Today, I am going to skip the standard Self-Care Sunday post. Instead, I wanted to share with you five anime characters that always inspire me to fight my depression and other mental health illnesses. Since the holidays are a terrible time for me, I wanted to try and focus on a bit of positivity to help counteract my inner emotional turmoil.
If you sit down and think about it, this post can be construed as a sort of self-care discussion. The five individuals I shall be mentioning today have a way of instilling within me a sense of hope and compassion that works to drive me towards crawling out of depressive episodes, or worse. More often than not, they also help encourage me to keep on working towards things that I love, even if it seems daunting or nigh impossible.
I believe that a vital part of self-care isn’t merely doing things that bring you joy, but also consists of participating in actions that help alleviate the stress and challenges that life brings your way, particularly when your own brain and heart contributes to those difficulties. The hardest part of self-care is usually the act of caring or giving a damn about yourself. I find it far easier to worry about others and to do things to make other people smile rather than to do things for myself. Nevertheless, watching and re-watching serials with characters that can illustrate the greatest example of fortitude and strength probably helps me more than I ever thought possible, and I’m pretty excited to chat with you about them!
05. Chihaya Ayase
Chihaya is the main character from the manga/anime series Chihayafuru (ちはやふる). One of the things that I admire the most about Chihaya is her determination. She’s quite zealous about Karuta and that passion is something that I feel is so essential to living a good life. There are many things that I’m ardent about and I know that if I didn’t have it within me, or in my life at all, I would be far more miserable and unfulfilled. When Chihaya becomes utterly heart-broken over losing a match, instead of feeling super sad, she is filled with awe and admiration for her opponent’s skills and becomes that much more resolute to kick their arses next time. That’s when I smile with warmth and fluff within my chest. I may be crying along with her, but her kindness and her humanity with the things that give her so much joy in life, and then using it to push herself further, is absolutely astounding. Seeing her drive come alive, ignites a spark inside of me for the things that I love the most in my own existence, such as writing stories and creating art. From Chihaya, I am inspired to pursue my passions with every ounce of energy I’ve got.
04. Kyōko Mogami
Kyōko is the main character in the manga/anime series Skip Beat! (スキップ・ビート!). I relate to her so much! She is emotionally impulsive and brash and has a way of speaking far before she thinks, and those are traits that I encompass so colourfully. Most of the time they get me in trouble, either with myself or with others, but sometimes they can work to my benefit, similarly to Kyōko. The best part about her is her stubbornness and the way she values people, especially their struggles. She was betrayed by the only person whom she ever called “friend.” That kind of betrayal can royally fuck someone up. It took its toll on her, but instead of allowing herself to build a cave of negativity and hatred around her heart (except for the asshole who screwed her over), she uses it as a reminder to never hurt other people. She’s one of the gentlest, most thoughtful individuals I’ve ever read about/seen. There’s an arc in the manga where she’s being bullied. Yeah, it frustrates her and pisses her off, however, when she learns why the character is such an asshole to her, she goes out of her way to help them deal with their issues so that they can stop suffering, since their suffering is the cause of their tantrums. I like to argue that I don’t have patience for that sort of thing, but in all honesty, when you help someone on such a grand scale like that, the feeling of comfort and joy from seeing their relief and happiness is indescribable. I live with a lot of pain and sadness of my own, and I understand quite intimately how that can cause someone to behave irrationally, or even quite rudely. It’s a defence mechanism unlike any other. From Kyōko, I am inspired to be more courteous of others and to look past the superficial shell of bitch or douchebag that may just be a cover for terrible, terrible pain.
03. Gon Freecss
Gon is the main character in the manga/anime series Hunter x Hunter (ハンター×ハンター). My favourite part about Gon is how he doesn’t give up simply because something seems impossible. He was abandoned by his father and goes on a quest to understand why his father would sacrifice being a parent. I always expected him to be angry and bitter, even resentful, for what Ging had done to him. Yet, instead of allowing himself to be overwhelmed by such negativity, he seeks to understand a situation that he knows nothing about. That is one of the most difficult parts of life: seeing the good in an otherwise shitty situation. By embarking on a journey that is similar to Ging’s, Gon shows us consideration and a desire to empathise that is beautifully profound. We see its affects in the characters he meets along the way, such as with Killua who comes from a family of assassins. Additionally, the adventure he undergoes is incredibly hard, but he never allows that to discourage him or intimidate him. I get unbelievably frightened by life, particularly with the obstacles that I feel I may not be emotionally strong enough to overcome. Nevertheless, when I watch Hunter x Hunter, and I see Gon tackle every single wall that rises up against his aspirations, and the many creative ways he breaks those down—sometimes taking it slow via brick by brick—I feel wonderfully energised and inspired to do the same. Life is always going to try to bury you in a mountain of despair, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it. Instead of getting pissed off, all you need to do is get some fresh perspective, like going on an adventure to see how it compares to whatever assumptions you may have created in your own head (due to fears and insecurities you may not want to admit are there). From Gon, I am inspired to be more considerate of things way outside of my perception and control, and to not be afraid of those impediments that want to keep me down.
