Why Do You Like Anime?

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Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why you actually enjoy watching anime? These Japanese animated series that not too long ago were shrouded in mystery as there were very few legal alternatives to use? At first you may have come across anime on a whim, perhaps being introduced to it by a friend or discovering that a TV channel airs it. It could have been anything that piqued your interest to begin with.

But why did you stay? Exactly what is so fascinating about anime that we still continue watching? Surely, there must be reasons for it.

To me, there are multiple reasons as to why anime has found a guaranteed place next to my other hobby which is gaming. These vary from smaller obscure things, such as certain series having festivals in them – something that I, coming from Sweden where we do not really have that, find exciting – to the fact that a lot of anime have life lessons in them in one way or another.

After a lot of thinking I have tried to sum up the three most vital reasons as to why I like anime. What are yours?

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It is animation

Yes, this one is fairly obvious. Anime is, as the word implies, animation. Ever since I was little, I have always preferred drawings to photos. And if we take it one step further, I have always enjoyed a more cartoony style rather than a realistic one. Video games? Give me Super Mario rather than Uncharted. Comic books? Donald Duck is better than Batman!

With this in mind, anime fits me perfectly. In general it adheres to a more cartoony style while also being, well, animated! There is something about seeing animated scenes that resonates with my inner self, something that cannot be said about live-action.

Oddly enough I also feel much more connected to the characters and worlds themselves simply because they are drawings. If I had to put my finger on it, it is due to it being a much more limited format than live-action where you can depict, for example, emotions much more easily.

With cartoons, you instead have to use your imagination and create the reactions yourself to a certain degree – especially so in the case of anime, where it is a good way to minimize the costs. A character is absolutely heartbroken? Then we only see half of his face, presumably with the visible parts covered by hair or shadows. This forces the viewer to put herself into the shoes of the character, imagining the feelings the scene is trying to convey.

The limitations help building a closer relationship to the series in question, as you become an active participant in the storytelling itself.

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The stories

Another reason I have always enjoyed cartoons is that they surpass the suspension of disbelief. Naturally, there are still instances of this not working at all, but merely the fact that it is not reality allows for some more imaginative stories that otherwise could not be created.

Do you wish to have stories with ancient spirits and folklores like Spirited Away or Natsume Yuujinchou? Or how about ambitious modern fairy tales such as Eureka Seven, boasting 50 episodes of a bizarre concept consisting of giant robots using surfing boards high up in the sky? Anything goes!

You never quite know what to expect. There are no restrictions as to what can be created as we are talking about drawings, nor will there be any occurrences of dissonance found in live-action movies when real footage mixes with what is clearly computer-generated imagery. Instead, it all becomes a pleasant whole where less stands out.

Furthermore, anime also has something I personally would call unique. “Slice of life”, or to use the Japanese term: “kuukikei”, which roughly means atmospheric. While this in the West is often associated with anime taking place in school (as “slice of life” is rather vague), it actually means anime focused on the mood.

These types of anime are often seen as nonsense stories where nothing actually happens, which is certainly true. The joy in these series is not action, but being swept into the atmosphere and feeling part of the events transpiring.

My favorite anime of all time is Aria, which is even deemed as “healing” (“iyashikei”). It is near impossible to put into words as to what makes it so special, but watching an episode of it washes away any of the worries you ever had and replaces them with happy feelings.

These are types of stories I have never experienced, or even heard of, outside of anime (and manga, for that part).

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The length

The final reason why anime appeals so much to me is, to put it bluntly, how short they are. The majority of anime is between 12 to 26 episodes, where each one is only about 24 minutes in length. This means you can finish whole series in less than a couple of days! Very rarely do they overstay their welcome, too, which is very satisfying.

While there naturally are problems in terms of lack of sequels, leaving stories unfinished, they often tend to end on a good point that gives a sense of conclusion. Unless I have been extraordinarily lucky in this regard, that is.

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17 thoughts on “Why Do You Like Anime?

  1. iblessall says:

    Whoa…”slice of life” translates better into “atmospheric?” That’s amazing. Convinces me enough more that Non Non Biyori is pretty much the epitome of that genre.

    On Animation: the technical limitations play into a fascinating fusion between the unlimited scope and setting allowed by the medium. You could never have something like Kyousougiga in real life, but it is in overcoming the technical barriers that the show becomes so incredibly vivid.

    On Length: I had (kind of surprisingly) never even thought about that, but yeah…the length is really a nice factor. Especially episode length. And really, the serial style of storytelling is a lot more appealing to me than the condensed narrative of film.

