Have you ever asked yourself this question? What it is about anime that resonates with you so deeply, so specifically, that it becomes a passion unlike any other?
For some, it comes down to the simple fact that it’s entertaining. Anime bridges the gap between cartoons and live action; capable of channelling the former’s limitless boundaries, while often following a structured, serialised episode format that more closely resembles the latter.
They watch because they enjoy it, casually taking in a few shows here and there. Anime is great for that, of course; the range of programs is so broad that there’s pretty much something for everyone.
After a combat focused anime? You’ve got everything from One Punch Man to Dragon Ball Super.
Prefer something a little sporty? Plenty to choose from, whether it’s Kuroko’s Basketball or Tamayomi: The Baseball Girls.
Want something that’s part combat, part sports? That’s Keijo to a tee! Somehow I always end up back at Keijo…
But for others, anime means something a little bit more. It’s an art form, a release. Many have used it as a source of inspiration that has led to them creating their own works, and series like Cowboy Bebop and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are treated with reverence and adulation akin to some of Hollywood’s finest.
Western animation has taken several cues from their Japanese counterparts, with anime stylisation deliberately interwoven into hit shows such as Steven Universe or Teen Titans.
Not just aesthetically, mind you — but thematically, as well, using the progression and development of their characters to create a tangible, connection with the viewers.
Anime can be a form of escapism, playing into our own desires. We seek invincibility, like that displayed by BOFURI’s Maple, or perhaps even a longing to levy judgement on the world’s wrongdoers, in the same vein as Light Yagami of Death Note fame.
A world where all of these things are possible, where characters live out these wild dreams and ambitions, and you’re hooked to the screen at every moment. Obviously, there are fewer messy legal ramifications by living vicariously through Light, too.
It’s sometimes visceral and cruel — there are plenty of shocking deaths or heartrending moments through anime’s history that have stood the test of time, remaining chilling to this day.
But it’s not like there’s some kind of rigid formula that it must follow. Some anime are just meant to be fun, bizarre concepts that defy belief; take Africa Salaryman, an anime about anthropomorphic animals that work in an office. And you know what? It’s uproarious good fun, teetering between relatable and madcap at a moment’s notice.
As a medium, its versatility and pliability is unmatched, and perhaps that’s its greatest strength: you may not necessarily be seeking out a theme or a concept when choosing the next anime to enjoy, but rather, a mood.
For many, anime simply speaks to us, in some way. Cosplaying may have origins rooted outside of anime, but there’s a reason why the two have since grown synonymous; these bright, bold characters that we aspire to emulate in some way make for perfect inspiration.
Ultimately, the rationale behind why we watch anime differ from person to person, but we all share in this wonderful kind of kinship. It’s a thriving community that encourages discussion and debate, and thankfully, it’s largely devoid of the elitist gatekeepers that lord over other entertainment mediums.
An all-inclusive form of entertainment with a seemingly endless array of content, catering to every possible taste? Sounds like a pretty damn good excuse to watch… But what about you? Is it just a fun hobby, or does it mean something deeper? Give it some thought, watch a few of your favourites here on AnimeLab, then join the discussion!