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. :)
This is where we part ways. Farewell.
‘This is where we part ways’
You are saying that you have been with me all this time?! (*shivers*)
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You are right in your remarks and I like your honesty.
Yet I do still believe that some things simply are the way they are. I watch anime because I love beautiful unconventional stories, and because they make a wonderful escape. Why? Because they have color and music. And I like their style. Why? Because! I know it’s kinda poor answer, but I think that you can’t find reasons behind everything. I love impressionism and Klimt among other things. Why? I like the light and the details. Why? Well, because!
P.S.: I didn’t know Kai…was a she *blush*
Thank you for your reply.
Despite the rather strong remarks I made in the post, I am still searching for the real reason myself. And who knows, one day it may just dawn on me that there are no deep, complex reason behind my love for anime. Like I use to say in my post about finding new anime blog, maybe it’s simply destiny :)
I thought about this a few years ago. I made a short 3 point list that I may revisit.
Part of the reason why I enjoy anime is because I have a degree in animation technology. I appreciate the effort that goes into a good animation after practicing the art a little.
Mostly, I am drawn to anime because of the characters. I don’t find the medium better than others; for some reason (perhaps because they are drawn instead of being actors) I find myself identifying more with the characters than most other visual mediums. I think this is because anime, more than many other media, leverages Joseph Campbell’s hero development stages. Even slice of life stories focus on these developmental stages, and many writers are not afraid to tweak the pattern to make it more interesting. The Hero with a Thousand Faces is the outline for many stories.
I agree with you, Canne. Anime isn’t the the best thing since sliced bread. It has problems like any other storytelling medium. As fans, we need to be sure to try other storytelling media as well.
Thank you for sharing!
Your insightful comment has made me realized that there are much more beneath the anime that I thought I knew well. Anime is not the best form of media but maybe for us fans, anime is the one that is just ‘right’. :)
Have to admit, there is honesty in what you say, but for the most part, some of those reason are quite valid for me. Like you said, it is not the “best” thing ever, yet some series are on the cutting edge of storytelling and animation as superficial as that might sound. And no, I do not think I can come up with something as interesting and will not try, lol.
Thank you for commenting :)
I made quite strong statement partly to inspire more debate on this matter. I can never say that those typical answers could not be applied to me. They are true and that’s why we hear them often. Upon writing this post, I presumed that aside from the anime itself, there must be other different reasons that originated from each of us individually. :)
Well, I am sure the Devil’s Advocate approach will net you a great amount of debate. And I do agree with you, must be some other reasons aside from the typical, but nothing else (for me anyway) comes to mind.
Nice to have you back :)
You deserve a metal!! Couldn’t have said it better myself. T__T
I really respect your honesty in your post :) I love to hear blogger talk about what they really believe than post something to please their audience.
Awesome post! ^ ^ Keep up the good reviews !!
Thank you! You enthusiasm delights me :)
Ahh cloak of mystery. I love bring unique then the people around me as well. It’s one reason why I like collecting figures, playing visual novels and even reading light novels. Anime aside, all these hobbies are what people here rarely or even never do. Visual novels for example, I honestly never heard of a Bruneian playing visual novel before, except for me, lol xD Besides, I don’t think they even know what visual novels are. I guess the fact that you’re the one and only one doing that thing makes one proud :D
We are in the same boat then! :)
As for visual novels, they are still quite alien to me even now because I never played them directly myself X_X
I need to retain a bit of mystery to myself.
It’s called being unique, at most. Or it’s just me sugarcoating it. Because we all have our eighth grade syndromes, only in varying intensities.
Mine was apparently quite intense -_-
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i think that the reason many young adults still watch anime becouse they simply grew up on it,after all convincing a kid with explosions is much more easier then to adults,and so they learned to appreciate this form of media.
at first,my first ever anime is death note,after watching it till end was exciting,fun,and simply awesome leaving you with satisfaction,and later grewing older it becamevery hard to find an anime that will “fill up” that excitmente.and thus making me belive that anime is something that needs to grew on you to fully enjoy it. and not only that but it dose gets rather “dull” watching the same formula’s with different anime’s,
what convinced me even more to stop watching anime was that simply no anime that i heared of is appealling to my maturing taste’s.
Thank you for sharing your thought :)
I understand your feeling. I also feel like there are less anime that I find especially interesting as I grow older.
I disagree with your explanations of the ‘generic’ reasons. Watching Anime because of these doesn’t necessarily not make sense. The only way you could argue that is by saying that you’re assuming that people who argue this watch mostly or only Anime, which, for the vast majority of people, isn’t true. I watched/watch Soul Eater, Naruto, D. Gray Man, etc. because I found/find them entertaining; there’s no deeper reason than that. They also happen to be the majority of what I watch, because I spend more time playing video-games than watching TV and they happen to be some of the better stuff available on Netflix (IE two windows open).
I’m not the majority here, obviously, but there are plenty of people who watch Anime and other things. You don’t have to dedicate yourself to the pursuit of Anime or the pursuit of Live Action or to the pursuit of Pixar movies.
So in short I find this article slightly irrational. There’s no offence intended; you have fairly logical reasons that you find the generic reasons boring, even if you are slightly condescending in your explanations. Heh, for all I know that could have been an intentional hook on your part; it certainly got me to comment.
Also, where’s the subscribe button again? *Spends three seconds looking around after writing that* Can’t be that follow button, that’s WAY too obvious. *Self-depricating humour done now okay bye temporarily*
Thank you for your comment. It was priceless and most welcomed.
The post was admittedly biased but I’d rather not say if it was calculated to generate response (but my posts that received large number of comments was mostly controversial -_-). In retrospect, I tend to be generalizing in those ‘boring reasons’ I raised in my article. But ultimately, I did not really know anyone I discussed anime with and had no right to judge them out loud.
There’s also another explanation for those boring answers. We are all actually in the same boat; we all like anime. But each of us chooses different things to add on top of our love for anime. Some people simply say things without giving much thought, thus the familiar answers. But that does not mean that those who give boring answers love anime less than those who give unique answers.
Wow, I’ve never really thought about this issue before. I didn’t realise the reasons why we watch anime can be so meaningless. I do particularly like the part you wrote about retaining your childhood, and I think many of us can relate. I hope to read more in the future (:
Thanks for reading. :)
But don’t let this post make you feel that your reason for watching anime is ‘meaningless’ or ‘wrong’. The post was meant to spark some ideas, not to discourage anyone.
You have some good points up there ,I’ve always thought of this but never had the chance to put it into words.
Let me know when you do put it into words :)
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Hi Canne, I love the post you made about anime. It feels pretty accurate as to what most people say but, I thought it might be nice to tell you why I think we watch anime. I watch anime because, the characters represent what I am trying to gain in life. In a sense, they are like role models. When I say this, that doesn’t mean I am trying to imitate a jutsu and become hokage(though I am sure many of us here may have tried to do it at one point).
Japan anime is first off, created for a more mature audience. Many characters go through bizarre situations but the most important thing to take away from the whole situation isn’t the suspense, though that is also one of the things that make anime great. It is the journey, the struggle that each character goes through and how they reached their response. These are more realistic to us. Being too weak to accomplish our goals, to protect what we hold dear or to simply fit in with the society.
We identify with anime because these themes are realistic to us in our everyday life. We love all the anime that we have watched because these struggles felt real to us and we are perhaps trying to gain a certain strength that these characters have. I may be wrong about this but, this is why I believe most of us watch anime.