Let’s talk about anime again. That’s a cheerful subject.
I’ve watched quite a few since last year, when I really started to get into it. I started with RWBY, which is no exactly anime, but it modeled after it, then I moved to MHA.
I got spoiled on MHA because it’s so much better than most of the other ones I’ve seen. I think the two best ones next to it were Love is War, and Lovely Complex.
I’d have to give some honorable mentions to the SOL Animes “The Great Passage” “Kabukibu”, “Library War” (more of a futuristic one), which were fun even if they were not as involved. They are also trope exceptions often enough to the foibles of Shonen and Romance anime.
Shonen anime really has a problem, I notice, with how it tends to end. I think too many of them go on for too long, and strangely have a habit of ending without resolving all the threads like the relationships, or even some major plot points. Or they will build something up for 3 seasons, and then make it really anticlimactic when they reveal it. Err.
But aside from more petty complaints, I’ve been noticing a fundamental difference between anime and American Medias approach to difficulties within story.
In America, problems are usually introduced in a story with the intention to deal with them. Remove the sources of the problem, find a way to overcome it, or fix yourself. It’s in the cheesiest tropes like the make-over montage.
I’m so used to that, I never considered someone might write a story where that wasn’t the goal.
But I began to notice anime are not written that way.
If a problem is introduced in an anime that is not simple an tough opponent needing to go down (which is so basic a kid could figure it out in 2 seconds) the problem is generally not resolved.
If it is resolved, it is almost never by removing the cause of it.
Case in point:
In the hot mess that is Naruto, the main problem of the show is getting Sasuke back, and convincing him not to be evil anymore. Though it often feels like no one on his team cares that much whether he’s evil so long as he’s with them (Sakura literally offers to go join a psychopath’s weird cult if it means she can go with Sasuke.)
In the end the problem is “resolved” by Sasuke deciding not to kill every leader of the villages, and Naruto himself, you know, like any generous person would. Sasuke then accepts Naruto’s friendship, allegedly, but leaves the village anyway. Naruto does not stop him, despite this being the very thing he was trying to avoid all this time. Sasuke’s many flaws are never called out, nor is his selfishness. Sasuke himself seems to conclude there is just nothing for him in Leaf Village, and he’s probably right.
At no point was Sasuke confronted on why his choices were evil, why he was a fool for making them, and how he needed to choose to accept love because it was the only way for him to truly find peace. Instead, that last one is implied, the other two are never, ever even suggested by the other characters, or any character.
It was the same with other villains on the show too. The show acted like nothing was wrong with what they did, except they didn’t have the right goal…not that they were evil or anything…yeah…
Sai, my boy, was about the only one who ever bothered to try to point out the many irrational ideas of the characters, and Temari, best girl, was the only one who confronted people on their crap. They both get ignored most of the time.
But Naruto was not the only show that did this:
I just got done with an anime called “Say I love You.” It had enjoyable characters, plenty of cute moments, and nice animation.
It started out pretty good. Shy, isolated girl meets popular but kind boy, they connect. She has to learn to trust, etc.
But, this anime (realistically) portrayed a lot of immaturity in the relationships. I was okay with that, that’s highschool right? But I thought, they’ll grow, right? They’ll realize why they should not act this way.
While some stuff was called out, it was the minor stuff. The real problem was that the male character was a pushover, a terrible judge of character, and a Classic White Knight to the point where he would do the stupidest stuff because he wanted to rescue the person, even when it hurt him and his girlfriend to do it. He was also kind of possessive.
The girl, on the other hand, would never tell him he was being a jackass. Or call him out on his crap excuses, and demand more respect. She didn’t learn much from episode 1-13.
It was real stuff, and stuff people need to work through if they want to be in a committed relationship. Otherwise you bet it would lead to affairs and miscommunication.
On any number of other anime I’ve seen, if a character has an issue, they resolve to try harder, to become stronger to overcome it. It’s never that they just need to get rid of the problem. That if they removed that poisonous, cursed power they got, they might not *gasp* be corrupted by it. (Duh!)
Or if they just told this toxic person to stay the flip away from them, they might not have to deal with their crap anymore.
It’s like anime can’t say someone is just bad, that an idea or power is just evil, they have to give a reason for it so that the person can be redeemed.
I love redeemed villains, but anime has made me develop a distaste for it, because very often they do not actually redeem the villains by calling them out on their evil, and having them repent. They just sort of decide to accept friendship, and that’s it. No one ever has PTSD from all the terrible things they did. Heck, you can even ship one of the characters they beat the crap out of with them (I’ve seen this more than once.)
Forgiveness is beautiful, but it should not be cheap. I’d like to see some characters struggle with it (points MHA for Todoroki being more realistic about that. Please don’t ruin it.)
Why does anime do this? Why not just resolve things?
I have to wonder, if it’s a Cultural thing.
Not to profile. But I could see a reason for it. I live in America, my country got foudned by the attitude if something is wrong, you get rid of it, or you change it. Throw the tea in the harbor, kick the British out, make slavery illegal. That’s also a European attitude.
Unsurprisingly, Christiantiy has been the dominant religion of Europe and American, and Christianity clearly teaches if there’s an evil, get rid of it. Or make it better. But don’t accept it and try to conform to a corrupt society.
In Asia, on the other hand, you have Buddhism and Hinduism. The point of those religions is to get above your circumstances mentally, by choosing to think of higher things…but not to actually do anything about it, because things proceed as they should. I do not think that means that Asians do not change things, I think they do, but the attitude is in their art, and ideology, whether they realize it or not.
Actually, anime would suggest they struggle with it, as it is usually hard for the main characters to accept that things will not change, and they must just keep doing their best no matter what.
It’s common for Chinese and Japanese students to commit suicide if they fail academically, if you cannot rise above your circumstances by meeting government exceptions, why even bother? (Sorry, not to be insensitive, I just think grades are a stupid thing to base your value on.)
Anime present highly corrupt worlds for our consideration, but often it does not change them, it just tells us to keep striving for excellence…even if excellence in such a system could not really be said to be a success.
To go back to Naruto, he tries to get the village’s recognition and become Hokage, because that’s how you show you are worth something in that world. But the village is increasingly shown to be ignorant, cruel, and stubborn to a fault. They don’t value people based on character, but on flashy abilities, and then they try to kill those same people when they become too dangerous. Why on earth would you want the approval of such hacks? Also, what is being Hokage worth when all the previous Hokages created this mess?
Why do you need to be recognized by others in order to be content?
All very good questions you won’t see the show even attempt to answer. Let alone Naruto.
It would take me a whole study paper’s worth to talk about every example I’ve seen, if you watch anime, you probably get it.
It’s no wonder the industry has so many fan fiction writers, people want proper endings.
I still enjoy the shows, but expecting them to be profound is starting to feel like a vain hope.
My point obviously is we need answers. I know some would argue that, that anime is more realistic, to them I would say, your attitude contradicts every major historical movement of the world ever. If you think we don’t need real solutions, you think we don’t need freedom, also. Freedom is a solution.
If you think you cannot change your life, I feel sorry for you, please believe me, you can. I have.
Until next time–Natasha.