Ghibli Studios - 2011 - From Up On Poppy Hill (2011) by Ghibli Studios, which owns the copyright to this image.

Why To Watch Anime or Is Kindness Good Enough?

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I have recently visited my brother abroad, in a beautiful country renowned for its strong flavorsome beers, cozy pubs and vivid nightlife. During my week or so of my stay we travelled around the countryside and had a great time together, however, we did not go out a single night. What other, pray tell, did we do instead in this beer-blessed land? Well, we stayed at home and watched anime in front of the fireplace, each with a wine glass in hand. We both work full-time and tired after our long work-hours this was the perfect holiday relaxation. Geeks, I hear? Now, now, let’s think about that.

Whether you are new to anime or a keen fan, you probably have some idea of what this Japanese cult is, but let me remind you anyway to make things straightforward. Anime is often a very stylized type of Japanese animation – think cartoon characters with huge eyes and vivid mimicry in an unusually bright coloured environment. Anime, as we know it today, originates in the beginning of 20th century together with early origins of filmmaking. Its paper predecessor, manga, has been with us since long before with the oldest ‘manga scrolls’ dating back to as far as 12th century. The scale of genres that anime covers is countless, embracing everything from cartoons aimed at toddler audience through the darkest dramas and mysteries to hardcore fetish porn (yes, when I said all genres, I meant all of them).

There is a common shared idea amongst those not particularly intrigued by anime that it is a very self-contained culture accessible only to hardcore geeks. On first sight this seems rather understandable: anime can be, briefly said, a bit weird, which makes it slightly daunting to approach. The sole fact that we are talking about unnaturally-large-eyed animation easily branches it out and places it into a separate rainbow coloured box labeled ‘immature, for children.’ This labelling, although not entirely true, admittedly has some colourful relevance to it, but there are reasons why it does not quite exactly tick the box.

I am sure that by a hardcore anime otaku (Japanese term for an obsessive anime fan) I would be, at best, described as an amateur, occasional and unfaithful genre switching anime traitor. Truth be told, I do not watch anime very often nor am I uncritically devouring every new anime piece. Yet some of my all-time favourite television shows and films fall amongst anime ranks. Naturally, not all animes are good and many of them are utterly rubbish. Following my previous statement that some of the best films I have seen are animes, some of the worst ones I had the dubious pleasure of watching are from the very same category.

Originally published by Alice Máselníková at FMG Arts. To read the article in full please access this link.

Alice Maselnikova is Czech artist, curator, and art coordinator based in Stockholm. Fond of (in alphabetical order): art, books, cheese, chess, jazz, nudes, philosophy, politics, whisky, wine and writing. She holds a BA (Hons) degree in Art, Philosophy, and Contemporary Practices and is taking an MA in Curating Art at Stockholm University. Most recently she was awarded the Transfer North Critical Curatorial Writing Residency 2016-17 and is focusing her research on curatorial practices in the rural context of north-west Russia.

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