02. Natsume Takashi
Natsume is the main character for the anime/manga series Natsume’s Book of Friends (夏目友人帳). My reasons for loving Natsume and feeling inspired by him are quite similar to that of Kyōko’s: he sees the good in people (or spirits of various sorts) and tries his hardest to help them, more often than not at the expense of himself. However, another lesson that Natsume has taught me is that life is never as daunting and dreadful as we can make it out to be, especially when we have hope. He is an orphan who was passed around from one family to the next—unwanted and alone—until one day he found a home with some of the nicest folks he’s ever met. Even though Natsume had resigned himself to his loneliness, he never really stopped hoping that things would get better. Eventually through various circumstances and encounters, he became less alone. Natsume had acquired a group of people—fleshy and non-fleshy—that respect him and treat him like family. The idea of hope is also something that he gives to the people that he helps. That sense of belief can be a burdensome thing, specifically when you keep getting the short end of the stick. Yet, on the flip side, it can be a beacon that keeps you inspired to fight and continue, to drudge through the snow of sorrow to the other end. I loathed the concept of it until I watched this anime. Then unexpectedly, I started to see hope in things that I would do. They were small things at first, like passing exams. Over time, it grew and grew. Hope was the only thing that kept me afloat when I was married to the worst person ever. Now during the holidays, it’s the only thing that helps me survive from one day to the next. Some days it’s more backbreaking to hold on to than others, but it doesn’t feel nearly as disheartened and useless as it used to. From Natsume, I am inspired to stay hopeful and (dare I say) optimistic that with each hardship I face, the light on the other side shall be that much brighter.
01. Eikichi Onizuka
The last person on my list is from my favourite anime/manga series, GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka (グレート・ティーチャー・オニヅカ). There isn’t really one aspect that keeps me positive when I watch or read GTO. The series isn’t fluffy and warm like the others that I have mentioned (although Hunter x Hunter gets pretty fucked-up). It sure as hell isn’t always feel-good either, while it is consistently laugh-your-arse-off wonderful. The lesson that I learn with Eikichi—and it’s one I love coming back to time-and-time again—is that life is a bitch no matter who you are, what you have, and where you go. You can be the richest motherfucker in the land and still be unsatisfied. You can have a group of friends to hang out with and still be a loner. You can have the perfect, most-loving partner and never feel loved. Eikichi doesn’t sugar-coat or bullshit any parts of life. For him, it’s about grabbing life by the bollucks and making the most of the situations that you are handed. Because this is a breath-takingly genuine and real depiction of what it means to be alive, it’s my favourite. His lessons are perfect for anyone, whether you’re a teenager or an oldy; there’s something there for every occasion. I love all of the other shows and characters that I’ve mentioned. Nonetheless, Eikichi is the best because nothing feels more supportive to me than the message of: “Yes, things fucking suck right now. But so what? Are you really going to let that stop you?” I know that when I’m feeling my worst, I hate hearing that phrase. Yet it’s exactly the sort of thing that I need to hear. No matter how tough I think my life is, it’s guaranteed that there is someone out there who has it far worse than I ever will/did. From Eikichi Onizuka, I am inspired to accept that life fucking sucks, but it doesn’t have to stop me from living, or from finding joy in the things that I do have.
I know this post became quite long. I may not have set-out to write a post of this size, but I wanted to give attention to each of these characters so that I can show you what they mean to me as a person who has Major Depressive Disorder, and as an individual that finds it immensely challenging to wake up to the sunrise of tomorrow. I feel that it is a beautiful thing to be able to find solace in the unlikeliest of places, or people. Life is full of surprises, and those surprises can be rather unwanted more regularly than not, yet it doesn’t mean that they need to be so dreary. Sometimes, we have to conjure up our very own surprises and say, “Not today.” (Thanks A Song of Ice and Fire for that quote. It’s so bloody profound and I fucking love it).
Thank you so much for visiting me today. I appreciate the support! Until next time, keep reading and keep otakuing. 🖤
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