This morning I shall be partaking in the Why Do I Love Anime Challenge, which is a project that was crafted by Ty-Chama. She tagged me to participate a while back and I am rather excited to finally complete this challenge. One of the reasons that it took me so long to get to it is because it ended up being quite a thoughtful experience, and I didn’t want to half-arse my way through it. I hope you will enjoy reading this as much as I did with putting it together. I would also like to thank Ty-Chama for creating this community wide project. It caused me to be very reflective and in the end, it helped me learn quite a bit about myself. Honestly, it just fuelled my passion for anime, and a few others, with a deeper appreciation and respect.
- Write a post about anime, naming your favourite thing(s) about it.
- Be as personal or impersonal as you’d like to be; maybe write about how it helped you through a tough time, or taught you something, or just how much fun you’ve had with it.
- Nominate 3 bloggers for the challenge.
- Link back to the original post: Ty-Chama’s Why I Love Anime Challenge.
Why do I love anime? What is it about Japanese animation that keeps me coming back for more and more, year after year? These are questions that I have never sat down and explored completely. In the back of my mind, I had always felt that my reasons for adoring this art were as obvious as the sky being blue or grass being green. Yet, here I am, unsure if that is even true. As humans, we are naturally drawn to things that fascinate us, intrigue us, bedazzle us in some shape or form, whether aesthetically, intellectually, or emotionally. At its very core, anime affects me in every sense, and that is where my passion for it comes from.
My very first anime experience came with Initial D, when I was an adolescent. This was far before I even understood what anime was. I simply remember watching it with my brother and identifying with Takumi Fujiwara on quite a personal level. Both of us began driving because we were urged to do so by a family member—him with his father, me with my brother—and similarly to him, I didn’t get into racing until I was pushed it into it by my brother and friends. Then quite shortly afterwards, I realised how much I loved racing. My career with the sport and my fascination for cars followed. Takumi didn’t know a lick about the technicalities of racing or how an engine works and neither did I. The only thing we knew was how to drive and adjust to the specific situation accordingly based entirely on instinct. It was also the first time that I learned an extraordinary life lesson: you don’t have to know anything about a subject to enjoy it, at least not at first. When it catches your attention, that is when you learn and blossom with it. When people expect you to already master some part of topic before you even have the chance to educate yourself on it is when the passion dies; we see this a lot in school systems particularly. Initial D taught me that lesson and it is something I have carried with me ever since even though I would not watch anime again after that period for another three or four years.
About thirteen years ago, I came across a series called Wolf’s Rain, which was shortly after I found my obsession for the science-fiction genre in books. The narrative and the beauty of the animation completely blew me away. I am someone who craves exceptional storytelling, no matter the medium. Wolf’s Rain not only had a beautiful straight-forward story to it, but it had such complexities to the themes that blew my mind. I wouldn’t come to fully grasp the impact of those themes until many years later when I would sit down and re-watch it again and again. Nevertheless, I had never seen anything like it. That was when my interest in Japanese animation specifically had begun.
After thirteen years of watching anime, if I had to choose the qualities that make it such a vital part of my life, they’d have to be: the narrative power; vibrant lessons to help me face life; the exploration of Japan’s culture, history, creeds, etc., whether subtle or more forthright; and the way it resonates with my other big passions, such as writing, classical music, and classical paintings. The first two qualities are ones that never fluctuate and are almost always relative with every anime series/film that I watch.
A fellow blogger once referred to me as a voracious reader. At first, it caught me off guard. But the more that I contemplated it, the more that I realised he was quite correct. I am a voracious reader. As a child and as a youth, I read to escape my life, whether they were the criticisms of an oppressively conservative family, or the abuse by classmates and partners. Being able to travel to different countries, worlds, and realms via literature helped me cope with a lot of the negativity that I was drowning in. Anime became the same sort of sanctuary for me. I began watching it consistently and regularly soon after getting married, and during most of those very dark years it would help me to flee the ugly face of my reality. It was something I could allow myself to get completely absorbed and lost in.
Most of the stories that I experienced via anime, as aforementioned, weren’t like anything else I had ever read or seen. Wolf’s Rain is about a pack of wolves trying to find a place of peace and beauty in a world filled with the ugliness of greed and corruption. GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka is about a guy showing kids that not ever adult is a self-centred and inconsiderate piece of trash; that life is about making the most with what you have—little or big—and taking advantage of every opportunity to pursue your dreams, regardless of your age. Koihime Musō, as awful as it was, was about a group of women warriors who didn’t bend over to appease men and fought for what they believed was right and true. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is a story about family, the bonds that ties people to together as well as the ones that push people to wit’s end, and how to face extraordinary loss with incredible perseverance.
All of these are stories that I never would have been able to enjoy, or cry to, if not for anime. Each one not only allowed me to encounter fantastic adventures of one sort or another, but they also taught me so many lessons on how to cope better with life. The morsels of wisdom kept me inspired to keep fighting, to the best of my ability, for a future that I hoped would amount to so much more than what it was. Wolf’s Rain showed me that having hope and a drive can take you anywhere in life, no matter how bleak everything around you may seem. GTO showed me that life is jam-packed with disappointments and heartbreak, but they don’t have to consume you or imprison you. They can be a source of power and inspiration. Koihime Musō taught me that women can be fierce badass fighters that don’t need to be—shouldn’t be—oppressed and controlled by others. Anything that a person who’s not a woman can do, a woman do equally or much better. At least that was my thinking ten years ago. Now, I believe that anyone of any gender or race or creed can do anything they set their heart and mind to. No one is superior or inferior to another. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood taught me that perseverance isn’t something you come across naturally, or it wouldn’t be perseverance. It is something that requires vast quantities of hard work, and that at the end you fill find yourself that much stronger, wiser, and more capable than you ever believed possible. The series also taught me how to accept the death of my brother and to try to see the horizon beyond the black clouds of rainy despair.
After much introspective exploration, I finally came to understand that my love for anime was never as black-and-white as I had originally perceived it to be. While I adore the profound narrative impact of anime and all of the ways that it continues to help me grow as an individual, including the maintenance of an open mind, my respect and adoration for the art goes far beyond anything that can be put into mere words. Life is never as bland and basic as people accept it to be, whether on a small level or a grander scale, so why the bloody hell should we expect our passions to be the same?