Have you ever seen the movie “About a Boy”? In it Hugh Grant’s character, Will, talks about how he divides his day up into units of half an hour. Taking a bath represents one unit of time, exercising, two, getting his hair gently dishevelled, three, and so on. Like Will, my time, even my free time, has always been quite regimented. I wake up at the same time each day, play video games in increments of half an hour, and sit down for prayer and quiet reflection at 8pm every day. I even set myself a quota of anime to watch each day. This may seem crazy to you, but structure helps me to feel productive and keep my anxiety at bay. However, this year I’ve had to constantly assess and reassess this quota. At times it was 10 episodes a day, at others, eight, and now, five. Sometimes I wish I could spend more time watching anime, it’s fun, relaxing, and there’s always more to watch, but I’ve been quite strict in sticking to this reduced quota for the following reasons.
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.
Now, anyone who knows my anime watching habits, and I mean really knows them, knows that I often pick up shows simply because they start with a letter of the alphabet I haven’t seen many shows start with- ‘a’, for example, or ‘z’. It’s an odd quirk that doesn’t really make much sense, even to me, the only way I can explain it being that I want my anime list to look as full with a wide variety of shows as possible…
Anyway, this has been the way for many years now. Revolutionary Girl Utena, Un-Go, Usagi Drop, Xam’d and XXXHOLiC were all shows I watched on the basis they started with letters I hadn’t seen many shows start with- terrible, given that they all have so much more worth outside of that, I know… Then one day this year, I noticed that MAL had changed many of the shows on its database’s titles, translating them back into Japanese.