An Hour Long Netflix Promotion
My first experience with anime came as a child when I discovered Dragon Ball Z on Cartoon Network (now Toonami I believe). The fast-paced action and soap opera shenanigans had me hooked and since then, I’ve always been a big fan of the medium. With this in mind, Enter The Anime is a documentary I cannot recommend to fans or newcomers to the genre. Between the failed attempts at being edgy, smattering of swearing throughout and blatant advertising for Netflix exclusive animations, Enter The Anime fails to address any of its own ambitious and interesting questions.
Narrated by filmmaker Alex Burunova, Enter The Anime markets itself as a documentary film aimed at newcomers to anime. It’s also a documentary that’s intentionally designed for those who’ve previously sneered and turned their noses at animation too, with constant references to Instagram and hip “woke” catchphrases peppered throughout the film. With tiny snippets of anime’s origin and a whole host of promotion for Netflix’s most recent animations, Enter The Anime feels more like an hour-long advertisement for the streaming platform rather than an informative, interesting documentary exploring the history of the medium.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Netflix. I’ve defended the streaming giants numerous times, regularly praising their innovation in this industry but even I found myself turned off by the amount of product placement here. Whether it be the Netflix logo pillows, Netflix logos or Netflix-exclusive animes solely explored, Enter The Anime is unashamedly biased – especially given Alex’s confession early on that she was hired by Netflix to shoot this documentary. It’s even more frustrating as there’s some interesting ideas, including a question about climate change’s influence on the medium before it’s distorted into a promotion for 7Seeds.
It’s such a shame too as with Netflix’s global influence, this could have been a great opportunity to present the history of the medium. With no mention of Pokemon, Cowboy Bebop, One Punch Man, Attack On Titan or many, many other titles that have shaped this style of animation over the years, Enter The Anime feels criminally under-developed and at worse, a perversion of the industry it’s trying to promote.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some stand-out moments here and seeing the computer animation coming to life or the painstaking effort that went into creating Rilakkuma and Kaori are testaments to the love and care put into this projects but these moments feel far too infrequent in a documentary that sporadically jumps all over the place between different animated titles with little rhythm or consistency.
With a final, almost unashamedly disrespectful message that anime is (and I quote from Alex’s own mouth) “Created for misfits, by misfits”, Enter The Anime fails to show the true power of Japanese animation and only further reinforces the misguided assumption that anime is a quirky animation aimed exclusively for a select group of people. Enter The Anime is one of the worst films I’ve seen this year and a real missed opportunity to show the true majesty of anime.