Saturday, October 5, 2013

What Anime Can Teach Us About Writing

A lot of you may be thinking, "Anime? Seriously?" And if you're not the biggest fan of anime thanks for reading this post anyway. A lot of  you may think anime equals Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, but there are a lot more out there besides little monsters beating each other up.

Yoru from Shugo Chara
Anime is very different than American cartoons. In Japan, it's culturally acceptable for both children and adults to watch anime and read manga unlike here where cartoons and comics are mostly designated toward kids.

Because of that animes often include more mature content. Most of them I'd say rate about PG-13. Because a lot animes are watched in the U.S., many of them are dubbed (voiced over with English voices).

Moving on from the World History lesson, animes include a lot of great writing that in many instances I prefer over American writing. Because they are a different country they look at things differently than we do, and I think some of that different perspective can be applied to our writing in the following ways. 

1.) Unique Looks On Concepts - One hallmark of anime: it's weird. It just is. There are some concepts that are sort of like: what? How did someone possibly think of that?

For example: Shugo Chara, which a magical girl shojo (girl's) anime, is about a tween girl who has little companions that come from her heart in eggs who represent the kind of person she wants to be.

Weird right? But that was actually a good anime. It worked. Maybe we need a little more weird in our writing and thinking out of the box for our books.

In animes they also like to take new spins on old concepts. Fairy tale retellings are a thing nowadays, but have you thought of doing something really out there?

For example: In RomeoxJuliet it's the classic story, but they stuck the characters into an epic fantasy setting. Plus they made Juliet disguise herself as a boy and be a superhero for the people like Zorro. How cool is that? (On a side note this is a good anime to check out if you want to see if you like this whole anime thing.)

Don't be afraid to think out of the norm. Try different things even if they sound really, really weird they could turn into something awesome!

2.) Deep Themes - Another thing I really enjoy about anime is they really get into the heart and minds of humans with their themes. What the characters learn from the story. Now some of them are kind of outlandish, but a lot of themes from some of my favorites are just so deep and meaningful.

For example: In Attack on Titan, the human race is practically extinct because of Titans. The characters have to battle against these nearly invincible enemies to stay alive and keep their loved ones from harm.

Titans are scary. They will kill you in very not nice ways. The biggest theme in this anime is overcoming fear. It's rising up despite being so afraid for yourself to help others. It's very inspiring to see the characters push through their instinct to run to stand up and fight for their friends. 

I feel like in a lot of American media fear is grazed over. The characters somehow have this courage that came out of nowhere.
In your books, try to reach in and find these really deep concepts to weave into your book to inspire others: love, sacrifice, courage and more. It makes what one reads and watches memorable.

3.) Characters - I could go on and on and on about how great anime characters are. There have been some animes that I didn't really like the plot, but the characters were just fantastic. They are unique, memorable and very human which is what we need in the characters in our books.

Some are easy to relate to, some are really cool, and some are just so out there that we just can help but love them. Then there are the bad guys which are equally brilliant.

Shu from Guilty Crown - He is an easy to relate to character from my favorite anime of all time. He is introverted and grows to push through his fears. He is also super-powered which is always awesome and has to learn how to be responsible for his gift.

Kiba from Wolf's Rain - He's really cool, mysterious, loyal, and kick-butt. And he can turn into a wolf! He's protective of his friends and a typical bad boy.

L from Death Note - An eccentric crime-solver with an affinity for sweets. He's so distinctive that he has his own posture and little habits when he's thinking or mad or other moods. 

Orochimaru from Naruto - A great, creepy, powerful villain with ninja snake powers and a deep backstory on how he became evil.

And I couldn't even get into all the great female characters. I could do a whole post on anime characters. XD Anime is also great into going into backstory so you can feel for each character, but be careful about going into too much especially near action sequences. Naruto went way overboard and I kept thinking "Get to the action already!"


  1. A thoughtful and worth-while read :) I agree that anime often features deep characters and themes and a lot of people often (sadly) overlook those when they see the "anime" label. The same goes for a lot of video games.

    I would like to see another, similar, post about characters.

    1. Thank you. :) I agree with video games. I need to do a post on those sometime ...

      Great! One more comment! :)

    2. Do a post on characters!

    3. It has to be from another person, but thank you. XD Hopefully I'll get another one.

  2. It seems more then a little unfair to blow off the wealth of American literature in favour of anime just for being outlandish and a new 'perspective'. Being a country of the most enlightened immigrants I would expect a wealth of culture interwoven into your homelands books.

    I too enjoy watching anime and reading manga they do have deep plot lines but for someone who exposes they are well read it confuses me you cannot see the influence of western culture, of ancient tales, of greek mythology, and our philosophy.

