Anime is weird. Really, really weird, and sometimes it requires an equally weird person to understand and enjoy it. Anime is something that, if everyone would set aside their preconceived notions and give an actual try, I believe most people would love, not despite how weird it is, but because of it.
Anime is unique, even among similar Japanese mediums. Something about the way the art, music, voice talent, and, of course, the story, go together makes something that only anime can. Its tropes, its settings, and sometimes the art can all be weird, wacky, and wild, and that’s the biggest reason I love anime. There’s nothing like it. And we humans react one of two ways to that.
Like when we’re cornered, we have our fight or flight response. We either get ready to fight or run away depending on the event and the person experiencing it. We have a similar reaction to things we don’t understand. We either fear, hate, or blame it, any negative emotions you could ever displace, really. Either that, or we become fascinated and attempt to understand it. That’s the group I’ve always been a part of. Also, some people just don’t care, but you know what I’m saying.
When I first started watching anime and getting involved in that community, it was like a whole world opened to me. There were so many series I had never seen, so many inside jokes I didn’t get, so much I didn’t know in general. And that made me really excited to learn more. Years later, here I am.
And I still love anime for the exact same reasons I did at the beginning. It’s beautiful, it’s charming, and holy crap is it weird. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates that fact, but I sure do. I call anime weird, and while that is true, you could often swap that word out with “creative.” Sure, there are some parts that are just plain weird, but the stories that anime can tell are some of the most creative I’ve ever seen.
As a writer whose ultimate goal is to write and create stories and characters that can make people feel something, I can’t help but appreciate when an anime about a vampire going to space as the first cosmonaut is beautiful enough to make me cry. Yes, I may just be easy, but that’s not an excuse.
Those of you keeping up with things this season (it was when I wrote this) will know what series I’m talking about and what ultimately spurred this post. Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut is exactly what it sounds like. It takes place back during the space race and tells the story of Irina, the vampire girl who becomes the first cosmonaut for what is basically fake Russia. If that’s not about the most creative thing ever, I don’t know what is.
Yes, that story actually comes from a light novel of the same name, but it’s still up to anime to bring things to life in different ways. Without the art and the music, I wouldn’t have been driven to tears. It’s a combination of everything that makes me turn into an infant, not just one thing.
Those of you who know me know I love weird anime. One of my favorite series of all time is The Devil is a Part-Timer. I have nothing but good things to say about my main man, Satan, working his way up at Mcdonald’s. It’s charming and far better than it has any right to be, and also finally getting (you mean got, past me) a second season.
Irina invoked the same sense of “what the hell have I just witnessed” as McDonald’s Fun Time and was somehow just as good. It’s inspiring to me in a lot of ways. Stories like these are what I want to create someday. Maybe I’m not quite going to write the first story about, I don’t know, a fish that becomes an ice skater, but I want my stories to have the same creative ethos that these do.
One thing that I appreciate about stories and fiction, in general, is that everything is unique. It doesn’t matter if you use a very similar formula, setup, characters, or world as any other work, the personality that you have will always influence the way these things come together to make something your own.
One thing I always think about is how it’s impossible to be 100% original anymore. So many stories have been told by so many different people. Everything has been done before, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Even if the story as a whole is different, you can break it down into pieces that have been done before.
Irina, for instance, while being what I’m sure is the only story about a vampire cosmonaut, isn’t that original when you break it down. It’s about a vampire (be it an interesting one) which has been done to death. The space race is also a well-known and discussed point in history. Racism is a theme present, and so is romance. Nothing that new on its own, but put together, you’ve got whatever the hell this is.
Same with Satan McBurger Story. Satan’s in a lot of stuff so is the magic he uses. Stories about work are fairly common. Once again, romance. This time you have a redemption story. Also painfully common. Mix it in a pot, and it comes out unique. Even if both these series share similar themes with others, they’re some of the most unique things I’ve ever witnessed.
I just can’t help but respect them tremendously for that. When you want to write and create these characters and worlds, it can get disheartening to think that nothing you ever make will be unique. That no matter how proud of something you are, it will have been done before by someone else long ago, possibly done better. It kind of sucks to think about.
Being a writer is already hard enough. We’re creative minds in a sea of others. There’s no guarantee that our work will ever see the light of day, no matter how good we or anyone else thinks it is. So you try desperately to have some type of draw that will gain attention, but even then, your story might not be recognized. It’s a lot to think about, and it might lead you to give up before you even try.
And then I binged series like Irina, and I’m reminded of how cool fiction is and how amazing even the most unseemly thing can be. It inspires me. The raw creativity of it makes me want to get out there and create something just as crazy. It makes me want to create, just for the sake of it.
It reminds me of a series last (a few lasts now) season, Sonny Boy. For all the mixed views people had on it, that series was just raw, pure, unfiltered creativity. That’s all the series was. It may not have always made sense, but it didn’t need to. It was crazy, it was creative, and it was beautiful, but hey, that’s probably just the writer in me.
While there is certainly no other series about a vampire cosmonaut, I’m likely the only person to be driven to tears from it, so take that as you will. If anything, the fact that I wrote this entire post about creativity and my mentality as a writer because of this vampire cosmonaut should show you just how powerful the insanity of anime really is.
It means a lot to me. It’s always meant a lot to me, and that hasn’t changed with time. Why do you think I have a blog pretty much entirely dedicated to it? Yeah, every now and then, I’m reminded of why I love anime in the first place, and today (well, quite a few days ago now) was certainly one of those times.
Thank you very much for reading
Hey, this post is like a year old, I think. Have it now.