I've always considered myself to be a nerdy fanboy. I love all things scifi, fantasy, and anime. Though in recent years there have been a number of long-running franchises that have been getting worse and worse and worse as time went on. Some nearly completely destroying the series that I love. With the release of the new Star Wars movie, I've had some time to self-reflect on my feelings towards such deeply beloved franchises, which ultimately lead me to the decision I've made today. To stop being a fan of anything, ever.
There are so many demonstrably terrible things about the new Star Wars movies, that I won't waste my time going through all of it here. But to sum it up, these new movies destroy regress all character development made by the original cast, eliminate the accomplishments made in the original series by making it all for naught, do a cheap re-hashing of the original trilogy, place totally bland and boring (and even a Mary Sue) type characters as the new main cast, and eliminate over 90% of the Star Wars canon by replacing the Expanded Universe with this ilk. Disney is ruining Star Wars, one of my most beloved nerdy fanboy franchises. In realizing this, it becomes difficult for me to really get into any part of the series at all anymore. Now even watching the original trilogy, or experiencing anything from the EU simply reminds me of this terrible job they're doing with the series now days. However, the same could be said of many other beloved series out there, not just Star Wars.
There are numerous other big-name beloved series from my childhood that have become progressively worse with new recent installments:
(I'll keep my rant on each of them in spoilers, just so as not to distract from my main point)
Dragon Ball Z was the first real anime I watched as a kid. Yes, the anime undoubtedly has many many flaws, but overall it was something that I and many other fans thoroughly enjoyed. However due to it's success, the creators of Dragon Ball decided to milk the franchise for all it's worth by starting up a brand new series in it's stead: Dragon Ball Super. Now technically, this isn't the first time the series creators decided to continue on the story of the series when it really didn't need to be continued. They did so back in the 90's with Dragon Ball GT, and that spin-off/continuation series really F'd up the series in a number of ways. Many fans have debated for years as to whether GT was even considered part of the official canon or not. However after a brief hiatus, the series was revamped with the start of a new series to replace GT (Dragon Ball Super), finally putting the canonization debate to rest. However the series that took the place of GT was not only bad in it's own right, it was actually way worse.
Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2 were a couple of my absolute favorite videogames growing up. Yeah, the second game made the narrative a bit more confusing than it needed to be, but it wasn't indecipherable. However instead of following up Kingdom Hearts 2 with it's direct sequel Kingdom Hearts 3 just a few years after the game's release (like they did with the original KH), they instead fill the market with a bunch of stupid handheld spin-offs that make the story one of the most convoluted, confusing, and downright dumbass stories ever written into a videogame. Period. And we're still waiting over 10 years later for the release of Kingdom Hearts 3. Yes, over 10 whole effin' years later, and we still don't have the direct sequel that the developers keep promising. At this point though, they've already F'd up the whole damn story so much that I really don't care what happens in KH3. Yet I can't help but want to call myself a fan de to my absolute love towards the original 2 games.
Bleach is another big name franchise that got horribly ruined. Bleach was my go-to anime back in middle and high school. My absolute favorite. However, mid-way through the official story, series creator Tite Kubo decided to do a complete rehashing of the exact same story elements all over again. What's worse was that the anime developers were working faster than the manga author the anime was based on, so they ended up filling up literally half the anime series with completely dumb and pointless non-canon filler episodes. Some even span the length of two full seasons! Would've been better if the animators just took a bit of a hiatus once in a while, and then allow the series to make the occasional return to continue the story, rather than fill the space with a bunch of cheap fan service gimmicks that break the continuity of the story and are completely non-canon anyway. It eventually got so bad, that the anime was cancelled after a certain point, whereas the manga continued on. Mind you, this series was once part of what was known as the 'Big 3', one of the 3 most popular anime in the world. However it dropped so much in quality that the anime was cancelled, and the manga continued on with the most chaotic hot mess of an after story one could think of. The series eventually had to be abruptly ended due to lack of readers and the total decline of the fan base.
Final Fantasy VII is widely regarded as one of the most famous and beloved videogames of all time. (side note to those who don't know: each main Final Fantasy game has a roman numeral by order of it's release, but each has it's own story, characters, and setting. So 'VII' isn't a continuation of anything previously. It's it's own story entirely. Same with VIII, IX, X, etc.) However due to it's success, the game developers decided to expand upon the series with the 'Compilation of Final Fantasy VII', which is essentially just a compilation of various spin-off games and a movie. While these spinoffs aren't necessarily bad in their own way, they do add so much unnecessary additions to the story. Each addition feels very much like an addition, that doesn't at all fit with the original story. The original story was written as a closed narrative. It had a beginning, middle, and end; with no real room for or need to expand upon that. However simply because it was a successful game, the developers felt the need to make more content anyway. Now though, they've decided that since they can't add anymore content to the story, they're just gonna go back to the drawing board and completely remake the original. What's worse is that they've rendered ALL previous works in the series completely non-canon, and are breaking up the remake into multiple separate games with some additions and alterations. So now they're gonna screw up their own greatest hit for some extra cash.
