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Old 2012-11-24, 17:54   Link #1
Guernsey
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Friendship: Why is this theme prevalent in anime?

This isn't just limited to just anime or more specifically shonen, I noticed that a lot of anime use that whole 'power of friendship' theme. In real life, having friends is a good thing and friends come and go but it seems like in anime friendship is basically the only thing that is important. Does it have something to do with the culture of Japan? I know in the East, friendship and family is a lot more valued here than in the West. I wonder if it has anything to do with collectivism as in the United States we tend to value the individual rather than the whole. With that siad why is this so prevalent in anime especially shonen?
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Old 2012-11-24, 18:07   Link #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guernsey View Post
This isn't just limited to just anime or more specifically shonen, I noticed that a lot of anime use that whole 'power of friendship' theme. In real life, having friends is a good thing and friends come and go but it seems like in anime friendship is basically the only thing that is important. Does it have something to do with the culture of Japan? I know in the East, friendship and family is a lot more valued here than in the West. I wonder if it has anything to do with collectivism as in the United States we tend to value the individual rather than the whole. With that siad why is this so prevalent in anime especially shonen?
Humans are social beings. Anime reflects that. They portrait either a character has friends, companions or acquaintances. We are social beings even in the beginning of our development. Friends and family are essential for our development.

Imagine an anime character without any of those people. Boring.
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Old 2012-11-24, 18:14   Link #3
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I can say there is a lot more focus on romance than friendship. Personally as much as I enjoy a good romance story I think a story focused on friendship is more unique. Love comes in many different forms.

Also some friends come and go...not all.
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Old 2012-11-24, 18:24   Link #4
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Because, bros over hos.

And all struggles are best overcome together. No person is ever a one man show. On a more serious note, given the demographic that anime is directed too, these themes are particularly important.
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Old 2012-11-24, 18:26   Link #5
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A frenchman said that the colors of friendships are not as vivid as the colors of love but stands the test of time better. And yes that is a rough translation from this tweet. Just like there are many different kind of love, there are many kinds of friends. But I think that what shounen is trying to emphasize is that special kind of friend you meet about once or twice in your lifetime, where you cultivate a bond that last for years and where you share many happy and sad memories, you have been proud of each other, annoyed at each other, but you are still together as friends after many years (personally, I have meet two friends like that, and one friendship is as long as over twenty years). This is the kind of friendship that authors tries for many years to translate in manga form.
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Last edited by Sheba; 2012-11-24 at 18:37.
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Old 2012-11-24, 18:57   Link #6
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I think the collectivist culture is a major factor but I think (and I hope I'm not being too cynical when I say this) that another factor is the fact that it's "safe" and thus conventional. The theme of friendship is very simple, down to earth and easy to relate too, so there's a clear advantage in having such a theme (though I'm not saying they all do it for that reason).
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:15   Link #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haak View Post
I think the collectivist culture is a major factor but I think (and I hope I'm not being too cynical when I say this) that another factor is the fact that it's "safe" and thus conventional. The theme of friendship is very simple, down to earth and easy to relate too, so there's a clear advantage in having such a theme (though I'm not saying they all do it for that reason).
Maybe it's the type of anime I watch, but I actually consider having a romance to be the "safer" path. Reason is that a lot of people consider romance to be a default and often people will complain when there is none. It's just that when there's a male lead and a female lead in a show, the chances of them getting equal focus in a platonic relationship seems a bit more rare.

Though I guess there's also the stale relationship thing where it seems like two characters would want to be in a relationship but the show is unwilling to commit because that would remove the easy tension. So they're just BFF ever. /glares at Seven Arcs.
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:17   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
Maybe it's the type of anime I watch, but I actually consider having a romance to be the "safer" path.
Hmmm.. Friendship with romance is a way better....
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:18   Link #9
Akito Kinomoto
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I'm not going to repeat everyone else' words since they're on the mark but I do find the theme difficult to believe when the series context calls it friendship but the character's feelings are so obviously stronger than that.
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Because, bros over hos.
But what if the bro became the ho?
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:20   Link #10
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The concept of friendship is the first step in building any sort of plot. You can't be betrayed if you're not a friend first. You almost never go into true love without a friendship first. Even the lack of a friendship (sociopaths, shut-ins, etc.) are portrayed by showing that a healthy life has friends. See, friendship's a foundation, and a foundation supports greater things. I'd say there's less series focusing simply on friendship alone, but most do use them to establish the true intentions of the characters.

Plus it's interesting, whether it's cute or if it's dark. A set of character studies, if you will.
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:21   Link #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akito Kinomoto View Post
I'm not going to repeat everyone else' words since they're on the mark but I do find the theme difficult to believe when the series context calls it friendship but the character's feelings are so obviously stronger than that.
But it mostly ends that way...
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:23   Link #12
Akito Kinomoto
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But it mostly ends that way...
I said when, not usually. O hai Nanoha.
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:28   Link #13
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But what if the bro became the ho?
Ask Mari Okada!

