Top 5 Ways in Which Anime Opened My Mind

In some ways, you may not think of anime as the best place to look for diversity and open-mindedness. Whether justly or not, the community (at least in North America) has made an occasionally unpleasant reputation before itself. We hear how exclusive (as in the opposite of inclusive) and close-minded fans can be. Gatekeeping against anyone visibly different or just having slight different opinions.

From the outside, you could be fooled into thinking anime itself was to blame. Maybe there’s some discrimination hidden under those pretty colours and short skirts. I don’t believe that. First, my own experience with the anime community doesn’t match up with the image. With very few exceptions, I’ve found it to be one of the most welcoming and kind groups I’ve encountered. As for anime itself. It’s a storyteller medium. Nothing more or less. There are some super questionable shows like in any other medium. But there are also very stories which inspire us to be better. Here are 5 ways in which my mind has been wedged just a little more open after years of anime.anime yaeba
5) Imperfections are charming.

Of course, you want to be perfect, we all do. The perfect smile, partner, life! A perfect body for a perfect soul…sorry I slip into *creep* there. Still a fantastic song. Anyway, there’s an inherent drive in a lot of us the be the best and although perfection may be impossible, we still want to get as close as possible. And you know what perfect anime characters are? They’re boring!

The fun ones, the adorable ones, the ones that set your heart a flutter, almost always have some pretty glaring flaws. Heck some of them are mostly flaws. And that’s what makes them special. We all know about the classic yaeba (snaggletooth) or the messy hair to give a character visibility and add adorableness through what is considered a physical flaw but intellectual, moral and emotional failings all add depth and personality to a character. We should appreciate or little imperfections more, especially in a world of subjective perfection!

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4) Hard work is cool

I talk about this a lot. You’re not supposed to try, you’re supposed to just *be*. The hero’s waltz in and do everything perfectly right off the bat. It’s innate! That’s the point, they’re special, chosen…better. it’s the losers that have to spend years practicing. Trying over and over again and still failing. Hard work is for the untalented. I’ve seen the best minds of my generation swallowed up by apathy. How dramatically did that sound??? Seriously though, I think my society doesn’t value effort enough. Too much weight is given to outcome regardless of how we get to it.

It’s through anime and more specifically unhealthy amounts of Sports! anime that I’ve set that ridiculous notion aside. I’ve come to take a lot of pride in working hard. I’m more satisfied at the end of a long day where I really gave it my all than a very successful day where everything falls into place. I tend to prefer all the hours spent putting a project together, sometimes having to deal with frustrating setbacks, then the day I see it come to fruition. In fact, I’m ok with skipping the congratulations party.

This may not be true for everyone but it’s an attitude I’ve found really helpful in keeping me professionally satisfied. It’s also part of what makes this blog so fun for me. It’s a lot of work and that makes it oddly valuable in my eyes…

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3) Being alone isn’t bad

I’m very introverted by nature and I need a healthy amount of alone time in my life. For a long time, I thought that was essentially a bad thing. The characters I saw in movies and shows were constantly surrounded by friends, even the bad ones had henchmen at least. Everyone moved in groups and if they were ever separated for some reason, they missed the others terribly. The people who actively wanted to be alone were unhinged villains planning dastardly deeds or sick, depressed, deeply unhappy. It was a symptom to be cured.

Anime, however, has long presented characters of all types spending quiet moments by themselves it’s presented as a perfectly mundane and natural experience and it’s so normal for someone to want a little alone time that it’s not even worth mentioning. This was a great relief to me and finally disassociated alone from lonely in my head.

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2) I like pink

As in the colour, I like it! Does this one seem a little anticlimactic compared to the rest? Well, I like to think I would have gotten to those realizations even without the help of anime sooner or later but this one…

When I was a small kid I didn’t care for the colour much. My favourite colour was and is grey. Because of the multicolour iridescent sheen of pigeon feathers. Pink was boring. It was the stopped colour every girl liked (no one I knew) and you were more or less told you had to. Little girls wanted to be princesses and liked the colour pink. Well, forget that noise. Princess looks like a super unpleasant job and pink is though to match with anything.

Now Magical Girl! That’s an ambition I could get behind!! Wait they’re all about pink too? Well, sign me up! Turns out the colour goes great with my complexion. Win-win!

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1) People are mostly good

Ok, this is a pretty grand statement. First *good* is a pretty undefined term, second, it seems like a sweeping general assumption to make. Especially based on something as silly as anime. Well, it still shaped my impressionable little mind to view the world at large that way. Even anime aimed at younger audiences (or maybe the ones I watched when I was younger and may not have been meant for me at all), usually have layered characters.

Heroes have obvious and recognizable flaws. If you met them on a bad day you may not like them much. Villains are often given surprisingly noble motivations, Freudian excuses and/or just plain fun personalities. Very few anime characters are just plain evil. And this tricked me into thinking there’s good in everyone.

