By LK Shyaka (www.likamk.com)
There were lots of good reasons to stop the 2020 (now 2021) Olympic games. Deadly flu, protests against it, cant even have fans… There are lots of them, and I am sure the Japanese government will pay the price.
But to reflect on what the games did show us (other than without fans why bother) is how much the world loves anime! Its ridiculous at this point we should buy the ‘color nations in’ maps for all the references. One Piece, Dragon ball, Sailor Moon, all the GOATS!
Other than just being held in Japan these games are stacked with millennials and Generation Z cohorts. And its not like its just here….
Israel Adesanya, UFC middleweight watches, so does Michael B Jordan, and even Samuel L Jackson (lots of black people do!). And why wouldn’t you it is a whole universe of stories with the freedom of animation to tell any kind of story. And they do. There are ninja stories, ninja in love stories, wolves in love, wolves in love with bunnies, shows about doing nothing, shows about the end of life and on and on and on…. There are as many types of anime as there are NCIS’s
So how can we draw any specific conclusions about such a diverse group? Well the most popular anime shows like Naruto and One Piece, and even big movies like Spirited away or A Silent Voice, feature certain things: 1. Young protagonists 2. emotionally heavy/driven 3. sexually liberated
- Young protagonists. Pick a famous anime, most likely the protagonists are kids, or teenagers, but even more so the way they look at the world is like that of a kid. Look at Goku, even as he has a kid of his own he always keeps this young energy about him. Fits well with the overgrown kid narrative with millennials.
- emotionally heavy/driven. This is a bit of a diss but western television, especially kid shows, are not that emotional. Not on a foundational level. Amines feel open to show death and sorrow openly even to little children. Things SpongeBob was never ready to tackle, and the Kardashians couldn’t coopt.
- sexually liberated. This is pretty dicey… anime is very open sexually, this is a welcome change in lots of respects, crossdressing is a regular thing, and its normal for characters to not look like their assigned gender. Women are prided for their strength and men for their emotions a lot more as well. Almost anarchic in its sexual liberation, the oversexualization of women and children is rife.
The culture of those born in the late eighties and on is defined by conservatism. With the advent of Reagan, and a whole class of neoliberal policies in the eighties, our generations are poorer, lonelier and sexless. We work more hours, and get less for it. Spending that time as workers what time do we have for human connections? None. There is no time to find love, or enjoy friendships, there is no time to be horny, or express yourself when economic efficiency is in the way. And so when you can’t sleep at night, because you wasted a whole day working for ‘the man’, anime provides the release for all the qualities that make life valuable. And as we, that being a global we, become further alienated from our most human of characteristics (love, intimacy, wonder) anime fills a void we have become to efficient to need.