It isn’t really a secret that anime tends to receive a bad reputation, sometimes it’s for obvious reasons. Anime, particularly older anime, can represent women poorly or include other distasteful humor. While I am an anime watcher, that doesn’t mean that I support these sides of anime. So, why do I like anime? I’ve asked myself this question many times; why would I like something that so many other people tend to look down on? Why would I like something that I sometimes feel nervous to tell people about? After some thought, I have found my answer.
There are many different types of anime. Many unfamiliar with the genre will categorize it all into one, but that simply isn’t how it is. There’s shonen or more action-based anime, and there is shojo which is more romance-based anime. Those are two of the broader categories of anime, but there are subcategories such as sports anime, slice of life anime, horror anime, fantasy anime, adventure anime, psychological anime, and many other genres. There is something that I appreciate about each of these categories, such as that I tend to love the humor used in shojo anime as it feels so relatable. The exaggerated reactions of the characters seem to represent how I feel inside but in a fun and welcoming manner that can’t be portrayed in the real world yet feels natural. I also love how in-depth and strategic the fight scenes of shonen anime can be, as I am carried along the journey of a protagonist in a way that allows me to understand his or her every move and counterattack.
However, if we are looking at anime as a whole, I’ve found that animation grounds me. It helps me to appreciate life and my surroundings. For example, before watching anime, I didn’t understand sports. As more of an artistic person, I found the idea of chasing balls and scoring goals to be pretty silly. Then, I discovered sports anime and I was introduced to the idea of teamwork and the strategy that sports require. The anime Haikyuu!!! is all about volleyball and is a great example of this, as the anime takes you through a team’s practices, matches, and everyday life. Once upon a time, I would have thought that this sounded incredibly boring when it is actually anything but. The characters are full of personality, the animation is great, and the strategy behind volleyball is expressed in an intriguing manner. You are kept on the edge of your seat as you follow the development and team bonding of characters. You learn new volleyball moves with them, putting them into practice on the court. You follow them as they grow and can’t help but root for them through their journey. I now watch volleyball games with anticipation, and I can tell you almost every position as well as its role on the court. As I watch, I recall the strategies that I have learned and I recognize the teamwork that it takes to make the game happen. If I hadn’t been introduced to sports anime, I wouldn’t have this amount of appreciation for volleyball or for any other sports.
I didn’t realize just how much anime taught me about my surroundings until I rewatched the Studio Ghibli films, which are renowned animes for their fantastical elements and beautiful animation. Studio Ghibli films tend to animate the little moments in life. Scenes will stretch out everyday pastimes, like characters walking down the street or studying. They will animate and focus on nature scenes with beautiful landscapes or simply delicate leaves from flower stems. The films romanticize the little things, and this helps me to remember how beautiful life is. Over time, I realized that every anime teaches me something along these lines. Weathering With You gave me a newfound appreciation for rain. Attack on Titan showed me the importance of devoting your heart and giving it your all. Ouran High School Host Club taught me the beauty of accepting others and their unique qualities. Each anime is crafted so carefully as everything is given consideration and purpose, given that it is all drawn from scratch. Nothing is done by accident. Children of the Sea is an anime that I especially hold in high regard for the way that it reminds me of what is truly important in life, which I have touched on in a previous article.
I could go on and on, but there’s one more thing that I want to address about anime. It’s true that other animated films can teach me life lessons, whether they are considered animes or not. However, in my opinion, anime tends to be incredibly creative, setting it apart from that of other animated films. This is one of anime’s elements that reeled me in when I first began watching the art form. It isn’t afraid to explore new concepts and try what is typically unaccepted by society. Its craziness opens my mind and teaches me to be more accepting of my environment as well as the people in it. When I watch anime in front of non-anime watchers, I remember how strange it must look to someone who has never watched it before. In reality, it is strange, and that’s why I love it. I’ve never seen anything like it before, such as the unique backstories given to characters that make them so likable, the dramatic gestures and personalities that welcome everyone, and the gorgeous animation that holds no limits. You never know what you are going to get with anime. Sure, you can expect a “beach episode” in almost every shojo anime or some kind of “training arc” in shonen anime, but no anime is exactly alike. Each one is special, and there is always something for anyone who is willing to open their mind.