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Anime: The Good

Anime does seem like one of those forms of media that people have a hard time to get in to, at least here in the west. A lot of it is cultural, of course. There is a lot that just does not work here in the west. Then again, I see the league of dedicated fans that consumes pretty much all there is in the way of anime, and the style of animation that entails, choosing games on that merit alone, and walking around calling me Elias-chan, whether I'd like them to or not.

I don't fall in either category, but seem to love some of the things that entails the genre, and absolutely loath other things. So I thought I'd go through the things that interest me about this, let's be honest, weird splash of Japanese culture that seems to have invaded the world, and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. And just to be clear, these are my thoughts and feelings, me who would not say that I am an expert in the field. If you feel that I am wrong or misinterprets something, that is fine, but this is what is jumbling around in my mind.

If there is one word that encapsulate everything I think about anime it is unapologetic. It seems to be entirely blind or unbothered by what people think about it. It does its thing and sticks to whatever that is, from the very creative, to the wildly problematic. But let's stick to the good for now. There is thing thing I really love about the unapologetic take on creativity as it often leads to some sort of unhinged creative force. Instead of some sort of executive stomps down on your idea because it is too far out there, you are free to pursuit whatever bonkers idea you think is interesting. A few examples. There is this plot, a tension filled thriller revolving around the kidnapping of children in a school, told from the perspective of a group of children. Pretty standard, but with an interesting twist, something someone here in the west might go for. Then there is this, one of the kids is actually his 29-year old self from the future, inhabiting his younger body. I believe this is where the Hollywood executive it stepping out of the room, but in the hands of the creator of anime, it becomes one of my favorite anime-series, Erased. Another example can be, we want to have an anime where society is reset to almost zero. Again, pretty standard. But we want the people there to regain the knowledge of the past, and the entire thing is about rebuilding society, and whether to do it warts and all, or make it better, and what that entails. Let's just make everyone turn to stone for thousands of years and take it from there, like in Dr. Stone. Or, let's make an anime about ninjas, but their kind of magical and wear orange jumpsuits. Or let's make an anime about a crazy competitive food school, where good food is measured in how much of our clothes fall off. Now, I get that most of the concepts of anime has often been proven through their manga counterpart, but that still does not take away from the fact that there is a creativity unlike that which we see in the west.

Another sort of trope of anime I actually really like is the very Japanese concept of hard work. To be the very best, like no-one ever was, it takes not just inert talent, or in some cases any inert talent at all. It takes hard work and passion. For someone who has dabbled a lot in the art of music, I know that the people who are very good at their instrument works hard on that. I had a friend who played guitar for four hours a day, and that is for some at the low end. That might sound like something obvious, but I just watched Rocketman about Elton John, where the point seemed to be that he is just awesome at what he does from the get go. That is what many, especially young people, think, "I can't draw/play/act, there is no point in trying". But the thought that he who is the most passionate and tries the hardest is the one that rises to the top, is both more accurate to the world as it is, but also a lot more uplifting to the one that feels left out because they feel that they do not have any inert talent.

There are a lot of other reasons to love this form of media as well, like their mastery of the physical humor (see Saiki-K, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu) or their ability to tackle difficult subjects in movies for kids (see When Marnie Was There), but I think these are the main reasons why I gravitate towards it. Now, next, let's talk about why I don't gravitate to all anime. The bad.

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