What Anime Means To Me

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It’s time I explain what anime has meant to me this past year, after all the exposure and learning curves and enjoyment. After all, I don’t consider it just “another piece of entertainment.” Anime is special to me. So, as part of my 1 year with anime celebration, I’m going to lay out what anime means to me as Jamie.

I’ve always loved animation. Going from a child to a teenager to an adult, I’ve loved the stories animation can tell and I’ve loved admiring the work that’s put into them physically–claymation still blows my mind. However, as I’ve become an adult, I found I was running out of animated stories to watch…and most of what I was watching was not even being made for my age demographic. I almost always had to watch children movies (Disney/Dreamworks/Blue Sky) to see decent animation. Or I had Family Guy–which I still enjoy but only for the stupid laughs, not the animation.

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Before I turned to anime, Disney’s new movies were disappointing me with predictable stories and characters who all look the same (exception being Wreck-it Ralph.) Everything else I watched pretty much fell into the “family friendly” category… but family friendly wasn’t necessarily the problem…

When family friendly miserably fails to communicate or connect any human emotion from the story to methere’s a problem….and Western children’s animation had not connected with me in a long time. Was it my fault, for growing into an adult on accident? 😉 Partially yes, but partially no! The emotional failure is also on the story, which in turn is on the writers.

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After all, most of Studio Ghibli’s films are family friendly and for children, but their stories connect with adults all the time, myself included. This is because their storytelling makes a genuine heart-to-heart connection from themselves to us through solid characters who are lovable but who can also be taken seriously. Their films aren’t made to pander to children alone but to the whole family…and that includes adults. This is where the Western animation world is failing, because their humor and story-telling panders mostly to the children.

I can’t even remember the last time one of Disney’s recent films accomplished a connection like Ghibli’s films did with me and they’re both in the same group of “family friendly storytelling.”

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When I discovered anime, I discovered a medium of storytelling that was much more efficient with communicating emotions and plots and characters than anything the animators or writers of the Western world was managing. Anime can tell stories for children, for teenagers, and for adults too–there is such a wide spectrum of maturity within anime which is very refreshing. As an adult, I can now watch something beautifully executed and it be meaty for my older mind to chew on.

And more often than not, the stories and characters are actually able to reach from the screen to me: Either by making me cry, or gape, or clutch the nearest piece of furniture, or hysterically laugh.

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In a very big way, when I finally clicked with anime in 2014, it began to feed a starving part of me. The Japanese industry of animation threw open a whole new world of gorgeous visuals to devour with a huge range of story genres and characters and unique plots. And there are tons of new stories coming out every year. I won’t run out of “good” anime for a long while, and to me that is a very reassuring feeling.

I no longer need to rely on Disney as the sole provider for my animation needs. To me, the Japanese are miles ahead of them with the storytelling and animation quality, with so many studios to produces shows and movies! They don’t all have to be five star quality stories, but as long as I can connect with them and drool over the animation’s beauty, that’s what’s important to me.

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The amazing thing is that good stories have no limits. I can watch a story told in a different language, set in a different culture, and still feel an impact on my own life because of it. I haven’t had a Western animated film touch me like that since 2013, but now I get that connection multiple times a week, depending on what I watch.

That’s powerful. That’s astounding.

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That’s what anime means to me.

~Jamie

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Party Poison says:

    Phenomenal essay! I wish I could show this to people who look down on anime — and animation in general.

    What you say is so true; it is frustrating how here animation is seen as “just for kids” and therefore so many animated movies here try to pander to children and don’t make any attempt to tell a meaningful story. Not only is it insulting to such a great art form, it is insulting to children to treat them like they don’t deserve as good a story as any adult would want.

    This is one reason why I love Pixar so much. I feel that they truly put every effort forward to tell meaningful, thought-provoking stories that all audiences can enjoy. As you said, this is also what Studio Ghibli does so well, along with much of Japanese animation.

    The thing I truly appreciate about anime is that it is so broad. In America, animation is considered a single genre, which is a limiting way to look at things. Animation can take on many genres and tones. In Japan, however, it is considered an art form instead of a genre, which is how it should be.

    Thanks for sharing your love of anime!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jamie says:

      Wow, thank you very much! Heehee, feel free to share it with whoever you like! 😉

      I SO agree about the Western animated stories being insulting children as well. Children are incredibly smart, and get smarter depending on what they read and watch. They can understand SO much more than slapstick and stupidity and if given better stories, will learn to be better people!

      Yes, Pixar is doing better than most Western animation companies, though Brave disappointed me a lot–it felt like a Disney tale, not a Pixar tale. I hope Inside Out is a throwback to the good Pixar like A Bugs Life and Toy Story and Monsters Inc.

      Well said! Anime is very board, with so many genres! Yes, sadly here all animation falls under family friendly…or at least 99% of it. 😦

      Aw you’re so welcome, thank you for leaving such a wonderful comment! ❤

      ~Jamie

      Like

  2. Beautifully and proudly said! Anime is the most influential thing in my life at this exact moment, and that says something considering that it’s a cartoon made in Japan. Animation, especially that of Japan’s, is one of the greatest entertainment forms ever created, and anime just happens to wow me more than anything else. Great little story there!

    Like

    1. Jamie says:

      Thank you very much! You are completely right, it is amazing how powerful a drawing in motion can be when done right! So much wow on so many levels!

      ~Jamie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ladyelasa says:

    *claps* You’ve listed many of the reasons why I love anime! There’s so much emotional connection it’s amazing. So many Western animated movies are catered to children just children which means boring plots, bathroom humor, and idiotic characters. This past year I enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6, but Peabody and Sherman was just awful and some others I didn’t even attempt to see. The films stay with you are the ones you can enjoy as a child and an adult. I feel like so many anime, the 80’s and 90’s Disney movies, and select cartoon shows have done that for me.

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Like

    1. Jamie says:

      I’m so glad! Yes, Western animated movies can become very trashy–I don’t want my eight year old brother watching half of them! Thankfully Adventure Time is decent, but most animation getting made today is pretty sad. Yes, I love the 80’s and 90’s Disney movies too–much better! I love their 2D art way more than their 3D art.

      ~Jamie

      Liked by 1 person

    2. ladyelasa says:

      Yay! Someone else who loves classic 2D art. Another reason why I love anime. I didn’t even realize that till now. I love the 2D art. XD

      Liked by 1 person

Anime is awesome! Talk to me about it! :)

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