I'm starting to think that it really is impossible to change yourself deliberately. But of course in my natural insanity I have tried hard to find some way to work around this problem.
Of course I will have to use anime to illustrate the point, because this is supposed to be an Anime Thermos.
Pictured above is Sae Nakata a character in a lesser known anime called Amagami SS which I enjoy. Sae struggled in her arc with her shyness and couldn't do simple things like buy bread and talk to people. Kind of pathetic but also a real cutie. Her arc touched me because it addressed the prospect of changing one self to act like the person you've always wanted to be. I love Sae because I relate to her struggle. Always wishing to be a different kind of person so I could finally grab the things I want most.
But unfortunately when pondering the nature of Psychology I've reached the rather disturbing conclusion that you really can't choose to change yourself. The human brain simply doesn't have a mechanism to rewire itself according to our hopes and dreams. That's why we get trapped in habits and routines; because a combination of genes, chemicals, and experiences brought each of our brains to a certain wiring structure that prompts and inhibits certain behaviors at certain times.
That's what happened to Sae after all. The whole plot of her story is that the male lead; Junichi got to know her after helping her get the food she wanted and ultimately became involved with her pursuit of a job as a waitress. It was Junichi with some help from his sister Miya who helped provide the guidance and experiences that Sae needed to break out of her "Shy Shell" as I so creatively like to call it.
There are many more examples of this situation:
Like Naruto who wanted to become Hokage because he was an orphan hated for his CLOSE association with the Nine Tails, or Lelouch vi Brittania who despised his father and country for the despicable things they did, or all the main characters of Bleach after the Vandenreich tore the Soul Society apart and freaking killed Yamamoto! And Kenpachi specifically who grew more mature and level headed after his bout with Unohana and the formal passing of the title KENPACHI. Hell, Bleach alone has a slew of examples that all have something very important in common.
Something or another happens in the lives of anime characters that forces the change! It's actually a lot like real life in this regard. We've all heard real life stories about growth and learning through trauma and difficulty and I think there is something to be learned from that. We don't really bother changing much in life unless we HAVE TO. Because that's the nature of the brain: "If it ain't broke don't fix it.". That's not just an opinion, that is the basis of brain function. It's actually a scientific fact that the brain, being a biological entity whose purpose is to keep you alive, likes to do things efficiently. That means that nothing gets done unless there is some compelling force insisting upon it. And if you think about it, it makes sense when you consider how important the story and the conflict is to any anime/manga or other entertainment medium. The success of the characters is in no small part dependent on whether or not we care about what they're going through, and in fact the experiences and challenges they face often define who that character is and who they will become as they develop.
I took Krav Maga for 5 years because I felt weak and scared growing up in a world where killers sniped random civillians, destroyed the World Trade Centers and killed thousands of American citizens, I kicked ass and got an A in my Experimental Psychology class full of complex equations and analyses because I failed the first exam and it terrified me that this class with a high failure rate might claim my life next...
Even Anime Thermos only exists because...
HOW THE HELL DO I NOT WRITE ABOUT THIS!?
Hold on...Candice Catnipp is distracting me...seriously with the tongue and everything...I hope she somehow turns coat and becomes a hero because I'm loving her right now. THE THUNDER! Did I mention her name is CANDICE CATNIPP? Freaking incredible.
But I hope this is helping you see why change is so hard. Because we need to see that what we choose to do actually matters. If I write a blog I need to see the view counter go up and I need to see you readers up voting my stuff. And when I saw that I actually have a second follower recently that got me really excited! I don't just do this for nothing you know, even if I'm not getting paid I'm still looking for meaning, purpose, and results!
The point is we all need things to latch onto and strive for. You can't just decide to change at random because it's unlikely that you'll really want it enough or feel confident enough to actually follow through. We need things that stimulate us, I once had a Psychology teacher in Sensation and Perception who taught us that any and all stimuli actually causes the organism perceiving it to CHANGE. This means that every new experience really does change you. You may not have full control but when you try new things you become a new version of you so the key is not just to keep trying but to keep trying differently each time. If you can diversify your experience of life enough, eventually you're bound to become a much happier person because of everything that you learn along the way.
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Try picturing this:
One caveat though...try replacing that fool in the middle with my girl here:
There are understandable reasons why popular anime and manga have certain things in common. I mean if it ain't broke don't fix it right? But it's not about anything being broken necessarily. It's about what anime is supposed to really be about and how the business side of it contradicts that spirit in a perhaps, unnecessary way.
Anime inspires me because it breaks molds and helps me to believe in greater things than what I thought were possible. It opens my eyes to new ideas and even helps me to embrace things that in normal circumstances would be uncomfortable to me like homosexuality or religion(Perhaps I'll write more on that in the future. Show some support if you're interested!).
My affinity for Hinata though is that she is more like a real human being than most characters. Generally when one speaks of making fictional characters more realistic and relatable it typically refers to having character flaws and weaknesses that people can understand and sympathize with.
But there is another component to making a hero realistic which is that they CAN'T BE TOO HEROIC! I'm referring to the fact that writers have a tendency to really push their main characters into the role of the hero or the savior that has to ultimately rise to the challenge and become the great person he or she was meant to be. But to me that is starting to seem increasingly artificial and forced.
