When someone describes a TV series as being emotionally electrifying, visually stunning and intellectually stimulating, you might expect something on prime-time TV.
Would you ever think of anime?
Japanese animation productions, a subset of television, is fervently followed and watched by viewers all over the world. For most of us, we grew up alongside these shows, and no doubt, many of us remember our fascination with them.
From the famous, action-packed "Dragon Ball Z", to the still-ongoing "Pokemon" series, we learned powerful and invaluable life lessons that we still follow today. We were taught to protect our loved ones with all of our might, treat others with respect and dignity and continue standing up after each fall.
Unfortunately, I've noticed that although anime is ubiquitous in the world, there is still a general disdain and apathetic attitude towards it.
To these people, anime encompasses nothing more than fake productions that attempt to hide themselves behind flashy animations, overloaded with absurd situations, ill-timed and excessive fight-scenes and topped off with perverted and erotic themes. Subsequently, they think the studios that make these are catering solely to creepy, single older men who want to pour their energy into a hobby that satisfies their lustful natures.
In no way, they would say, should such productions be considered as a medium that conveys serious themes and insightful messages to life.
I disagree. Although some series may have disgustingly high amounts of "fan-service," there are many others that one can watch that are much more conservative. As for incorporating themes and providing commentaries on aspects of life, "Attack on Titan" is a powerful example.
For those of you who don't know about "Attack on Titan," the story circles around humanity being locked in a war with giant beings, appropriately called "Titans." Living inside three massive, concentric walls as their only protection, they struggle against these abominations that seek to solely kill and consume them with an insatiable desire.
Naturally, the show abundantly includes narration and themes about different aspects of life. However, what distinguishes it from other anime lies in its execution style; it links the experiences between the characters to realistic ideals and morals that we can all relate to. Viewers can quickly connect and empathize with the emotions and actions that the characters experience.
By allowing people to relate with the characters, the show illustrates that it is not simple a "hands-off" show that only shows flashing pixels on a screen. In actuality, the show also isn't your stereotypical anime show, where friendship and love overpower everything. This is a show riddled with the same things we face in the world today – death, violence, fear and indecisiveness.
Throughout the show, we see characters in the midst of terrifying and critical situations. We see them, frozen with fear, watching their squad mates dying at the hands of the Titans – gruesomely beheaded by their jaws, crushed underfoot, or thrown into buildings like inanimate, plastic dolls.
For those on the battlefields, seeing these fellow soldiers that you've trained and spent years with die right before your eyes – this fear is as realistic to the characters as it is to people in reality, and their horrified expressions provides testament to that.
How would you deal with that sudden moment of indecisiveness – that fear of not only losing such a friend or the fear of being prosecuted for disobeying orders, but that fear that you are powerless to do anything for anyone?
If there's anything I've taken from this show, it's that the world can be cruel. However, we must remain tenacious and reaffirm our conviction to our ideals.
Jan Urbano is a senior in biological sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.