Things I Do for Me: Anime Catharsis

 

I have always been a passionate person. As a girl, I felt strongly about anything I thought was important and I wanted to share those feelings with just about everyone. Despite being rightfully dubbed an open book, which is to this day still an accurate description, I kept what I considered my more negative emotions to myself. I would suppress them to a secret place where I hoped even I would forget they existed. Musicals and anime provided me with outlets for these emotions, taught me how to share them, and allowed me to experience catharsis.

Two completely different arts with two completely different worlds that just both happen to be my perfect cup of tea. The focus of this entry will concentrate on anime, as I will dedicate a future post to my love of musicals. Each topics interest for me is complex and started at an early time in my life.

Anime is a form of animation that originated in Japan that portrays varying stories across a wide range of genres. Though English dubbed versions are becoming more readily available with its rise in popular American culture a majority of anime is still only available in Japanese with subtitles. I saw my first anime in the mid to late 90s with the classic Sailor Moon on Cartoon Network, which was English dubbed.  I would pretend to have the iconic sailor scepter, turning about and transforming into a sailor scout. Even now in the midst of the Crystal reboot of the series I find myself delving back into the first anime I experienced still learning new things about myself and the characters. The sailor scouts lit a flame inside me, which is corny, but true.

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The fire burned and I continued watching different anime that Cartoon Network provided into the early 2000’s when I came across the series Inuyasha. I related to the two main protagonists and the struggle of their independent journeys as individuals and also their mutual journey together.  I became emotionally invested. There was something in every episode that took me on a journey within myself. At times when I watched the show I would be moved to the point of tears because the feelings Inuyasha inspired were intense. There are those who could and would say that I was being over-dramatic because the story and the characters are fictitious, nevertheless I continued to be overwhelmed.

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Movies and books can elicit strong emotional responses from me but anime gave me an emotional release despite the sad or sometime tragic story arcs.  I would not understand until I got into college that I was experiencing catharsis. I am grateful for the psychology course work I took at the time that helped me discover this about myself. I also joined the anime club at school, as a result broadening my understanding of the art form and giving me the tools to search for new content outside Cartoon Network, which I had discovered was quite limited. The club introduced me to subtitled-only anime cultivating new curiosity for Japanese language and culture I had not thought to explore. Mannerisms of characters gave a glimpse to social norms and the inner monologues of characters provided a new take on how to take the time to process personal life experiences.

I got to watch characters dissect their own thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Step by step I found myself learning how to be more introspective in a way that was productive rather than destructive. Not to take away from therapy and the help of family and friends, but to bring light to another tool added to my arsenal. The negative emotions I had suppressed from various events including times when I was around toxic people were coming out of me at full speed when I was watching anime. Through a varied collection of genres, I connected to the stories and to myself.

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