ALRIGHT LET'S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS HERE
Starting this blog was an impulsive decision. I had a lot of thoughts and passionate feelings about anime and how it relates to life and I desperately needed an outlet because I normally don't feel at liberty to express myself in my everyday life.
And it has been an educational experience for me. I've written some real gems that got more views and likes than I ever dreamed! ...And I've also written some stuff that I'm a little embarrassed and even ashamed of as well. I think at this point I should do a bit of a general review of what I've done here and how I think and feel about it now that's it's been up for so long and had numerous posts published.
There are three things I have to address here that I think are most important:
1) Anime has inspired me to be expressive, optimistic, and heroic.
2) Anime has also led me to have a certain level of disdain and even hatred for the world because it falls so short of anime standards...
3) Anime may have encouraged me to be a bit of a jackass when it come to women and sexuality.
First of all let's look at the good anime has done for me.
LESSON 1: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO JUST CHOOSE WITHOUT KNOWING WHY
Primarily, anime has given me really high and wonderful standards by which I want to live my life. Anime helps me to enjoy and express my most deeply and strongly held ideals for life. I really do want to have connections with people like the characters from Fairy Tail and to have bonds so strong that we will stupidly, foolishly, and recklessly charge into danger to defend each other. (http://confess-fairy-tail.tumblr.com/post/57518422396/i-wish-one-day-i-can-be-as-close-and-connected) <--Origin of image.
I've written a lot about this topic because I wanted to express my sentiments and my ideas about how such virtues from anime could potentially come to exist. I believe that if we really try to be creative and open to crazy new ways of doing things we could actually have a real life Fairy Tail!
I've said in previous posts that I think we have to be willing to be a little more arbitrary in our ability to make choices. Like how Kirito merely embraced the idea of protecting Lizbeth because it's better for people to "die together than live alone" even though he didn't know her!!! Or how Rock from Black Lagoon frames his desire to help people as a mere "hobby" rather than a logical or moral imperative.
Life is a mystery and we don't know why we exist, or why we're conscious and why we feel anything at all. Pain, pleasure, understanding, confusion, etc, etc. etc...these things just...kind of exist with no real explanation. And fortunately, we can choose to be okay with that. But it requires exercising a great power we have. The ability to simply make a CHOICE purely because it's what we want without having to justify anything. I truly believe that I can choose to just be a loyal friend who will defend his comrades to the death. It's not a matter of rationality, it's what I want and what I need to be happy. I'm reminded of what Renji said when he fought Byakuya in the Soul Society Arc. He remarks about how he promised to save Rukia and Byakuya asks him: "To whom did you make this promise?" Renji responds: "No one...IT'S JUST MY WILL!"
Some things in life are truly a matter of will, because the universe is simply too big and mysterious to be completely captured by the rational thoughts of our tiny little blobs of brain matter.
This could be a hard pill to swallow because we live in an age where intellectualism and the scientific method are all the rage and everyone wants to look like a super smart smarty McPants.
But we don't know everything and that's okay. We still need our feelings...they aren't obsolete and we still need to be able to express them and figure out what to do about them so that we can be happy with the way we live our lives. A guidance counselor from my high school once told me "We feel how we feel, because that's how we feel." In other words, there is no call for justification. You may feel badly, and maybe you even feel things that seem "wrong" or are pushing you to do something drastic like suicide. But that doesn't mean you're a bad person. Feel how you feel, because that's how you feel. I assure you that there are people like me for example who will listen if you need someone to talk to. And you can embrace your feelings without shame so that you can know who you are and what you're dealing with so you can decide how to move forward effectively. Feelings let you know what important in your life, they're signals you have to accept and interpret to make better decisions.
LESSON 2: REIGN IN THE HATE THAT IS BORN FROM LOVE
There are a number of anime and manga that touch on this issue. Naruto is a pretty big one, especially in light of it's most recent developments in Shippudden. The prominent example is the discussion about the Uchiha's like Madara and Sasuke. Hashirama tells us that it was a misunderstanding to think that the Senju's were all about love and the Uchiha's all about power. He tells us that in fact, the Uchiha's value love and feel it far more deeply than anyone, and that it is this love that gives rise to the Uchiha curse. A great hatred and intense misery rises from the pain of losing who and what we loved most dearly.
I have found myself succumbing to the Uchiha curse myself, because I have values that are highly important to me. Friendship, love, discipline, fun, entertainment, humor, happiness. But when I get out into the world every day for my daily routines, I find I am often disappointed. People don't love and care as much as they should. People are often confused or suspicious because of attempts at over the top fun which is supposed to loosen us up and form bonds of friendship, and as this goes on day after day I can sometimes find myself really angry and hurt...WHY DON'T PEOPLE GET IT! I often ask myself.
