Affinity writers have written in the past about how spectacular anime is, and it’s definitely a form of entertainment that’s become more and more widespread. However, people who watch and adore shows like Yuri!!! On Ice and Fruits Basket are often teased and shamed for the happiness they find in them.
A few months ago, I was in a writing class where we had to create a character and write an internal monologue from their perspective. One of the boys in my class created a character named “Alessa Shadow.” He described her as being incredibly “annoying”: he gave her bright blue hair, and said she loved Tumblr, comic books, and anime. In his eyes, he was making fun of people with those traits. His friends laughed at his descriptions and monologue when he presented them.
I was hurt when I heard this boy openly mock those who enjoy Tumblr and comic books, because I love both of those things, but his mockery of anime, in particular, made me realize how often our society scorns anime fans. I recalled a time in ninth grade when a friend of mine set me up with a guy who had mentioned being a fan of anime. When I told my friend about this, she wrinkled her nose and told me that that was a “deal breaker” for her.
But anime isn’t dumb, and it definitely shouldn’t be a romantic “deal breaker.” In reality, most animes are creative, beautiful, and important.
In the spring of 2015, I was severely depressed for months. There were weeks when I would come home and cry every night. I had panic attacks at the drop of a hat. I skipped school and classes when I couldn’t tolerate being around people anymore. I felt I had no friends, and I felt that I deserved to be that way. I thought I was weak and worthless. I thought nothing in the world was worth waiting for anymore.
That’s when I discovered Studio Ghibli movies.
At first, they seemed…weird. The style was childish and sugary, and the plots were strange. But it was the fact that these movies were different that really drew me in.
Compared to the children’s movies I’d been raised with, Studio Ghibli movies (and other anime shows I began to watch) were empowering. They featured strong female characters whose looks weren’t considered a personality trait. The art was beautiful, unique, and cheery, and the themes were always humorous, yet deep as well.
After discovering Studio Ghibli, I felt happier than I had in months. The world seemed like a brighter, newer place. I felt like if anime, something I’d never even considered watching before, turned out to be amazing and complex, maybe there were other bits of happiness out there worth seeking.
Anime helped me through a dark time, and I still enjoy it to this day. That’s one of the reasons seeing people get picked on for watching it is extremely frustrating. To bully someone for finding a source of happiness that you didn’t consider yourself is cruel. Stop teasing those who like anime. If you’re mocking someone for having different taste than you, please reconsider your actions.