Cartoons and Magazines.
That is the definition and perception of many people, when I say I watch Anime or Manga. I’m usually met with a ‘tsk!’ or ‘really?!’ when I say I have an interest and enjoy watching Anime or reading Manga.
The way I define the reason why I love anime and manga was that it is truly a world of fantasy which can teach you many lessons in life through the interpretation of the author.
In the same way that Lord of the Rings had recognition when made popular by Hollywood superstars, Anime has the same level of fantasy that has played an influential role within my upbringing and understanding of life.
I first stumbled upon anime when I was a young child. Aged 4-5 there was an anime that showed a magic blue cat who had a storage area in his pouch. In hindsight, he was more of a kangaroo than cat.
This captivated me and my elder sisters. Whereas my elder sisters grew up, they lost interest of anime and manga. There was a slight resurgence with my middle sister, when her Tom-Boy like nature enabled her to watch GI Joe with me or Transformers. Followed by another meteoric rise when Pokemon swept the earth in 2000.
This however, although my passion was and still to this day is cartoons, is not the Anime that I refer to. There were moments in Pokemon that taught kids how to care for their belongings. There were moments where death and life were portrayed in a beautiful media, bought to life through the detailed drawings and winding plot twists.
I remember one particular moment, where Ash caught a Caterpie. Trained the little caterpillar bug Pokemon up to evolve into a Metapod, then eventually a Butterfree. He then later released Butterfree to be with his peers and same species. I cried myself to sleep that evening. Pikachu closed of the episode crying…
The adult Anime I refer to was introduced to me by a good family friend.
Naruto and Bleach were two Animes / Mangas that spanned the lifetime of many of todays kids. I believe that Naruto ran for 15 years. I followed every single episode.
As Naruto grew up, so did I. There were 2 distinct divisions in the Anime / Manga. When Naruto was a young child, then after a time skip when he was a teenager. This corresponded with my age so I related to his life even more.
Unlike Pokemon, the story depth and fantasy drama is a several hundred times more touching. The character back stories each showed how individual characters struggled with Power, being the last in their lineage, single parent upbringing, orphan lifestyle or the weight and expectation put upon them because of their name.
Now without sounding dramatic, I can relate to all of the above. I was the First Li ‘son’ of my generation. My Mum and Dad named me after a Chinese Billionaire. I always felt like I was made of something special. I always felt like I was destined for greater heights…
…Today I am content with myself, because of what I learned from watching what some people call Cartoons.
This is not Bugs Bunny, this is not Tellytubbies. Anime has death, life, love, hate, sex, drugs and violence in it (note not all Anime has the former mentioned before anyone reading this goes on a cull…)
I like to lose myself for a few moments and minutes to live within a fantasy world, where my imagination is synchronised to the intricate desires and depictions of the author or artist.
Anime is a beautiful work of art. Anime primed me for some of lifes many mysteries. everyone will learn differently, but I learned a lot through colourful illustrations.
To this day, I still watch Anime and read Manga. The same as how millions of others read books and watch TV.
Let your inner child out and get lost in a fantasy world. You might not regret it as much as you think.