Tokyo 24th Ward finale – Shūta, Ran, and Kōki fight their way past traffic gone mad and building security systems with enormous holes in them to reach the heart of the Kanae System, where they behold what’s left of Asumi, argue with her for a while, and finally give into the inevitable. Then Asumi suddenly discovers she had the ability to die all along. Also it becomes clear that this whole mess could have been avoided if someone had just told Mr. Suidō what was actually going on, rather than developing increasingly elaborate plans to hide it from him.
Eventually everyone decides that the answer is now crowdsourcing, so maybe season 2 can be about the biases inherent in that. Or maybe we can all walk away and let this show die gently now. It started with admirable ambitions to illustrate the very real pitfalls of trying to use big data to drive policing, but it has absolutely flubbed every attempt to educate the viewers. It’s just centered on the wrong people, and every time it did try to go into the poorer parts of town to show the effects, it wound up falling back on stereotypes about the criminal poor instead.
What I’m saying is, anyone who has time to watch this series also has time to read Weapons of Math Destruction instead. The book doesn’t have all the pretty art, but it’ll do much better at explaining the problems with big data for anyone who’s interested.
And with that I close out a bit more than 9 years of simulcast anime commentary here. I feel like it’s been an entire era of the anime industry. When I started doing these posts in 2013, streaming anime was still coming into its own. I occasionally disqualified a show from consideration for the season lineup because it wasn’t available to enough of the English-speaking world. Anime fans who previously relied on torrents were buying subscriptions, enticed by the idea that it would get more money to the artists creating the shows they loved.
Now the media giants have taken notice. First Amazon, then Netflix, then Disney have gotten into the anime distribution game. Once ad-supported free streams were common, but Crunchyroll (now owned by Sony) putting all new content behind a paywall starting from this month marks a definitive end to them. Time and again lately, we hear that pay scales in the anime industry have barely budged in decades. All that new streaming money still isn’t reaching the people at the bottom— not the animators, or the translators and dub artists who help bring it to the world.
Anime has truly arrived, but it now faces a problem of too much success, leading to burnout, declining quality, and slipping schedules. The fact that we’re wrapping up the winter season two weeks late, that three of the five shows I’ve been following had to skip a week at some point, is emblematic of that. There is not much we as international fans can do, other than to give our patience and support to industry workers when they demand better.
I am eternally grateful to Steve Davidson for giving me the chance to do this, and everyone who has ever stopped by to see my thoughts. Thank you all for reading.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re grateful for Petra’s participation and for opening a window into Anime for our readers. We’re sad to see her go, and wish her only the best!