Monday, February 16, 2015

Why I Watch Anime

A compilation of popular anime characters
A while ago I was asked to write about my first exposure to anime. I've been meaning to do this forever because I really want to share some things that I value in anime. I guess I just kept putting other posts in front of this one for a long time...but no longer! *raises pen sword*
Before I begin, for those of you who don't know, anime is a style of animation that comes from Japan. While there are many characteristic of anime that set this type of media apart from North-American animations, one of the biggest is probably the art style that you've likely seen around the internet. Another is that just as "The Hunger Games" has been turned into a feature film, it's common for the anime series stem from a manga book (Japanese graphic novels to summarize) or light novel (kinda like our classification of young adult). Not all anime series are based on another text but many are.

As I've gotten myself into various writing communities, I've discovered that many writers are also anime addicts or at least affiliate themselves with a few fan-bases. 
I can honestly say that I never knew much of anime until I entered high school. A new group of friends that I started hanging around would sometimes make references to Naruto that I would pretend to understand but really was going, "Who's Sasuke?"
Anime seemed like such a commitment to me so I never even considered starting a series. 
Until that fateful day...
Lelouch: the protagonist of "Code Geass"

All it took was one Facebook status saying that I didn't know what to do with my life since I had finished exams. One of my friends linked me to the first episode of "Code Geass" and well, you do the math.
Once I finished "Code Geass" (which if you haven't watched, you must) I was left wondered how I had missed out on so much good media. As I got into other series by suggestion of some of my friends and my own interest, I started to realize what it is about anime urges me to search for new series: 

The art is gorgeous and unique between series. Since it's animation, everything is created by artists. Since there's so many different series, there's gotta be many different artists and because of that, art between series can be drastically different—and I love that. I've sometimes paused a series to admire one frame for awhile. 
The art in "Your Lie In April" is gorgeous.
This is Kaori, one of the main characters.
Many anime watchers have an art preference and maybe I do too, I just haven't pinpointed it yet. I can honestly say that I've sometimes stuck through a series just so that I could take in the art of it. 

I never have to rush home to catch the next episode. Around the time I started anime, I had recently given up on following any sort of series on TV since I could never be committed to staying at home every every Monday at six for four months at a time. Anime became something I could watch when I had the time to watch it since it's all online. 

It's so entertaining! And I'll admit, pretty addicting. When you can binge watch a fifty episode series over a weekend or finish a whole series of twelve episodes in one night, it's hard not to get addicted.

The characters are complex. Even minor characters sometimes are given a flashback so you can see their backstory. Every character has a past that has made them who they are at the time of the series and I love that! Instead of just identifying with protagonists and their friends, I sometimes find myself loving it when the main character's arch-nemesis gets screen time.
I know a lot of books and other TV shows (like "Revolution") do this but in books it's really hard and it's something I appreciate about this medium of storytelling.
"5 Centimetres Per Second"

Metaphors! Metaphors everywhere! Oh, and symbols and motifs and *melts with happiness* If you read my Beautiful People post last month, I talked about how much I love these things. "5 Centimetres Per Second" is filled with them. Even the photo I added of it on the right has symbols in it. That on top of the art and then on top of the story makes it my favourite anime film out there.

The plots don't follow Hollywood's mould for a good story. A Hollywood romance is not the same as an anime romance, a Hollywood action film is not the same as an action anime series. I'm sure this can be credited to the different cultures and I guess that's what I like about it. It's nice to see something different every once in awhile. 
Would you look at that, a Segway into my next point :D
"Blast of Tempest" is an interesting culture mix
since it's based on the works of
William Shakespeare.

Different cultures = fresh inspiration. Where I'm from, in our last year of high school education it's a requirement to take a course dedicated to the ideologies of the world and how they've formed over time. Something that I've learned already (I'm only a few weeks into the course) is that if you want to learn about a society, just look at their media. By involving myself in Japanese media, I'm exposing myself to a new society, a new culture and therefore broadening my perspective of the world. With a wider view of the world, I can pull inspiration from more sources which makes my job as a writer more interesting and ultimately, makes my work a little more diverse than if I boxed myself into one culture. 

I could talk about anime for a long time but I'll restrain myself XD 
Before I end the post I just want to put out there that I still do enjoy North-American films. When a group of my friends and I went to go see "The Maze Runner", I was bouncing in my seat as the opening credits started. My friend next to me had to calm me down. For the reasons above, I just prefer anime over most stuff I can find on my TV; maybe it's the whole grass is greener on the other side theory or something. I wonder if somewhere in Japan, someone has written a post like this one about how they prefer North-American media to Japanese... o.O 
We all have our preferences and I'd love to hear yours in the comment's below. Maybe you'll spark a new obsession in me just like my friend did with me and anime two years ago ;) 

Do you watch and enjoy anime? What drew you to it and/or keeps you coming back?