Anime: It's Not Weird, I Promise

Anime, one of the cringiest interests someone could have, right? Maybe, maybe not. When most people think of the type of person that watches anime, chances are they envision someone who is gross, immature and, more than likely, perverted. Sure, anime depicts some female characters as lusty and promiscuous with overly exaggerated features (you know what I’m talking about), but that doesn’t make anime watchers perverted and gross. The characterization of women in that way irritates the devil out of me, but those depictions are found mostly in older anime. Newer anime portray women with more reasonable and diverse body types!

If you have never heard of anime, it’s the name given to the shows and movies that are animated in Japanese studios. I want to stress that anime is not just Japanese cartoons. To tell the difference, most anime is geared toward viewers in middle school and older, and they typically have story arcs rather than a single plotline per episode. Also, anime tends to have busier, more vibrant scenes with fantasy elements (not perverse fantasy, but superpowers and other cool things).

If someone said they liked Naruto, you would think that they’re a little childish. If someone said that they liked Avatar: The Last Airbender, you would probably agree, since that was an awesome show! Contrary to popular belief, Avatar: TLA is NOT an anime, but merely an animated show that has been influenced by anime. So why are most people more likely to accept A: TLA but not Naruto?

In my opinion, it’s because one has a more obvious Japanese influence than the other. Now, I’m not saying this because I think everyone is xenophobic. I’m saying this because of the ethnocentrism we have toward watching a show with subtitles or voiceovers because the audio is not in our native language. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just something we initially think as a knee-jerk reaction to something with which we’re not familiar. At the core, watching anime with subtitles or voiceovers is strange when we could easily watch something else in our native language without absolutely needing subtitles. So why would people still choose to watch anime?

Because we like it, duh.

For me, anime has been something I’ve enjoyed watching because American dramas don’t have the vibes I want. I love the supernatural and embrace magical realism. Ironically, I only enjoy magical realism when it’s animated. Live-action magical realism feels fake, since I know that the magic is artificially constructed through CGI and other Hollywood tricks. Anime makes magic feel real, since the artificial feel of it blends into the artificial construction of the setting and characters.

I also enjoy the way anime has more to the story than just plotlines that contribute to the overall issue plaguing characters, providing “filler” episodes to take a step back from the seriousness and let the characters breathe for a second. Some anime start out as comical but sprinkle in serious issues to create tension that you don’t notice until the issues come to head at the climax, resulting in a flurry of emotions as things are done to resolve the issues by the last episode.

All in all, I’m just trying to convince everyone that anime isn’t weird. It's for everyone, not just the "weird kids". It’s also becoming more popular than you’d think. Since coming to college, I’ve met so many people who genuinely enjoy watching anime because it’s interesting (and not because of the fan service animators provide for those that enjoy seeing unrealistic women).

If you’re thinking about watching anime for the first time, I recommend watching a movie first. My favorites are Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away!