels of thought put into the art. The result is a random collage of imagery and themes; mythology, angst, love, betrayal, fear and pride, to name just a few, are thrown together yet unsurprisingly fail to develop a deeper insight of the human condition, much less a coherent story arc. The anime writer knows only images and sensations, mimicking the ups and downs of a legitimate narrative, but failing to capture the necessary germ of a ‘story’. The result is emotions strung together with no purpose or vision. In anime, one scene rarely leads logically to the next –character motivations change dramatically for little reason, and the plot invariably degrades into esoteric nonsense right at the denouement, where a real story makes its most profound discovery.
The following quote is taken from the Wikipedia entry for Neon Genesis Evangelicon, a very successful and influential anime.
The interpretation of the symbols and concepts varies from individual to individual, and it is not clear how many are intentional or meaningful, nor which were merely design elements or coincidences. Anno himself said, "It might be fun if someone with free time could research them."
‘Anno’ is the writer and creator, and admits freely that he doesn’t understand the imagery he used. By calling the symbolism ‘design elements’ the wikipedia entry identifies the crux of the issue exactly: this is essentially how anime treats story, as a design element. If something sounds good or makes for a compelling image on the screen, it’s included in the story, regardless of whether it contributes to a meaningful arc.
Anime is a cultural phenomena, the causes of which are surely too complex to ascertain with certainty, but are at least in part fueled by the ignorance of children and the autism of otaku.
The future of interactive entertainment may be bright, but for now I can only anticipate the day when anime is as niche to videogames as it is to cinema.