As much as I am loath to admit it, anime isn’t an objectively superior form of entertainment. It just happens to be MY entertainment of choice (along with video games) and pretty much the only thing I watch unless somebody else makes me watch live action.
There have been many tags and general essay posts going around the community since way before I was around that delve into topics such as Why I Like Anime or What Has Anime Brought to Me ect, which try to figure out why we’re all drawn to this very peculiar medium. At the end of the day, most of us just like it…because we like it. At least, that’s the case for me. But if I have to pad that reason just a little bit more: I like anime because I have an easier time identifying with it.
As a medium, I just find it easier to relate to than a lot of other forms of entertainment (except perhaps video games, but that’s not fair as they force you to take an active part in the story and therefore more or less force you to engage with the narrative). But just saying I relate to anime is still a pretty flimsy answer if I can’t actually tell you how I relate!
I have a sinking feeling this may reveal way more about me than I’m comfortable with. I guess it way too late to worry about TMFI at this point! This blog is going to get me in trouble some day…
Please see, the op 5 Reasons I Relate to Anime
5 – Non verbal storytelling
I like clues, mysteries, hints. And I am a pure disaster when it comes to reading between the lines. No seriously, if you want me to know something, you have to spell it out like I’m a 4-year-old, or a robot. In fact, play it safe and pretend I’m a 4-year-old robot. Also, I stray from the point a lot when I write.
This particular element applies to animation in general. Animated works allow for a much higher degree of control and decision making. Everything from color to light to the sound and pitch of character’s voices is an active decision and independent of the constraints of using an existing actor or having to deal with set construction or design. A fantastic alien landscape costs the same to put on screen as a simple bedroom.
As such, everything becomes a viable way to convey information to your audience. And for a pattern seeking and loving person like me, that’s a real treat. If I like an anime, I can delve into layers upon layers of potential narrative or even meta narrative that just wouldn’t be available in a more conventional format. So even though I may not pick up on hints in my real life, I love a medium that lets me read into things at my own convenience to the ridiculous degree I want!
4 – Unobstructive background morality
How am I going to explain this? Every society tends to imbue its own values into the fiction it creates. I’m not talking about actual morality tales where the narrative itself imposes a “right” or a “wrong”. I’m talking about the more abstract associations we make with certain traits or behavior that become an almost subliminal message due to repetition.
For instance, heroes (good people) don’t lie. In western media, this is almost a blanket rule. Whenever a character does have to resort to bending the truth, no matter the motivations, it generally means they where either in a desperate situation, they have some type of compromised morality, intellectual/mental issues or they are just plain villains. This is why the Golden Compass fascinated me so much. The heroine’s propensity for straying from reality as not only presented as a neutral trait but often used to her advantage. I thought it was amazing.
Well, in anime I have not seen quite as many of those general morality calls. Heroes can be greedy or selfish. Villains can be magnanimous or caring and still not get redeemed. Maybe it’s because my own upbringing and social background is blinding me to the judgement calls that are being made since I don’t have the proper subconscious associations in place, but to me this is refreshing. It’s also a bit empowering. It means that I get to decide what makes good or bad for myself. I like to respect the art I take in, and I appreciate when it respects me back!
3- Small stakes
Anime is unafraid to tell small stories. Tiny little stories that shouldn’t matter. And to take those little stories very seriously. Because when it happens to you, those things do matter… I’m not sure if it’s because of the cheaper production or of the sheer amount of anime that gets made every year, but I have always found that anime has a greater tendency to tell more personal stories with limited stakes.
Sure, Seinfeld was a hugely popular show about nothing, but that was the hook. It was the tagline. It was unique and unusual for a series to follow generally mundane events in the lives of characters that weren’t particularly special. And it was still outrageous and exaggerated half the time.
In anime I can see stories I realistically could have lived. Characters I recognize because I know people just like them. Small lives with nothing special that don’t make a huge impact but whose stories still deserve to be told. Small people like me, we like the small stories.
2- Value of Effort
I love passion! LOVE it. I have so little patience for apathy. The whole shoulder shrug, it is what it is mentality, drives me insane. I’m not sure who decided it wasn’t cool to care but they set us back so much! Caring is awesome. Trying is admirable. I’ve seen so many shows and movies where the main characters are special, chosen, unique!!! They can simply show up and the story unfolds by virtue of them being themselves.
Well pooh to that. I am and will always be considerably more impressed by the guy who puts in the work, who pays their dues. Even if they fail. I find effort inspiring and even comforting. That means we don’t need to rely on the unpredictable nature of luck. It’s going to be alright, we’ll work though it one step at the time.
More than any other medium I’ve encountered, anime consistently insists on and glorifies effort. There’s nothing shameful about having to study really hard or practice at a sport you’re not as naturally gifted in. There’s nothing shameful about failing and learning from your mistakes. I find this message is more readily available in anime, and I like it!
1- Self -depreciation
As much as the internet is a scary and mean place, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything make fun of anime fans as much as anime does. There’s a bit of a gentle heart self-depreciation that echoes through the medium and I like that. It’s almost as if anime itself takes on the persona of that slightly ostracized nerd everybody makes fun. I love that nerd. Thems are my people!
Not only do I enjoy a good self-deprecating joke. I work with lawyers all day people, keeping egos in check (mine first and foremost) is very important in my life. But I also really like when people and art does not take itself too seriously. There’s much more opportunity for improvement and flexibility if we don’t already assume we’re the best there ever was and will be.
I guess I like anime because I think we could be friends…
Well that didn’t clear up anything at all! But it was fun to write 😊 Do you guys also relate to anime as a medium and if so, how?