bout half a year ago, I was surfing Netflix for a new series. I can’t recall how I ended up in the anime section, but fuck, I’m so glad I did. Believe it or not, anime has changed my life. Before I started watching anime, I was ignorant about what animation, as a medium, is capable of. There are infinite possibilities. And an expansive spectrum of storytelling, which makes this genre truly unique.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people who were never exposed to Japanese cartoons as a kid become opposed to the idea of anime as adults. In the public consciousness, anime is often characterized as being too childish, somewhat over-dramatic, and sometimes even weird. I was turned off by anime for the longest time. In high school, one of my good friends lent me part 1 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga so I could try it out. It sat on my bookshelf for months and I never even opened it. I gave it back and told her that I wasn’t into it. This is so ironic because Fullmetal was what I settled on when I was Netflix browsing. This series got me hooked.
I’m addicted to this genre. The really good shows can make you feel like you are right there with the characters. Their emotions pierce through the screen and come straight for you. Despite the fact that its stories are told through illustrations, anime can easily move the viewer’s heart or leave them breathless and gasping for air. Unlike American media, anime isn’t limited by the confines of the nature of this world so it can explore dark themes that other genres rarely touch. Anime crosses boundaries. It challenges your tolerance for the unordinary. Most shows are based off of crazy ass concepts, take place in alternate universes, and do not adhere to realism. Because of the enormous creative breath of this genre, many shows or movies in anime also set themselves apart from each other.
My favorite series, Attack on Titan, takes place in a world where gigantic humanoid creatures called Titans drive humanity to the brink of extinction by devouring them for no reason. The situation makes no sense. My first instinct was to literally say what the fuck. But once I fired up my imagination, I started to really enjoy this show. Its intensity triggered a lot of deep emotions that I would never have had the opportunity to experience in real life i.e. watching my mom get eaten alive by an indestructible monster (phew!).
We humans like to stick to our preconceived frameworks for representing aspects of the world and for organizing new information. In a way, we’re stuck inside a rigid box insulated by our schemas. As we grow older, we get more and more stuck. We stop wanting to try new things. We cease to crave it. We get so comfortable in what we know that the unfamiliar starts to scare us. So it’s healthy for us to challenge ourselves once in a while. Dust off our good ole’ imaginations and take them out for a spin.
Diving into anime takes some audacity. It’s like you’re standing at the edge of a cliff facing an abyss of the unknown. You look back behind you and there are all of your favorite shows like Breaking Bad and Friends…looking so happy and reassuring. Makes you want to turn around and rewatch season 1 doesn’t it? But focus on the mission that’s in front of you because once you make this jump, you’ll be surprised. You’ll realize how easy it is to imagine worlds beyond the one you know so well. Then you’ll feel all tingly inside for finally stepping outside your box.
Since watching Fullmetal and other shows, I’ve become more open-minded, which has revived my sense of creativity. Anime also has, in some cases, taught me the meaning of life and the central issues to human existence. I’ve learned that true friendship is invincible and determination is your most powerful weapon. After finishing five intense series, I feel like I have a decent grasp on what it takes to survive in this world. In anime, shit can go from 0 to 100 real quick. You gotta be flexible and adapt or you won’t keep up. And real life is the same way.
So obviously I’m still a n00b and have a lot to learn but I wanted to share my thoughts so that you don’t make the same initial mistake that I made. Give anime a chance. You might hate it…or you might love it. You won’t know until you run out of shit to watch and find Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood on Netflix. ; )