Roughly 4.5 years ago I read a blog post by Guy over at Geekorner called Anime Isn’t Special – And Neither Are You For Watching It. There is quite a bit to swallow in the post, definitely food for thought, so I recommend you read it even if my editorial doesn’t excite you.
This is going to be a more personal and definitely subjective blog post. Guy posed a couple of interesting questions that I’d like to answer here rather than just under his post.
Why do you watch anime?
Do you like it better than ‘western TV’? Than books?
昔昔 [むかしむかし, mukashi mukashi, Once upon a time] I started watching anime with my family. You can read My History with Anime to learn more about that. But why didn’t I grow out of it? Why do I watch it years later when I’m living away from my family, most of whom don’t find time for it anymore?
Anime with its specific art style removes you from the equation. Watching live action you can identify with the actors and actresses and feel in the story. The animated characters aren’t as relatable and one can stomach a lot more. I’m thinking gruesome scenes, like Tokyo Ghoul’s banquets. Not too much more can be drawn into anime than created in 3D and inserted into live action. Or at least it’s easier.
This should work the same with western cartoons, but it doesn’t for three reasons. Reason 一 [いち, ichi, one] is that western cartoons cater predominantly children. At least historically they used to. Meanwhile Japan is miles ahead, producing content for all ages and genders.
My second reason is the art style. Now this is very subjective, but I simply like the current mainstream Japanese style better than the style of The Powerpuff Girls (the original series) or Dexter’s Laboratory. As you might know I’m also an avid visual creator, so I appreciate art experiments (looking at studio SHAFT). Or maybe I just don’t know where to look.
Reason 三 [さん, san, three] is that I love learning about the Japanese culture. Not so much about history, which is why I rarely watch historical anime, but food, traditional arts of all sorts, you name it, is all very much interesting to me. (House of Five Leaves is the closest I got to historical anime.)
Bottom line is that anime is prettier, more suited towards my age group and I can relax better when I don’t identify with the characters as much. And cartoons don’t involve Japanese culture.
Why do I prefer anime to (western) TV and books?
I could watch J-dorama, but I never watched much live TV and, since anime is so enjoyable, I haven’t had a reason to even try lately. (Except for Doctor Who and Sense8…)
When it comes to books, I consume more anime than books. I read about 25 books every year and when I’m short on time I’d rather watch anime than read a book. I mostly only read when commuting.
And that is my long form answer to Guy’s even longer blog post.