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?


  1. I've only ever watched the first season of Sword Art Online. Sometimes I hear of an anime and think I'd like to watch it, but I don't know where to find it online. Also, a lot of anime has a bad reputation for lots of gay characters (I'm not hating, I just can't relate to those), objectified women, etc. If you can recommend any animes without any (or at least a lot) of those things I'd be more than happy to check them out.

    1. Totally understandable. I'm a little wary about series like that too. There /can/ be some good ones but you've really got to be careful which is why it's nice to have friends that I can screen a new anime through.
      The three websites I use are, and You're bound to find any series between those three and if you can't find them then you can google something like, "watch 5 Centimetres Per Second subbed" and some other site will come up.

      As for recommendations, I'd go with "Say I Love You" (12 episodes so it's a good starter series), "Your Lie In April" (one of my all time favourites) , "5 Centimtres Per Second" or "Wolf Children" (it sounds cheesy but it's quite good and everyone that I've showed it to agrees). All of those have a more 'slice of life' and romance feel to it but I love them and will always recommend them.
      If you're into more action stuff, "Fate/Zero" is good and there's a follow up series called "Fate/Stay Night" that I would recommend. However "Fate/Zero", despite being amazing, is pretty dark so I'll want you there.
      I have more so if you're looking for a certain type I can narrow it down for you but that's a semi-brief list :)

    2. Haha, thanks, I appreciate it. I did like Sword Art Online a lot, so I do like the action type things. I've also heard of Hetalia and think that the concept is interesting, but I've heard there's a few slightly weird things in it.

    3. Yeah, I've heard some weird things on that one of the reasons why I haven't watched it.
      Code Geass has action and so does Black Bullet. Those two are both good ones if you're interested in more actiony things

  2. I’ve always hesitated to get into anime because, as you said, there are just SO MANY different ones! And my ocd personality is such that when I start a thing, I want to be able to see/understand the whole of it. Basically, I’d feel unfulfilled unless I watched AALLLL the anime (except the hentai, obviously). Isn’t that STUPID?!?!?! XD

    That being said, I haven’t heard of any of these anime! I’ve only heard of some of the extra-popular (I guess) ones, like Naruto, Sword Art Online, Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist, Hetalia, Attack on Titan, Fairy Tale, Soul Eater, Ouran High School Host Club, and Black Butler. Soo, basically whatever’s on Netflix. XD

    1. Haha! I know the feeling! I used to have a childhood dream to read every book in the world XD
      I really enjoyed Death Note. It's a great psychological anime. I've seen Sword Art and am working on Naruto (my goodness...what a commitment!) but other than that, I don't watch a lot of the super popular stuff. The ones that I mentioned are really good though! You should check them out if you think you can fight your OCD ;)

  3. You should really check out Aldnoah.Zero. I think you would really like it... the main character is really intelligent. He's sort of like a less-so emotional and stoic Ender.

    1. A less emotion and stoic Ender? I need to check this one out for sure then ^ ^

  4. Great post! I agree, I love all of the different styles of anime, its like each one has a different personality, (and oooooh the metaphors/symbols though <3 )
    I still need to finish Your Lie in April ( as you suggested that one after all) but I can never seem to find the time with my course load! I need to take a weekend off and just binge watch a bunch of anime :P I would be an anime addict if time permitted. And Its hard to get into anime unless you have friends that can make suggestions, I've watched a few anime on my own, but I've always found it overwhelming because of the sheer amount of it out there.

    1. Yeah there's a lot...which is probably why people become addicted...there's a never ending supply!