They say the only constant is change.
It’s definitely true for fashion – never would I guess tight pants could come in again – and I can see it for social trends. Online dating is a thing now. Youths actually want to wear glasses. And nerds like me wear the title like it’s something we earned at a world-famous sports competition.
But what about creativity? Can the actual style of content creation evolve over the years?
You’ve Never Seen Jazz like This
Last month I attended a work conference in New Orleans. It was a huge event at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, an impressive concrete structure nestled along the even more impressive Mississippi River, filled with infinite cavernous rooms and infinite corridors to access them.
It’s hosted annually by an international company many universities pay to use a popular student, HR, and finance software solution. And every conference closes with some world-famous speaker or entertainer.
New Orleans being the jazzy place it is, this year they invited some guy (or a kool kat???) named Trombone Shorty.
Okay, I figured after hearing his introduction, I suppose he’s good, unsure whether to clap or snap a finger (I actually witnessed the finger snapping at a bar the night before). Thinking about what I know to be jazz, my mind drifted to something slow and peaceful, something you sip wine to in a fancy restaurant or a gloomy bar. Turns out the audience claps after all.
Then the place goes silent, I lean back and wait, and am blown away by this kool kat’s very entrance.
He runs on stage as spotlights flare, revealing a full band of drummer and guitarist and saxophone… ist, holding aloft a trumpet in one hand and a trombone in the other like they were two great weapons of conquest – I half expected an even greater warcry – and proceeds to play these instruments in a way I had no idea they could be played.
Shorty marches across stage in time to his upbeat tune. Shorty crescendos with kicks of his leg like he was playing ball on stage. Shorty pumps his hands in the air and gets the entire crowd to stand up and join in. I almost fell off my seat with the action, being out of touch with jazz for so long.
Clearly this ain’t your daddy’s jazz band.
If we look back about 20 years ago I’m sure Trombone Shorty’s creative style of playing would never have existed, and growing up in the arts he probably evolved into what you see today.
It had me wondering, what other creative styles have evolved?
Anime on Another Level
And thinking about it now, I have observed this evolution the most in anime.
Sure, I’ve felt it for a long time now. Old classics like Samurai X, Cowboy Bebop, and Neon Genesis Evangelion look like washed-out drawings of art. Even their stories feel slow and outdated. Compared with juggernauts like Naruto/Boruto that is packed with kick-ass fights drawn to perfection. Attack on Titan that just knows how to pull at your heartstrings with shocking scenes of ambition and gore. Cyberpunk Edgerunners that is just so memorable with that right mix of technology and music.
But it was only after seeing Trombone Shorty did I really step back and acknowledge it.
My most recent appreciation of this was in the remake of Trigun Stampede. The quality of the art, the camera angles of action, the graceful poses just for getting on a bike, helmets gleaming at the right moment, and of course the classic wind that blows exactly when needed.
Like that scene where Wolfwood first reveals the burden wrapped in rags that he’s been carrying, he swirls it around and aims it with so much style you have to wonder if it’s a destructive weapon or a musical instrument. It even looks like he’s about to tune metallic guitar strings.
Anime characters have always been cool, but this is just ridiculous – in a fun way. Imagine what anime will look like in the next 20 years or so.
Now I’ve also seen this type of evolution in novels and video games, but I chose to talk about anime because it impacted me the most recently. You’ve probably seen evolution in other types of creativity – poetry, comic books, art, gardening. Let me know.