Anime is your thing? Manga isn’t bad either, but you live for all things anime? First of all, you are not alone. Japanese animation is one of the most popular forms of global media right now. It is popular just about everywhere. Yet not every new series or film is worth paying attention to. The best anime has that one characteristic that other types of media lack: it sparks the imagination.
Anime often deals with the dark side of life. It is not afraid to embrace reality rather than presenting life in a nice package tied up with a bow. Anime characters go through real life struggles no different from what fans experience on a daily basis. Perhaps that’s the big appeal. From streaming series to anime T-shirts and graphic novels, our imaginations soar because we can identify personally with the characters we love.
More Realistic Than Sci-Fi
Science fiction has a similar ability to connect with fans’ imaginations. True sci-fi lovers imagine themselves as characters living in the stories they follow. And yet, there is still something different about sci-fi compared to anime. That something is reality.
Most of what is portrayed in sci-fi doesn’t look anything like reality. There are no superheroes saving the world with superhuman powers. We can’t jump in a spaceship and travel at light speed to faraway galaxies. So, while sci-fi lends itself well to the fantasy aspect of imagination, it is still somewhat impersonal.
Anime is personal because it is a more accurate reflection of reality. At least most of it is. There are some anime offerings that combine the classic Japanese art form with science fiction to create a fantasy world that doesn’t exist but, for the most part, anime storylines are rooted in reality.
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Attracting All Kinds of Fans
Proof that anime sparks the imagination are all the fans who actively participate in it. Just go to any anime convention and see for yourself. Sure, there will be plenty of anime T-shirts, hoodies, DVDs, etc. But you’ll also see tons of fans dressed up as their favorite characters. Those fans will be from every walk of life. Moreover, men and women will be represented pretty equally.
A 2015 look at anime convention attendance from the year before showed that at least half of the attendees of the top six conventions in North America were female. Some of the conventions tracked data on non-binary options, showing even broader appeal. Either way, the data blows apart the stereotype that the majority of cosplay and ‘alternative media’ geeks are guys.
Freedom of Expression
The other thing that makes anime so unique is its ability to encourage freedom of expression. If good anime sparks the imagination, it follows that fan imaginations should be manifested in some way, shape, or form. You need only visit the convention to see fan imagination going full bore.
Outside of direct fan participation, anime is sparking imagination in the business world. For example, UmaiClothing.com is a U.S. apparel brand focused entirely on the anime culture. In addition to anime T-shirts, hoodies, and hats, the company also sells posters. Here’s the thing: all of their artwork is original. It is created by one of the company’s owners.
As an anime fan, you might see Umai artwork on a hoodie or T-shirt and not know that it’s original. It wouldn’t matter that you couldn’t peg it to a specific streaming series or film. You would still recognize it as anime. You might even imagine an entire storyline to go with the piece. That is what anime does. It sparks the imagination. Maybe that’s why so many people love it.