Rupturing the stigma of anime
Anime is a potent medium. Sadly, however, it is one of the most misunderstood media there are. I believe this primarily stems from how it is introduced to most people. Often, casual anime fans introduce anime to their friends by inviting them to watch Naruto or Bleach. They will probably say that the fight scenes are awesome and well-crafted. Later on, however, a lot of these people will equate anime primarily to well-choreographed and astounding action as well as a medium that is incomparable to those recognized by many people to be at the pinnacle, such as literature, drama, poetry, and the like. Most of them will also quip that this medium is only focused only on kids, and thus appreciating or enjoying this medium is roughly equivalent to being retarded or puerile. I find that there are a lot of detractors of anime series primarily because of this.
It cannot be helped; what is often seen during morning shows are series targeted to kids, like Pokemon, Digimon, Naruto, Bleach, and their ilk. Most people disconnected with the anime medium often jump to conclusions, and therefore vehemently disapprove of their older sons and daughters appreciating the medium.
Yes, because all anime are cute and cuddly shows.
I do believe the reason for this stigma with anime in relation to the different media is the fact that people introduce the anime that are already well-known. In fact, I do not find anything introductory when I speak of Naruto or Bleach to others, because they are primarily familiar with both series already. Most people just invite those who do not watch these series to watch these series so as to ‘introduce’ themselves to the anime world. Even before these people watch the series, however, they have a general idea that anime is supposed to be only action, supposed to be only for kids, or supposed to be puerile. The stigma forms.
It fails to be an introduction. Merely, what most people do is a review. They simply view again (and confirm) what was there on their minds.
The stigma builds up.
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What do I propose, then, to dispel this stigma with regard to anime being an inferior medium? I propose that a defamiliarization be in lieu of the ‘introduction.’ What do I mean by this? Those who plan to introduce anime into other people’s, or other friends’ lives must not show what can be commonly seen. This would merely act as confirmation to the inchoate ideas regarding anime these people already possess in their minds. Those who shall introduce anime must show a definition of anime that has not lodged itself on many people’s minds: anime as concept must be entirely novel. Instead of showing Naruto, or Bleach, or any other anime aired in the networks, truly introduce anime by showing Elfen Lied.
I am not kidding.
I did this to my classmates. Most of them are veritable anime fans, even until now, three or so years after my introduction. Instead of seeing cute characters acting cute, they saw a visceral beheading the very first scene. Instead of being overcome with a saccharine happiness, they were pervaded upon by a pathetic disgust and anger. Instead of seeing characters smile at the very end of the show, they saw a tragedy with the hope of redemption for those who remained.
Robots were not the focal point; ninjas, or superheroes were not the focal point; cutesy characters were not the focal point. Human characters were entrenched within a tragic chain of events, and the violence, while visceral and bloody, was not cartoonish in nature. Some of my squeamish classmates could not take it: some of them puked. Some of them cried, or turned away from some scenes with revulsion.
All of them, however, finished the series with me. Up to this day, all of them are still anime fans, and not merely casual ones at that.
P.S. Images were borrowed (stolen) from Maya’s post on Elfen Lied. Come back, Maya~