While I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post shared by my twenty-four year old friend about an upcoming anime series. One particular statement in the comment section grabbed my attention: “Aren’t you a little bit too old to watch cartoons? What are you like - 8?” That was when it hit me; it was the first time I realize people associate anime with the viewer’s maturity level.
Anime is a term used for the Japanese cartoons and has been popular ever since the first anime TV series was broadcasted in the 1960's. However, unlike typical cartoons that focus mainly on targeting children, anime series’ content, complicated plot lines, and themes are – if anything – more fit for mature adults than they are for kids.
To begin with, anime can contain a lot of violence that is not even suitable for young viewers. Just like any action movie, it may entail a lot of violent deaths, murders, suicides, etc... For example, “Tokyo Ghoul” is labeled as a dark fantasy series that creatively and cleverly balances action, thriller, drama and romance in order to show what it means to be a monster in this world. The show is about ghouls who live in Tokyo and eat the flesh of human beings in order to survive. Those ghouls are in constant fights against humans and against one another. The violence and brutality included in this show are completely not suitable for children. According to the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb) parental guide, the series includes decapitations, cannibalism, murdering, alcohol, and drugs. Therefore, such a series is evidently more appropriate for adults who can handle such imagery and who can contemplate themes of discrimination, xenophobia, and identity struggles.
Moreover, anime series have very sophisticated plots that would be lost on young viewers. An example of a complex storyline would be “Death Note”, a dark psychological thriller that raises serious moral questions. It talks about a 17 year old boy called Light Yagami who comes across the notebook of the God of Death – Shinigami. This notebook gives him the power to kill any person by only writing their name on it. Although violence is embedded in the show, the main theme is to reveal how a person would act should they have power over everyone’s lives. As the show progresses, the audience gets to see how Light transforms from a bright and innocent student into a selfish dictator who is ready to sacrifice any one in order to achieve his goals. The show implies that unlimited and unsupervised power can change any person irrespective of how pure and well-intentioned they might be at first. The struggle for power and the moral questions that come with handling power and the justification of the use of violence as a means to an end are far from children’s understanding. Accordingly, the messages and questions presented by such anime series would be belittled and gone to waste if the target audience were young children who are still inexperienced with such elevated concepts and ordeals.
To conclude, anime is actually intended for adults, not children. Anime is just like any TV show, but instead of real life actors, the characters are animated; thus, people mistake it for another childish cartoon. It is only when one starts watching anime that he\she will be hooked and be amazed by their creativity and sophistication.
- Ali Naboulsi
Civil Engineering student