Watching anime in theater is a surprisingly emotional experience

As we all know, movies should be experienced in theatre, not on small screens or laptops, except only those really crappy ones. Some good movies are even worth risking contact with airborne diseases from people sitting next to you in the cinema. This is also the case for anime.

I have recently posted my review on Doraemon: Nobita and the New Steel Troops. I did not tell you that I watched that movie on the big screen. So now, I am writing about one of those rare occasions in which I got the chance to watch an anime in theater. And though the movie was not exactly what I expected it to be, the whole experience was nothing less than magical.

In addition to frequent flood, occasional earthquake, a few tsunamis, political turmoil and human rights problems, Thailand has always been plagued by ‘anime ignorance’ crisis. In my entire living memory, I had seen only a handful of Doraemon movies getting released nationwide, few Studio Ghibli films getting limited release (the most recent being Arrietty) and only one Macross movie. Anime is for kids with attention span less than 30 minutes and deserves no more than the time slot right after morning news on weekends. So for me, anime was almost equivalent to laptop screening in my dim lamp-lit room at 1.00 am in the morning. You just can’t imagine my delight when I found out that the latest Doraemon movie hit local cinema, the digital one for that matter!

Despite my work-related exhaustion, I rush to the theater the very next day. I bought a ticket at the box-office and almost failed to notice the strange looks the box-office staff gave me (I knew I should have brought some random kids with me). The theater was, to my surprise, half filled. More than half of the audiences were kids and the rest were probably the kids’ parents or older siblings. I must admit that I spent too much time observing these people during the movie. Doraemon was simple and delivered clear emotions and messages. I heard the children’s laughter every time the anime tried to be funny and felt deep silence whenever the sad part emerged.

The most emotional moment of the event was at the anime’s climatic scene. I was not only because the anime was poignant (It really was) but also because I was moved by the audience as well. The silence in the audience was absolute when Lilulu said goodbye to Shisuka. I saw the woman sitting beside me raised her hand and wiped tears from her eyes. At that moment, a large clump of emotion surged up inside me. I felt my skin getting Goosebumps and my eyes became watery. At first I didn’t understand the feeling I was experiencing. I already knew this ending by heart so it should not have such emotional impact on me. It took me at least a few hours after I came back home to understand my own feeling.

When I saw that woman wiped her tears, I knew I was not alone. I was not the only one in the world covering in my dark room in the deep of the night watching some anime that no one cared about. At that moment in that theater, we were all in it together. We were watching anime at its best form. We were moved and we were impressed, together. Anime, if done right, could reach to all of us just like everything else. I was shaken by the movie, by my love of anime, by the memory and above all, I was moved by the people around me. The magic cannot be made by only the film but the people must help making it together.

My passion had been revitalized somewhat by that event. I think watching anime from your laptop can be tiring after a few years. Watching it with other people will certainly help and going to the cinema is an irreplaceable experience. Now the only problem that remains is that I have no idea when another anime will be released in theater around here. (sigh)

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13 responses to “Watching anime in theater is a surprisingly emotional experience

  1. I can definitely relate with your pain. Anime doesn’t get shown in theaters in these parts of the globe (in the Philippines, I think the last anime movie thing was a Yu Yu Hakusho film that didn’t even reach an hour). You’re actually very lucky to have experienced something you love on the big screen.

    Thanks for this post. Maybe someday, I could watch anime in a theater again~

    • Thanks!
      About the lack of big screen anime, the quickest way out is to literally move to Japan XD
      From what I heard, only a handful of people in the cinema industry get to choose which movie to import. Sometimes, movies are imported in large packs and they are dropped entirely because the investors think they won’t make enough money.

  2. I’ve seen several Ghibli movies in those 2 for 1 theaters. Those were always a fun way to wastes a day away. Wish I could still do things like that but there’s none of that where I live now.

    I love your experience with the woman crying next to you over what she was viewing. That’s something that you don’t get sitting in your bedroom alone hunched over a laptop. Going to the movies isn’t only about seeing the movie it’s about experiencing it with everyone else in the room. such a great feeling.

  3. I got goosebump reading your article too! It is certainly a shame that there is not more anime being shown in Thailand. Saying that, I was happy that I was able to go see Arrietty during its run at Lido a month after its release (thought people would just not turn up and it would disappear quickly). You will have better luck of catching anime in SIngapore, I have to say. I have seen Evangelion 2.0 and Summer Wars and Doraemon and Ponyo were also showing during my time there.

    You are absolutely right about the shared experience part. Even at home, I sometime wish I could go and rewatch my favourite shows with my brothers or anime friends so I can see their experience and talk and discuss with them. That beats watching it by myself on the laptop any day of the week!

  4. How nice of an experience. The only anime i’ve seen in theatres was Pokemon but I wasn’t much into anime back then, so I don’t recall any nostalgia. Now that I am a big anime fan, i’d love to experience that once again. Great post :) and no you are not alone!

    • I remembered that Pokemon movie. It was a boxoffice hit in the US and consequently got released in major market as well. But I did not see it because back then I was not a Pokemon fan.

  5. I just found your blog! I love it! I don’t get bored reading! I love anime also, I haven’t gotten a chance to see any in the theatre yet though. I actually took a few notes from your blogs, I created a youtube channel and I will put my first anime review-like-thingy up this week! I really enjoyed reading about your week where you were without entertainment and had to follow a bunch of rules! I think I am also going to try out meditation. :D

  6. You’re right. Some things are definitely better with company, maybe not everything, but it also depends on the company. ^ ^

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