Hi. My name is Arshia Dhawan and I am here to tell you what a grave mistake you’ve been making your entire life if you’ve never watched anime.
This article will be serving two purposes, so to speak:
For those who watch anime - read this and pat yourself on the back for the good life choices that you’ve made so far.
For those who don’t watch anime - I’ll try my best to convince you to start watching it, and if by the end of this article you're still not convinced, well then I guess I will just respect your opinion.
Even though it’s a horrid opinion and people like you are the reason we can’t have nice things. Ok let’s go!
Argument 1 – “It’s in Japanese man, I don’t know Japanese. How can you even like something you can’t even understand?”
We all like plenty of things that we don’t understand. You liked Despacito well enough when it came out and last I checked it’s a Spanish song but scratch that.
There’s this lovely concept called “subtitles” if you’ve ever heard of ‘em. They are pretty useful for deaf listeners like me and racist people like you. And if this still does not convince you there are plenty of dubs out there (episodes and movies dubbed in the English language) that you can check out. You’re living in the 21st Century man. Grow up. Language shouldn’t be a barrier for you to enjoy different forms of media. Plus who knows you might even pick up some Japanese along the way (trust me it happens).
Argument 2- “It’s just its so…weird…”
I am not gonna lie anime is pretty weird, but the thing you’re forgetting when you say this is that:
Firstly not all anime is weird and secondly weird things are not always inherently creepy. Just because something is weird doesn’t mean that it can’t be good.
I mean, what does weird really even mean? It just means it’s so different from the things that you're accustomed to watching that you feel sort of uncomfortable watching it. Well, news flash, most new things feel weird first time around! You just get used to it. But honestly speaking, why would you ever want to get used to it?
Why watch another mind-numbing comfortably established episode of “friends” when you can watch Light Yagami and the brilliant detective L mind war each other into the possession of a notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written on it?
Like? Guys? C’mon? Why?
Death Note is right there. Watch that. Ross and Rachel can keep breaking up again and again.
Argument 3- “It’s just not my thing”
Trust me, if you have a “thing” I can assure you there is an anime for that.
The variety is c r a z y. You can think of the weirdest combo and there will be a 213 episode anime on that.
You like music and depression? BOOM Your lie in April.
Your intergalactic space adventures of a ragtag group of people with dark pasts and an underlying jazz overture? BOOM Cowboy Bebop.
Detective stories mixed with fantasy, school kid stories mixed with monster fighting, ghost hunting and romance, I mean anime genres are like a whole pick 'n' mix. There is no limit. Seriously.
But all jokes aside, the word animate literally means to bring to life. The point that I am trying to make here is not that animation is like reality but that it is no less than reality.
I believe that we place too much emphasis on realism as a virtue.
We tend to look down on animation as a medium and fantasy as a genre because of two reasons - they are primarily focused towards a younger generation and that they are placed too far away from reality to actually have any real impact.
The first argument falls flat if we examine the matter a little more. So what if it has been historically inclined towards children, animation has always evolved to better suit the changing world like most other genres and mediums have, which keeps it just as relevant.
The main ingredient of animation, I suppose, lies in the word imagination; which is again associated with children. But what is the problem with that? Yes, animation is more imaginative and crazy than your other forms of typical media, but this puts it to an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
It is this creative license to be crazy, to not follow the rules of physics or science or anything for that matter that gives animation such a free playing ground.
A small example I can give you here is the way social anxiety was depicted in the anime movie Koe No Katachi (A Silent Voice). To fully show the main character’s detachment from the rest of the world the animators decided to animate black crosses on people’s faces whenever he used to talk to them (or just when he's around them in general because he has trouble looking people in the eye and never looks up). It was a simple yet very effective technique because in the end when the protagonist comes to his final realisation and summons his courage to look up, all the crosses fall away. It is empowering and beautiful to an extent that just cannot be encapsulated by live-action.
Secondly, we must remember that things do not need to be real to have real effect.
These characters might be made up but the problems that they face and the people that they reflect surely are not. In fact, isn’t that the very basis of fiction?
To reflect the problems, situations, and people that exist in our world in a world that effectively doesn't.
Good fiction like good anime should be believable, not realistic.
And finally, we come to Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli movies.
If you have any good taste in films or if you have ever studied film then you must have come across these two names. Think of the Ghibli studio as your Japanese Disney - but if Disney wasn’t lying to your face all the time. Miyazaki has been making films for a good 40 years now and there is a running joke about how every year he announces that he is retiring but ends up drawing or writing a new movie.
Ghibli movies are known for a lot of things, perhaps their most famous ones being Grave of the Fireflies which is about a journey of two siblings after the bombing of Hiroshima, and I promise you that you won’t be able to make it through the movie without crying your eyes out. My Neighbour Totoro which is a light-hearted folk tale about a magical creature resembling a big furry cat-bear called Totoro.
You also have your Ocean Waves or From Up The Poppy Hill that deal with very simple and sweet but touching stories about teenage struggle.
Movies like Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service are breathtaking fantasies filled with endearing characters and music that stays with you long after you've finished watching them.
These are beautiful, magical, meaningful movies that you have never watched solely because they are in a language that you do not know and in a medium that you are not familiar with.
Do yourself a favour and google any of these movies or tv shows and sit through one. With subs or dubs anything just try it out once.
We live in an Asian country and we take a piling hot dump over Asian media be it K-pop or Anime or Thai TV shows or whatever. It is another thing to try out new things and to dislike them, but to have a mental block is just prejudice. Plain and simple.
So yeah, in conclusion, don’t be a racist. Watch anime you coward.