Why I Like Anime

Hi! How’s it going? Recently, I’ve noticed something about myself… I tend to over-complicate things. Days of work usually go into planning and scripting a post, only for it to reach maybe a dozen people at most. It sometimes feels like the work isn’t worth it… but I do it anyway, because I like to do it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be here.

That being said, perhaps it’s time to change things up a bit. I’m gonna try out a more casual writing style today, something that doesn’t need so much drafting. I’m just gonna talk about something I like, and see where that takes me. Let’s see… how about anime?

Yeah, let’s go with that. In its broadest sense, anime (derived from the word “animation”) is a form of entertainment originating from Asia, more specifically Japan. However, anime is more than that. Anime is a story-telling medium. Anime is a visual experience. Anime is a means of expression, a way of life if you will.

Perhaps it’s easier to explain by starting with what it isn’t, rather than what it is. Anime is not one single thing. It’s a diverse range of shows, shorts, and full-length movies, spanning many genres: action, comedy, romance, drama, horror, fantasy, you name it. Pokémon, Sailor Moon, Death Note, The Secret World of Arrietty, Odd Taxi, Attack on Titan… though different in themes, animation styles, and age ratings, these are all united under the collective banner of anime.

No two anime will ever provide the same viewing experience. Would you love all games after playing Minecraft, or hate all films after seeing Fifty Shades of Gray? No, of course not. In that regard, anime’s the same as any other content medium; there are shining stars, bad apples, and hidden gems.

Likewise, there are different ways to watch anime: one show at a time, or flip back and forth? Wait for a series to end, or watch each episode as it airs? Watch it in Japanese with English subtitles, or edited and dubbed into English? That last one in particular is a hotly-debated issue in the community… personally, I prefer the subtitle approach, but there are equally valid points on both sides.

A natural question arises: why should I, a Canadian citizen with no Japanese roots, care about anime? And I say: why not? Entertainment is entertainment. I see no reason to deprive myself of that, regardless of country of origin. Just be sure to watch in moderation, and take reasonable caution to avoid the bad apples.

I also find that anime’s more than just a form of entertainment: it’s a source of inspiration. It opens the mind to more creative possibilities, by including a range of life perspectives that a person like myself wouldn’t normally consider.

Let’s take my poetry, for instance. Sometimes, the anime I’ve watched will factor into the brain-storming process. The two most notable examples of this would be Frozen Inferno and karoshi.

The former, while inspired chiefly by the compilation’s theme of paradoxes, also borrowed from the fire-and-ice powers of My Hero Academia character Shouto Todoroki, as well as the power dynamics of The Irregular at Magic High.

The latter’s title is a Japanese term, roughly meaning ‘death from overworking’. Had I not gotten into anime, I never would’ve learned that, and this poem wouldn’t exist.

Poetry Compilation I (link)
Frozen Inferno

An incomprehensible existence
which defies all laws by its mere presence:
An intense inferno at absolute zero.
It devours tirelessly
yet flowers ceaselessly,
spiraling endlessly
in freezing fractals of flame.

We all know this would never work.
Crystallized nothingness
in a searingly frigid abyss?
It exposes and disposes
of all common sense,
it’s nonsense incarnate.
Surely such a coupling could never work.

Heat absent of heat,
matter minus matter,
energy without energy.
Polar opposition
in synchronization;
a burning heart
and an ice-cold soul
in an equation so dysfunctional?
It simply does not compute.

It should not work,
and yet this frozen inferno
still keeps eternal
within an infernal
winter wonderland.

Poetry Compilation XIII (link)

The work never stops.
Fight ’til you drop.
Why did you stop?
Don’t you want this job?
Surely you want to stay off the streets.
Surely you want more than scraps to eat.
It’s not you have anywhere else left to go.
Even your pathetic life has value, you know?
All you must do is work ’til you drop.
Who knows, if you slave away every day,
Perhaps even you could make it to the top.
So work,
all day and night,
and fight.
’til your hair turns gray.
Be the dim lamp lit by filthy kerosene,
flickering faintly in pitch-black company.
No need to make a scene,
just do as you’re told,
and soon you’ll be free.

Which reminds me: there’s also the language barrier to consider. No matter how something gets translated, there will be some cultural nuances lost along the way… but that’s inevitable. As long as the major points are conveyed, that’s what really matters. You don’t necessarily need to be Asian to find entertainment in Asian media, just like you don’t need to be American to enjoy Disney films.

If you were to ask me when I got into anime, I’d have several potential responses. My first anime? Pokémon, when I was but a wee young lad. When I became aware of anime as a concept? In high school, while I was exploring the student clubs. When I became invested in anime? My first time volunteering at Animethon.

Regardless of the ‘when’, the ‘why’ remains the same: I think it’s interesting. It’s interesting to watch. It’s interesting to think about. I like to think. I like to be entertained. I like to feel for the characters. I like to think about the story’s direction, where it goes wrong, and what I’d do to fix it if I were given the writer’s pen. I like to be presented with new and interesting ideas.

I realize that anime isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. To the folks who prefer realism, the more fantastical elements of many anime won’t be appealing. The community is passionate, but at times, it can get a bit… heated. To outsiders and introverts, I can see how it would seem overwhelming. There’s the obvious aforementioned hurdle of the culture/language barrier, and I get why some people wouldn’t want to deal with that when there are other perfectly viable entertainment sources in their own native languages. Some people just naturally prefer books or live acting over animation, and again, that’s perfectly fine.

Whatever the reason, I don’t mind if you don’t share this interest. Everyone has a different range of likes, so I won’t be offended if you can’t get into it. I didn’t write this post to convince anyone of anything. I just wanted to have an honest talk, and share my own reasons for liking anime. With that, I’ve said most of what I wanted to say for now, so I’m gonna wrap this up.

The next post here will be a new Poetry Compilation, on the topic of pride. On Twitter, I might join in on the #anitwitwatches action, in which community members react to an anime (this season’s watch: Astra Lost In Space). On the Facebook page, I intend to create a poll soon, which will relate to my Jordan Peterson analysis.

I might try to do casual posts like this more often, free of any regular structure. It’s refreshing.