A shameless and cynical long-form advertisement for Netflix’s own productions that works to undermine and belittle the artform it claims to be interested in exploring.
Rarely have I enjoyed an hour less than the one I spent with the new Netflix documentary Enter the Anime, which purports to find answers about what anime is, what it means and to whom. This is all nonsense. The film is an hourlong advert for Netflix’s own anime properties, commissioned by Netflix, with a mandate to do nothing but drum up interest in the streaming giant’s output with nary a mention of the actual titles that have helped to shape the artform over its long and storied history.
Created and presented in an extraordinarily aggravating manner by Alex Burunova, a foul-mouthed newbie apparently interested in learning anime’s ins and outs, Enter the Anime is ostensibly aimed at those ignorant or skeptical of Japanese animation. But instead of trying to convert those skeptics to the medium’s many pleasures, it instead plays up to them, communicating only in dismissive platitudes or, worse, tortuous faux-woke cool-kid shorthand. It’s bizarre and never becomes tolerable throughout the runtime.
What’s worse is the shamelessness of the whole endeavor, as Enter the Anime exclusive sings the praises of Netflix’s anime offerings like the recent Kengan Ashura and Saint Seiya, to stuff like 7Seeds, Castlevania and Rilakkuma and Kaoru. It’s difficult to defend the industry-gobbling cynicism of streaming platforms in the face of such proud self-promotion, even as someone who has relentlessly extolled the merits of Netflix and its ilk in the past. This isn’t streaming-specific, obviously. Any flagrant advertising of this kind should be ridiculed, but it’s especially egregious in a documentary film that claims to be paying homage to an art form it ends up inadvertently ridiculing.
Enter the Anime concludes, basically, that anime is a misfit subculture, which is a gross mischaracterization. Its sneering, pathetically unhip attitude is just obnoxious, only wiping a dismissive hand over the surface of anime history before diving headlong into an hour of furiously patting Netflix on the back. It’s a distasteful, ignorant and shallow piece of work with its head and heart in entirely the wrong place — the exact opposite, then, of what anime is actually about.