Jokes aside, emphasis of friendship over romance is why I enjoyed her work in Anohana. Another anime that did it and I liked lately is Tari Tari.

Personally, I think Key also does a really good job with friendship better than their romance. Look at Angel Beats; it's the only thing it did right.
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:34   Link #14
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Jokes aside, emphasis of friendship over romance is why I enjoyed her work in Anohana.
That anime made me cry!!!
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Old 2012-11-24, 19:45   Link #15
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Originally Posted by Guernsey View Post
This isn't just limited to just anime or more specifically shonen, I noticed that a lot of anime use that whole 'power of friendship' theme. In real life, having friends is a good thing and friends come and go but it seems like in anime friendship is basically the only thing that is important. Does it have something to do with the culture of Japan? I know in the East, friendship and family is a lot more valued here than in the West. I wonder if it has anything to do with collectivism as in the United States we tend to value the individual rather than the whole. With that siad why is this so prevalent in anime especially shonen?
I don't think it has something to do with culture rather than demographic.

But before that, I think you should understand the difference between ideals promoted in media and the actual thoughts of the people. I don't really remember that many movies, comics or cartoon in the west that outright promote individuality as the best ideal one should strive for. In your typical hollywood movie, whenever they want to show you a positive value, it's usually Love or Family.
But demographic really play a huge factor here. If it's a family movie, usually made to include little kids, Family is always invariably the main theme. If it's for a more adult pubic, then the focus switches to Love. Love is also an overwhelming dominant theme in music.

But when you take media aimed specifically to young teenagers, especially cartoons, anime, comics and manga, then the main them is Friendship. Why? Because at that age they aren't really that interested in Family anymore, and they aren't that mature for love either, most of them.

In Japan they more or less follow the same trend, it isn't really that different.
Friendship becomes less and less a relevant theme the more the anime is aimed at adults.
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Old 2012-11-24, 20:12   Link #16
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While there's been lots of great replies on this thread, I think that Jan-Poo is the closest here.

And it's not like friendship isn't valued in western culture, guys. Heck, one of the most popular North American TV shows ever was a TV show called "Friends".

Then I think of Scooby-Doo. Then I think of Archie Comics.


Here's the thing with anime - It's not so much that friendship is a prevalent theme as it's that high school is a prevalent setting. If you're going to have a high school setting and play it reasonably straight, then what are you going to show? One guy studying endlessly to try to get good marks?

No, you're going to show school clubs, friendship, and romance; the fun parts of high school, lol.

And anime sticks to the high school setting for a variety of reasons that I'll probably save for a later day.


Once you get into shows focused on older adult characters, friendships tends to become a less prevalent theme. It tends to shift more to pure romance, or "one dude against the world".
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Old 2012-11-24, 20:39   Link #17
Kirarakim
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Once you get into shows focused on older adult characters, friendships tends to become a less prevalent theme. It tends to shift more to pure romance, or "one dude against the world".
Tiger and Bunny?

Or an older one Cowboy Bebop also had a focus on friendship.

Well I know that is not what you are saying but I don't think friendship is only a representation of youth.
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Old 2012-11-24, 20:52   Link #18
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When I see friendship, I get reminded of a pink beam
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Old 2012-11-24, 21:15   Link #19
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I've always chalked up the creepy friendship overobsessiveness (where even an enemy who does horrific things ends up becoming your "friend" at some point), in anime to Japanese society/economy.

When you live on such a small landmass, with so many people, you're bound to have a different psychology in regards to friendship than someone from...oh...the USA.
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Old 2012-11-24, 21:56   Link #20
Jan-Poo
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Originally Posted by Kirarakim View Post
Tiger and Bunny?

Or an older one Cowboy Bebop also had a focus on friendship.

Well I know that is not what you are saying but I don't think friendship is only a representation of youth.
Cowboy Bebop focused on friendship? Well... I don't really think so.
The way I see it the main characters aren't really that much tied to each other. It's more like a mutual-help group of guys who have lost everything that was important to them. They stay together because they need to to live on somehow, and they do the only thing that they can do to get food on their plates.
There is some sort of camaraderie between them, of course, but it's more on the level of work partnership than friendship.

In the end what's more important for Spike and Jet is the woman they loved, for Faye it's her past, her memories and her past self, for Eddie it's her father. And they have lost them all without a chance to recover them. Completely lost them. So Love and Family are the real important values in Cowboy Bebop. It's just that rather than showing how good it is to have them, it shows you how bad it is to not have them.


Cowboy Bebop isn't telling you that Friendship can replace that, or that it can solve any problem, like in your usual action shonen. If you have watched Cowboy Bebop you know how it ends.
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