I’ve always been a ‘TV’ over ‘Movies’ kind of guy and have found hours of joy in the predicable nature of US and UK branded TV Shows. I grew up falling in love with the fictitious world of Skins, and this flowed into loving Misfits, then Blackadder, IT Crowd and Fawlty Towers. With my University friends, this evolved into a more US centric obsession with sitcom style shows with mass appeal. I started watching the likes of Friends, Family Guy, How I Met Your Mother and Futurama.
These shows are fine. Some even iconic staples in the vast landscape of TV series selection. They have bought millions of people countless hours of joy, but that doesn’t negate the fact they are predictable. Don’t get me wrong either, predictable doesn’t mean bad and unpredictable by turn mean good. In fact they are just a attribute which helps define a series. The Simpsons, for example, is extremely predicable, yet 30-years on TV screens marks it one of the more beloved and iconic shows out there. Friends, Cheers, That 70’s Show, all same deal. Predictability is a beloved characteristic, a genre almost, of TV… But nevertheless, something I need a break from.
And this is where anime comes in.
Anime is weird. There is no denying this from a western perspective and this weirdness makes it exciting. Some of the strangest shows I have ever watched are anime, and for their strangeness, they are remarkable. The characters are usually normal within wild situations, with unpredictable paths and outcomes, or strange, never before seen characters in normal situations, rediscovering normality in strange ways. Either way, anime seems to create worlds within 20 or 40 minute sessions… continually surprising and inspiring you with every turn.
Beyond the entertainment aspects of the art there are lessons to be found within each series. For example, lessons from a literal perspective can be found in Dr Stone, a post-apocalyptic anime following scientist Senku as he attempts to rebuild humanity using science. The anime literally teaches you how to create things, simple things, using scientific principles – such as gun powder… yes fricken gun powder. But not all lessons are literal, just like with any medium or genre, and this is the key to anime.
My one true love for anime comes in the form of nostalgia, an anime which not only introduced the art form to the entire world but one which has a main protagonist who has pushed the limits of what anime can mean to the masses to became an international Olympic icon for Japan. I am of course talking about Dragon Ball Z (or Dragonball, or Dragon Ball Super, depending on the series arc you’re into). The timeless story of a outcast warrior who thanklessly protects the earth from evil, while discovering himself and his crew. It’s fricken brilliant.
A friend of mine pointed out something I completely missed watching the show back in the day. Dragon Ball Z is a ‘fighting martial arts’ anime where the story only progresses when the fighting stops and they talk about their difference and try and reach a consensus. It teaches you the value of standing up for yourself, but shows you that working together, even with people who have different values then yours is needed to reach a common goal. That ‘together’ is the only way forward in life. Looking back, I had a realisation and noticed how most of Goku’s friend used to be his enemies until he got to know eachother and if it wasn’t for them working together they would have failed.
I love the lessons, Goku in particular, have taught me about life. I have my favourite lines (too many to count) but I want to share this quote in particular because I feel everyone, no matter where they are on their journey in life, will find something meaningful in it.
“Power comes in response to a need, not a desire”
I encourage all of you to give anime a go if you haven’t already. There are some incredible stories in world with outlooks which will transform your way of thinking. Anime isn’t just for kids, it’s full of substance you’ll never find in any other entertainment genre.
For a legit service in streaming, I recommend AnimeLab (if you’re in Australia) because it’s great value and has lots of dubs. More anime posts to come.