“Moshi Moshi!” — Telecommunications in Anime (Part 1)

As a medium, anime has been improving over time in both quality and imagination. It all becomes breathtaking and attention-seeking all the while becoming weirder at the same time. No real anime fan would settle with a single reason to tell you, a potential newcomer, why they still watch anime today.

Just about any given anime show has more aims than I can count with my own fingers. The two biggest aims everyone (who are aware that they are indeed watching anime) never stop talking about is fiction/fantasy versus realism. And when anime as a medium gets better with age, everything presented by it happens to age as well.
Technology is without a doubt, one of the most important background aspects in any given show.
Is this show set in the past, real time or the future?

We all have seen a good chunk of technological evolution with our own eyes, and luckily even for some of the Hikikomori, they will also see it in anime thanks to the influence from the outside world!

In this post I would really love to talk about a few things regarding…

 

Telephones

 

In anime, a telephone is not affected by timeline set within a given show. In most cases their appearance and functionality are directly affected by the timeline of our real world. There definitely are exemptions which is why it is good to pay attention to little details in any show you watch.

Dragon Ball (1986) is set in the ‘future’ but apparently the phone is immune to time.

 

If you are born before mid 2000’s, there is a really good chance that you find yourself slyly smiling every time you meet something that scream nostalgia.

Take this one for example, Toaru Majutsu no Index is a 2004 light novel and on top of that has its timeline a few decades into the future; yet Index still calls Touma with something from the 90’s.

Which is the real brick here—the phone or Index’s head?

 

Original source materials which have been created before mid 2000’s tend to overlook mobile technology, authors’ lives are pretty much what the real world was, hence slapping what we now call brick phones into their products—a timely integration.

During the old times when mobile phones were definitely not an option for mere high schoolers—an undeniably popular trope for characters and settings in anime—your best chance at finding any non-adult characters speaking on the phone would be when they are at home or inside a phone booth.

He’s not getting my name out of this convo.

 

Telecommunications in anime is only a few years behind real world, but surely the gap gets smaller as time goes on. Also note on how the three examples I have used above are all true fiction and/or fantasy; none of these shows are trying hard to be realistic in the aesthetics department. Integrating real world’s current state into shows’ settings is fantasy genre’s least concern.
Is it coincidence that they are also not of slice of life genre shows?

 


Other side of the fence

 

Mid 2000’s, specifically late 2004, was when another instance of evolution for mobile phones took many of us for a funtastic ride of experience. You are more than welcome to call it nostalgia (as it is for me, too) but let us not forget that there are people born after this period. The thing about nostalgia is that even the people born a few years after the time of evolution’s impact could still be riding it with us.

For example, when we used to rave so much about this thing below…

Dat VGA camera yo! Dat FOUR TIMES OPTICAL ZOOM yo! It plays videos, too!

 

Mid 2000’s kids were practically in the same ride as 80’s adults and 90’s teens, but none of that matters.
Let me go back to talk about anime!

Flip-top mobile phones took over the market during mid to late 2000’s but not quite 2009 (you have this phone to thank for killing its popularity outside of Japan). The effects from this change translated over to the anime medium sooner than anyone would have thought. Since then we should start to see a lot of high schoolers with their flip-top phones, exchanging their e-mail addresses via IR technology!

E-mail addresses can be lengthy and witty so IR ports save time.

 

The thing with text messages in Japan is that they are much preferred in an email form instead of SMS. And this is the one realistic aspect properly transferred from real world to anime. Well done, people!

Back when smartphones were not a thing, every mobile phone sold in Japan has a special email address associated with it that you create when you initially get the phone / your contract. This one comes from the provider and is somewhat different from “normal” email addresses.

I’m not too sure on how Japanese telecommunication services screwed up the market but e-mails are pretty much part of your month data package, in other words they are pretty much free! Japanese people opted for this option when communicating, to the point that it became a common practice which leaves SMS for cases like ‘missed call’ type of notification.

Because we have jumped to the other side of the fence, let us also look into anime shows leaning towards slice of life genre.

Slice of Life is obviously best known for being natural and best of all relatable because parts of our lives can be greatly represented by the ‘slices’. This would mean there is indeed a need for authors and possibly their surrounding peers to carefully integrate whatever they deem current into their works.

Top slide phones quickly lost some of their popularity not long after flip-top phones emerged.

Azunyan’s popularity goes with her phone.

 

Japanese people—both in and outside of anime—continue to message others via e-mail no matter what kind of phone they still have in possession. This trend can be seen from works as early as 2004 to as late as 2013. Unsurprisingly, a lot of shows from this period tend to not have characters with their attention glued to their mobile phones, something we cannot say for this generation, because…

 


Aren’t we smart?

