By Ethan Harmon
Do you know about anime? Anime is the genre for a particular style of Japanese cartoon and comic book (called manga) series. Anime has, of course, been attributed as “nerdy” or “weird.” And there is some merit to those statements. They are cartoons and they can contain some very strange moments for those who are unfamiliar with the culture. But certain anime series are wonderful and an absolute joy to watch or read. Believe me when I say that some of the best stories that I have ever watched or read are anime.
I remember being a teenager, sitting up late on Saturdays, waiting to watch shows on Adult Swim. One day, after making a sandwich, I sat down and turned on Adult Swim, wondering what the next show would be. A show called Cowboy Bebop popped up on the screen. I was unfamiliar with the show, but I decided to watch it anyway. It was completely engrossing. Cowboy Bebop followed a group of space bounty hunters as they jumped to different planets, seeking to cash in on a reward by tracking down a “bad guy.” It was a simple premise, but the story was incredible. It had mysterious, well-written characters, a fantastic story, cool concepts, great animation and a wonderful backdrop. I immediately watched the entire series, and was rewarded with an incredible space-western.
Had I turned the channel, I might not have experienced this incredible story. Of course, watching Cowboy Bebop made me want to venture into other anime. Next up was Trigun, another space-western (although a little more literal on the western aspect) that followed Vash the Stampede, a wanted man who was blamed for the destruction of an entire city. And again, I loved every second of the show. I continued to jump into other anime: Gundam Wing, Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai Champloo, etc. I couldn’t stop myself.
Even today, I watch anime. It has helped me evolve as a writer, allowing me to think outside of the box, explore new ideas, think of new, creative ways to craft a story and the characters within it and to not be afraid of trying something new. It expanded my imagination due to the unconventional nature of some stories or characters. And it drove me to try new things, whether it was the shows, writing techniques or just ideas. Most of all, many anime series are just an absolute blast to watch.
So, I encourage you to venture out of your comfort zone and watch an anime (or read one). Whatever your interests, there is an anime that will fit into your wheelhouse. Sure, it may take a little while to get used to certain things, or you may have to try a few different titles, but I guarantee that you will find one that you will thoroughly enjoy.
[Note: If you need a recommendation for a title to start on, I would suggest Cowboy Bebop, Trigun or Rurouni Kenshin.]