Running Away From Reality? Into Anime-fantasy? Influence?
I know this kind of topics must have been posted before numerous times (because I think there are many anime fans and otakus who have this problem), but I don't see one recent enough, and it's kinda hard to come up with keywords to search for this sort of topics that discuss exactly what I want to talk about. So I thought that if I want to talk about this, I need to exert a little control over where the topic is going, and to do that I need to be a thread starter myself, and so I posted this thread.
Okay enough with the nonsense.
The thread title is pretty clear, but I want to make it clearer.
Are you an anime fan? Or even an anime addict? Or even an otaku? But no, I'm not going to ask you if you can live without watching any anime. That isn't really within the scope of this thread.
What I want to ask is this: how have anime influenced your thoughts, your way of thinking, your emotions, your mood, your beliefs, your values in life, your perception of self, etc. etc. (you get what I mean), in contrast to how reality (as in things that are actually happening around you in your life) influences your everything mentioned previously?
That is the first question. The second is this: between these two universes (reality and the universe of anime), do you tend to think (and/or feel) that things in the anime-fantasy world are so much more wonderful, so much so that you wish you were born in there and not in this ugly reality?
I've tried to google for articles concerning this topic but to no avail. From what I can see happening in the world, there are definitely people who have developed this kind of... defense mechanism to cope with the harsh reality they're living in. As a person who would at times succumb to such a problem myself, I'm very interested to know how people with this problem are dealing with it.
To start this off, I'll place my two cents here about certain aspects of anime. We all know that anime are something created for the purpose of entertaining us. Anime entertain, and if an anime doesn't, it would lose its appeal and we wouldn't buy it. (Of course, anime can also educate besides entertaining, but generally anime entertain more than educate.)
When we come down to it, anime is still a business. So being a business, it must be able to sell and generate money. To do that, authors must come up with ideas that could appeal to us. And for an idea to appeal to us, it would usually be required to be different from reality (no matter to what extent, but it must be different somewhat) because, more than likely, we think that reality is ugly and cruel, that not always we could get what we want no matter our efforts, and that there is no fancy magic that could make things right. Because reality is as such, we can only dream of those wonderful things that just cannot happen in real life, even more so when we juxtapose reality against fantasy. This is where fictional stories come in, and in a strange way, temporarily satisfy our desires. This is where people, who have a strong sense of longing for something they could only hope for, get trapped. They're perfectly sane, and can perfectly distinguish reality from fantasy, but the longing deep within is "pulling on the nerves of their hearts" regardless of what their conscious and logical minds are thinking. This inner conflict is what causes discomfort, moodiness, or even distress.
To sum this whole problem up, it is a condition when you cannot get what you want.
Alright. Enough from me. If you're such a person, who tends to feel like running away from reality into anime-fantasy for whatever reason, and who often wishes that "this and that should have been like this", please share your thoughts. As everyone's experiences are different, all relevant replies are appreciated.
“There is no such thing as a 'self-made' man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.” - George Matthew Adams
I think the same idea of being influenced applies to stories. Every story we read or watch, Hollywood blockbuster or B-class movie, has some effect on us. Media regardless of the region, is the creator influencing us--sure some times it is certainly the focus of the story--to pass a message to the viewer and other times it is just a side effect.
(On a side note, you don’t have to like something or someone to have it influence you. I often learn from my enemies who I am better than my friends--who I don’t want to be as important as who I do.)
So why do I watch anime more than Western media? Frankly, Western media is a lot less interesting to me--partly because I grew up with it, but also because very few new ideas are fantasy at all, and those they do aren’t very well developed. I’ll note Western literature has a slew of great books, but most aren’t adapted or adapted very poorly. We get things like Harry Potter, while I’ve not read it really and only was forced to see a single movie, it seemed very unfocused on the magic, but instead on a tangled of relationships--I’d even think that’s necessarily bad, but not when the details--the very soul of the world are glossed over.
