My loyal readers would know that I’m a fan of Japanese animation, known far more commonly as “anime.” In fact, one of my more popular articles recently was my takedown of the Netflix live-action adaptation of the anime classic “Cowboy Bebop.”
For many in the west, including generations before mine, this may seem odd. Until the arrival of The Simpsons, cartoons were for children and the most they know of Japanese animation was Speed Racer and Sailor Moon. The truth is that Japan had long used the medium for more mature themes and concepts long before The Simpsons arrived on the scene. Vampire Hunter D was about as mature as you could get and others made some very interesting points and commentary such as Angel’s Egg, an anime that would go on to inspire other great works.
I was introduced to anime at a young age through various creations from Studio Ghibli, and afterschool shows on Toonami like Dragon Ball Z, and Gundam Wing. Over time, my appreciation for the medium grew and expanded, and today I still enjoy the many programs that come from overseas. Attack on Titan is easily one of my favorite shows, and I still go back and watch Trigun when the mood strikes.
I’m always on the lookout for a new anime to watch, and upon discovering and trying a few new ones out, I realized that there was a distinct quality within anime that American television just didn’t have, especially when it comes to entertainment for the young. This was really driven home after stories continued to pile on about American media companies releasing woke cartoons.
These include shows like Steven Universe,” which forces LGBT and anti-racist concepts onto the kid to the point where it’s pretty much the only goal of the show. The once innocent show Arthur adopted BLM talking points for one of their episodes and even included a gay wedding scene in another. Even Sesame Street has devolved into politically-charged garbage.
The bottom line is that cartoons here in America have become overtly political with little in the way of substance. After watching what some of them had to offer, it caused me to reflect back on what I grew up watching. It had programs that were dumb fun for kids, which I have no problem with, but some anime carried concepts with it that I’m glad I was introduced to when I was young.
For instance, Gundam Wing made me consider the weight and cost of war and man’s place within it. When war was and wasn’t necessary. Amidst the giant robots, flying bullets, and space battles were philosophical concepts about violence and peace. What’s more, it wasn’t looked at from a tired anti-war perspective. It truly looked at both sides of the coin.
Trigun is a spaghetti western set in the distant future that centers around expert gunslinger Vash. The show philosophizes about the importance of life and why taking a life is a much greater ordeal than we make it out to be. The tragedies that define the main character and his moral code of non-violence and pacifism are shaken to their core, and we learn in the end that many of the high-minded ideals we carry with us are really just high-hopes. Sometimes, the trigger has to be pulled, and not everyone can live.
Full Metal Alchemist puts the importance of morality and sacrifice, especially in the way of familial bonds, directly in the spotlight. It talks a lot about the trauma that comes with loss and that power without temperance or wisdom can result in tragedy or great evil.
These were shows I was watching in my youth, and as I’ve said about Cowboy Bebop, these shows age with you. As you grow older, they reveal new aspects and deeper meaning as you understand more about the world yourself.
Compared to the programming America is putting out for the youth today, anime is miles ahead in terms of making the young think without telling them what to think. Even shows that used to teach kids about science such as Mr. Wizard, Beakman’s World, or Bill Nye the Science Guy (before his turn to politically-driven science) are no longer possible in a western culture consumed by wokeness.
Yet, Japan doesn’t suffer from this disease and has science-based shows in the form of anime like Dr. Stone. It’s a show that puts a science-obsessed teenager from today’s world into a world where humanity has regressed to the stone age, and he must re-advance technology all the way back to modern times. The show is detailed in its descriptions of how things are made and how they work, and manages to do so in a way that makes it interesting while keeping an overall storyline going over the top of it.
Another great example of educational anime is the cooking-focused show Food Wars, which takes place in a universe where cooking is wildly popular and highly dramatic. Within the storyline of a young chef attempting to achieve the great skill and glory of his master-chef father is a very detailed and incredibly fascinating explanation about cooking down to the details of ingredients, methods, their origins, how ingredients interact with each other, and even gets into the science of it all.
To be fair, these shows can get a little goofy and Japanese humor and American humor often diverge with Japanese humor roving into a cringy territory, but it’s not necessarily something that kills the overall viewing. It’s far and away better than absolute nonsense they’re serving up here in the states with very few exceptions.
Moreover, some parents may have an issue with Japan’s lack of modesty when it comes to the human body in some animes. The female figure isn’t exactly toned down in some of these shows. In fact, Japan has taken the opposite route Americans have in terms of animating the female form and openly make some of the female characters voluptuous and beautiful, whereas here in America, today’s studios go to weird lengths to defeminize females until they’re either oddly shaped blobs or look more like boys. What’s more, some anime have no problem showing the human body off, especially females, to near-nudity. Food Wars, in particular, jokingly likens eating an expertly prepared meal to having a sexual experience and things can get a bit suggestive.
Regardless, if I had to plant my 12-year-old in front of a television, I’d much rather he or she watch Food Wars than Steven Universe. I’d rather my son take in the lessons in science from Dr. Stone than whatever woke tripe PBS is limping to the barn with. I’d rather serve them Cowboy Bebop or Full Metal Alchemist than let them watch one minute of whatever nonsense Disney is trying to serve up nowadays with its woke rehashes of every property they’ve ever owned.
Not every anime is good. There are, after all, millions of them, but I’ve seen a much stronger showing in terms of entertainment and edutainment from Japanese anime than I have from anything in America today. In anime, you can find originality and genuine entertainment free from the political infection the west is currently suffering from.
If you’re worried about what your kid is watching, give anime a shot.