Last year I picked up a new pastime: Dungeons and Dragons. While, even now, some of the game’s finer mechanics elude me, I’m super invested in the story that my DM has masterfully woven together. As I’m writing this, my character, Sorrel, and his girlfriend, Tilly, find themselves in dire straights. This, partnered with the fact that our next session isn’t for another two weeks, means that I’m an emotional wreck. Regrettably, my husband doesn’t understand what I’m going through. “They’re just fictional characters! None of it is real!” All this in spite of the fact that it’s not the first time I’ve gotten upset over fictional characters…
In fact, I cry over anime all the time. Just the other day I snotted all over my husband’s shirt while watching I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (that movie destroyed me). So you’d think he’d be used to this particular quirk of mine by now. But, is there any merit in what my husband is saying? Or what it implies: that it’s dumb to get emotional over anime?
It took me quite some time to get ‘round to watching Violet Evergarden. There are two reasons for this: the first is that, for the longest time, I was much too poor to be able to afford a Netflix subscription and the second is that I was convinced that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype surrounding it… Whilst I was spot on about being broke, I was dead wrong for suspecting it of being undeserving of the attention that it (still) receives! Violet Evergarden is one of the most gorgeous shows that my eyes have ever had the pleasure to behold, its sweeping, orchestral soundtrack is bewitching, and everything about its story and characters is designed to move you (mainly to tears)! It became an instant favourite of mine and I would be remiss if I didn’t record some of my thoughts on it. Whilst there’s no shortage of topics that I could discuss, during today’s blog post I would like to dig deep, really deep, into just one of them: the show’s fire motif.
My husband and I have recently sunk our teeth into the Danganronpa franchise. We’ve had so much fun playing the games (especially fun was being able to lord my overwhelmingly superior deductive reasoning over him) and watching its various anime adaptations. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise (where have you been?) its premise is this: a class of elite students (all possessing an “ultimate” talent – a prerequisite for admittance into the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy) are pitted against each other by their mysterious captor in a gruesome “killing game”. They are then forced to unravel one another’s murders in order to escape captivity.
The Danganronpa franchise places a lot of emphasis on its characters’ talents. These form the basis of their identities and factor into many of the franchise’s key events. Whilst the franchise is only ever a hair’s breadth away from becoming utterly ridiculous, some of the implications it makes about talent are quite discouraging. The fact that extraordinary talent is necessary in order to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, that graduation is guaranteed to set you up for life, and that the main course students are hailed as the hope of Japan, whereas the (comparatively untalented) reserve course students are positioned as second-rate, are frequently labelled “weeds” or “parasites”, and whose entry fees are used to fund the main course, suggests that: 1. talent is all that’s necessary in order to succeed in life, 2. is what’s most beneficial to society, and 3. that the untalented should be content to simply act as the talented’s stepping stone to success.
If, like me, you don’t possess any exceptional talents, dwelling on these implicit messages can dampen your spirits. To lift them up again, here are five personal attributes that are just as important to have, if not even more so, than talent:
The issue of mental health is one that’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression ever since I was 11 and have recently been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I studied psychology for four years at university and, upon graduating, started work as a recovery worker for a mental health charity. So, with anime also being near and dear to my heart, I’m very interested in its portrayal of mental illness. Over the past few years I’ve noticed anime’s depiction of mental illness improve somewhat. A Silent Voice and Orange both depicted depression and suicidality in a sensitive way and it’s interesting to watch Okabe tackle what appears to be post traumatic stress disorder in this season’s Steins;Gate 0. However, to date anime’s depiction of mental illness has been largely insensitive or inaccurate.
Just a short post today. I have so many deadlines over the next few weeks that I’ve hardly been away from my keyboard. So when I give myself a break from all the essay writing, doing even more writing doesn’t fill me with much joy!