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D&D and Anime

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One of the most common arguments I have seen against 4th Edition D&D is that it has abandoned “pulp style” for “anime style”. Usually this charge is leveled by members of the “old school” community that seem to feel that only books listed in Appendix N can ever influence D&D. I find this charge to be ridiculous. Anime is the modern day pulp. This is quite literally true in the printed form of the style, manga.

Manga tend to be printed on cheap paper in digest sized books. Manga stories are a goofy mish mash of styles with little to no regard for scientific or historical accuracy. This was at the very heart of most pulp adventures in the early part of the last century. Manga stories, especially the fantasy ones, are often violent and tinged with sexuality. Violence tinged with sexuality is the very basis for Conan and his mighty thews. Many people express a love for the baroque, florid writing style of the pulps (time has worn away all the crappy, hack jobs). The best of manga has fantastic, expressive art. Manga, like pulp before it, is the low budget, accessible fantasy of its day. Anime is similar to the old sword and sorcery films in the same way.

Manga is the pulp of today. Having D&D inspired by manga and anime is not some grand betrayal, it is a proud tradition. This is the fantasy of today's high school kids. You cannot expect them to be constrained by seventy to one hundred year old “literary” conventions. Many of those stories have been out of print, or at least not very accessible, for years. Kids today don't know about them. In fact it would be hard for them to know about them. Why should they? They were the low budget escapism of another era, not Charles Dickens.

It is important for D&D to be grounded in the fantasy of the time. In the 1970s it was the pulp adventures dating back to the 30s. During the late '80s and through the '90s it was vast fantasy epics. These were in many ways inspired by the D&D campaigns their creators had grown up with. If fact I would go as far as to say that by the time TSR fell D&D was in danger of sinking into a closed, creativity feedback loop. Fantasy was based on the D&D model which was based on the fantasy it was based on. The introduction of the manga and anime styles is a much needed breath of fresh air.

Kids today are doing exactly what you did. They are living out adventures in a fantasy world inspired by the media they consume. And they seem to be having a good time doing it. D&D is a tool, not a religion.

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  1. Q-man's Avatar
    This is a good point that people need to keep in mind. Like any other hobby D&D needs to adapt to the times, otherwise it will fade away. If it doesn't touch on topics that are relevant to the current generation there won't be any new life to it.

    I've never heard of comparison's to Anime, but I can see how that would match. I've heard more complaints of it follow a World of Warcraft trend. Even there this same point applies, kids know Warcraft if you make the game similar to that its easier to draw in new fans.
  2. rmckee78's Avatar
    I think the anime and WoW comparisons are really one and the same when it comes to style. WoW has a very anime like art style. Of course there is a separate rule comparison to WoW that I won't deal with here.
  3. SirLukealot's Avatar
    I think the complaint that most “old school” players have with D&D 4thE is that the rules seem to encourage too much hack-&-slash type play. Don’t get me wrong a love a good hack’m up and let God sort them out session. On the other hand if that is what all the sessions are all about than that is a problem. D&D in its beginnings was meant to have much more role-playing in it than you see most of the time in to day’s games. I know Wizards has to make a buck and will take the game and go with a market that (according to their researchers) will buy more of their products. After all it is a business and they have to please their stockholders. But for me as an “old school” player, I demand more of the game. Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned but I do not want to play in a game where sex and/or gratuitous violence consistently are the center peace of a game session. I know D&D 3.5 marital is geared for meta gaming but unlike 4th E no two characters are a like. One wizard uses a sword while the other commands a sour doe bread Golem. The thing is the variety that made D&D 3.5 so complex was also it’s strength… the variety of player choice so the player can play the character he/she wants and it mean something in the physics of the game. Now I admit I am a bit partial to 3.5 (that should be evident by now), I have read up on 4th E. rules and what I found is that it is hard to tell a wizard apart from a fighter or a cleric from a paladin. They all have powers, althoug the names are diffrent, they are almost all comparable to each other. I think 4thE.'s game balance is much better, but I think it has gone so far to facilitate the “balance” that is has gone too far and lost something critical to the game, character individuality, and character flaws. The old stories of fantasy and courage and overcoming insurmountable odds (or deeds of daring do for rouge types) mean nothing if a characters can beat up the main villain at level 1! And for those of you that think that "old school" stories of epic good vrs. evil have been done to death I can only say this…dig deeper think harder and write an adventure that dose not suck! Too many DM’s use wizards published adventures that are nothing but writer dung squeezed in-between to beautiful peaces of artwork. I only get worked up a little over this because I think that with the new 4thE. has deminished D&D a small bit and I would hate to see the game "de-evolve" into something like the minature's game in the future. Well I'll get off of my soap box now and cast my two cents away or maybey a buck fifty for that one, lol.