I recently published a blog post titled: “Why I Still Love Anime”. During this post I discussed one of the many reasons why, after a whole decade, in which my life has undergone some pretty dramatic changes, I’m still head over heels for anime. As part of an attempt to integrate myself into the aniblogging community and to prompt some positive reflection, I posed this question to my fellow bloggers. I challenged them to consider why they still love anime and continue to commit their time, money, and energy to it, despite all of its shortcomings. Below I attempt to collate my findings.
These are the wonderful bloggers who participated in my challenge. Please do give these posts a read if you haven’t already, as they are all extremely interesting and entertaining!
- Average Joe Reviews
- Cactus Matt
- magicconan14 (Aria)
- Winter Reverie
Several themes emerged throughout the participants’ posts. As they say: great minds think alike! These themes include:
The Volume and Variety of Anime
The sheer volume of anime available to us is something that many writers discussed. This was something that I mentioned during my own entry for this challenge. As I posited: if you enjoyed a show, there are probably five others just like (or, at least, strikingly similar to) it – especially if that show is an isekai! And with the amount of shows airing every season only ever seeming to increase, it’s unlikely that this ever-flowing stream of anime will ever dry up. Whilst this might make anime sound quite, for want of a better word, mass-produced, or cookie-cutter, that is not at all the case. As Merlin put it: anime may follow fads, trends, and tropes, however, that doesn’t change the fact that there are almost as many genres out there as there are shows! This means that there really is something for everybody.
Anime as a Means to Connect with Other People
Another prominent theme was anime’s ability to help its viewers connect and form friendships with other people. At times this happens as a result of bonding over a common interest. For many bloggers, myself included, some of their closest, most cherished friendships came about as a result of a shared love of anime. I never would have met or grown close to many of my friends, or even my husband, if not for my passion for anime! At other times anime encourages us to come out of our shells and become a little less introverted. With such a glut of inspirational characters to be found, this comes as no surprise! If we see a character who struggles to interact with other people push themselves outside of their comfort zone and grow as a result, we begin to believe that that might be possible for us, too, and make those wobbly first steps towards becoming a bit more sociable.
Anime as an Escape
For some bloggers anime offers an escape from the difficulties of life, including mental illness and problems at home. BiblioNyan described anime as a sanctuary and Irina, a home, something to escape to, to unwind and relax. As many acknowledged, the worlds offered by anime are so engrossing, fascinating, and beautifully realised that it’s nigh on impossible not to find yourself swept up in them. Whilst these worlds are not without their problems, they are often far removed from our own. So for however long you spend watching anime, it offers you an escape into these worlds and a break from your own.
Anime as a Source of Valuable Life Lessons
For many bloggers, anime wasn’t just a means of escape, but something that actually helped launch them out of difficult seasons. This was possible through the application of lessons learned while watching it. The stories that some bloggers told were extremely moving, so I’d definitely encourage you to check them out for yourself, but, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about: for some it taught them how to process their grief, for others it taught them how to relate to other people. For some it taught them how to navigate their emotions, for others it taught them the value of perseverance. Seeing characters, just like us, with the same hopes, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses, navigate perilous, or otherwise unpleasant, circumstances, regardless of how fantastical they might be, doesn’t just give us hope, but teaches us how to handle our own problems.
Anime’s Willingness to Broach Difficult Subjects
Several bloggers described their first experience with anime. As you might expect, Pokemon was brought up more than once (you should definitely check out Cactus Matt’s enviable card collection)! But, Pokemon aside, something else that was common to many of these experiences was an appreciation for anime’s willingness to broach difficult subjects. As many noted, thanks to a comparative lack of censoring in Japan, even shows geared towards younger audiences would tackle topics that their Western equivalents wouldn’t touch with a 60 foot barge pole. I liked the way that Merlin put it: “it doesn’t talk down to kids or hide things that only adults should know”. Whilst that does give anime a bad rep, from time to time, I, too, can’t help but admire that. It’s easy to forget that kids, too, can go through some pretty horrific ordeals. I can’t speak for other people, but I suffered abuse as a child. So, in the same way that anime can provide an escape from or teach valuable coping strategies to adults in the midst of difficult seasons, it can also provide these things for younger audiences.
Anime’s Ability to Tell Powerful Convincing Stories
To end things on a lighter note… For many bloggers, myself included, nothing beats anime when it comes to making you feel something, anything, whether that’s joy, rage, sadness, wonder, disgust, you name it! This is because of anime’s ability to tell convincing, powerful stories. This wonderful ability is an amalgamation of inspirational characters (which I’ve already harped on about), the weeks, months, or sometimes even years that we spend getting to know said characters as the show airs, and incredible world-building. As Aria put it: “Certainly, books and manga can create worlds, but nowhere are they brought more vividly to life than in anime due to the animation, the full colour visuals and the sound.”
It didn’t take me long, once I’d begun to write this blog post, to realise how difficult I had made this challenge by asking its participants to choose just one reason why they still love anime to write about. As you can see, there are many reasons to love the stuff – some of which I wasn’t able to include for the sake of this post’s brevity! To ask a person to boil down their love for anime to a single reason, when often it was a beautiful blend of many, some personal, such as the effect that it has had on their lives, others less personal, like simply enjoying its unlimited capacity for creativity, almost borders on cruel. Nevertheless, I am so thankful to those who humoured my unreasonable demand! It was great to get to know you all a bit better. I hope that you had as much fun as I did!