Anime has always been a controversial genre of entertainment, I came here today to implore you to try it before you judge it.
(Image from NoFilmSchool)
When you hear the word “anime” what comes to mind? If you’re like me then you think of unparalleled story-telling, and stunning visuals carried by well written characters and extremely talented voice actors. If you’re like my girlfriend then you probably just think of a mindless plot carried by crudely drawn women with massively oversized breasts.
The connotation that anime brings to the average person is not exactly a positive one. If you fall under the same mindset as my girlfriend, then honestly I don’t blame you, I had the same mindset only two years ago, before I broke and watched my first anime. I used to think only weirdos watched anime and that there was nothing there for someone who values a good story. I can’t even begin to describe how wrong I had been.
The first anime I ever watched was a pretty well-known one called Death Note. It follows the escapades of a young man in Japan that acquires a notebook from a death god that allows him to kill people simply by writing their names in said book. Do you wanna know what it took for me to watch it? A 103.8 fever and the inability to move from bed for six days while I was living in a freshman dorm at my school. It took me being nearly dead to watch Death Note or any anime at all. I can’t lie, I fell for the genre, hard. After Death Note I went on to watch around a dozen more anime, a small number for someone who truly indulges, some of them with 5 seasons, and some that only last for 25, 20-minute episodes. What’s so special about it? Well that’s harder for me to pin down.
Describing the appeal of anime is like trying to describe why something tastes good. Is it the blend of spices? Is it how it was cooked? Is it because you’re eating it at a certain time of day? I honestly couldn’t tell you. For me, I think it’s the art style and the story more than anything else, and I’m not very picky when it comes to the art style. Whether it’s the old, grainy look of Cowboy Bebop, or the new school slick Attack on Titan, I just love to see the passion and care that goes into the various anime that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. There’s just something about the Japanese style of animation that engrosses you in the action.
Honestly, I think my favorite part of anime is the unique storytelling that typically resides only in anime. Like the plot of Death Note I described earlier would probably feel wonky as a live action show, and with the release of the live action movie a few years ago, that opinion was only proved further. Anyway, I think I’ve made my case for why I like anime, now let’s take a dive into why you don’t like anime.
The hate for anime from the average American is clear no matter who you talk to. If you don’t watch it, then you more or less probably think it’s pretty weird. To give a quick example I’ll use my friend Alihan. When one begins getting into anime they’ll come to find out that the opening theme of each show is a damn bop. They are always extremely high energy and really get you hyped up for the episode. My friend Alihan was listening to one of these songs, Unravel, from the popular anime Tokyo Ghoul, and forgot that he was listening to it when his fraternity brothers got into the car to hang with him. To his horror, when he started the car his frat bros were met with a barrage of loud guitar riffs and Japanese screamo. Alihan was of course shocked and appalled that his secret love for anime had been exposed to a group of people who were the least likely to accept it. Alihan claims that his frat bros were so weirded out that they didn’t even make fun of him for it, they were just surprised and quiet.
This situation is not an uncommon one, when someone finds out that you are an avid anime enthusiast, their perception often changes, at least a little bit. This is because of the common perception of anime as more of a male fantasy porno that’s been animated. If people think that anime is nothing more than weird, nude drawn women, then of course they’re gonna judge anyone who indulges in such an outlet.
It’s not just that though, anime often deals with intense themes, ranging from extreme violence to very dark themes and plots. Not all anime is like this, but if you look at some of the big names from the last few years or so like Attack on Titan, Tokyo Ghoul, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and others, you’ll see a clear theme of action and violence.
Though the weird stuff is out there the same can be said for every genre of entertainment. Look at the horror movie genre for example. It’s a far cry from old masterpieces like The Exorcist, and the old slasher movies like Scream and Halloween. Today the industry is saturated with soulless, and unoriginal garbage with the occasional diamond in the rough, and yet people still flock to see the latest horror flick, heck, even I still love horror movies.
Think of the big breasted anime women as the crappy modern-day horror movies, except in anime they are the exception rather than the rule. Are you gonna come across a weird sexually charged moment that might be considered the norm in Japanese culture? Absolutely. If you allow that to ruin your entire outlook on the genre, then you truly are missing out on some of the most unique art of the 21st century.
Alright, so you just read my rant about anime for the last 5-10 minutes, what should you take away? The next time your buddy asks you to check out an anime, or even if some strange plot catches your attention, give it a try before you judge it just because it’s an anime. The worst that can happen is you wasted 20 minutes of your life and you decided it’s not for you, the best that can happen is you find a new genre that’s constantly putting out interesting and fun content.