Introductions to Anime – A Reflection of the Human Condition?

Making the decision to study anime, I went back to the moment where my love blossomed.

Three years ago I stumbled across a video called “Every Anime Opening Ever.” At that stage in my life I didn’t identify myself as an otaku or much of a fan of anime. I had watched bits of Sailor Moon and was a fan of Akira Toriyama‘s work, however, since Dragon Ball Z was so popular in the “West,” I didn’t exclusively associate it with Japan. It wasn’t until I watched this video, where I exclusively remember saying to myself, I really love anime.

Three years later at my computer I open my browser, click on the YouTube icon in my bookmarks bar, and search “Every Anime Opening Ever.” I find it automatically, it’s the top hit. The video has amassed over 2.2 million views, a testament to both the video’s popularity, and the popularity of the genre. My lips curl into a smile as I open the video. Now familiar to me, my smile widens as Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Euro Mega-Mix” begins to play alongside fast and colourful cuts from a range of different anime’s, some familiar to me, some alien. It’s incredible to see how many conventions permeate the opening credits. I wonder what initially inspired these conventions?

Derek Lieu, the creator of the video, states that the repeated imagery that exist in anime opening credit sequences has “always amused me.” He first became aware of these permeating conventions when watching the X-Men intro made in Japan to replace the American one. He states, “the part that especially hit home was Wolverine, and Cyclops standing on some nondescript land mass,” (pictured below.)

Xmen

I personally believe there’s prolific cultural commentary embedded in this video, it certainly comments on the Japanese public imagination. Furthermore, I believe it comments on, perhaps, what the Japanese find intriguing or fascinating when both studying and creatively portraying the human condition and psyche. The moments where I felt this were also the moments that I personally found most poignant, the sequences occurring at 1:30, and 3:17 respectively, where the scenes speak a thousand words. Both moments combine emotional music and emotional imagery, which inspire me, making my hair stand up as I reminiscence and ponder alongside the characters. I also found the second sequence intriguing since it also portrays magical and celestial beings, demonstrating a Japanese fascination with the mythological and spiritual worlds, a fascination which stems from the brilliant and extensive spiritual folklore which permeates the culture. Finally, the second sequence concludes with people holding hands, beautiful imagery, commenting on the human desire to belong, to love, and to be loved.

In fact, now as I ponder on these issues more I realise that the moments and emotions creatively and uniquely expressed in this video definitely make a commentary on the human experience. When I watch this video I see a mirror, and realise that the reason why I experience this resonance is because I can relate to the experiences and emotions expressed in the video. The fact that I had an emotional reaction to certain scenes comments on my own emotions and passions, my own human experience.

I’m looking forward to continuing my analysis and study of anime and Japanese culture. I’d also be interested to know how you reacted to the video? Feel free to let me know in the comments, and please feel free to offer suggestions of anime to watch, or perhaps ways in which I can investigate into the genre, and the culture.

References

– Lieu (2010,) “Supercut – Every Anime Opening Ever,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibPCLMH1NM4, Accessed Aug 13, 2014

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