Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The influence of Anime

I was sitting around watching TV the other night with my girlfriend.  She was browsing through Netflix, and start looking at the the Anime selection.  She put on a couple of difference shows I had never heard of, and I was quite surprised to see they were all fantasy related.  I've never been a huge anime fan, though I've seen my fair share of the stuff, mostly the classics like Macross and Akira.  I've never watched any fantasy related anime.  After watching a hour or so of these shows, I began to wonder how much fantasy themed anime has influenced younger generations of tabletop RPG fans.

Looking at Appendix N from the 1st DMG, I see a lot of material that is well before my time.  People my age were inspired by things like Clash of the Titans, the movie versions of Conan, Willow, Sword of Shanara, Thieves World, and yes, Dragonlance.  I expect that kids today are influenced by more current works of fantasy (such as Harry Potter) than the older stories, just as I was in my youth.  I'm certain that fantasy video games are a huge part of that influence.  Another big part of that may be anime.

The thing that I always note about anime, is that the characters tend to be over the top.  The main characters seem to have nothing normal about them at all.  The tend to be destined to greatness, demi-gods, or psychotic. This is quite contrary to the picaresque themes seen in the origins of the fantasy RPG movement.  It makes me wonder if there is a fundamental disconnect between different groups of gamers based on their influences, and if major changes in D&D rules over the years are just a reflection of these differing influences.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, absolutely. I actually remember very clearly a discussion with a friend during the 90s where we decided that anime was "clearly" the appropriate style for RPGs.


    For fantasy flavored anime, you might want to check out Escaflowne or Berserk. And of course all the Hayao Miyazaki films. Record of Lodoss War is also basically just an anime version of a not terribly original D&D setting. I definitely think the over the top nature of anime protagonists have influenced games, especially Exalted (which I have never actually played but have read), 3E, and 4E.

    I actually don't think Harry Potter has had all that much influence on tabletop RPGs, but giant interminable fantasy series like The Wheel of Time (which used to be my favorite books during high school) and A Song of Ice and Fire definitely have. And The Lord of the Rings, after the Jackson movies.