Hello and welcome back to Otaku Thursday. So, this Otaku Thursday is special–not only is it gonna be a special throwback edition (aka, get ready to remember an era from the past), this post has been written and scheduled in advance. Which, yes, we should be doing regularly anyway, BUT this week it’s because this Otaku Thursday, we’re at day 0 for Sakuracon. I know Star has been providing you with some of those excellent con crunch posts, and boy have we been living it. So now it’s time we get our rewards and return to con! (Mask and hand sanitizer in hand). So that’s what we’re doing. But today, I’m going to be talking about something I think about often: abridged. Or rather—the era of Abridged. What makes a good abridged series? Why was it so popular? Well, I’m going to explore some of these.
The era was mid 2000s. The location, the internet. Anime was hitting its stride and great series were coming out left and right and trickling it’s way into our every day lives. But it wasn’t cool just yet—no, this was the era of the weebs. The hidden nerds, sometimes cringe, spending hours watching anime on a streaming site, learning new emo songs from AMVs. People were living. And it was around this time that the first abridged series’ released onto YouTube. And what anime was it? A classic. A show readily available on either the WB, 4kids, or cartoon network: Yu-Gi-Oh!. Now, the popularity of this abridged series is definitely what set the precedent for future abridged series, though perhaps none as long lasting as the original (which apparently still has some fans to this day). But what made this first abridged so popular? Well, I have no concrete answers but I do have some ideas and fingers that can’t stop typing.
First off—the platform. YouTube was still in it’s early forms during the mid 2000s and many of the content creators—especially ones who would go on to become YouTube legends—had this vibe to them. Slight crack energy, very random, unabashed, and there to have fun. This vibe carried over into the parody of Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged, with many humorous choices being very random or slight crack energy. But it wasn’t too over the top surprisingly—unlike some other Abridged’d that’d come after it. The energy it brought into the parody was hilarious. It’s what makes a good parody. Which part of its popularity was also that it was a GOOD parody.
Now, what do I mean when I say that? It played on parts of the show and characters that made sense. Take for instance, Tristan’s voice change being a joke in the abridged to address the actual voice change in the tv show, the 4kids jokes, and breaking the forth wall. Excellent ways to take what we already know. It also points out flaws in the original show in characters and plot lines—something that future successful abridged shows like DBZ and SAO would do as well. It pointed out the flaws in anime logic as a joke to poke fun at. Most successful parodies I see do the same. After all, it helps keep the thread between beloved source and abridged parody. When there’s nothing familiar or things get ballooned to extremes for comedy, it’s often not funny. Which is why I think a lot of other abridged that came out after tanked or wasn’t as popular or funny. The crack energy was too much and the jokes were too far fetched to the point that some fans couldn’t get the humor. Sometimes they just weren’t funny enough. Because remember, without a genius comedic mastermind behind it like Little Kuriboh, jokes can fall flat when catered only to the creator’s humor.
But you know, even when I think about the popular abridged series’, I look back and think — damn. That was dumb. Like dumb dumb. And why did I and still find some of it funny? Well, to that I would want to refer to my The Vampire Dies in No Time post where I mentioned that sometimes comedy is just so dumb that eventually you’re going to laugh. At the stupidest thing. And wonder why it’s so funny. That’s how I feel watching any abridged series I really liked back in the day. It’s crazy.
But you know, the days of the abridged have mostly ended. It’s faded away into the ethers of the internet. Probably because the audience who was there at the beginning have aged out of the material, and newer audiences just don’t have that same humor or even connection to the source material. The mid-to-late 2000’s abridged fad has faded. Is that a good or a bad thing? Well. In my opinion it just is. But no matter what, a good abridged embellishes on the source material in some manner or another. And that’s pretty impressive if I may say so myself.
Anyway, that is all for today’s Otaku Thursday throwback musings! For the rest of the weekend Star and I will be hanging out at Sakuracon, cosplayed as Vanitas & Noe, Lavi & Kanda, and Itadori & Gojo (from the ending theme). If you’ll be at Sak and happen to find us feel free to say hello! We’ll be posting on our Instagram.