I’ve often questioned why it is I like anime. That may seem kind of pointless. I like it because I like it. Everyone has their own preferences, and not everything needs to have a reason. You can just like something.
But anime is interesting to me for a particular reason. I don’t really like TV. Sure, I may watch a show or two that catch my fancy, but as I got older, I fell away from watching TV or movies as entertainment.
Most of the entertainment I get these days is from video games, reading, anime, and YouTube. I don’t really watch TV shows at all, and movies even less so. The last proper non-animated TV show I watched of my own volition was an episode of Myth Busters like half a year ago. And an episode of Pawn Stars every now and then. Last movie was…I can’t think of one that wasn’t anime, really.
I do not really enjoy the act of watching TV, yet I like anime enough to write about and consume it daily. I think that’s interesting, and I wanted to understand why that was. Ultimately, I think it comes down to a few different reasons that I’d like to discuss.
Firstly, I feel that anime is generally more imaginative. I grew up playing JRPGs my entire life. I’m used to grand stories about magic, slaying monsters, adventuring through distant lands. All stuff that you see much more common in anime. Hell, a lot of Isekai worlds play like a video game.
It’s something I’m already familiar with, and I enjoy it a lot. I love fantasy settings, and it’s a setting that’s explored much more in anime. The stories that anime usually tells are a lot more relatable and interesting to me than if I see another hospital show or sitcom. Oh, another point to anime, no laugh tracks. Don’t tell me anyone likes those. I have ruined many shows for people just by pointing them out.
I find the types of stories that anime tells to be far more creative than what I would normally see from shows in the west. I’ve watched a lot of TV shows in my life passively, as my parents watched them when I was younger, and a few on my own as I grew older, so it’s not like I’ve never seen them. I didn’t even get into anime until I was around 13. I just can’t think of any that I’ve watched that made me go, “wow!” Meanwhile, I can give you a few handfuls of anime that has done just that.
Part of it is just my own bias, I’m sure. This post will be riddled with that, but there is a big difference between the type of stories we see present in anime than other similar mediums. And of the two, anime is always the one that grabs me and hasn’t let go.
That’s not to say anime doesn’t do certain stories to death like hospital shows or generic sitcoms, nor am I saying western shows can’t explore similar themes. Isekai has been done to hell and back and straight back down to hell again, but even an Isekai can be spun to be interesting in some way. There’s only so much drama a hospital show can generate, while an Isekai has a seemingly infinite amount of potential.
Besides that, anime has its fair share of bland fanservice series, but trust me, other mediums aren’t shy about that either. If anything, anime goes a little wilder with it. At least their ecchi can revolve around devil aliens and monster girls, instead of some generic friends with benefits setup to get a few people to watch your shoddily thrown-together show. Of course, anime is shoddily thrown together at times too, but the point I’m making is they have more opportunities to go places.
Anime just has a natural ability to be more creative than other mediums and explore more themes. That’s not to say these other mediums can’t be. They very much can. Just on average, I would say anime has more potential to catch my interest. And that is in part because of my second reason.
Anime is animated. Wow, I’m dropping some real knowledge on you, aren’t I? I find animated shows far more appealing than anything else. There are many reasons for this, and I could really rant about it endlessly.
To add to my last point, anime being animated means it naturally has the ability to be more creative. It can tell tales that could be told with other shows, but not as well. Anime has the ability to tell a story about whatever it wants, with the only limit being the writer’s, director’s, and artist’s imagination.
Live-action shows can do this as well, but not only is it more difficult and requires a hefty budget, it’s hard to make it as believable. We’ve all stumbled across some monster in a movie that looks a little odd next to our real actors. Anime (unless they opt for large amounts of CGI) doesn’t face this problem. Anime having an art style makes everything match perfectly without anywhere near the amount of dough to bring it to life.
Anime being animated isn’t only more efficient and fitting for the stories they tell; it allows those stories to be told in the first place. My more biased reason is that I just love the animation. I’ve talked a little about it before, but any animated work even existing blows my mind. Here’s a fun article about that.
I know that any creative work takes a lot of effort (believe me, I know that now), but I’ll forever be impressed by how animation is made. It’s such a time-consuming, labor of love process that takes the hard work of so many talented people.
And let’s be honest, it’s just beautiful. Have you seen some really good-looking anime series? Like anything by Kyoto Animation, pretty much. It’s gold. We in the west also have animated shows, but, uh, I don’t like to talk about most of them. While anime likes to be beautiful, it seems these shows in the west try whatever they can do to look as unappealing as possible unless they’re targeted towards kids. Maybe, I’m shallow, but anime looks a hell of a lot better, that I know.
The fact that anime exists at all is baffling to me, let alone that some series can look as breathtaking as they do. You can make nice-looking special effects in other shows, but they can’t even come close to what anime has the ability to do. I just love the art. That’s a big part of why I love anime.
I’m able to appreciate them so much more for what they can do. And I don’t have to wait as long to do that either. Most shows in the west, unless it’s a sitcom or something, are generally an hour-long or 40 or so minutes without commercials. That’s just too long for me.
It’s the reason I don’t like movies. I just don’t enjoy being tied down to one place for multiple hours. Says the guy who does that occasionally with video games, but that’s a different thing entirely. I don’t have the attention span to just watch something for that long.