Anime is not perfect by any means but something like Dennou Coil has a lot more world building than anything I’ve watched in years. Even anime at its worse tends to be significantly more willing to take risks. It’s fantasy media targeting teens and adults, not children.
Something like Haibane Renmei…you just don’t see that done in the West. A story focused on talking and character development…about sin and atonement, loss and hope. There’s no action, little comedy, no idealized characters, no magic powers, no romance--it breaks all the rules--just a surreal world with characters making their way in it. It’s intellectually engaging without anything else getting in the way. That’s why I’ve enjoy Anime more than anything else.
Yes, anime can be a form of escapism. So can anything else. Someone could read fantasy novels or old west novels. Online gaming… There’s drinking or drugs. For some people it might be music. Others sports. Some people devote themselves too much to a person or cause. There’s a slew of things out there, you can over indulge in.
One of my best friends in the world…she loves writing and writes her own stories instead of experiencing life as much as she really should. I love the girl to bits, but I worry about her--and I myself have a number of hobbies that I invest too much in.
The key is the Greek ideal of moderation in all things. If your life is falling apart for abusing any thing I mentioned--or really anything at all, then it is time to stop, step back, and think things over. Pinning it down on anime is nothing more than saying it is a scapegoat.
There true cause of people wanting to escape from their own life--is people. Everything out is merely a route. So focus on the why not the how.
Look, society and the world aren't perfect. But anyone who has access to anime probably lives in a place where achieving happiness is perfectly possible. Yeah, it would be great to live in a society where everyone is kind and altruistic to each other. Yes, this is never going to happen in real life, but a the same time, it's perfectly possible to try and surround yourself with those kind of people. No, it will never be as perfect as in an idealized anime, but at the same time, the fact that experiencing things in reality is more satisfying than watching it in fiction makes up for that.
That being said, I still wouldn't say that most anime really match my view of an ideal world, since an ideal world wouldn't have constant conflicts and only a few anime manage to be successful without those kind conflicts. Example, the above poster mentioned Haibane Renmei, which is a beautiful anime with a beautifully realized world but would I really want to live in that world and have to face the same problems that those characters do?
Finally while I like anime and am an anime fan, I think people tend to overrate anime they watch. I think most anime isn't really all that good, they just happen to follow different trends or cliches than we're used to, and finding the gems is just as hard as with any other medium. One anime I'm watching right now is Crest of the Stars which is a great series with a really imaginative world - no complaints from me. However, it isn't mind-boggling new or amazingly inventive as science fiction like the way that some reviews seem to paint it as....nor are battle sequences so different from the sci-fi we're used to, but it seems sometimes like it's rated differently as an anime.
So while I think anime and entertainment in general does influence us, I feel it's more of a reinforced influence, feedback due to our own selection bias that really reflect more of who already are.
Any kind of "unexpected" influence, one that can change our minds is a lot more rare I think. Usually such events are almost epiphany-like. A kind of snap-realization whose conditions may have built up over time or an external influence that pushes us across an internal tipping point.
This topic is about the old debate of emotion versus logic.
Most anime are not realistic or do a crappy job to convince you that they are believable. Yet, the further detatched something is from reality, the more extreme are our reactions to it. Think about it. The most famous stories are most ideal or the most crazy ones.
This is where identification comes in. The more you identify yourself with the premise of an anime, the easier it is to like it. Or the further away you feel away from its premise, the more you hate it. In other words, the (in)famous Key animations like Air and Kanon and Clannad are liked by those who like its ideal romance and setting. It is far from realistic and the endings are always magical just for a Deus ex Machina to offer a happy ending. Those who want to live in such a world and hope for such an ending really like such series. I on the other hand don't; I find it ridiculous and lame. So, the further unreal such a setting is, the more the first party likes it and more the second party dislikes it.
Another example is idiocy. Many anime are simply retarded without being comedies. Most fighting shounen fall in this category. Yet, those who identify with the leads and yearn to be like them, don't care about its idiocy and keep watching. Because the target group for such series is after all teenage boys who feel insecured and want to be acknoledged by the world, prove their worth, become great... and smack anyone standing in the way, just because hormones make you violent.