    In many respects anime is unique but it is not outlandish in the sense you imagine it as revolutionarily 'brand new' afterall the concept of titans is in greek mythology and an ancient tale of what the Trojan's did after fleeing Troy actually explains them engaging in combat with a 'giant race' in what is presumed to be the British Isles. I grant you the batman styled hook launchers combined with French rapiers is a unique combination but its important to recognise in this world it is truly hard to create something that has not been influenced.

    Take Psycho Pass, it practically tells you its based on political scientists books. Tempest is based on Shakespeare's plays and Naruto on the assassin clans of mainland China.

    1. Okay. I'm not saying to "blow off the wealth off the wealth of American literature" nor insult Japanese culture. I'm just saying to think from a different angle. I'm well aware about the mythological perspectives of many of the shows listed, but nothing is new under the sun today and the spins they took off those old stories are unique. I appreciate you commenting though thank you, but please understand my right intentions for the post.

  3. Well, Anonymous, either you misunderstood the post, or you were looking for a fight -- in which case you came to the wrong place.

    Obviously, a post on /anime/ will be about -- shocker -- anime. It does not discredit other genres of literature or film, it merely focuses on the topic at hand. Anime and manga are simply mediums that many people either are unfamiliar with or don't believe is worth their time to invest in. The point of this post was to detail the myriad ways in which this is not the case.

    Yes, these stories take influence from other places. As you said, what doesn't? The important point is that these stories offer new insight to old ideas -- something that all writers ought to do in their tales.

    One more note: your grammar is a bit lacking. Perhaps before commenting negatively on a post like this you could learn to type properly. Thank you.

  4. *ignores annoying negative comment*

    I see you need one more comment. I'll be happy to supply. Do a post on anime characters!

    I love anime (though, I'll admit... I've only seen one. Or two. And I don't even remember what they were. The second I only saw part of... something about a castle in the title, I think... I've forgotten again. I only remember pictures in my head, which are rather vague. The guy in the castle titled one can fly.) Before I realized anime was a genre, I love the style of drawing. It's always been my favorite.

    Anyway, I love anime, and I love characters. Characters are my favorite part of reading and writing and blogging.

    So, now that you've got your third comment, go write that post! I'll be watching for it :)

    the writeress @ barefoot in the snow

    1. Thank you, Jessy. :)

      Heh heh. Was it Howl's Moving Castle by any chance? :) I love the drawing style too. ^ ^

      I'll put it on my list to write. ^ ^ Thank you for commenting!

    2. My pleasure :)

      Yup, that's the one! I knew you'd know it. I didn't watch the whole thing, only the beginning. I've been planning on finishing it ever since, but that was quite some time ago and I keep forgetting the title!

      Excellent. I'm excited to see what you've got to say on the subject!

    3. It's a really good anime movie. :) The Secret World of Arietty, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are also good. :)

      I'll do my best to make it a good post. ^ ^

    4. Oh yes, I've seen Spirited Away, too. Then there's that one that has some kind of railroad tracks built above the ground with two kids (a boy and a girl) running from some bad guys. So I guess I've seen three. You wouldn't happen to know this third one, would you?

      I'll look those others up soon as I can!

    5. That's Laputa: Castle in the Sky...another very good Ghibli film :)

    6. Oh cool. You like anime too? Thanks for commenting. :)

  5. I really enjoy watching anime! Though I've only watched two or three full ones. I like to read the mangas before i watch the anime if possible. I really like the style of everything in mangas and animes. I really like the points you made on characters. I think that may be the reason why I like anime so much. The first thing I've ever watched that was anime and I didn;t even know it was in the first place was Kiki's Delivery Service. My childhood......

    Carly @ Books and Etc

    1. Thank you. ^ ^ Cool. ^ ^ You should watch them more. They're very fun. I could recommend several. Thank you for commenting!

    2. What animes would you recommend? I've watched Ouran High School Host Club, Special A, and am starting to watch Sailor Moon. I'm reading a bunch more though. I'm open to any type of anime really. :)

    3. Cool! Sword Art Online, Code Geass, Blue Exorcist, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Guilty Crown are some of my favorites. :)

  6. um, where is post of anime characters, please?

    1. Lol it's on the list to write. ^ ^ Thanks for commenting!

  7. Bethany @ Forgotten FeatherpenJune 12, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    *freaksoutoverOrochimaru* Best villian ever. Loved your post! I had heard of the romeo and juliet anime. Now I really want to see it! It's great to find another anime fan who's also a Christian. Now I'll have to make a companion post to my anime article on memorable characters about awesome settings or something. Great work.

  8. Love this post! As others already said, it's encouraging to find another christian anime blogger out there :) Did you ever write that female characters post?

  9. Thank you so much! It's so nice to find more and more. I've discovered a lot by blogging on anime here. I wrote one post on anime characters in general. Here's the link if you'd wish to check it out:

    Thank you for stopping by!