The Rabbit Hole: Anime and Escapism

First topic of discussion in the round robin..is underway. I wrote this topic as a draft yesterday and I was a little too chicken to post it, so imagine my surprise to see the other responses to it today. Thanks to itsubun to organizing this massive group effort. Now this post would be answer this prompt and I hope you don’t mind my off winded tangents. I will try to find a graphic to post with this posting as well, since I see so many nice graphics.. but alas I suck at finding nice graphics… I’ll use a lot of screen caps instead then.

Why do you watch anime? What do you get out of it? Think about this prompt in terms of escapism. What is it that you are escaping from? How does anime offer you an escape from your reality? Talk about the way in which anime distorts reality by offering up fan services of all types, fuzzy feelings, and happy endings. What is the appeal of anime? How do you balance reality with the unrealistic nature of anime? Does this make you feel like a coward for not being able to cope with reality? Or do you think it’s a healthy refuge from the stress and hard realities of daily life?

I am going to take this prompt apart and reply in separate paragraphs to it… I hope that this responses fits the Rabbit hole analogy. I am writing this response, while thinking of various instances of high school anime situations and adult livelihood aspects.

Why do I watch anime?

I am currently 23 years old and I have been watching anime ever since I remember, people can say that this is a hobby that I haven’t grown out of yet. It has always been a consistent hobby of mine; anime gives me some fodder for opinions and comparisons I have to the imperfection of realities. I can say that currently whenever I am at work or school, I always mournfully wish I was back with my consoles, laptops and internet connection, with the many fanfiction, anime, and video games to play. The only issue though is that with graduate work and Internet, my anime viewing time has cut down to the point where I only watch it on the weekends. I also have expanded on other hobbies like watching CSI marathons or Japanese dorama marathons. I wonder and fear sometimes whether I am loyal to anime then?

What do you get out of it? What is it that you are escaping from?

When I was young, watching anime was something my mind could comprehend, the real stuff bored me. I love to watch anime and escape…. for in my real life there are memories where I don’t wish to remember or even want to remember, so watching anime shuts out the bad things of real life. That’s a negative aspect of anime watching.

A positive aspect is to pass the time, or something to find a niche to associate with in real life friendship. Some of my current friends are high school anime club friends, we still hang out – so knowing Japanese culture and anime makes talking with them a little easier.

There is once again some negative differences though, ever since high school ended, my friends and I don’t watch anime together, so I mostly am ahead and somewhat abreast of the current anime seasons, where as I imagine my two friends are watching many other things and don’t watch as fast as I do. We also like to watch different genere anime, so watching anime is an extreme individualistic/solitary hobby for me. One reason is that I do like to point out the various animes I am watching whenever we go to the Japanese bookstores.

How does anime offer you an escape from your reality?

Makes me forget for a few hours, days on things that are stressful. A while ago I remember feeling some common grounds for either Kareshi Kanoji no Jijou or Neon Genesis Evangelion.

What is the appeal of anime?

Aspects of anime allows for my imagination to roam. It’s a livelihood that I am still trying to maintain, although people may think I am strange, at moments when I don’t hang out with friends, watching anime is like sipping hot chocolate on a cold winter day is.

I am normally quite stressed out, cynical, low self esteemed and self-confident person. Looking at anime gives me an ideal image to look forward to, the happy endings is aspects I expect without lasting questioning a good contrast to how often I am annoyed by real life news.

How do you balance reality with the unrealistic nature of anime?

I try not to make a big deal out of anime episodes that I watch. Though there is the consequence of anime being the only medium of comedy I can truly laugh from. I imagine people who know me, would say I am pretty eccentric.. but I can only move forward. (Which brings to mind of my looking at the morals of many anime quite seriously such as with Fruits Basket, Hunter x Hunter, and with One Piece.)

Does this make you feel like a coward for not being able to cope with reality?

I never though that trying to forget unhappy things a cowardly act. Sure to try and escape reality is avoidance, but what exactly then is the purpose of a hobby?

Do you think it’s a healthy refuge from the stress and hard realities of daily life?