Of course, the most famous example are al those NEETs and hikkikomories, their fear of interacting with others and their fashination with 2D girls in ero-games. The trope was made for them. Losers in real life, great womanizers and emotional pilars for lolis in the unreal. Series like Genshiken, NHK and Ressentiment have dwelved into this matter and they are quite educational besides being entertaining.
I personally place Legend of Galactic Heroes in my tops. A series that really is epic yet its bashers think it is boring or has unrealistic battle tactics and an anathema for religion. These are just minor glitches. Down to it, it is more real than any Clannad or Naruto clone out there. It teaches you, it is dramatic, it has a story, it has character development. Ok, Clannads and Narutos have those too but in a lot silier ways. When magical ressurections and sudden power ups pop up and the villains fail at half of the Evil Overlord list, well, I find it offensive to keep watching.
Since I write all these things, I make clear that I am NOT someone living in the unreal. I know the shit behind most propaganda teckninques and I must say that a simple tv commercial or a political speech are not less ideal and too aim to make you identify and like them.
First of all, google escapism for expert opinions. That's what this is.
About your thoughts and perspective being influenced by anime, I think you just need self-confidence on in your own thoughts and perspective. You admire how a character thinks because that's how YOU think, because YOU relate to his values, not the other way around. You don't think like an anime character, the anime character thinks like YOU.
The character may have initially developed your thoughts through observations of him and they're now your own. That's how humans are, they take in everything like a sponge and it becomes a part of you. Just like how people say "like father, like son" and stuff like that, it would be because he raised you.
It's nothing to be ashamed about because anime is made by humans and everything in anime is an exaggerated extraction of human experiences. What you're taking in is the ideal morals and motivations of an author that you didn't like.
Now that you have gained influences from anime, all you need to go "This is how I think, this is what I think", not this is what this anime character that I admire would think. Because it's the same thing anyways. You wouldn't admire values of a character that you didn't agree with.
Make sure to google it because you'll get much more researched answers. Anywho, by saying "I wish it was like this", YOU are the one making reality harsher for you. You are torturing yourself for no reason because the reality won't change.
Now, instead, what I used to do was think about people that have it much worse than I do. I got pissed at myself for being such a pampered pussy, so I didn't allow myself to feel sorry for myself. These days, now that I'm older, I just go, this is reality. Oh well! And move on. I mean, of course if I remind myself over and over again that there's someone out there with billions of dollars as I'm working at McDonalds, reality will seem crappy. But that doesn't make much sense to do that does it :p
Now I just laugh to myself and go, "Oh god, you melodramatic wuss daeyeth! Be a man and grow some balls!" I find the "be a man!" old mantra pretty motivating. And just so you know, I grew up on Goku and Ranma ;) That's what they taught me, they always toughed it out to achieve what they wanted.
Woah! Great replies. Many thanks. :D
The thing is...... Although I did say "As a person who would at times succumb to such a problem myself..." I'm not in a condition as serious as you might have thought. I'm still me, myself. ;) It's just that because I've somewhat tasted before such an inner problem, it interests me and made me want to know what others are thinking. And you all sure have given good responses (though the usage of "YOU" looks scary lol).
And yes it applies to anime too, since anime is made by humans. I basically agree with everything you said above though. Stories in anime are so much more engaging and Western movies sometimes just couldn't deliver the punch that anime could. I watch more anime than Western media for this reason.
The "ugly reality" in that question was said based on the assumption that the question was asked by a person suffering from escapism. I didn't mean it as an objective question. (Because if I did, and if I removed the word "ugly", it wouldn't bring out enough reason and contrast for a person to escape into fantasy.) Having said that, of course many people enjoy reality as it is, and I'm one of them.
We say that we need to have some suffering so that we can understand what bliss is. By that logic it makes perfect sense. But don't you think that that is not really a strong reason to let suffering to continue to exist? I mean... It's like suffering teaches us a lesson that we should appreciate peace and happiness. But once we have learnt it, don't you think it should stop? Just like we punish a child for a bad deed, but after the punishment and he has learnt his lesson, we don't punish him anymore, do we? So in our case, do we need more suffering now that we know we should appreciate bliss? Is it needed as a constant reminder?
