Sunday, February 24, 2013
The Anime Mind!
I started noticing something intriguing to me a couple of years ago that has bugged me for all the time since. School and work alike can be pretty rough to deal with. There's a lot to learn and understand, and even when you think you have it all still more stuff comes up to distress your life. I was talking to a friend of mine about our complaints concerning "the system" as in this cold cruel world keeps us down with it's stupid laws and foolish logic. In the midst of this childish lamentation about the world's baka rules, I made an innocent comment which instantly gave me the insane hope of matching Naruto and Ichigo Kurosaki in terms of power!
I'm not claiming to be an expert on this but I think this is worth exploring so please stay with me!
"You know, if I could get into my school work the same way I get into an anime I could have learned everything and gotten straight A's without any effort at all!" This is the essence of what I said to my friend.
It occurred to me in this moment that many anime's/manga such as Bleach and Naruto are very deep and detailed, and as they grow with each new chapter or episode, you are essentially being given more and more and more information about the characters, the universe(s) they live in, the details of their personalities, personal stories, powers and abilities, topped of by a slew of miscellaneous craziness and side stories. These stories we watch/read in our anime/manga have an enormous amount of activity and dialogue going on. And those of us who are fans of this addicting and crazy genre of entertainment absorb and remember every damn bit!
To me this is an amazing feat that we don't realize we deserve a lot of credit for, and a lot of scolding as well!
I've watched Captain Shunsui Kyoraku release his shikai only a handful of times and from memory...
"Flower god rage and flower god roar, heavenly wind rage and heavenly demon sneer...Katen Kyokotsu!"
Katen Kyokotsu's ability is to make children's games real! If you win you live, if you lose you die. In Kageoni whoever gets their shadow stepped on loses, in Takaoni whoever is higher up wins! Bushogoma is a spinning top game, in Irooni you call the color you want to cut and can't cut anything else, but the damage you do is enhanced or weakened in proportion to the amount of that color you have on you, also if you get hit back on that same color you get hurt with the same proportion of damage.
And that's the shikai power of Katen Kyokotsu, Captain Shunsui Kyoraku's zanpakutou in the anime/manga Bleach!
And now for my next trick I will tell you the equation to calculate velocity in physics...after I google it...hold on...
Ah! Yes! Velocity equals speed over time! ...wait, that's it? Yep! That's it, that's all I needed to remember after having teachers try to drill it into me over the years, and I still had to google it to figure it out for this article! Not so for Kyoraku's unnecessarily long release command and complex set of powers...
The simple explanation of course is that we care immensely about our anime/manga and so we invest a hell of a lot more of our time and mental energy engaging with it repeatedly, swirling it around in our heads analyzing the decisions of the writers, the characters, and the issues they're facing. But I believe there is a really profound point to be made in this very simple observation. The psychological activity and commitments we have for our beloved anime/manga appear to be the very same kind of qualities we ideally ought to have when living our daily lives! I'll bet you anyone who has seen and heard Lelouch vi Brittania's epic speech at the tail end of Code Geass season two will remember that for years to come. But not a damn one of them could remember that important lesson in class even a couple minutes after walking out. Probably because they just wanted to drop the work to log on to Anime Freak!
Can this be explained perhaps by the concept of escapism?! Do we really hate our lives so much that we retreat from them, and sacrifice our time and energies on the altar of Japanese born fantasies rather than giving those resources to fighting and defeating the challenges we have in life!? This sounds very bleak and incredibly cynical...and I'd honestly rather not believe it to be true. So what's the deal? If I can give you detailed explanations of the status, strengths, and limitations on every single zanpakuto that has ever been introduced in Bleach, then why the hell am I stressing out about the test I have to take on Monday!? Why can't I buckle down, learn the crap in a few hours and ace that test without any effort!? If the test was on the recent events of Naruto, or hell even if it was on the first damn episode I could ace it without studying!
