Anime is Education Nehszriah

It should come as no shock that Japanese entertainment has been targeted in recent years as the taboo entertainment for intelligent and respectable individuals. All the evidence is there: oddly drawn caricatures, bizarre plot-lines and an even stranger fan base. It is the new “Dungeons and Dragons”, complete with foreign customs and a shocking censorship regulation, or lack thereof. Yeah, ‘cause let’s face it: anime is the Devil.

Jeezum crowe, give me a break already.

We’ve all heard the stories of how we are never going to charge ahead in the world if we keep on clinging to our “badly drawn cartoons and comic books”, whether the advice has come from a parent, sibling, teacher or friend. My parents and a brother tried and failed. I still buy manga, watch anime every Saturday, listen to music in Japanese and draw silly doodles around my class notes. I am a college student who plays Yu-Gi-Oh and is content with reading poorly-translated manga on the internet. According to the parental finger-pointing groups, I should be a vegetable by now: a molten ooze of wasted potential. That young woman could have been the next Picasso or Bohr, but instead she reads and watches that crap. Why does “crap” always have that vindictive tone?

I think it’s because they know I’m smarter than them.

Too many cartoons can rot the brain and comic books are just as bad. They never teach, only destroy imaginations. Right? Wrong. I’ve learned plenty from anime and manga, more than many people cared to teach me in school or in the workplace. In fact, some of the things are just reinforcements to what I already know. What’s the problem then? I honestly have no clue. What I do know, however, is that six major points seem to stick out in the manga I read and anime I watch. It’s no stretch... these things happen.

    [1] No matter what, the hero ALWAYS needs his home-boys: It is a predominant motif in anime, particularly shounen anime, to have a group of people follow the triumphant hero/heroine around (or he/she follow them). Japan is a very group-oriented country, harking back to the days of wet-rice agriculture where massive amounts of people were needed to tend crops. With advances in technology, the group has grown smaller, but the roles are still there. Don’t know why that creepy little freshman is always following you and your buddies around? Ask him to sit with you at lunch and maybe you might find he can contribute something to the group. Even Goku, the most powerful Saiyan of all time, needed his pack of pals to hang out with between boss-battles. Even better, what would Ichigo Kurosaki be without the other ryoka scoundrels? Can Haruhi have her adventures if there is no S.O.S. Brigade? Was Renton better off before joining Gekko State? Fairy Tail wouldn’t be the same without a magic guild to steal its moniker from. So then, if you think that group-work in classes is just a method to sit back and relax while others bust their chops... take a lesson from anime and contribute.

    [2] Silence can be a good thing: Are silences really all that awkward? Do manga artists draw people just sitting there in order to lengthen the chapter and get paid more for less? Blasphemy, heretic Silence can often be important as a “reflecting mechanism” in conversation, almost as crucial as the words spoken around it. The more you think about the way in which someone has said something, the closer you can understand the person in theory. This style of storytelling is called “decompression” and also relies on facial reactions to tell inner emotions. When Syaoran sees Yuko the Space-Time Witch in “RC: Tsubasa”, his shock and surprise of Fai and Kurogane’s arrival is shown in six panels, culminating in an one-and-a-half page spread of the three heroes (and comatose heroine Sakura). While CLAMP could have used words to express the thoughts and emotions of Syaoran, they depended on not only the facial emotions of Syaoran, but the inner thoughts and reflections of the reader. The English equivalent to the Japanese silence is called “pause for effect”. You know how if you watch sitcoms, someone can say something totally off the wall and there’s a pause? Same concept, different cultures–lame laugh-track not included.

    [3] Anything is possible when you’re young: Small children in every land and culture fantasize about what they would be when they “grow up”. I wanted to be an architect at one point, until I discovered my hatred for mathematics. When it comes to anime, it seems like you don’t even need to be grown up to go on adventures. Seriously, how many anime/manga series are out there starring a high-school-aged hero or heroine? Apparently, in Japan, the average Japanese schoolgirl can travel time to fight demons, solve crimes, become powerful magic users, save the world and still have time to worry over whether or not they should invite Mr. McHot-Stuff from class A-3 to the local festival next weekend. When Ash first leaves Pallet Town, isn’t he ten or eleven years old? Where were the bandits, rapists and hungry, man-eating beasties–seriously? No... they were all apparently on vacation and the worst he ever had to deal with was Team Rocket and their talking cat... or Team Magma... or whatever they eventually came up with. Youngsters with dreams always end up achieving them, provided they are the center of the story. From the finding a long-lost relative to the Philosopher’s Stone... dream away my friend, unless you’re over twenty-one. Then you’re screwed.

    [4] You can have a relationship without being sexual: Despite what the fans of the fanfic-ships think, it is possible to have close relations without some sort of erotic undertone. Yeah, there are the questionable relationships, these days primarily focusing around Orochimaru and Sasuke Uchiha, but there are other alternatives. Friends or siblings that are extremely close to one another usually carry a deep respect of sorts, not the urge to do naughty things. I’ll agree that romantic relationships can happen anywhere, but an isolated group of people is usually not the way to do it. Just because the Devil Bats is a boys-only football team with comradery, doesn’t mean Hiruma wants to corner Sena in a closet... and Sakuraba is not the boy-candy of the White Knights. Although this concept becomes severely skewed once fanfiction comes into play, deep, emotional bonds of friendship can come into handy... like when you and your mates run away from home on your adventure to save the world

    [5] Never judge a book by its cover: It’s not just a tired cliche That creepy little freshman you noticed hangs around you and your buddies... maybe he’s not so creepy after all. Maybe he is the key to saving the universe in some slapstick, twisted chain of events? Why does that toddler have a fedora and a gun? Has the nun realized yet that she been stared at ever since she started hanging out with that demon? That woman who carries a pink dog stuffie has to be harmless, right? Nothing should be taken at the prima facie level... even the stuffie-toting one. I mean, you can never be too careful. For all you know, the guy who says he’s the rightful king is actually a Grade Three Ol and the real king was you all along. Take that, bullies from elementary.

    [6] Sometimes people are just a little silly: Finally, just in case you’ve been living on Ganymeade or something like that all your life, there are subtle hints to that there are people out there that you should just stay away from or accept with extreme caution. Not everyone’s a train_man or a computer genius with a heart of gold. The girl in the bikini? Obviously a sniper of epic proportions. The lame kid next door? Clearly he’s the Demon King of an alternate dimension where all the men are pretty. The weird guy in the corner of the bar reciting how love and peace is the answer? Oh, he’s just the most dangerous man in the world... and isn’t even really a man... but a plant. Uh-huh... yeah. Sure, the human race wouldn’t exist if there was no trust, but sometimes you just have to stop and wonder: Why? Just like how you should never judge at first glance, use caution, alright?

Okay, sure, I bet you could argue on other points to discuss. To be honest, I can too. Anime and manga cover so many different aspects of the Japanese experience (or non-Japanese experience, depending on the title) that it would take volumes of text in order to explain. These six points are, although not absolute, highly prevalent in the animated pop culture of Japan and just scratch the surface of what can be discussed. To truly learn though, one has to go beyond what anime and manga has to offer. Take a class, read a scholarly essay, talk to that Japanese coworker... it can help in the end. It’s helped me understand why depictions of powerful men from ancient Japan are so, well, effeminate. Now the question that remains is: What can anime and manga teach you?

Author
Nehszriah
Date Published
03/29/08 (Originally Created: 03/27/08)
World
Journal of A Female Fanboy
Category
Original Anime and Manga Fan Words
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