Hokage is the title of the leader and protector the the Hidden Leaf Village. Naruto goes on and on about becoming Hokage to make it clear that he is supposed to be the hero that fixes everything...
Hinata is not heroic nor is she all that inspiring even as she enters Shippuuden. She is a pathetic little girl with a crush on a cocky trouble making boy. This is important, because a big part of good characters is relatability. And I imagine that most of us, if we're truly being honest with ourselves probably don't think that we're big heroes destined to change/save the world. Oh sure, we might want to be like that, which is why we love our over the top heroes, but we probably don't see ourselves as really being like them.
No, most of us are like Hinata, or Rock Lee, or maybe even Shikamaru. But that is the very reason why they don't get more prominent roles in the stories. They're too much like us real people so they can't work as super heroes. But I don't understand that, in a work of fiction couldn't writers just...you know...make them into heroes? I'm guessing the problem is that it's a little too risky to venture a more unique approach to story telling. It's safer to stick with the tropes that have a reputation for turning out adventures that the audience loves.
But let me talk about why I think Hinata in particular would make a great main character. Hinata started out as a shy young girl born to a strict family. She, along with her younger sister were made to practice their martial arts on a daily basis. They were expected to produce good results always. But there was a problem... Hinata just sucked. For whatever reason her younger sister out shined her because she couldn't bring herself to push her limits...Hinata would fall often, but rather than pick herself up and keep working she would crawl away and pout...ashamed of her weaknesses. For these reasons Hinata was sent to school for Ninjutsu and put under the tutelage of a Jounin named Kurenai Yuuki. But life just got harder for her, for she still found struggle and failure in her training and studies...
Bullies from class are beating on her one day, making fun of her and picking on her...just because she's an easy target to vent their frustrations and cover their own insecurities. She's crying loudly, begging for mercy and then...NARUTO CRASHES IN! She'd seen him around before always shooting his mouth off about becoming hokage and proving himself. She had always envied his confidence and ambition and now...he was defending her!
Now don't you tell me that wasn't a fantastic setup for a great story about a weak and unlikely heroine who could one day rise to greatness. I wasn't even trying that hard to write that story intro! Hinata's character pretty much just gave it to me(I drew from her canon back ground story.)! And yet, her story gets the back seat and Naruto's grand standing ambition establishes him as the central character. Because he has all the traditional staples of a hero and Hinata does not. But I feel that this fact makes him less interesting and relatable. The orphan wanting justice and dignity, discovering he has a greater destiny and that his heritage is actually quite prestigious, gaining the power he needs to succeed because he used his will power to build it up. The same old song and dance, I think it's starting to get boring hearing that story over and over again. I want Hinata's story! I want to see an anime where a character like her has to deal with being a weak little girl(And I do want a female protagonist for this.) by working hard and fixating on some inspiration(Like Hinata did with Naruto.).
I mean hell, Hinata's not even the main character but I still find the development that she gets to be really compelling and heartwarming. Her fight with Neji in the first series was sooo epic as she finally took a stand with encouragement from her crush, even talking smack right back to Neji because he was putting her down. She stole the show when she stood up to Pain to save Naruto and even instigated his rage fueled power boost, sacrificing herself in the process without concern for death. And in the battle with Obito and Madara she sees Naruto wavering in his resolve(Despite the fact that stubborn resolve is his specialty...)and literally smacks the sense back into him! Even after her cousin had just been killed in combat!
I'm sure that many people(If not all) have felt the weakness of Hinata and very few of us have felt truly confident of reaching the level of Hokage. But that's why Hinata and those like her can be our real heroes. I would love to see a story where a "Hinata" has to cope with the pain of wanting to contribute and only finally pushing forward by the drive of her inspiration. To see her fail time and again but still insist on trying, because one day...one day...one day she's got to do it. She would keep us hoping and praying all the way until the end: Come on girl! Come on! You can do this! Don't you dare quit on us! GET...BACK...UP! Because that's exactly what we want to hear. When we fall, which we often do...every one of us, we don't want to hear boos and put downs. We want people to believe in us and cheer us on. That's why we would love Hinata as a heroine, because we would cheer for her and because in a sense it would be like cheering for ourselves...and not only that...but because we would feel that if she finally achieves her dreams...it would prove that we can achieve ours as well...and that's what we want from our heroes.
The epicness and impressiveness of this scene was precisely because we knew that Hinata's actions were made of insanity born of love. Personally I didn't really feel compelled by the typical "Defend the world from evil." premise which has been done to death. What, really got my blood boiling was Hinata versus Pain! You go girl!
HIT HIM! HIT HIM! COME ON HINATA GET HIM!
My God it hurts to see her trying so hard...please hurry before Pain...!
NO! NO! NO! DON'T YOU TOUCH HER!
You see this was the stuff that really compelled me and made me feel like I was watching/reading a kick ass anime/manga. So why not just write the whole story using this gold mine of material? Just use the characters and basic story ideas that inspire these amazing moments. Oh, sure you're still not going to churn out perfection every single time, but there would be a vast improvement none the less.
So there you go! This is my bid to get a Naruto revamp. Only this time the series is called "HINATA!" a story all about how Hinata Hyuga...ah okay you know it's probably too late to petition for a Naruto revamp. But come on guys! There must be someone out there who can make this idea happen. Give me a Hinata heroine!!!