Every anime-fan and lover has gotten this question at some point ever since the beginning of the interest. And not specifically this one...
- Why do you like anime?
- Why do you watch anime?
- Why did you start watching anime?
- Why do you feel so engaged with the culture of anime?
These questions might necessarily not just have been asked by someone who doesn't watch anime, but by ourselves as well. Many great thinkers of our time and in the past have laid down alot of thought and effort into explaining behaviour, phenomenon and just common things.
It's not for nothing that Newton started thinking about *why* the apple is falling downwards and that very same formula got us to the moon.
Now, I don't consider myself as a "great thinker", certainly not one of our modern time at least XD
But I am gonna give you my take on perhaps the most clichéd topics one could discuss about on anime...
Why did we start watching anime?
Why do we like anime?
Why so engaged with the concept of anime? Simply said:
Why anime? Just a heads-up! This might be one of the longest Cards I have ever made (I don't know...XD). Each Card in this has an abundance of text relevant to the point that I'm trying to make and convey to you. I am, as I said, exploring the very reasons us anime-viewers started watching, enjoy and stuck to anime for so long and more.
You can see this Card as one of the more abundant and more collective persona of all "Why anime?" that has been made, planned on being made and those who are meant
to be made.
Again, long texts ahead. So get yourself comfy The Anime-Virus
The Idea of a Virus "An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you."
- Dominic Cobb (Inception) In this part of the info-article, I'll be using a comparison and the paralells that can be found with the biological phenomenon of Viruses. Viruses as we know them are diseases and living organisms (debatable, viruses mainly has RNA instead of DNA and bla bla bla) and live inside a host's body to feed of it, spread and reproduce.
The coolest part about the quote on top is that *so* many paralells can be drawn with ideas and viruses. In the biological field, one who protects himself from viruses and diseases usually have a hightened immune-system, staying healthy and generally fit and sound body to accomedate. But it is the body's resilience of absorbing and taking in viruses that makes this system unique and more harder to explain to you as the reader because Anime, as we know it, is something we associate with being a good thing for our minds and activities to do while viruses usually harm your body. There are two points I want to take up, one being that for the example of Chickenpox, an airbourne virus that usually show signs of fever and rashes like blisters on your body, viruses are a good thing.
Don't get me wrong, it is a virus. It harms your body. But we humans have evolved to take in the virus at low age (usually, when a baby has it, other parents associate their own kids to get infected by it) so that they can be granted life-long immunity towards it, which helps us biologically. Anime works the same way.
It has helped us.
Yes, let's face it. Anime itself is a virus. It has infected us, changed us and like many other viruses such as the Common Cold, they spread. This is the second point.
The "cool" part is that our behaviour with anime resembles very closely something with a virus. Ever thought of *why* viruses come and live inside our bodies? They really don't want to kill us, honestly! They try to survive, just like us. And just like a virus, it's way to reproduce and procreate new colonies and outbreaks of the virus, it has to spread. It spreads through infections, contact and exchange of bodily fluids. And anime paralells that (not in every single way), using the Internet or spreading the word over why you should watch anime and become infected by the anime-virus.
Anime = A Good Virus
Concepts The quote can summarise pretty much everything that this part of the info-article will be about. Much like a real virus, any idea you come in contact to, you become affected by it (and in many cases, infected by it). This isn't something you can reject or something you inherently oppose. Any idea, whether it be opinions, concept, political biases, information and much much more, you *take* it all in and get affected by it. The only problem is that it is your choice on how to use, react and do with this new idea or concept.
One might agree with to opinions, understand the concept, reason with the politics, work with the information and much much more.
Another might choose to simply stay neutral to opinions, overlook the concept, deflect the politics, hold the info and much much more.
Then we have the complete opposite of the first one, being to disagree to opinions, reject the concept, ignore the politics and avoiding the info and much much more.
Anime is a concept, one who has its roots in its form of Media. There are many forms of media and there are many sub-concepts of each prime concept.
What I'm trying to say is that we all have different tastes, different preferences, different personalities (which is good!). And our behaviour and choices *reflects* our tastes, preferences and personality. Take music as an example. Do you like *all* music?
I personally like Chill-step, EDM, Trance, Nightcore and Electro. I can listen to rock and classics and very few rap songs and pop. But I generally avoid listening to "main-stream" stuff (so hipster!) mostly because they sound basically the same. But still, I have preferences.
Anime is for those who simply have a preference for it over (or with) similar concepts like TV, Movies, Internet, Books, etc (all of which I do). But some don't see a reason to start watching Anime, start watching TV, start watching Movies, look at videos on the Internet or read Books, and simply say no (which is perfectly fine).
Why did we choose to watch anime specifically then? The Infection (This is actually an EDIT to the original post, but I forgot to add this in XD)
There are many different factors when it comes to how vulnerable and susceptible you are for a virus to infect your body, but these are the main ones:
- Geographical Location & Spread
- Your General Health & Immune System
- Enviroment & Demographical Surroundings
So, let's start with the first one...