I study psychology at school and that's partly why I've become intrigued with the subject. I know we have a lot more potential than what we use, and I am desperate to learn how to tap into that potential so I can apply the same brain functions that help me retain years and years worth of manga releases in order to figure out how to budget my income, invest in profitable ventures, and figure out where all my damn socks go after I wear them!
Our memories are nartually a big part of intelligence, if you don't remember stuff that you learn in life how the hell do you make good choices about anything? And if you're an avid anime fan and you've kept reading with interest so far than you probably have a brain that has proven it's powers of retention on it's favorite anime's. Thus demonstrating it's potential for great intelligence. So why aren't we better at life?!
Psychologists have done research on how fantasies and expectations affect the outcomes of our real life endeavors. In one study, they measured the successes and failures of people who they encouraged to indulge in fantasizing about success and things that were important for them. They also did the same for people who were encouraged to merely think about and report what they truly expected to happen to them based on actual past experience rather than fantasy. (I'm sure you can see how I connect this to anime/manga.) Here's a link to an article pertaining to the study: http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/01/success-why-expectations-beat-fantasies.php
The results were as follows: The one who indulged in the fantasies ended up applying to fewer jobs, unsurprisingly getting fewer interviews and got hired less, and in the jobs they did have they were generally paid less money. They recovered from surgery less quickly and didn't do so well on tests or dates either.
But people who considered more realistic expectations, which included an awareness of the challenges and sacrifices we inevitably will have to deal with in life, they had considerable better luck and performance levels!
My proposed explanation for this is that anime...and fantasizing in general, spoils your brains reward centers and floods your system with related hormones like serotonin without actually forcing you to do any work and face any hardships. And get this, based on studies in sensation and perception, everything you experience in life, whether it's in "real life", in anime, in your dreams, or whatever the case may be, every single experience is the result of your brain's calculations and interpretations which it uses to present to your consciousness a unique and personal experience of life. Because of this, your brain actually can't distinguish any meaningful difference between fantasy and reality! So when you get your fix of feelings of victory, love, pleasure, and success from anime your brain is liable to decide: Well! I'm happy now so I can take it easy, one day I will have enough strength to shatter fate! Just like Ichigo Kurosaki! Whether you consciously believe that and decide that is irrelevant unfortunately...your brain will make a lot of poor decisions without you if you don't train and discipline yourself properly!!!
I could go into great length right here and now to give my opinion on how to deal with this, but perhaps I can expand on this in another post. For now I will say just a bit. First of all don't think you have to be "like" anyone real or imagined. You are not Ichigo or Naruto, you are not Captain Commander Yamamoto, you are not the President of the United States...most likely, you are not your parents. You are who you are, and you need to take a good look at yourself and think: "This is me." "This is my life." "I have to live this life and deal with these things that are in this life that I have. I will clean the dishes, pay my bills, and do my job or be a student, at an epic level of greatness. As I take care of these seemingly simple things, I will enter and live the grand heroic adventure I've always wanted without even having to try!"
Adventure, romance, epicness, heroism, and all the things like that...you don't do these things, they happen as a function of living genuinely and with passion, and living with such zeal and honesty is about accepting the fact that you and your heroes are equally human and so have the same potential. And your anime/manga... they're specifically designed for psychologically pleasing effects! They are not superior to real life, they are subordinate to real life! They are mere reflections of the desires and hopes of the people who create them and the fans who enjoy them! We own them and we can either use all our free time to get a psychological high off of them or we can make them real...in addition to getting that high of course. ;) Not in the sense that we can actually summon giant living toads by biting our thumbs...but in a certain, more realistic format we can make life just as fun, crazy, and epic. At least that's my belief.
This might require at least one more post, as it doesn't feel like I'm done just yet! ;)
If you came back to read more stuff I EPICALLY THANK YOU!
And if you would, please click the appropriate like buttons and such to share my stuff with others. :)