It’s been a while since I’ve been a teenage anime fanatic. I was obsessed with Sailor Moon and honestly, if it weren’t for Sailor Moon I don’t know if I’d be the writer I am today.
But there are a lot of extremes when it comes with Anime. Either you really love it or really hate it (or just not interested), and if you really love it, you’re considered a geek, loser or weirdo.
Also, before I got into anime, I just thought anime was about violence and sex. As a youngster, that was so rare, so alien; and what was that attracted me.
But this is where people get it wrong. Sometimes I feel like people don’t really understand why something is as insanely popular. They think it’s the sex appeal, the violence, bright colors and seizure provoking action sequences
Well, maybe that’s what attracts the person at first, and this is just my opinion, but that’s not what keeps the fan coming back for more, and more and more until our eyes pop out of our skulls if we don’t get our fix now!!!!! (or at least that’s how I am when I get hooked on something new…*ahem*).
Believe it or not, it’s the story.
It’s the characters and the plot. True they may be beautiful or incredibly powerful and that helps, but it’s the drama, the conflict, the sad and happy scenes and so forth that make it addictive. And it’s also because they push it. They push it farther than you usually see with American stories aimed for kids (or at least back then). They make it real.
The first anime I was addicted to was the first volume of The Adventures of Unico by Ozamu Tezuka. I was five years old. I watched that tape every morning for days and days until the tape broke. I didn’t even know it was from Japan (in fact, I don’t even think I knew what Japan was at the time).
And now thinking back on it, a lot of that show really influences how I write. There are characters that strongly resemble my first characters now that I think about it….though I didn’t write them till over a decade later.
But I digress. I remember that in that movie…a lot of bad stuff happens. Stuff you wouldn’t really expect a five year old to understand or appreciate. Like when Unico nearly drowned and his friend nearly drowned to save him. Or when the villain seduces a girl and gets her drunk at his dinner table. Or, a scene I still remember vividly, when Unico pushes the villain off his tower and he is impaled by a large spike and hung dead (not even Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the first movie I saw in theaters…<man I’m old> …went that far).
I loved that movie so much. And I think the fact that the story pushed it, despite it being aimed for little kids, is what made it so great. Not the violence. But the truth in it. Good is greater than evil. Love is more beautiful than hate. Friendships are amazing and all that jazz. You add real consequences and real meaning to these truths that are so watered down in most stories today, and you get one hell of a story.
And I don’t care what anyone says. The best stories are ones about friendship. Take Lord of the Rings. Ender’s Game. Harry Potter. Take every single popular anime show/story. In fact, that’s why I think anime/manga is so popular. Even Akira, full of violence and gore, at its heart is about friendship.
All you have to do is make it real. People die and don’t come back. People, even family, can betray you. Sacrifices may not pay off. But in the end, despite all this, despite it all, it’ll be okay.
But it’s a huge pet peeve when people THINK they know why something is popular, but really don’t.
The Harry Potter movies aren’t…THAT bad. I know. But whenever I watch any of the movies, I can’t stop criticizing. And it’s not because they changed things or it’s not the book.
It’s because I keep thinking of what COULD’VE BEEN. The movies didn’t make it real. The reason I think the books were so addictive was because they felt so real.
I related to Hermione the most. The smart, yet unpopular, buckteeth, bushy hair, hunched back (cause of her book-filled bag) girl who no one thought was pretty until she fixed herself up and everyone’s jaws dropped (of course they made her freaking adorable from the start in the movies which ruined everything). Because that’s how it was like for me.
(Funny enough, it’s the same reason I can’t stand Bella from Twilight. I only saw the movie, so maybe the book was different, but there’s no way in HELL that girl would get THAT popular with THAT personality. No WAY. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that popularity just doesn’t happen to you, you make it happen).
Harry’s mistakes ( I just wanted to kill him in book 5 and he was our hero!). Ron’s embarrassment over his family. Harry’s envy over Ron’s family. The classes and how everyone just wanted to goof off (despite how cool their school was). It was like how real school was. They were real emotions. If the movies just focused less on the magic and more on those little things that really made the books what they were, I just wonder what kind of movies we’d have gotten…
The same goes with anime. It’s what lies underneath the surface that makes it so good. I was always alone as a kid, so I loved Sailor Moon and how she made friends (and how that was pretty much the only thing she could do). In Akira, it was the history between Kaneda and Tetsuo, and Akira and the other children that made it powerful. For Ghost in the Shell, trust me, it’s not the naked lady that made that one so cool. And the current popular boy-mangas, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, though it’s gotten a bit watered down because they’ve been going on for so long, have their own real themes. In One Piece, they just finished a story arc about racism and trying to overcome it. In Naruto, it’s about war, hate and revenge and trying to overcome these things. In Bleach, we got friendship and sacrifice.
So it’s not about the bad art, big eyes and special effects.
That’s just makeup.
In the end, they’re stories about things that really matter and should matter.