I am late to Kai’s party, like I usually do. But her project is interesting and I believe that timing is not a factor in this case. Discussion about why we watch anime may sound obsolete but it is always strangely relevant. I have read several opinions on this matter over the years. There are many reasons we watch anime. Some reasons are so generic that they can be applied to any form of media and thus, these reasons carry little weight. So you see, ‘Why do we watch anime?’ is never an easy question to answer. Still, I am going to try. (Warning: heavy sarcasms ahead!)
Generic (boring) reasons why anyone watches anime
‘Anime is my escape.’
Ah, yes. How familiar this answer sounds. I watch anime because it helps me escape from my chaotic real life and commitment into other worlds. But seriously, there are countless other places to escape into. Movies, TV shows, novels and games, for example, provide equal, if not more, opportunities to escape from the real world. So, this cannot be the reason why I watch anime.
‘Anime is entertaining.’
We hear this answer a lot. Is there an answer more boring than this? Of course anime is fun to watch, like millions of other things we see on the screens and outside of them. So I think this reason is ultimately meaningless without additional context.
‘Anime is full of diversity in genre and style.’
Note to anyone who thinks anime is more diverse than other media; immediately come out of that cave you are living in and start looking around. Whenever one thinks that something lacks diversity, it means that the person has stopped learning about that thing. Anime is full of diversity but it is certainly not more than other, bigger, media. So, this cannot be the reason why anyone watches anime.
‘Anime is my way of exploring foreign cultures.’
Last time I checked, Japan is just one country in East Asia and it hardly represents ‘foreign culture’ in any sense of the word. Plus, there are surely other, more reliable, ways to experience foreign culture than watching anime. This answer sounds fancy enough but completely impractical.
So you see. Giving answers from the top of your head is easy but means so little. As an anime blogger, I try to figure out exactly why I have been watching anime since before I know what anime was. Certainly, I watch anime because it’s fun and it helps me escape. But there’s much more than that. Why haven’t I fully turned to TV dramas or movies since they are much easier to find? When I think about it, I realize that the reason why I still watch anime lies within myself rather than in the anime that I watch.
Specific reasons why I watch anime
‘Anime is my way of retaining part of my childhood.’
Exposure to anime at certain age and conditions clearly played an important role in forming my anime watching habit. Anime made up the large part of my daily activity as a child. As I grew up and evolved, I had continually left old bits and parts of myself along the way to make room for newer, more mature, things. Nevertheless, I chose to keep anime with me. Of course, the types of anime I watched had evolved like I did. We grew up together and we changed over the years together. In this manner, anime will never be obsolete and it can also be representative of my childhood and evolution.
Anime is my ‘cloak of mystery’
I am not sure if this will make me look bad but I do need something to distinguish myself from the pack. Or more precisely, I need to retain a bit of mystery to myself. I work and live among those who are similar to me in terms of knowledge, talents and, in some cases, characters. Me and my coworkers are all nerdy; we talk in technical terms normal people would never understand and we spend hours after hours working and struggling through assignments. Anime is something completely alien to my colleagues and anime makes me look like ‘the geek’ among geeks. Anime is my magical cloak that whenever I wear it, people think they knew me less than they actually do. I like that. I like leaving part of my life in the dark. I hate being predictable and I hate being similar to people around me. Anime is not the only mysterious aspect of me but it surely is the one I use more often than others.
So, I guess those are my answers for now. Is it unique or exciting enough? I don’t know. But they are true and personal. This is not the first time someone ask me why I watch anime, nor will this be the last. The fact is that anime is not the best thing since sliced bread and it is certainly not the best subgenre of media. So there must be some special reason why we watch anime weeks after weeks. I think that my answer in this post is still far from perfect and I am sure that your answers are probably more interesting than mine.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Kai for inviting me to join this project. :)