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.
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!
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…
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.
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!
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?