Sad thing is, that this sorta thing had been done before in some ways to other Final Fantasy titles. Final Fantasy X was a closed story that had a sad but heartfelt ending that [SPOILER ALERT] had the main character Tidus die (or technically just disappear) in the end. Yet they immediately come out with a sequel following it's success that does nothing to advace the story (since it had already been fully resolved in the first one) and actually brings Tidus back to life at the end of it completely out of nowhere; thereby ruining any heartfelt impact the first game had on it's audience with his death. Final Fantasy XIII had two sequels made, being the first Final Fantasy to be made as a trilogy. Yet each sequel totally retcon's the ending of the previous story, and apart from having many of the same characters, has a story that is completely unrelated to the rest of the series. After all, the original game (once again) is a closed story. Nothing more that can be added to it that doesn't screw up the original. Now it seems that Square Enix (the company that makes these games) have adopted the notion of just coming out with each new title in the series with multiple separate segments. Final Fantasy XV is the most recent installment in the series, and yet you won't have a sufficient grasp on the story unless you watch the subsequent movie and anime that goes alongside it and came out around the same time.
Attack on Titan (which is a much more recent series, but nonetheless) is another that's gone completely off the rails. What was originally written as a one-shot manga, was later adapted into a full-blown manga and anime. What started out as a mysterious survival series about man eating giants filled with plot twists and interesting steam-punk style tech, has now devolved into 'The X-Men: Giants addition!' Each titan now has it's own special abilities, the titans themselves are less-relevant enemies and are replaced with humans and titan shifters, and we now know that there are only 9 people who can ever turn into a titan, and that each person with the ability to turn into a titan has only 13 years after gaining the ability to live. This adds unnecessarily limits to a story that originally ran on an exciting premise. Now it's all about titan shifters versus a human government. Imagine if this were to happen in a zombie series? Shift the focus entirely away from zombies, and focus entirely on warring factions of humans with a select few having special 'zombie-esque' abilities. It's no longer a zombie series at that point. However this wouldn't have happened at all if not for the fact that the series creator was pressured into continuing a story that was not originally written to be a series. It was meant solely to be a short series about man-eating titans, but since the conflict of the story surrounding the titans (based on the setting) can and is easily resolved, the only other obstacles one could write into the story at that point are man-made ones. This is what happens when you insist that a story continues past it's original intent.
I could go on with other series, but these are the main ones I have major issues with. Just keep in mind, these aren't the only ones being ruined with recent installments...
So why is this happening? Why are so many beloved popular series from our childhood being ruined by the new content that the creators produce? The answer is simply that it all goes back to money. At the end of the day, it's not really about making a great work of art. It's about making the money off the fan base. It costs A LOT of money to make things like movies, TV shows, videogames, etc. and in today's world the cost of making such things has skyrocketed. Therefore it's a much less risky investment when pouring a butt ton of money into a franchise that already has a fan base, as opposed to pouring out essentially the same amount of money into a totally new franchise that has no established fan base at all. With the already popular franchises, you're guaranteed some good returns, even if what you've created is a steamy pile of crap.
Yet the real problem is with the fan base themselves. These companies would not be making money off this garbage if it weren't for each of these series' fans. Because fans of the original Star Wars love the series so much, they're willing to pay out and go see the next movie regardless of whether it's actually good or not. They're essentially paying for the brand name, and nothing more. By paying these companies more money for their trashy content, the fans incentivize companies to make more trashy content for them to consume. The fans want more of what they're a fan of, but doing so creates a trade-off by creating more and more crappy content in a franchise that was never meant to go beyond a certain point.
This isn't really a new concept. It's what has been the driving force behind most all sequels to any series really, and so it does have it's place. However the problem in modern times is again, the skyrocketing cost to make any new content, which causes developers to take less financial risks. This is why Hollywood is chock full of remakes, reboots, and sequels in recent decades. Yet the fans continue to openly consume the garbage they create, if for no other reason then the nostalgia.
Essentially what I'm getting at is, it's easy to point a finger at the developers of such abhorrently bad content that ruins otherwise absolutely beloved franchises, however they wouldn't be developing such content in the first place, if it weren't for the fans being complicit in their creation. It's essentially fanboy culture that's to blame for this recent trend in franchise destruction. Fans will financially support whatever s**t these companies churn out, so long as it has the right brand name.
We all need to become much more conscientious consumers, and only pay for the content we truly support. That's why I've decided to no longer be complicit in this garbage anymore. That's why I am not a fan boy anymore.