 

Once again, thanks very much to this phone for heavily pushing the mobile phone industry forward. And anime wasn’t really going to leave themselves behind on this.

From the period as early as 2010 we begin to see works including a standard of all sorts of things with touchscreen and smartphones happen to be the biggest addition of all.

I’m aware that I’m late into writing a post about this topic but do forgive me because I started truly keeping up with anime in 2013! Take this chance and go back—look at the good old times of your favorite show and witness the impact change in real world has on anime.

Let me give you one good example: Detective Conan
Would you just look at the technological evolution inside itself?

The influence real world technology has on the show went…

 

From brick…

Moshi Moshi 24/7

 

…to less brick…

7afa2813816a9322d6cc9c2c1ddb6aa8.png
*Types “konnichiwa” with the number pad*

 

…to smart.

“Moshi Moshi” no more.

 

The increase in a mobile phone’s (oops, smartphone) functionality would naturally change ways in which we communicate, and likewise how some of the characters communicate in long-existing anime we love.

 


It is also a starting point for many

 

Don’t you dare forget that new anime shows pop up in each and every season! I have noticed that evolution of technology can really lead humans into doing things differently, as if we are the tools and not the other way around. This is much more apparent to shows starting from as early as 2015 as we begin to see majority of conversations between at least two important characters done via smartphones.

Consider yourself saved from this hell if you do not watch romance/drama/slice of life shows or a combination of all.
I don’t think I can go about this in a passive manner so excuse my French…

Because original content creators now have a common practice of using smartphones for communication in their innate minds, a negative side effect can be seen from the period of 2010’s onward as more and more unsociable characters are spotted everywhere within the anime medium. I remember that being unsociable was not a common thing—it was a special trait for anime characters, close to that of a disorder. Now a lot of them are too shy to talk with other people face to face; it gets even worse in straight up romance shows because whatever happened to getting a hold of ‘his/her e-mail address with all of your courage’?
One thing that has never changed is actually that — “I got my crush’s ID/number!” *cheers* (this was actually a thing as soon as mobile phones existed in anime).
But the ways story writers go about it are really getting lazier and that is hugely thanks to a smartphone’s capability—there is enough impact to the story and its characters shall it tries to be ‘realistic’.

Text messages used to be read and sent once in a while because you were usually too busy doing something else important. But today we have anime shows where characters legitimately spend their valuable time getting red faced over a few hundred black pixels.

Now, unless you are not watching slice of life shows, you are guaranteed a chance of running into new characters in anime where they spend more than half of their screentime reading their phones and converse with others through that mean.

Ena's single, yo.png
Here is your standard ‘single’ starter pack — a smartphone and a trip to the cafe!

 

Look, I really like Komiya Ena but this is how technology has influenced some anime writers today. Even for someone who is extremely sociable as her gets reduced to an almost-boring character when most of what the show(‘s writer) does with her is having her text people. Do you remember how easy it was for Ena to get Eita’s LINE ID?
She practically turned the straight up romance’s trope of ‘getting her crush’s number with courage‘ on its head.
Then come on, Ena can be better than this!

And now that I think about it, Hakuzi is really a good representation of ‘old tradition’ — her house is old, she is pretty much out of fashion and she definitely spends the least time on her phone compared to the rest of her friends. Maybe I should start giving more shit about this show, Just Because!

Well, this is what slice of life is all about, right?
Being ‘realistic’ and all, even the association with “Look-Down” generation.

 


 

Whoops, I’d promised my fellow bloggers on Discord that I would be writing a happy blog post because I’d wanted to balance out the negativity from my fifth anime challenge rant…

Sorry, I screwed up.
Worse off, I’m not even done with the rant yet but I will let you take some rest until I return with the second part.

 

…I need a rest, too.
Thank you for sticking around and read this pile of nonsense! See you soon! ^_^’

 

| Part 2 >>

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3 thoughts on ““Moshi Moshi!” — Telecommunications in Anime (Part 1)

  1. It is really great to see how anime (and other TV shows) reflect changes in technology. I find it partiuclarly amusing when sci-fi shows end up looking dated because even though they might still be set at a future date the current technology has already overtaken what the author imagined.
    And yeah, slice of life and romance shows have definitely changed how characters interact and a lot of characters are spending a lot of time lying on beds staring at their phones. There’s definitely a questions of how long someone will watch someone else stare at their phone before they start staring at theirs and getting distracted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly I was about to praise Just Because! for enhancing instant messageing presentation but as soon as I look at older shows, especially at how the characters from those shows communicate, it quickly switched into a rant because I’m not exactly happy with how even anime has got from that point to ‘here’.

      And exactly, your last point is probably soon going to become a serious question stuck on nearly every slice of life shows set in real time.

      Liked by 1 person

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