Anime’s bizarre influence: impacting student culture

February 6, 2020

From saiyans, time travelers, alchemists, and ice skaters to mechas, space cowboys, Pokémon trainers, ninjas, and duelists, anime truly sets no boundaries. It has become a cultural phenomenon that has truly pierced the heavens with its impact on millions of fans worldwide. However, more than just a cultural phenomenon, the anime and manga culture in general could have a deeper impact on people than what people assume.

People often watch anime as it provides a virtual break from restless and stressful lives. The optimistic and ambitious themes presented in lots of anime are perfect for this.

“It creates a storyline you can enjoy, that you can create yourself, and it gets you away from the real world,” sophomore Judah Belcher said.

The bright and positive vibes that most anime gives can prove to be helpful in dealing with stressful real-world situations. Even in the anime that leave their characters forced to live within walls or the anime that’s set in a stone world, seeing the perseverance of their characters can often prove as a fuel for ambition.

“It’s a coping mechanism,” Belcher said. “It helps me get away from my family sometimes, so it’s a good coping mechanism, like reading.”

Graphic by Desteny Casanova

The emphasized endurance and positivity present in anime can do more than solve short-term problems as well. Anime can improve motivation and fuel positive ideals.

“It’s made me a lot more optimistic,” sophomore Jason Barnett said.

Anime was born to make history. There are millions of fans worldwide, and watching anime can help people meet new        friends. Conversations about anime are always interesting and sometimes heated. Watching anime even gives people something to do with their family.

“My sister originally got me into it,” Barnett said. “It’s just something that affected my life by having something I can do with my family for once, just watching anime together.”

More than building new relationships with people, anime is relatable quite often as well. The diverse amount of characters with underlying themes and traits can provide plenty of opportunities to relate to them.

“Some anime I find interesting to watch, but some like Bleach I can connect to because I do have 2 sisters that are quite annoying sometimes,” Barnett said. “I can compare to Ichigo who is really annoyed by both of his sisters, but still cares about them greatly.”

Anime can help people get through real-life situations, and at the same time, lots of its characters are relatable. Although anime doesn’t set itself out to be ‘realistic’, it’s something that some people enjoy about it.

“I watch anime because it’s a lot more enjoyable and a lot less realistic,” Barnett said. “I like the idea that it can be anything it wants, unlike normal shows where it has to [follow the laws] of physics.”

A lot of the previous traits mentioned can still be found in some more western media. However, anime has unique aspects that truly individualize it from other forms of media.

“The art style [of anime] is a lot different and the author actually puts themselves in the story,” Belcher said.

The storylines of anime follow quite a different format as well. There are a lot of aspects that make the storylines of anime a unique and enriching experience.

“Other shows don’t really follow a storyline,” sophomore Deacon Jenkins said. “One of their characters could die and the next episode they’ll be perfectly fine. In anime that doesn’t happen, unless the storyline explains why they come back. And [anime] plots are good.”

One common theme among anime is symbolism. Lots of anime are ridden with foreshadowing and context that may reappear later in the series, making every bit of the adventure matter. This sense of ‘meaning’ in anime is what brings a lot of people to it.

“Most of the time [anime] has great story and meaning behind things,” said Barnett.

There are lots of good anime out there, but just like in every other genre, there are enjoyable anime and less enjoyable anime. There are certain qualities and themes that people look for when trying to find good anime, whether that be wealth, fame, power, or something else, People go and seek these traits when fishing for something new to watch.“More realism [is what I like to see],” Belcher said. “I enjoy those because they explain real-world problems.”

There are interesting traits to anime as well. One of these traits is being able to view impactful or intense situations in a controlled environment.

“The plot is interesting, [and] it’s much more interesting than watching the people at school, trust me,” Belcher said. “It has its drama controlled, so it’s a lot easier to understand the story.”

Emotion is a very important aspect of anime, as it is for nearly all things. Being able to convey emotion in an interesting and impactful way can enable a story to truly engage its readers.

“Emotion definitely brings a good feel to anime,” Barnett said.

There are two main methods that anime fans use to enjoy their shows. One way is with an English voiceover, which is called ‘English dub’, and the other way is English subtitles over the original Japanese voices, which is called ‘English sub’.

“If you’re really slow at reading, I think it’s better off [for you to watch] dub, so you can get all of the words. But if you’re good at reading, then [watching anime with] subtitles would definitely be better,” Barnett said.

Anime with more heroic themes, such as slaying demons or defeating vampiric stand users aren’t necessarily everyone’s favorite. Anime with dark and twisted protagonists could very well make it to the top of someones anime ranking.

“Death Note is one of [the best], and Psycho Pass [as well],” Belcher said.

Anime is typically divided into multiple categories that each have their own unique aspects and characteristics that truly define them as a genre. Shonen, seinen, isekai, and harem are just some of the many names people use to categorize anime.

“As far as [shonen] go, I think Seven Deadly Sins is my favorite,” Barnett said.

It is hard to find one single favorite anime. Lots of people have multiple favorite anime that they’re adamant about, and are ready to recommend to fellow anime goers.

“I have multiple favorite anime and there is no one that’s above all else,” Jenkins said. “If you want my most recommended anime, I would say Rising of the Shield Hero.”

Although there are certain aspects that lots of people like to see in anime, ‘good anime’ is truly defined by what is preferred.

“There’s no way to say what anime is truly better, it’s mainly based on your personal preference,” Belcher said.

However, there are still some anime considered by people to have bad traits that you want to avoid. Although some may try any anime to see if it fits their preference, others follow reviews and warning signs that may signify a story they won’t like.

“Just like a normal show, there’s good ones, bad ones, the ones in the middle, ones that are just not really worth watching, ones that are definitely worth watching, it just depends,” Barnett said.

Some of these ‘warning signs’ are quite apparent among anime fans. Though these warning signs may be different for other people, many have expressed their thoughts on what to avoid when trying out a new anime.

“It kind of depends on the writer,” Barnett said. “If the story is written in a way where it has a lot of entertainment and story in it, then it’s cool. But if it has a lot of emotions, then that’s something [good]. But if it’s an anime where it’s like, ‘ok imma go do this’, it’s not really that interesting, it’s just like ‘ok, I’m gonna do this then that then this then that’ and you don’t really get a feel of story through it like it’s just someone yelling or beating the crap out of you.”

Almost all anime is derived from manga. Manga refers to comics or graphic novels created in Japan that have a unique art style that is also seen in anime. A lot of anime fans also read manga.

“I watch anime while reading manga. I’ve been doing it [over winter] break,” Jenkins said. “That’s a pro-anime move.”

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