Geographical Location & Spread This is one of the main and the broad divisions of how to divide and pinpoint which viruses and illnesses you can come in contact with. Say, as either a European, American or Asian (and quite frankly, all over the world), one might very likely come in contact with the Common Cold. But only a special few (and unfortunate ones) get the dreadful Ebola-virus in western Africa or the new outbreak of the Zika-virus in South America.
Think of the geographical locations as different types of media, or directions in media, and the infections of the viruses as the influences of concepts in the human mind.
Let's take YouTube, a video-sharing platform that has BILLIONS of different types of influences. You may think that YouTube is just funny videos, but there are many different kinds of YouTube videos. You have the short and funny, often becoming memes and what-nots (Damn Daniel!). You have Let's Play's and gaming, often for a narrower type of audience. You have make-up and style videos, influencing what you wear and your personal appearance. You have tech-reviews and how-to's, helping decide and improve your daily life. You have political videos as well, both on the left and right side of the scale.
The point is that in all forms of media, there are areas inside the concept that can influence you into taking certain interests.
Your General Health & Immune System How open are you to new ideas? Or does something as simple as something animated instantly remind you of the cartoons made for children and therefore made the conclusion that anime has to be for children as well? Of course, these are questions that actually belongs to the previous point, and whether or not you yourself *consciously* allow yourself to be infected by the anime-virus. What this point is talking about is the little details that can weaken the immune system in the first place, something you have no real conscious control over, making it the unconscious parts of your infection.
Maybe you are more lenient on finding relatability in more than just other people, but even simpler objects such as colours, shapes and even more complex as cars, sports and (yes...) anime. Maybe you are more based as the stereo-typical "nerd" (be a proud one! The world is run by nerds!) and somehow find anime more pleasing and easier to watch and fantasise about. And one who as greater flexibility in their fantasy has a more broad and better understanding of the basics of anime, a medium and concept *defined* by its fantasy!
Enviroment & Demographical Surroundings Being grown up in the neon-filled streets of Japan, riddled with commercials about anime and even featuring anime must make it easier to grow into anime than the streets of New York where the differences are more than just upfront apparent, but also that the idea isn't exposed enough. And even though I used the word *enviroment*, I'm not talking about that kind of enviroment. I'm talking about the enviroment in your comfort-zone, what things and influences affects you and which people you deem closely and opinions valued.
The most important part is *what* stuff you *value* the most, and how you be affected by it. Say you're in a group where anime might not be talked about much and even disencouraged. If you value your friend's opinions high and understand their reasoning, then anime might not be for you. But say that in your home, you value your computer very high. The computer is the gateway to the Internet, a way to find new stuff and explore and connect with new friends and communities that have similar interests as you and I (hello, Japanese Anime Community of Vingle!). Your opinions also manifest into which demographic of choice you appeal to.
Take my subscription-list on YouTube, it's filled with *everything* from Digibro, The Anime Man, DouchebagChocolat and many other *anime* related channels. But I have stuff that also displays my opinions and interests like LinusTechTips, GradeAUnderA, LastWeekTonight, MonsterCat, MrTweeday, NightcoreReality, The Verge, Volvo Cars, Vsauce...all appealing to my own personal and specific interests.
This last point is extremely broad, as you can view it both from the perspective of your physical enviroment and what is accepted and the view from your virtual online behaviour and where you are to *amplify* your interest in various topics.
The point is that we can all trace it all to a certain quote made from various philosophers like Aristotle, Plato and John Locke with the well known term of "Tabula Rasa" which is Latin for "Blank Slate".
Your interest and opinions all emerge from the exposure of various factors, all of which have been mentioned above. Some factors, you can control. Others, you can't because you are either *made* so or you're locked. One way or the other, all of these lead to you somehow starting to watch anime. And one way or the other, all of these lead to you somehow doing everything you love doing! The Behavioural Effects (This is also part of the EDIT)
When anyone of us gets sick, you usually take a sick-leave from work/school, be at home, use little-to-no energy and sit in front of the TV in hopes of recovering while eating the chicken-soup you made for your sickness (eating a soup...isn't it drinking?). Well, yeah, this is how an infection affects your behaviour in order to stay in tandem with whatever you usually do to stay in function, awake and alive.
Anime...works not like the Common Cold which only temporarily disables you from doing what you do in a short period of time, nor does it work like something more severe like Cancer or AIDS, completely changing your daily routine and yes, even lives. While cancer doesn't usually spread from person to person, AIDS does through exchange of bodily fluids but not as aggressively as anime does to people...
Anime...works like a ZOMBIE-VIRUS
A...zombie-virus? Yep. When infected in popular movies, it takes less than a few moments before the subject is turned and starts hunting their own previous kind with their behaviour completely changing from their "normal" selves. And it's important to note that the person itself is *dead*, but that their behaviour has significantly changed and diverged themselves so drastically from the human counterparts that they can no longer be seen as being a part of the same species as humans. They are Zombies.
