I think I’ve enjoyed and continuing to enjoy anime for a variety of reasons, and I’ve finally found the opportunity to share them!
First, if you’re not an anime watcher or fan I’d like to clear out the misunderstanding that many presumably have with these Japanese animated shows; that they’re cartoons similarly with the level of depth, plot, character analysis and themes that American cartoons have, which is simultaneously false and true to an extent. (Or, that anime is just made of Naruto and Dragon Ball Z. Don’t even get me started on how boy-focused anime series are given more attention in the U.S. then programs aimed at girls.) Anime has a wide genre and age range, just like non animated TV shows have in the United Sates; there are series for children, teenagers, and adults. Imagine stories and plots ranging from Hannah Montana to Breaking Bad in an animated adaptation, that’s how much variety there is. I’ve engulfed myself from all types of series since I was ten years old, and I’d like to share why I’ve enjoyed them so much then; and still continue to now!
I think to understand some of the reasons I’ve enjoyed them so much is for the reason I have them to thank for. Being as they are made in Japan, there are a lot of cultural differences I was exposed to a very young age; many of which I am grateful for. I think anime allowed me to have an extremely open mind as a child, being more accepting of differences and what might be be the social norm in the United States in comparison to what I was watching on television. My favorite anime series is titled Cardcaptors, I used to watch it alongside series everyone else probably watched as children too; like Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Digimon and Sailor Moon. In fifth grade, I discovered from the internet that Cardcaptors was actually titled Cardcaptor Sakura in Japan, and compared to its American airing counterpart; it contained a lot more episodes, and was not censoring or deleting material that wasn’t socially accepted in the United States.
Cardcaptor Sakura is a (in terms that can be understood in the U.S.) a Y genre anime for children, I watched the entire 60 episodes by ordering the DVD’s weekly from Netflix, this was 2005 remember, and was extremely content with having more material to watch compared to its slightly butchered, plot changed and edited American counterpart. Cardcaptor Sakura is about an elementary school girl who awakens an inner magical power and made responsible to collect “Clow Cards,” which are causing mayhem and trouble in her hometown. Sounds like an average, wonderful girl coming of age series who faces obstacles seen before; except there is underlying themes of homosexuality throughout the entire series. Watching this when I was ten years old, seeing characters struggle with accepting their emotions was enough for me to acknowledge that love is love, I even learned that sometimes love meant letting it go. These feelings and subplots were not included in the Americanized version of the series, something that happens commonly, like in Sailor Moon (Sailor Uranus and Neptune were not cousins, they were very much in love in the original version.)
There were bountiful amounts of series I watched that opened my eyes and heart to accept diversity and differences that I normally might not have done at such an early age. There was a show with a father who performed drag, the expression of oneself by poking fun at gender (in his case a woman as entertainment), characters that struggled being different, family issues, self discovery, death, etc, things you find in movies and series you’re familiar with.
Aside from expanding my world, I’ve enjoyed anime then and today because of the creativity it inspires in me. The amount of story detail, character development, and uniqueness in each story has left a mark in me that not many other kinds of series have, aside from Smallville and Game of Thrones. Did you know that anime has inspired a handful of American movies? The Matrix is the most commonly known example, based off an anime titled Ghost in the Shell, and Christopher Nolan acknowledged that the anime movie titled Paprika by Satoshi Kon was a source of inspiration for Inception; no wonder Inception is one of my ultimate faves. Anime has been a source of inspiration for me since I was in middle school, it dictated the plots my sister and I would play with our barbies and the types of stories I would write in my journals. Anime is also a link that my siblings and I share, yesterday I facetimed my brother while I made dinner and painted, and we played “guess what Anime opening song this is” for three hours.
Today, I do not watch as much anime as I used to; I’ve actually kind of been going through a re-watching phase, maybe subconsciously clutching on the last bit of adulthood before my professional career the way I did Harry Potter during high school. However, anime still evokes very similar emotions that I get while reading novels. I get as attached to seeing character development within an anime in the similar way I do characters in my fiction books. I supposed in conclusion, I have really loved and continue loving anime because of the variety of doors it has opened into my imagination and my heart, from the comedy genres all the way to the serious thought provoking life changing plot twists. I can’t imagine I’d ever completely let go if it the way I won’t reading and watching documentaries, because there is bountifulness amounts yet to be discovered.
P.S. If you’re my friend who doesn’t watch anime, don’t doubt for a second before our friendship ends (hopefully it doesn’t) that I will introduce you to a show I know fits every category to your liking. I have witnesses who can vouch for me!