I’m about to date myself with this column, but one of the best things about being an Anime fan since childhood is that it’s shaped the way I look at the world, view life, and view its possibilities. Don’t believe me? Sure â€“ if you’re not an Anime fan, think about the things you do like and how much they’ve shaped you. Perhaps you’re a music or a movie buff? Surely you understand how the thing you love shaped your worldview over time, especially if you’ve been a fan for a long time.
Now that we’re past that, let’s take a look at Cheap Jerseys some of my first Anime, and what how I think they’re reflected in some of the things I feel are universal truths about life. Don’t worry; you’ll get your turn.
Some of my first Anime TV series were some of the ones any American would have seen if they were children of the 80s: Voltron: Defender of the Universe, Robotech, Mazinger Z â€“ I had the benefit of living in Europe for several years since my father was in the military, so I saw a few things that other kids my age in the States didn’t get a chance to see for a few years. Of those that I did see as a child though, perhaps my very first Anime movie was Hayao Miyazaki‘s Nausicaaa of the Valley of the Wind and Yoshimitsu Banno‘s Ninja, the Wonder Boy.
Nausicaa was definitely the first Anime movie I saw â€“ and I couldn’t tell you how old I was at the time; I promptly forgot I saw it, except for brief flashes of memory over the years until someone re-introduced it to me later in life. Some of the themes common in Nausicaa, like protecting the environment, the potential of a manmade future of ecological disaster, and the futility of war, are things that are part of my core set of values (although as with any story aimed at children the message, even if well crafted, is simplistic) but I couldn’t tell you if those are my values because of Nausicaa, or because I grew up with them.
What I can say is that my earliest memories of the movie are around specifically ecological disaster and the perseverance of Nausicaa as she risks her own life, health, and happiness for the well-being of the people she cares about. As she stands in front of an advancing horde, risking her life, to warn everyone that war is futile and violence only breeds more violence. Without a doubt that imagery sticks with me today and they’re values that I hold dear.
Perhaps less mature was another of the first Anime movies I saw, Ninja, the Wonder Boy. My father brought it home as a rental when I was a little kid; I remember picking it off of the cheap oakley shelves at a video rental store â€“ back when VHS cassettes were all there were and it was in a massive plastic package that encased the whole thing. The movie follows a young ninja as he completes his training and is sent out into feudal Japan to take on his first assignments.
The story is pretty pedestrian and simple, and definitely designed for children, but there are a couple of things that stuck with me over time: first of all, the boy ninja is just a child, but he has incredible power, and incredible strength of will. That’s when I learned to persevere; to approach everything with as much will and inner strength as you can muster. That’s when I learned you can overcome any challenge or get past any obstacle if you believe you’re strong enough and smart enough to handle it. That doesn’t mean you won’t fail, it doesn’t mean you won’t be set back when things get tough, but it does mean you get back up and go at it again.
In the end, both Anime taught me the value of persistence, intelligence, and believing in yourself, the people you love, and the things you hold dear. They both proved to me that I could muster all the power in the cosmos if I needed to, and as a child that’s a wonderful thing to be told â€“ that if you really REALLY tried, you could call down lightning and make the earth shake â€“ and even if you can’t, it’s more important to believe that you can, so when you approach life, you go at it with your all because you not only believe in yourself, but you believe in what’s in your heart.
Those are the kinds of child-like values I don’t ever want to part with. And yes, I’m still an Anime superhero in my head. I can still call down lightning, and I can still conjure fire at will, because I’m awesome. Of course I can’t in real life, but in my head? I’m fighting demons and proving my strength and worth at all times. Sure, you’re probably reading this and thinking I’m reading far too much into it, but there’s something to be said for getting those kinds of powerful self-belief messages when you’re young and impressionable. Going through life with the belief that I can do anything if I set my mind to it is a powerful thing to wake up in the morning with, and I’d recommend it to anyone.
So what about you? What was your first Anime, fellow geeks? Did you take anything away from it that you think shapes you as a person? Let me know in the comments.