Also, with the mutations in the movies and games often portraying different kinds of zombies, they are all *fueled* by the virus in the first place. As I said, they are actually dead. But the virus infects the brain-stem and reawakens the body's musculatory systems in order to achieve what the virus wants the body to do. Without the virus, they wouldn't move at all. And also, the spread faster than wildfire! One bite, you're gone!
And here's the ultimate kicker:
Anime is exactly the same
Parallels We are fueled by anime, having our behaviour changed not because we wanted to (well...kinda), but that the anime-virus makes us do stuff like being invested in the Japanese culture, language and etiquettes, becoming like the heroes of the anime with cosplays, collecting items and swords and mangas and dolls and *******...
And as there are different kind of zombies, there are different kinds of otakus. Not just the regular "anime, vocaloid, manga, games" type. I mean the average-everyday anime-viewer (if *ANYONE* gets this reference that is tied to myself, I'll be MEGA-IMPRESSED) to the most hardcore otaku! And every one of us keeps asking ourselves that "how could we have lived without anime in the first place?!". Well, you actually could. It's just that without anime now, you feel kinda dead.
And anime spreads just as fast as a zombie's bite. One taste of an epic anime, and you're hooked.
Anime = A "good" zombie-virus! XD
(Remember that in both viruses, there are people who are immune to it XD) Anime for Us So, now that we've started with *what* can have made you watch anime, let's talk about what anime has become to us.
Connectivity & Escape Talking about why anime is so important to us specifically is like asking us why breathing is important! XD
The intricit value we have for anime is so rooted and mixed with the *need* for something so dearly that it has become a part of us. It's more than complex when you lay a parallel in that way. We've managed to mix our need for anime just as much as we actually need to breathe to function and stay alive, the difference being that we need an escape from our boring world or our own minds even.
Anime itself is one hell-of-a drug that let's us escape our world thanks to what anime does best:
- Telling unique and amazing Stories
- Letting us follow heroes, villains and anti-heroes we all know and love (and hate)
- Showcasing us Art and Animation to blow our minds into bits
- Listen to heart-touching and inspiring Music
And through these tools to allow us to escape, we've all escaped into places that connects us to other people who've done the same thing and started a community (Vingle much?). And when we're in this kind of community, bonding and understanding each other thanks to our love for anime, we've sunken deeper and deeper into why we love anime and what makes anime great for us.
Communities such as these empower that love for anime *even deeper*, such as a virus find flourishment in a small settlement and the virus and humans live in a symbiotic ecology where one cannot survive without the other.
The Pure Value Throughout my various "Why anime?" info-articles, I've always touched upon the value of that when something (despite topic) has time and effort put into it, you always gain something from it. The "Why anime?" collection is proof of that fact. But this also applies to the makers of anime. Many masterpieces too many to count have had enourmous amounts of effort and time put into them to make something orginial and appreciated by someone/everyone. As the saying goes, "time is money" and there's no better species out there who recognises effort and we praise it for that fact. But for us, the anime-viewers, we are the recieving end of it all and we are the ones to have the privilege to appreciate and have opinions on something, such an anime.
Because of that fact that something has more time and effort put into it, it has allowed us to find "hidden" values that we can find individually find in every anime, being more connected to its story or understandment of what the story is trying to achieve (more info can be found here, a connection with our characters in anime).
This "value" is emotional, one we all value high. If something can truly touch your heart with love, hatred, inspiriation or grief, it has done a very terrific job. And it seems the only way is for the animators and story-tellers to put effort into it.
The value is our own emotion towards it, one we value very highly and is achieved through objective effort put into the anime
Why anime? Because we are individuals, the perception and our view on anime itself and how we started it differs for many of us. For many, it is seen as a pass-time, one to enjoy and be entertained by. For others, anime became a salvation, finding new meaning to many different aspects of life through the various wonderful and powerful stories and characters we will ever witness. And for some, it started just like the quote in the beginning, being planted within your mind through curiousity and grew to redefine you and your own identity. Hmm...
Maybe this will do for now.
Now, this Card is a part of my own series where I put up more anime-related posts such as discussing, analyzing and showing you parts of Anime that makes an Anime an Anime! Every topic from the technical aspects, core elements and even entire shows are collected there so make sure you check out and follow "Why anime?" collection for more posts about and around anime! :D
Please feel free to comment your thoughts on the topic or suggest one! :D
And if you want to leave a direct feedback, you're more than welcome to message me :)
And a like on this post would be very much appreciated :*
For now, I'll put a pause on the "Why anime?" collection, as I said before.
Thanks again for all the support and feedback you've all given
I wouldn't be here without you
I'll leave the piano open for anyone who wishes to play some notes, the same notes I've started to play here on Vingle
And I'll be back. Sooner than any of you will expect me to be