But after a lot of soul searching, reading, and returns to my anime and manga I realized: I DO NOT WANT TO END UP LIKE SASUKE!!!
Nor do I want to end up like a myriad of other pain stricken characters. I don't want to be like Nagato/Pain, I don't want to be Emiya Kiritsugu, I don't want to be like any of them.
I get that these characters can often be really cool and badass...but it comes at a high price. To actually be like them would be to sacrifice happiness, friendship, love, and meaning in our lives. People who are actually like these characters in real life don't end up being as cool as them and they don't get much out of life...trust me I've been one of them myself...
So in the same way that we have to accept our feelings to deal with them effectively, we also have to accept other people and the world as a whole in order to live with strength and optimism in this universe.
LESSON 3: BEWARE OF HOW WHAT YOU SEE, HEAR, AND EXPERIENCE AFFECTS YOUR LIFESTYLE
Okay, sooooo I'm kind of a fan of...fanservice. Yes, I'm afraid I'm referring to panty shots, and boobs, and sexually provocative content that I see in anime. I have to face that part of myself. While many people roll their eyes in annoyance when yet another skirt gets torn off or blown by the wind, I myself get a bit of a laugh and a kick out of it.
I think that this colors a lot of my perceptions and ideals in life. I do tend to think that a lot of self-proclaimed feminists blow women's issues way out of proportion. And I also tend to think that men get too much criticism and hate for what comes naturally to them as men.
Of course I believe in the essential principles of feminism involving equality and respect. But I also think that there is a need for discussion of the legitimate natural differences between genders and what it really means to be a man or a woman. And the inevitable role of sexuality in our interactions with one another.
I must apologize for any offense that may be taken because of some things that I have published here on my blog. How ever, I must add that I feel that it is important that those thoughts and feelings of mine were expressed because they need to be addressed and I believe it would be worse not only for myself but for all people if I kept them suppressed.
So, yea my mind is encouraged to embrace dirtier and more X rated thoughts because of anime and manga, because when you see these kind of things in entertainment it, in a way validates certain ways of thinking and feeling. I see fan service and think: "Hey, obviously the writers and animators are down with this perverted stuff." Or: "Hey, look at all these comments from my friends and these youtubers who enjoy the panty shots. I guess this is okay!" And then you have female cosplayers who make a choice, that no one is forcing on them to cosplay as the most scantily clad characters in the world!
One simple search on youtube has revealed to me that there are a plethora of videos all about how "Cosplay Is Not Consent" which is a perfectly fair point to argue. Just because women are dressed a certain way doesn't mean they are a certain way or that they are sending any particular kind of message.
But this requires a lot of conscious effort to deal with. Every one needs to put a lot of thought in how their perceptions are being shaped by everything they see, hear and experience. And we also need to think about how other people perceive the things that we do and say. This is not an easy thing to do, so it's not really a surprise to me that people get hurt, confused, and angry about these issues. There is a lot to deal with here. Sexuality and other emotions don't go away just because we demand order and respect. But respect shouldn't be forgotten just because you're at a Comicon where people are supposed to be having fun and being free.
We SHOULD ABSOLUTELY give people respect and give them their personal space and spare from them rude and selfish behavior. But come on...
But what I've learned from this complex issue is that I while I need to embrace my own feelings, I also need to be on guard so that my perceptions of what's going on don't screw with me and make me do anything I would regret.
I totally respect women and I don't want them to be hurt or abused. In fact some of my favorite characters in anime are females who earned my respect and love without fan service like Haruhi Suzumiya or Taiga from Toradora or Asuna from SAO or Mikasa from Attack on Titan(I know two of them had some fan service but it wasn't really a factor for me.). I would never ever be one of those guys that thinks a woman is "Asking for it." because of her dress choices. But ladies, I have to be honest with you...if I complement your cosplay it's possible that I'm thinking as much about the things you were born with as I am about how you're dressing them...
So this is a really hard topic and I hope you read through everything I wrote before getting immediately angry with my opinions. I recognize my responsibilities as a man and that I must be honorable in my lifestyle and treatment of others regardless of their gender. But I hope that we can all appreciate and work through all the difficult details of it all by understanding each others feelings. Most especially when we are offending and hurting each other, and that we can all be liberated by the process.
And in the end we can become FAIRY TAIL!
(Note that Gray is a male fan service character and Juvia[not pictured] is a female stalker. Hehe)