However, this is an ongoing lesson. My more recent foray into the anime community has introduced me to overwhelmingly accepting and kind people. Sure there are some exceptions but those are just that: exceptions. Rare ones at that. I’m rather proud of my optimism and I have anime to thank for a lot of it.

This was a silly top 5. I hope you had some fun with it. Is there any way in which anime has influenced your thinking? Is it positive or negative?

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Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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20 Responses

  1. TPAB~ says:

    anime convinced me to be a teacher. 🙂
    I owe a lot to it. I’m glad others are inspired by it as well.
    and yeah, being alone isn’t bad. I try socializing, but I often shut own when I have enough.

  2. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    “People are mostly good. . .” Hmmmmm. My take has always been that most people are mostly normal. To wit, although you’ve got a-holes and fanatics everywhere, the majority of people share similar goals and attitudes, wherever they’re from: make sure my family is fed, clothed, and sheltered. That’s it. Just a preponderance of normal people trying to meet normal goals to take care of the people they love. And that, I suppose, is kind of good in its own way. . .

  3. MySocialGod says:

    I’m so glad I followed you. I love anime!

  4. Lumi says:

    I agree with the “people good” point, but with a slight caveat. Anime made me realize how people can have the potential to be good, despite their past actions or personalities.

    On the topic of what anime made me realize, it thought me to be more honest about myself. I started being a lot more sociable instead of not after watching anime, funny enough. Seeing people in these anime have fun days made me realize just how much of life I was missing out on by not being more forward with people.

    Slice of life was a life saver.

  5. ospreyshire says:

    It’s a good list and it can apply to so many anime. Hahaha! If I had a Top 5, it would look like this.

    1. There are so many stories and characters for everyone.

    2. Not every hero has to be some muscle bound freak or even have superpowers (Yugo the Negotiator and Monster).

    3. Hollywood is a thieving guild. (Paprika, Kimba the White Lion, Nadia: Secret of Blue Water, and Akira)

    4. Never be one OVA short of a series (Shinesman reference, FTW!).

    5. There’s more care to the stories on average.

  6. sabakuink says:

    「友情」「努力」「勝利」 (Friendship. Effort. Victory.) The original editorial policy for Shounen Jump magazine. 🙂

  7. What a fun post! I like that you include your enjoyment of pink, it was a fun add! I also really liked the part about working hard. I often feel that success is framed as something that just comes naturally to SOME gifted people and not others. It’s a problematic thing, for sure. It seems like this presentation of success makes a lot of people feel like giving up when they have to work hard because they feel like something must be wrong if it doesn’t come to them easily.

    • Irina says:

      It ties into labelling people who study a lot as nerds or derriding training skills that don’t give you social status

  8. Lynn says:

    If shounen anime has taught us anything, it’s persistence pays off. It fits in nicely with hard work, but it’s also the idea that if you want something bad enough you don’t give up and every time you get knocked back, get up and try again.

  9. Pete Davison says:

    “Working hard” is an important one, and one which certainly a fair amount of the Western community needs to look at a little differently — at least so far as it comes to gaming, anyway. There’s a difference between “working hard and consistently” and “finding the most quick and easy way to do something”, with the people I’m thinking of here typically gravitating towards the latter. Why wouldn’t you? (Because it’s boring and not fun, that’s why.)

    For an example of this in action, you just have to look at something like Final Fantasy XIV. The Japanese playerbase works hard at things, not worrying about being the first, the fastest, the most efficient. They help one another out when appropriate, but are also happy to do things for themselves.

    The North American and European playerbase, meanwhile, they’re the ones who set up the websites that tell you when to go where, checklists to follow and all sorts of other things that completely suck the fun out of the game and ruin the joy of discovery and working hard. In some respects, it’s cool how they use all this tech to (theoretically) make life better for the community as a whole… but oddly enough, all that just ruins it for me, personally.

    Hard, long-term work is underrated. And I’ve learned both the value of it and how it can be fun from the way I enjoy both anime and games in particular.

    • Irina says:

      You know. I just started watching Log Horizon. The lead chara is often described as a “strategist” and I was thinking to myself how awesome that is. My own raiding career which was decently substantial in WOW, made me think that it was impossible in modern rpgs. The second a new boss fight is available (sometimes even before the expansion drops) there’s dozens of sights already detailing the mechanics and best raid strategy complete with raid compositions, buffs to use timing positioning ect… And there’s no way you can convince 40 people to go in blind and wipe for half a day just so you can figure out how to go about it. This makes me sad. I would have loved to get a chance at being a “strategist”…

      • Pete Davison says:

        This is, I think, part of the reason games like Dark Souls have become popular. The high challenge factor of those games effectively makes them a “single-player raid” in many cases; you have to use a lot of the same sort of skills and effectively be your own strategist.

        Okay, it’s not quite the same as attempting to herd 40 cats out of the AoE marker, but it tickles a lot of the same pleasure centres if you let yourself get into it! And, err, don’t look at a wiki. 🙂

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