Anime is for adults?
Aren’t there a lot of naked school girls in manga?
Uh, you watch what?
I get these questions a lot. There aren’t a ton of anime lovers in Bozeman, MT after all. Most people I talk to only have experience with the genre through cartoon network, and the obnoxious english dubbed versions of Naruto and Dragon Ball Z are not great introductions to Japanese animation (yeah, I’m a subbed snob).
My usual exclamation of ‘no, it’s so much more! Anime rocks!’ usually just gets me a few raised eyebrows. They either think that I’m a) a pervert who likes anime porn, or b) a grown up who likes cartoons and needs to get a life. So I decided to sit down today and finally get out all the reasons why I spend a good chunk of my precious free time watching anime and reading manga. And not just the porny kind.
I’ve always enjoyed a good, drawn out story with lots of character development. Anime and manga offer both. Naruto, Bleach, Fruits Basket, Berserk, Fairy Tail, Black Butler, March Story…all of these series offer a story with a lot of characters, all with their own back stories, reasons for existence, and connections. Anime and manga have the distinction of organic characters who are always learning lessons that change their worlds, so you never become bored with the storyline. All of my favorites have a long list of well developed personalities, a must have for a tale to make it into my most loved. This is true for all genres. Harry Potter, The Hollows, and The Dresden Files are three of my favorite book series that have this in common with my favorite anime and mangas.
The connections that you invariably come to feel to the characters lead the way into my other favorite thing about anime and manga. I love the way they work my emotions. Anger, pity, pride, sadness, laughter – I experience all of these things when watching a truly wonderful anime. When a sensei dies, or a character does something silly for comic relief, or the hero/heroine reaches out to a lost soul and saves them…those moments are what keep me coming back for more. Many of the main characters aren’t perfect (Black Butler is a really good example of this), but that’s what makes the emotions so compelling. An imperfect character is someone worth rooting for.
I’m a really big fan of gravity defying action scenes, and if you are good at suspension of disbelief, anime and manga will give you a lot of this. As a fan of science fiction and fantasy, I obviously don’t have any qualms with magic, robots, jutsus, and ninjas flying from roof top to roof top. The artists behind these works don’t let pesky things like physics get in the way of making their characters amazing and providing a lot of awesome bloodshed. A good beheading or shower of blood only adds to the storyline, I like to say!
Epic fight scenes, heroic acts, and death defying feats only add to a story, and this genre has a lot of freedom to play with these. There are no worries about ropes, lines, or green screens, since the whole thing is a drawing. This is truly an unimpeded medium. A 20 minute car chase scene doesn’t change the budget at all as compared to a 20 minute shower scene (both exciting in their own ways ;P). So let the blood baths roll, baby, and show me the swords!
Anime and Manga can change the world!
Finally, I love the sociological implications behind a lot of anime and manga. Much of the storylines highlight the need for acceptance and love of those who are different from us. Many of the villains in these genres simply needed someone to reach their hand out and pull them from the darkness. All of my favorite heroes and heroines have an apptitude for this. Naruto is probably the most obvious example, but you’ll see this in most of my all time faves. I believe that society creates and maintains its criminality. Things like rape, hate crimes, and drug addiction could be avoided if we worked on our acceptance of others and the messages we promote. All we have to do as a society is watch more anime and manga, and we can all learn these precious skills! Along with swordplay and much exclamation over everything (yeah, okay, so there’s a lot of yelling in anime).
Let’s all watch anime and eat bonbons together. Only then can we truly accomplish world peace. And remember friends, always embrace your geek – even if it is picture books and anime porn.