Lol... But I digress.
Yes we can escape into anything, not just anime. But it so happen that we're talking about anime. Well, anime is just a fictional work after all, and I can even write a story of my own and lose myself into it. No matter if a story is written by an anime script writer or by a nobody like me, it's still a work of fiction and is a kind of fantasy, isn't it?
"...focus on the why not the how"? I think I tend to focus on the what. WHAT is causing all this? WHAT is behind it? Any why and how questions are just means to reach the what. At least I think like this.
You mentioned ARIA. Of course, ARIA's world is a utopia (which doesn't exist in reality). As only the audience of the show, we're never shown any crimes or any disasters. Everyone in there is as good-intentioned as everyone else. That is unfortunately, helplessly, and painfully untrue in reality. Sure, those may be implied in ARIA, but we, the audience, are only shown the sweetest side of things. With that, who wouldn't wanna live there? But we can only sigh.
Yes, it's perfectly possible to live with caring and wonderful people around us, and the experience is a lot more rewarding than "living" in a fictional albeit wonderful world. But that's more like a privilege than anything else. There are people who live in rich countries yet are unable to find anyone to connect with them. Well... You know what I mean. (And, if they had such good people around them, they wouldn't have escaped into anime in the first place.)
Whether or not anime do a good job at convincing us, we each have our own established system in our mind. If the things in an anime match our beliefs and values, we're more likely to be convinced.
Furthermore, I think that the more detached an anime is from reality, the easier it is for us to "draw the line" between what's anime and what's reality. On the other hand, if an anime is very similar to reality (just that the plot is fictional), we're more prone to wish that what happens in there happens in real life. (That's why slice-of-life anime have more potential to "trap" people than that of other genres.)
I guess what I said above is also applicable for your second point, which I agree with.
Escapism is the perfect keyword to search for articles of this sort. Darn. I didn't think of it.
Um... Why does it matter if it's I who think like the character or if it's the character who thinks like me? The more important point is whether there is a match of values between I and the character, isn't it? Who thinks like who is secondary.
About how anime influence my thoughts and perspective, well... I have a really solid set of values and principles that can only be modified after numerous analyses and confirmations. So anime can't really change my thoughts and perspective that easily, unless something in them teaches me a new lesson that I find acceptable. (Having said this, your analogy of "like father, like son" doesn't apply. A son was raised since small while he only absorbed. But teenagers and adults have already established their own sets of values, and there will be resistance when their values are challenged.)
Usually, anime don't affect my thoughts but they affect my emotions. Lol. Like after watching a very nostalgic and melancholic scene or the scenes of a group of close friends parting, walking their own paths in life, that could make me feel very melancholy.
"...everything in anime is an exaggerated extraction of human experiences." I agree with this completely and absolutely. This is the very nature of the fictions depicted in anime. Those things are originally possible in real life, but because of the exaggeration and all the attempts to make them fancy and enjoyable, they become farfetched and thus become fictional.
Your reply to my second question reminds me of people who think in the "should" way and those who think in the "is" way. Firstly, you're right. If I was to think, "I wish I were...", I'm making life harder for myself. That's why I don't think like this.
Some people just want to think about how things should be instead of how things are. I can't help it too, sometimes, and tend to think in the former way. It's not that it's bad, but if it's something that we can't change at all, then we shouldn't continue to think about how it should be, even though it may be hard to see it as it is.
Yeah, there're always people who are in worse situations than us. But trying to compare isn't good. Then again, comparing in this way may make us more able to appreciate our current situations, so maybe it isn't all that bad.
And your "Be a man!" motto only applies to guys. What about girls? Lol. But even though I'm a guy, that mantra of yours doesn't work for me for some reason. I need something more contentful and fulfilling to drive me. But for that to happen, I need to dig into my values to come up with something motivational.
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