    • Marow says:

      Yep, it does! It’s easy to be fooled by its more literal use with its English equivalent (I’m just as guilty of misusing it). As you said, Non Non Biyori would fit the original meaning perfectly!

  2. filmmakerj says:

    Reblogged this on FilmmakerJ's Cinema Warehouse and commented:
    I do love me some anime. lol In fact, 50% of my entire DVD/Blu-ray collection consists of Japanese titles. So, that’s a significant portion of my viewing habits. My reasons for liking it so much are a little more varied and specific than what reasons are given here for this individual: and I may get to a post all about those reasons in the near future. Best to find some good examples and references first, though.

  3. froggykun says:

    I have spent so many years watching anime and I still have no idea how to answer this question.

    By this stage, I think I’ve just gotten so used to it you could describe it as unconditional love. Anime could throw anything at me and I would still find some way to enjoy it. But I’m hesitant to say that it genuinely offers anything I can’t get out of other media, assuming I were as actively receptive to them as I am to anime. I find myself getting a lot out of books and movies when I apply the same mindset I have when watching anime – but in the end I mostly stick to anime because it’s what I’ve grown up on.

    A big part of what’s kept me here so long is fandom and engaging with people. If anime weren’t a social activity for me too, I wouldn’t have gotten as much out of it. I like how many of the people I meet here think similarly to how I do, while there’s still enough diversity of opinions to ensure that I’m always being exposed to new ideas.

    Like you, I do find the softer aesthetics in anime appealing. When I’m in the game store, for instance, I’m always drawn more towards cute, cartoony covers than the realistic or edgy covers. I might not be a big fan of moe, but I get repelled by overly macho and grimdark things. I get tired of cheap cynicism, so I prefer optimistic stories, and particularly stories that acknowledge both the good and bad parts of human nature. I find myself attracted to how anime stories are very often open-ended and incomplete.

    The length… it’s funny how you say you can finish an anime quickly or that they don’t take up much time, because I think the opposite. Even a 12 episode series takes up a lot more time than a book or a movie to complete. The longer length and structure of a television serial invites more active participation from the audience, so it’s easier to get attached to the characters. It requires more time, but for greater returns.

    I can’t think of much else to say, so I’ll just stop here. I do love anime, but it’s very hard to articulate why, I prefer to just show it through my actions. But I do think about this question a lot, and the only conclusion I can come to is that it’s because of a lot of different reasons to do with me as a person and anime itself. I like to write my own things and come up with my own interpretations, and anime encourages that. I think that’s the best answer I can come up with for now!

    • SushiKitten says:

      I think you did a great job of explaining my own reasons for enjoying anime as well.

    • Marow says:

      I guess that, in the end, moe wins everyone over. Cute is justice!

      It’s interesting to see your opinions on the matter, as it seems parts of our differences comes down to our personal abilities. For example, you find it funny that I say anime is short, while mentioning movies or books are shorter. Only the former would be true for me, because I’m a slow reader!

      I’d love to see you write more about this, or maybe even have a discussion between the two of us. 🙂

  4. For me, if I have to be laconic about it, I’d say it’s the combination of storytelling, artwork (influenced by certain directors and storyboardists), colors, textures and great OSTs. And yes, I agree with your own list of reasons.

  5. Justin says:

    Hmm. Maybe I should do my own post on this. Aside from that, I’ll just share one:

    Hunter x Hunter.

    Episode 126.

    That alone is why I like anime.

  6. Bear says:

    Anime? For one thing, where else can you get shows that don’t have anthropomorphic animals chasing each other around or shows that are geared to something with at least halfway adult content.

    One thing that surprises me is shows that are great as anime and are horrendous when done as live action: Kimi ni Todoke, Gin no Saji. That either says something about Japanese cinema (which I find hard to believe given such greats as Seven Samurai) or about what anime allows the director to do that just isn’t as feasible in live action.

    • Marow says:

      “Jdrama” is a strange thing. While I haven’t seen much, it’s very different from what at least I am used to on television. So I wouldn’t say it’s limited to anime. But because drama adaptations of anime or manga tend to have wackier premises – and is often seen by fans of the original source – it’s no doubt people are shocked.

  7. Manifest says:

    All your statements are true and same as mine as why I attracted into anime years ago. It have limitless imagination, broad genres and provide more option setting that western movie unable to do it.
    In addition, japanese people take this market seriously lead spark new technology development in anime industry too.
    I am glad someone have same opinion.

  8. […] Originally posted on Anime Viking: […]

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