I think this is a win-lose situation. Many times because of marathons I undergo I am normally sleep deprived and perhaps stressed more. But that is life. It’s not a question of it being healthy, it’s a matter of personal choice. I mean that I have experienced burn out situations with anime, where I stay away from anime for a brief period, but I know that anime is always going to be there, so i can return to the comforts of it. I know that I may not have that much common grounds with people, but I know that I need to be reserved about my obsessions and not push on my likings to somone, if they like the same thing then it’s good conversation material, but then you have to turn to other aspects.

I imagine there is a fanatic aspect for the fandoms out there, such as the case with the Harry Potter trial.. or there is that “Gimme Gimme Gimme” aspect of collecting the best, original memorabilia. I was very influenced by buying as much things when I was a bit younger, I have tried to curb that tendency and succeed with some minor spikes. At least I try to make sure my wallet has some money left after my occasional shopping sprees with friends and or searching the internet.

I hope that this post didn’t exactly jump all over the place and do welcome comments… I am a pretty disorganized writer, so I can say that this is an attempt to improve. Probably may rewrite this, if I think of something.. so am saving a reading period for all the other blogs I linked to in this posting.

These are other writers in the group that have written about the same topic:

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  • http://yukan.dasaku.net blissmo

    This write-up is good, at least, better than mine and when I write it’s usually all over the place too, but yours wasn’t. Anyway, I’ve only seen anime for 2-4 years (can’t remember, actually the first year was just Naruto. After 2-3 years, that’s when I decided that there’s more to Naruto).

    I watch anime for the fun of it and you can’t help but escape from reality when you do, I suppose. It’s like watching a movie … you get so drawn into it, you realize that you want to live it, and then you have to face reality again. Escaping reality by watching anime I guess is true in its own way, but it helps me to “get over” issues and accept things and realize my own faults.

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  • http://lelangir.wordpress.com/ lelangir

    “It’s not a question of it being healthy, it’s a matter of personal choice”

    Hmm…I can’t really agree or disagree with this. Are we so indoctrinated into a sense of ‘personal freedom’ that we separate ‘personal choice’ from health? While we have the ‘right’ to not be healthy – we have the ‘right’ to commit suicide – this mindset is the brew of a social hegemony in which we are steeping, always steeping further and further, deeper and deeper, until we have the most succulent of teas – a tea that makes us forget that our bodies are important, and are of the utmost importance.

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  • http://animemiz.wordpress.com/ animemiz49

    Thanks for the comments..!

    @blissmo – totally agree with what you said, alas though.. I feel that because of the escapism, somehow I have fallen out of certain key social relationships, so I am working on that.

    @lelangir – Interesting analogy with the tea, and you are right. With the computer and this hobby, there is isolation moments, but you’ve mention choice, that is a decision making emphasis. I am currently trying to take command of my health and choice to watch anime is still quite present.

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  • itsubun

    “I never though that trying to forget unhappy things a cowardly act. Sure to try and escape reality is avoidance, but what exactly then is the purpose of a hobby?”

    Exactly! EXACTLY! I’m so glad you wrote this. Escapism has a negative implication to it because people are always preaching about owning up to your shit and facing your problems. But the reality is that everyone engages in some form of escapism or another. Whether it’s going to the movies for an hour and getting sucked into that giant screen in the dark theater, or reading a book and losing yourself in the words, or sitting in front of your glowing computer screen and laughing or crying over these ridiculous characters that pull at your heartstrings so easily with their quirks and plights. And there’s no shame in any of that. Maybe people need that escape in order to cope with their realities, not because they seek to run away from it forever, but because they are so very aware of the pressures and struggles that are ahead of them. And if a little magic and imagination can ease their fears and anxiety, then who are we to look down on them? Thank you for writing. Oh, and don’t worry about whatever format you choose to write in. Just write in the way that is most comfortable for you and you’ll be fine.

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  • http://animediet.net moritheil

    Anime Diet covered this in ’07, and as it’s pretty much an answer to many of your questions, I’ll link it.

    @lelangir – I think you’re equating the body with the personal identity, which is something that most Western thought does not do.