Sometimes I get asked by friends or relatives the age old question.
Mel? They start out, hesitant and possibly just a little afraid. Why do you watch the anime? You know, them crazy cartoons? I always grin a little bit when they ask that because I know just by the question they’re a little biased already. Biased within reason too. Several years ago I was in their place, asking the very same question of the people I knew who watched anime. In fact, I thought anime was for small toddlers and freaks1. And it pretty much still is but–there’s another side to it that luckily, I was introduced to by a very classy lady who writes for Rulihe.com.
My answer for those who ask me now, however, why I watch anime is, “Because I’ve been watching cartoons since I can remember. Why shouldn’t I watch anime?”
As far back as I can recall anyway, there has always been a cartoon series to watch. My toddler, early teen age years and early adulthood were filled with animation! Looney tunes,
Voltron, G.I. Joe, He-man, She-Rah, the Flintstones, Care bears, Pirates of Dark Water, Snorks, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Gargoyles, Thunder Cats, Beetlejuice, Batman, Aristocrats, Snow White, Lady and the Tramp, X-men, Dexters Labratory….My personal list would go on and on.
So there’s the set up right up there. Yet, I can hear the cries of Loony Tunes fans as well as anime fans alike. They’re not the same! They might shriek as they’re clutching their pikachu plushies and Bugs Bunny replicas. I dare say at their core, they are. They are both:
- A series of stories
- A series of character stories following a story plot for some sort of outcome be it humorous or not
- A series of stories either hand animated or now-a-days computer animated. Animated.
But trundle away from the core of what anime and my favorite cartoons were and we start to see the differences. Anime has license to boldly go where Bugs Bunny would never dare go. It can tackle such issues as violence, death, depression, disease, war and the human (or not human at all) condition. It can be a gore-fest or sexually explicit or it can be a bunny infested cute-pop of sugary sweetness aired early on Saturday morning where kids scream for the latest cards. It is so much more than just my Saturday morning cartoons while allowing me to be a little nostalgic and still watch ‘cartoons’ as an adult. There’s a grand, grand wonderful story hidden in a lot of anime that some are entirely missing out on due to either being poorly informed; watching horrific dubs, or being exposed to the wrong kind of anime…
What kind of anime is the wrong kind? The tentacle-small children-we-like-to-rape-everything-that-moves-sex-with-your-mom/sister/dad/brother/chicken oddness that some times goes hand in hand in dealing with anime–that’s the wrong kind. If you’ve been exposed to that, or god forbid, Digimon and it’s various off shots? That isn’t exactly the kind of anime I am talking about here. It is not all like that. Also: It is my duty as a complete and total opinionated bastard to inform you that I don’t consider any of the above mentioned rape/sex/chicken stuff to be any sort of art form to waste your time with. To those that do…Well….You scare me dudes. You scare me.
Anyway, I understand however that it is just not for everyone. There were several things that kept me away from anime for the longest time (and still do in some cases):
- Some times reading subtitles distracting. I want to focus on the action above the bottom of the screen.
- Some of it is hard to understand, with metaphors and cultural references foriegn
- Dubs are generally just awful to listen to, with lackluster voice acting or horric voice acting that can mentally scar.
- Excessive sexuality or gore for no logical reason. Cute bunnies and the–BAM: BLOOD EVERYWHERE AND RAPE–wtf?
- Too childish a story.
- Over the top animation
- Tentacles that have tentacles
- Children. ‘Nuff said.
- Way, way out there shit that I don’t even want to type here.
- The fans are generally nuttier than I am. That takes talent. And perhaps ritual sacrifice…but talent.
I watch anime, not for the panty shots or the nose bleeds or the silly cute faces. I watch anime because inside, I’m still a kid looking at an art form that tells amazing stories. I’m an adult searching for a tale to wind myself up into and I find some of the amazing stories told through animation. To me, they’re just as satisfying as those told on television or in a movie. Maybe this is just another phase I am going through in my quest to forever hold onto that wide-eyed sense of wonder, maybe I’m just forever doomed to be twelve. I’m surprisingly okay with either or!
If you don’t watch anime I won’t hold it against you for several of the reasons I’ve already listed as well as several more I won’t bother grossing myself out by going into. I won’t rant and wail at you if you don’t want to try watching it either. I always thought that maybe an explanation as to while I enjoy it might finally be in order, so here it is.
I like a good story, I like something pretty to look at while I am doing it, I like to be moved. It’s pretty simple! I just want to be entertained and anime does that a-plenty for me.