One of the biggest reasons I like anime is how short the episodes are. It only takes 20 minutes to watch a single episode. It’s such a small time investment. Because of its length, I’ll be willing to watch more. I may watch three episodes of an anime when I wouldn’t want to watch one episode of a 40-minute series.
Anime doesn’t require as much time, so I’m more willing to jump into it. Anime movies are generally shorter as well. Unless it’s The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, that movie was pretty great, though.
This means anime needs to be written very differently. It needs to be fast-paced, so it can do more with less time. Every second of it is important. It doesn’t want to waste an entire episode on a single conversation unless it’s My Hero Academia, of course. Man, I feel like I’m ragging on that series too much lately. I do like it, I swear. It’s just too easy sometimes.
It means we get to cut out a lot of padding and get right into the meat of what the story is. Anime is a bit of a perfect storm for me. It’s not that there’s any one reason I love it. It’s that every reason combines into something I love. It’s the perfect length for me, it often has the perfect subject matter for me, and its very existence constantly impresses me. And I don’t plan to stop watching it anytime soon.
Thank you very much for reading
Why do you love anime? I think it’s fun to think about why things mean what they do to us every now and then.
This Post Has 7 Comments
I often ask myself that same question. Mostly because I am 27 also don’t watch any live action shows or movies, like games and reading but in the end, nothing brings a grin on my face quite like anime can. Even 14 years after my first binge. In a world where digital media is plentiful, why is anime one of those things?
Honestly the only thing I can think of that even comes close is music, but even with that the emotions those two mediums bring out are equally as strong but different. I think you bring up a lot of fair points, same points I’ve even thought about when it comes to this medium. It’s no secret I dabble into the more taboo stuff, often I think, would I be okay with this if it was on screen with actors?
It’s something the jury is still out on.
The short answer is, I love the seemingly unlimited creative freedom that comes with it, or, I just like anime girls, either are equally possible and accurate.
I haven’t seen this thought tackled much, and I think it was a good way to go about it. Nicely done!
It’s definitely interesting to think about. I think different mediums just resonate with different people and anime happened to with me. I’m also sure there’s some kind of connection to my love of video games since I was 4. I was exposed to a lot of Japanese stuff from a young age, so even if it took a while to watch anime, I was more accepting of it than others might be. Regardless, I do love it a lot, and I’m glad things led to me watching and falling in love with it.
And it’s weird to think about, but it is true. Certain things only work in anime. I would probably be a lot less receptive to certain tropes if it wasn’t done in the medium for whatever reason. There’s just something about the way anime is put together. I don’t know.
And hey, the anime girls come with the medium.
And thanks! I’m trying to get better at talking about anime on a bigger scale, rather than just a specific series. It’s just different to think of topics sometimes. By far, my biggest problem with blogging. Not the writing, just the thinking.
Because anime is fun, and fun things are fun! Real talk, I think what drives me to anime the most is the way it can get away with and pursues sheer emotional expression. Clannad After Story wouldnt work as a movie, live action or animated, and wouldn’t happen in a live action TV show (at least, not an American one. prestige TV, and even schlock like CW feels like it has such a stick up its ass about being important and having its finger on the pulse to actually emote anything in a way that connects with me. Maybe a j-drama could get that punch if it went for 50something episodes like Clannad.) But then I also think the designs, the oft mocked doey bug eyes, help bring those tears to the surface in the viewer.
Another example of this “feelsieness” is something i’ve brought up before, the “enetering Laputa” scene from Castle In The Sky. Its been built up for so long as this amazing place and no set (barring MAYBE the endlessly detailed and equally expensive ones from the golden age of Hollywood) could do justice at all. Not to mention Miyazaki’s attention to detail and the creature designs, and the idea that we’re seeing this through the eyes of two kids we’ve followed from daily life to sky pirate adventures. It’s just a quintessentially anime thing to me, from my first ever favorite anime.
Hopefully this made some kind of sense because it’s almost 5 am and i am a bundle of turbulent, caffeine fueled emotions right now.
I get it. I think it goes into what I said about anime being more creative. It’s able to express more. No matter how good an actor is or how convincingly they can cry or fulfill their role, I think there’s always a limit of human ability they’ll hit, one that doesn’t really exist in anime. Sure, VA’s are a thing, but that only has to do with voice, and in some cases, I feel like the scenes in more dramatic anime can accentuate their talent even more than if they were performing in something live-action. And then, with good animators, directors, etc., you end up with something you could only get in the medium. Also, I’ve always liked the bug eyes. I think they’re cute. Feels very “anime” to me.
And Laputa’s a really good example. Like you said, there’s no other way you could ever craft something so beautiful and make that build-up as great it was with another medium, especially a non-animated one. That’s an example of something coming straight from the imagination and breathing life into it without having to worry about how to make it “real.” It’s why I think live-action stuff for anime doesn’t generally work. Anime is imaginative. It’s not meant to be real. It shouldn’t be real. It should stay as it is.
I definitely agree that anime tends to be more creative especially when it comes to Western counterparts. Yes, there are bad series in anime, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like so many unique topics or themes are covered that I don’t see here in the West. I don’t think anyone else could’ve come up with shows like Haibane Renmei, Hikaru no Go, or even Yakitate!! Japan to name a few. Those were some interesting reasons you brought up.
Thank you for reading! I’m glad you got something out of it!
No problem. It was a very interesting read and I’m glad you notice the wide variety of stories in anime.