While randomly searching the web I recently found an article on twitter that was talking about mental health and the link between it and anime/manga. I wont go into deep details but the gist was that the writer was saying that no one should link a relationship between the two for any research purposes. While I agree on this point as it seems to be a tenuous link, I do feel aggrieved that we are not talking about this more.
I don’t have many answers but one thing I do know is that anime (and back when I was a kid) cartoons resonated with me. This world has changed a lot since I was young and the subject, story line and quality have all vastly improved to a point where animation is regarded as a skill worthy of those in our western counterparts.
With an increase in online social media views have come to the front of not just a way of discussing but to try and state a fact not a balanced report. When I write a review I try to be as positive as I can as I know someone (however good or bad) has taken time to write, draw and produce this work. If you can give a balanced review then you have not just repeated the story in your own words but put meaning behind your critique.
I am often puzzled when a fellow anime fan says that something “isn’t” or “should not be” or “could not be”, as it takes away the very thing that makes anime and manga different.
What draws me to the medium is that it grabs you via its content, whether that be the art, music or story line. In this particular case the writer was trying to say that mental health should not be linked in any way to anime as a way of treating it. While I am in agreement that we can not generalise, I am disappointed at the short-sight of the statement. Even now while I cringe at the quality of some older anime such as “Gatchaman” there was something above the story that made me feel almost part of their world. To understand this I have to put myself in a younger mindset as I would not have been so developed at the time, however it may have left an impression on my mind in a positive way that was not expected from an adult perspective.
If you look at the characters you will see that although this was designed to be a superhero anime to fit in with western styles at the time, they have distinct values, beliefs and feelings.
Berg Katse was a bit different shall we say, and disapproving looks aside from my family who (didn’t want me watching this sort of thing) I was mesmerised by how different he was. If you look at what was on tv at the time, nothing compared to it. He was this big guy in a cape with huge ears and red tightly fitting gloves and wore makeup. While in the UK we had “The adventures of sir prancelot” and in the US “Sealab 2020” but in japan we had “Devilman” and artwork style aside the themes are considerably different. If you want to explore this more please watch episode 102 “A Reversal! Checkmate X!” “Gyakuten! Chekkumeito Ekkusu” (逆転！チェックメイトＸ)
I could go on forever about all the boys that interested me in anime through the years so I wont, but for many it is a big part of identity and acceptance something that is part of our makeup as humans. To deny any link to mental thought and health is to break the bond we make as we grow up and experience things for ourselves. After watching Gatchaman I didn’t go out and slap on some lipstick but I think it did make me think differently about gender and stereotypes later in life.
More than ever I hear “adults” say “I don’t think I want this for my kid as it not boyish or manly enough” and kids say “these are for girls and these are for boys”. Looking back I’m grateful that I could relate to something that has no presence (at that time) in any western media. If all we fill kids head with is 1+2=3 then we are not doing them any favours and saying that anime has no effect on our thinking is a plain dumb thing to say.
As you can see my interest in boys was not without good taste and reason. Who would not love to see a muscular guy in tight spandex? Sexuality aside these guys were not a replacement for missing family members but a general interest where there was no literature then on why I liked guys not girls. It wasn’t anything more than “oh i like boys” and without that I would not be who I was today. That is quite a bold statement to say but its true and again I see a link between what I needed and an explanation to who I was.
Fair to say I can’t remember much of the heavily edited stories from back then but do recall the real battle which was western morals overlapping the raw anime from japan.
So when I hear people saying that anime should not be associated to mental health I do think (and its just my opinion) that different media and literature does have an influence and a part to play in building, influencing and moulding our minds in a positive way too.