I love Anime.
Given the content of this blog that should be more than obvious.
Most of my leisurely activities relate to Anime in some way, whether it be watching a series, blogging or reading about something related to the medium or just looking through some really cool artwork or listening to some good old soundtracks or theme songs.
It’s safe to say that this medium plays a huge role in my life and in several instances it’s had a big impact in shaping who I am as individual.
But why Anime specifically?
In my work place I’m renowned for being a massive fan of Anime, mostly because I don’t make any efforts to keep it secret through my choice of clothing and personal effects. And while many of my work colleagues do occasionally delve into Anime through the likes of Akira, Madoka Magica or whatever’s currently available on Netflix, they aren’t particularly well versed in the medium, often preferring the latest TV show or feature film.
So naturally I’m often asked “Why Anime and not TV shows or movies?”
And honestly, the answer is that I’ve never really been able to connect with TV or movies the way I have with Anime.
Don’t get me wrong, while I’m not particularly fond of movies, I really enjoy TV shows. I actually watch them about as much as I do Anime, since my girlfriend and I will often stick something on Netflix or Kodi while having dinner together. And I more or less always have a good time with them. I’ve got a bunch of favourite TV series that I have some fond memories of, such as Angel, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and more recently, Frequency, which has recently taken a spot in my all time favourite shows.
But none of these shows, even Angel which is my favourite TV show ever, have even remotely come close to resonating with me on the same level as anything I would consider to be my favourite Anime. Something like Game of Thrones, despite its intricate narrative, incredibly complex characters and gripping drama could never hold a candle to Hunter x Hunter in my eyes.
Because although I really enjoy TV shows, I feel that they have a severe lack variety in their primary focus. If I watch a drama like Breaking Bad or Dexter, I know exactly what I’m going to get. I’m going to witness tons of heavy drama that keeps me on the edge of my seat at all times and stresses me out like crazy because I can’t take the bloody suspense. If I watch something like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, I can expect a lot of characters I like are going to die in horribly gruesome ways and that misfortune is going to befall pretty much everyone in the show because of constant backstabbing and selfishness being spread among its cast.
But if I watch a Shounen Anime, I have no idea what I’m really in store for. It could be a gripping underdog story like Naruto or My Hero Academia, that follows an inexperienced protagonist who wants to become the best by working hard and battling his way up through the ranks and eventually succeeding. Or it could be a more mature series that focuses more on a character that wishes to find his place in the world, like Bleach, Hitman Reborn! or Hunter x Hunter. And that’s not even getting into the other, more varied genres of Anime like Mahou Shoujo or Mecha.
I’m not saying that TV shows or movies don’t have variety. They most certainly do, but whenever I watch a drama like Game of Thrones or Heroes, they always feel the same. It always feels like I’m watching a very similar show with a different cast of characters and a different story.
Do I still enjoy them? Of course I do. I love Game of Thrones. It’s a fantastic show. But the emotions I feel are no different from those I felt when I watched 24 or Frequency. I felt tense and incredibly stressed out. I never felt relaxed or felt like there was ever a moment where I could just sit back and take a deep breath.
The same applies to other genres, like comedy. Unless I don’t find it funny, I can guarantee that an episode of Family Guy is likely to make me feel almost the same way as an episode of Boy Meets World or Parks and Recreation.
But Anime isn’t like that for me at all. On its own, Hunter x Hunter made me feel a huge variety of emotions from almost every part of the spectrum.
In the beginning of the show, I always felt a warm sensation of optimism and adventure. I was moved by the adventures of Gon and his friends. Then, later on when the story developed into something much darker and serious, I felt tense and afraid. But at the same time, the show did a fantastic job of keeping a smile on my face, by maintaining its optimism through the positive interactions between its two main characters. Then suddenly, by the end of that incredibly long, dark and thematically deep story arc, I felt incredibly depressed because of its climax which completely shattered any expectations I had. The show affected me so much that it actively changed how I felt about and approached certain aspects of my life. I’m not kidding when I say that the series made me into a far more positive person. It had a major impact on my life.
That’s an experience that was unique to Hunter x Hunter alone and I have one for just about every Anime that I’ve watched and found myself enjoying.
No TV show or movie has ever managed to make me feel such a complicated and varied storm of emotions.
A lot of people will often cite The Wire as being an example of something that Anime will never be able to achieve, that it’s in a league of its own and that no Anime script could ever measure up to something like it.
But I don’t care about The Wire. Because something like The Wire stresses me out and makes me shake with intensity the entire time I’m watching it. That’s all it does. That’s all it is. But I want to feel all kinds of emotions and see a variety of ideas thrown at me over the course of a series.
And Anime does that. Almost every TV show, to me, is one really great idea that’s normally executed brilliantly, but it’s nothing else beyond that. But a well made Anime, such as One Piece, Gurren Lagann or Neon Genesis Evangelion, tends to be a bunch of great ideas mixed together to form a different kind of experience that I just prefer.
I like ideas. I like variety. I like my emotional wavelength to be altered over the course of a show.
And that’s what Anime does for me.
Of course there’s more to it than that. I also love the aesthetic of Anime and I love the fact that it’s a medium that allows for some really over the top and wacky stories to be realised. I love the cheesy opening and ending themes and their neat little sequences of cool visuals and animations. I love the over dramatic voice acting and the often silly dialogue.
But most importantly, I love Anime for that emotional resonance. It provides me with an ocean of different feelings that no TV show could ever come close to making me feel. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry and most importantly it makes me care.
It doesn’t just make me feel one emotion the whole time.
I love Anime.
It’s the best.
Never change, Anime.