Growing Up with Anime
July 27, 2012 2 Comments
The more I watch anime, the more I change as a person. The older I get, the more ways I view different aspects in anime. Certain themes and subjects have grown weary and tiresome nowadays as they all seem to blend together into the gray area of love and friendship. High school romances and dramas have long been an exhausted trend. The more they pop up, the less meaning each one holds after the one before. Nowadays I look forward to the themes and characters that I can relate to. The themes and ideals that apply to me as a person.
Themes like the-power-of-friendship and the strength-of-love aren’t themes I need to keep hearing time and time again. Learning the power of friendship was relevant back in elementary school and preschool when making friends was a new concept in my eyes. The kind of shows that would teach me these sort of lessons were shows like Pokemon and Digimon, and really that’s what most children shows are about nowadays: sharing experiences with your friends and strengthening your bonds with people you meet. But now I’m past that age. I’ve grown familiar with meeting new people and socializing with strangers. These days I look for the mature themes. No, I do not mean graphic nudity or violence, but the themes that usually apply to the adults. Those are the ones that give me a new perspective on the way I see things.
The Legend of Black Heaven is one anime with themes that I can heavily sympathize with and many other adults can as well. Oji Tanaka, past his rock-star prime, works as a lowly-paid salary man and takes upon the role of a family man. His wife pushes him into buying a house for the family and cares little for his rock n’ roll dream. In Black Heaven, Oji is selected by an alien organization into playing music to power a weapon to defend his universe from another alien force something something anime mumbo jumbo shit. Point is, Oji is the average joe. The everyday man. He has his strengths as well as weaknesses as a person. The struggles he faces with choosing to pursue his pipe-dream and choosing a future is such an interesting internal conflict to me. He must decide whether to relive his dream of rock n roll, or choose to care for his family and stick to the mundane job that puts food on the table. When I watch Black Heaven, I think, “Might I have to resort to this sort of lifestyle someday? Will I be satisfied with that sort of life?” There’s just so many people on this Earth and there’s such a small percentage of those people that actual manage to achieve their dream. It’s a scary feeling to face such a reality. Despite the fact that Black Heaven has particularly poor animation and the voice-acting (both languages) is rather subpar, the fact that it’s able to provoke some thought from me easily marks it as a pretty damn special anime.
As for more recent animes, Space Bros has been becoming a somewhat relatable series. The protagonist of the show, Mutta, isn’t technically your everyday guy as his knowledge is constantly shown to exceed that of an average person. He’s extremely observant as well as being a heavily concentrated thinker, piecing together bits of his knowledge to assist him out of some situations under great pressure. But it isn’t his genius that makes him relatable, it’s his personality. The way he feels guilt as an older brother unable to surpass his younger brother and the way he acts in a goofy manner around his love interest, Serika, allows him to be someone ordinary guys can relate to. Alas, a third dimensional character! He’s not extremely handsome by any means or at least he certainly can’t pass for a male model. However, what’s admirable about him is his determination to pursue his dreams as well as his love interest. Like Mutta, I’ve been in that position where I’ve taken advantage of white lies to get ahead in life. It’s certainly true that luck is what you make of it. I will bring up that there are seemingly unrealistic parts of this show such as how well things seem to be going for Mutta and that it seems most of the higher-ups of the space team, JAXA, have taken a bias toward liking Mutta. Yet speaking on relatable terms, I’ve also taken small opportunities to get closer to the girls I’ve liked, much like Mutta who has done the same. In the scene during the second (or third?) phase of the test where he conjures up a well detailed lie about about he managed to come to the conclusion of what time it was while the trainees were in the confined shuttle, simply to impress Serika, I think that I would’ve probably done the same thing. It may not be the truth, but hey, it gives more charm points for the ladies.
Lastly, the one show that I can relate to the most is Welcome to the NHK. NHK is practically full of major life lessons that can easily change a person. It’s like one of those PSAs that show you how terrible your life can be if you fuck up, but you know… NHK is actually entertaining. It’s almost too scary how relatable this show is. For instance, there’s one arc of the series where the main character, Satou, becomes hooked on a MMORPG, initially intended to sell in-game items for real money to pay for his rent and bills. However, he becomes so hooked on it that he loses all touch with reality. There’s a scene where he imagines the reality where he continues to play his game until he’s 50, still living in his parents’ house. This might sound like an exaggeration of a reality, but it’s unfortunately not. There’s quite a number of these MMO players who do live this way, or people who become obsessed with any game for that matter. This is the life that people are warned to avoid. Here’s the scene to fulfill your curiosity:
Satou is also the ideal lazy person. I’ve been his place many times before. Hell, most of us have. Unproductive, careless, idly walking through life with little motivation. Of course, it’s never too late to change. Satou does make attempts to change his dirty habits, but it ain’t easy for him. They weren’t lying when they said old habits are hard to break. Change requires much more effort than some of us realize. Satou has some of the most difficult time just changing a simple habit such as room cleanliness. At times it appears that for every step he takes forward, he takes two steps backwards… and yet, it’s normal. Sometimes things in life just don’t go as well as planned. He is faced to accept these changes to his life whether he likes it or not. How he chooses to deal with it is determines how happy or satisfied he’ll be with his lifestyle. His friend, Kaoru, faces the same dilemma as he aspires to be a game developer, but is pressured by his family to return to his homeland and spend the rest of his life on the farm. The decision between taking the risks to achieve a dream and the less-enthusiastic life that guarantees a roof over your head can be difficult. These are the kinds of decisions I think about so often. These decisions that determine where I will end up in life. Christ, I’m getting chills just thinking about it.
I crave more animes like NHK, Black Heaven, and Space Bros. These are the kinds of animes that the adult audience needs or should experience at some point in their lives. Theses are the shows that I find have substance and meaning. Animes with characters that have strengths and weakness, just living their lives as best they can. It’s a nice change of pace to have animes that provoke thought. Not the ones with philosophical or existential ideas, but the ones that concern me personally.