Why do people love anime? What makes it so special?
Astro Boy aired in Japan in 1963. Since then, anime has exploded in popularity around the world, and evolved in every area — story, visuals, sound — since. But why do people like anime? Well, with information from industry professionals and writers alike, here are 5 good reasons.
“On the surface, it may have been a cartoon, but it had deeper themes that I could relate to. It was like none of the media that had been offered to me before. And at that time in my life where I didn’t know where I belonged, I found my belonging there.” – Lauren Orsini
From films to sports, once we like something, we really like it. While anime has grown in popularity, there was a time where it wasn’t, and for Lauren Orsini, whose writings you’ll find at Forbes, ANN, and Otaku Journalist, she had trouble connecting to the TV shows and cartoons shown while she grew up in California, which meant it was hard connecting with kids her age. But once she discovered anime, things changed — she found something she could connect with, whether it was the characters, the story, or the visuals.
FUNimation’s Senior Manager of Social Strategy and Development, Justin Rojas, believes that’s what anime does. “I believe anime is a medium that brings people together. While the content can be extremely diverse, the emotional connection people feel with anime allows them to bond with others through these shared sentiments and experiences.“
“Though,” as he adds, “anime also creates a sense of uniqueness and individuality at the same time.”
“Personally, I watch anime as a way to relax after a stressful day and a way to peep into an adventure/story that our world wouldn’t be able to make possible.” – Katy Castillo
Anime is entertainment, as Yatta-Tachi founder Katy Castillo reminds us. If we happen to work long hours at an intense marketing firm or just work as a cashier, there’s gotta be something that’ll let us escape for a while. Whether it’s a show like Death Parade, Tamayura, or even Tabi Machi Late Show, we have something to take our mind off of the real world.
“Anime draws you in aesthetically – it’s visually stunning and much more pleasing to the eye than American animation, so for me personally, that was the initial hook.” – Michele Sontag
For FUNimation Graphic Designer Michele Sontag, who’s done BD/DVD designs for Danganronpa and Free! Eternal Summer, the visuals immediately caught her attention. When technical feasts such as Hyouka or Kyosou Giga appear, it looks fresh and vibrant. While we may notice a model that’s off or something unfinished, we can also find ourselves catching our breath when watching JP get in his TransAM20000 car in Redline and go as fast as he can in it, and, compared to regular cartoons, it’s, as voice actress Erica Mendez (Ryuuko in Kill la Kill, Nico in Love Live!) said, “a breath of fresh air for animation enthusiasts.“
“We connect ourselves to the characters and become incredibly invested. For example, I can’t think of one person that calls Marge Simpson their waifu…” – Michele Sontag
Michele’s point is simple: what other medium, aside from video games, is as intense with its fan-fiction, cosplays, fanart, and connection to characters? Not too many, especially if we love that character enough to spend months creating a dress or pants while going to work or school.
There are many characters that, for one reason or another, grab our hearts to the point where we care about them. Whether it’s some goofy, spiky haired kid from Dragon Ball with only a pole and a 4 star ball left by his dead grandpa, or a young girl from Sora Naegino with enough passion to fly to the United States from Japan to fulfill her childhood dream, sometimes we get attached to them — and they influence us in ways most mediums can’t do.
“I think really it’s about story. Anime tackles stories with deeper emotional and psychological themes that you don’t typically see in other types of animation. There’s so much variety that it’s easy to find something that tickles your fancy.” – Finni Chang
Ok, sure, there’s High School of the Dead and Demon King Daimao, which aren’t always in it for its story, but they find an audience out there. Then there’s something like Hunter x Hunter, where we think we’re following a kid named Gon as he searches for his dad, but his journey leads us to new stories about other characters, good and evil. Or there’s something like Attack on Titan. Or even this season’s current hit, Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED).
As Finni Chang, who created art for Gaia Online and works for places like Fanime and Glu Mobile, mentioned above, there are so many anime with different stories, that you’ll likely find another anime set in high school — but, maybe it stars some girl who’s extremely anti-social, or a kid who’s not really a delinquent but is put in a class full of them, or you have a former delinquent that happened to be one of the leaders of a gang who’s now teaching high school kids… The list is endless.
But, as PR manager of JRPG publisher Ghostlight Games, Ross Brierley, points out, there are stories for everyone. “I first got introduced to anime through my interest in science fiction & fantasy. At the time while there were quite a few high quality western live action science fiction series, the options for fantasy were somewhat more limited. So when a friend at university introduced me to series such as Macross, Fullmetal Alchemist and Cowboy Bebop, this was what I’d been looking for: good science fiction & fantasy series.“
From there, his anime taste broadened to new things.
So, no, we won’t like everything, but we’ll find something worth watching, because anime gives us countless reasons to watch each and every year.