I’m maybe 8 or 9 years old and It’s Saturday morning and I’ve waited all week for this moment. There are familiar theme songs playing today. I’m watching Digimon and maybe some Pokemon episodes too. (I’m listening to the Digimon The Movie soundtrack from 2000 for inspiration as I write this; It’s corny, but I’m starting to tear up.)
My mother imagines how crazy a fad all these things seem and knows that this is just another phase in any child’s life. But what she doesn’t realize is that this boy is silently suffering from not having a father and how lonely he really is, and these cartoons became so much more. And not just for him, but for so many others.
My name is Jordan Bruneau; I’m a father, husband, and a lifelong Anime fan.
I also suffer from mental illness, including depression and anxiety. This article is about how Anime helped me, influenced me, and shaped my life.
It was only later into my teens that I realized that Anime was a media and what me and my mother failed to see was that these cartoons were forms of art that would teach me some of life’s most important lessons; love your friends, never give up no matter what, and many more.
It may seem strange, but in a way I looked too a lot of Anime/Manga stories to fill a gap my father left.
I think what’s so wonderful about some Anime is that you can really feel the passion and the people behind these beautiful stories and art.
I believe I can feel that connection to the artist. I feel where they’re coming from. Japan is a country overflowing with culture and beauty, but like anywhere else, there is the history of war, depression, and complex social issues.
Just for a little while, creators who may also suffer like you and me, can escape to other worlds and remind us how beautiful life is. For that, I owe these people my life.
What Evangelion Means to me
For those unfamiliar with Evangelion, know it may be one of the single most important pieces of animation in existence.
This, of course, is my opinion, but released in 1995, this anime has influenced the media ever since.
I remember when I was about 11 or 12 and looking through the Anime section in Blockbuster.
I asked my mom if I could rent the movie “The End of Evangelion”, the climax to the end of the original series. She said no for the hard R rating, and for good reason. Seeing such a film at that age might have been too much.
Even if I didn’t get to see it yet, one of the most important films to me was waiting for me when I was ready and it took 15 years after seeing it for the first time to realize how important it is to me.
The character of Shinji is tortured and flawed. Burdened with the fate of the world, he is unlike any protagonist in most Anime and stories; he is not brave or fearless; throughout the series you see the mental toll that kind of pressure would create and is symbolic of our own lives and struggles we face.
One night about two years ago, I wanted to show my wife “The End of Evangelion”.
But it triggered a repressed trauma that I had not experienced during previous viewings. This trauma was my father, my childhood, and depression.
My wife saw her husband return to being that little boy so long ago.
Sobbing, years of repression came pouring out.
“Shinji is me” I thought to myself.
Though, it makes me feel better knowing that maybe I really am not alone. Maybe through art we can connect and help support each other.
I chose to talk about Evangelion. not because it’s the “best” or even necessarily my favorite Anime. It’s not perfect, it’s actually quite depressing to watch, but I love Evangelion.
It’s important to me. It helped me to realize that there is hope and we all suffer.
To all the fans, creators, writers, and artists throughout this industry, I want to thank you. Growing up an Anime fan has been a difficult one, maybe not as much now, but when I was younger, it was hard to be an Otaku.
Even people within the community know that it hasn’t always been a great social status, in Japan and around the world you’d be seen as weird or unhealthy in your obsession. And like anything in life there has to be that balance.
Anime has the potential for great escapism, and at times, this can be unhealthy. Which is why series like Evangelion are important. I believe the Anime that really challenges the media brings us back to some very hard realities that are why we watched Anime to escape from in the first place.
And that’s ok.
Its taken me over 20 years to start understanding who I am and why all these things matter to me, it’s not silly to have passions or love what you love. I will always be an Otaku, an Anime fan.
Anime is fun and uplifting escapism, but it is also my connection to deeper meaning through the creators that dare challenge the status quo. Some may be content with the average Shonen protagonist, but I’m rooting for Shinji.
If you like my article and would like to read more, please visit my Anime Blog.