Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and The Simpsons. All great American shows that have impacted the T.V. industry with immense effect, at least in my experience However, the internet has opened up opportunities for people to enjoy a much broader spectrum of media, particularly television shows from around the world. Among international media, one genre stands out as the most dominant player in content from other countries: Anime. Originally created and still being produced in Japan, it has seen widespread popularity throughout the world and particularly in the United States, where it has become increasingly mainstream over the past decade.
Despite anime’s growing popularity, it is not universally enjoyed. In my exploration of the genre, I have discovered that it takes time to adapt to the differences between American and Japanese media. Like any international content, anime features tropes and cultural references which may seem unusual to those unfamiliar, such as exaggeration of certain concepts. However, my experience was that once I was able to recognize and appreciate these tropes, watching well-done anime was ultimately a rewarding experience.
Before I began to involve myself in the Japanese animated shows, I thought anime was an outlandish and abnormal presentation of film media. It had been a style of animation that I, like many others, did not grow up with, and my only exposure to the genre were points of views that I had heard from other sources and people. In the end, I decided that the only way to acknowledge something as bad or good is to watch the show, leading me to step into this new world of content and cultivate my own opinions as I began to watch Attack on Titan, which had been recommended to me.
Though I was, of course, aware that no single show represented an entire genre, Attack on Titan was nonetheless my first exposure to anime, and helped me to understand many aspects of the genre. When I watched the first episode of a recommended anime, at first impressions it screamed disturbing concepts and scenes that were utterly appalling. It’s purpose was to bring that shock factor to the audience to make it stand out even though it was highly horrific at times. Many people, including myself, put down the show simply for that, but of course giving time eventually made sense of it all. It’s a show that reflects on the social constructs of societies between the differences of nature vs nurture. At first impressions it’s a lot to handle, yet it’s for a purpose. By the end of the show the vivid and distressing scenes come back to make reason. Death Note, another highly acclaimed show, diverses into the subject of madness and discusses the God complex. I had experienced similar themes in shows like Breaking Bad, but the different tropes and format of anime, such as more dramatic acting and increased emotion, led these ideas to be expressed in a way that was wholly unique for me. Demon Slayer, a story of compassionate devotion to family as it expresses that love for family in overemphasized conversations between characters. These are all animated masterpieces, yet their techniques to achieve greatness are out of the norm and their over exaggerations of concepts makes it stand out of the picture.
With popular American television shows, the most popular genres are the dramatic thrillers that are not short of over exaggerations and dramatizations of characters and scenes. Sometimes those depictions of scenes can be accurately depicted or far off, but with anime they take a non-traditional take of presenting those ideas. Anime discusses the everyday inner thoughts of people and makes them say it outloud. In other words they make characters’ thoughts and beliefs shared through their actions and words much more than any other genre does. This creates an easy to look diagram of characters and makes the genre easier to understand for the audience when the out of the norm scenes compel confusing concepts.
One facet of anime that I enjoyed was its ability to take the awkwardness of everyday life and depict it through characters who are even more so affected by those weird situations. It deals with the everyday concepts that people are too afraid to touch upon or even discuss as it puts those thoughts into real life characters. Some animated shows are not scared to delve into disturbing content such as war, yet it gives it meaning with it’s accurate depiction of human conflict. With that, it sheds light onto people who relate to characters who may have the same inner turmoils as they express abstract human emotions. These deep and meaningful emotions that are shown in a revealing real world potrale through animation makes the genre popular. Sometimes the out of the world conceptualizations can turn off the idea of continuing the show for some people. However, to enjoy anime is to accept ideas and executions of concepts that differ from what you might expect from Western media and go with it. It may seem weird or conceptually bizarre yet through awkward and real life situations, it can be a worthwhile experience in consuming content and improving self-growth for some people.