Conversations with a Therapist #7 – If There’s a Shooter, Blame the Anime?

So I spoke a bit with my therapist on “Cartoon Violence”, of which I think I was getting a lot of at that age. Cartoons had a huge appeal to me, that is for sure, with their vibrant colors and wide ranging stories dealing with real life scenarios vs. the outlandishly loud magic bang kind (seriously, it’s a flying spell, so just stop yelling). My horizons got a little broadened via the help of a family friend/brother, who had plenty of anime in his hands. He was into anime before anime was considered cool, and showed what America was missing out on in terms of story and quality in their animation.

But all that is beside the point, and the point being cartoon violence, which is one of the key things anime had over American animation. In terms of firsts, Vampire Hunter D was quite possibly the first display of graphic violence I’ve seen through animation (strange considering the newer Bloodlust, which was tame in that regard). Since then, I’ve come across countless atrocities of violence done against otherwise fictional characters, and have become quite desensitized by it all. Mind you, I still get freaked out by Tetsuo’s transformation in Akira, which is just nasty sick. Seriously, feel free to not click that link, and not just for spoiler purposes, because that’s only one hell of a spoiler, but will also make you sick to your stomach. Amazing animation, just…god damn.It was around the time I was speaking with my therapist I was introduced to an anime called Berserk, which was adapted from the very popular manga. I got to learn about it through a special teaser compilation which showed snippets of the show accompanied by music videos. Hell, this thing was so new it didn’t even have subtitles yet, and was a port sent straight from Japan. And despite this I was able to somewhat understand the plot and story, because I watched that thing constantly. If the plan was to inspire potential watchers to check it out, then the makers of that teaser succeeded. Not only did it show a fantasy story dealing with swords, it’s was a low magic fantasy story. While it eventually did turn into a magic story, it was on a very slow slope, and they edited it just right to keep the mystery strong.

And it took years to finally come to the States. The original anime saw release in1997, and the US didn’t get an official release until 2002. For those rabid Naruto fans who are used to fan translations coming out almost instantly, it never used to be that way. It took quite a long time and structuring to make such anime novelties come around, where back in the day there were probably only a few people sharing things with friends who didn’t have the access and technology we have today. Thankfully, my old school friend/brother had been searching constantly for episodes of the anime from Japan, and I eventually got to see what all the fuss was about.

Berserk was a strange change of pace with the anime I had been watching, in which it instilled a large chunk of gritty reality. Sure, nothing says reality like a man swinging around a large sword hundreds of pounds more his weight along with lots of violence and gore, but I think you know what I mean (or hope). It was the realism, mystery, horror and philosophy which drew me in. Fate, destiny, causality, morality, etc. were all brought into question at some point, making it more than just a blood bath. Sure it was a large focus, but you stuck around when you were taught something worthwhile. Why I liked Saw, where it wasn’t violent for the sake of being violent (didn’t see enough sequels to see if they diverted from that path). No, Berserk was something impressive, and the manga is leaps and bounds above what the anime was. Really, you should give it a read, because the art and writing are amazing.

But let’s get back on the topic at hand. Cartoon violence (or violence in general) for entertainment purposes is meant to get the blood pumping. For the most part society loathes the idea of violence for the sake of violence. I suppose there’s a bit of empathy to appreciate someone in the fog of rage destroying something, if only because we’ve tamed a lot of our urges  and yearn to have them get out now and then. But someone who obviously deserves some form of retribution against them? You will see countless people waiting in line to not only see the pain get delivered, but deliver it themselves if possible. It feels good to know someone is getting tortured for the torture of another. Two wrongs supposedly don’t make a right, but everyone still wishes violence on worthy people, and entertainment deliveries it on many platforms.

As an example, I’ve had a long loathing of Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and I really appreciated knowing what happened to her (though I thought she deserved more). It’s something I’ve held long, and I don’t like thinking on it because one, it’s something I can’t change, and two…it’s not real. I suppose it could be no different than reading nonfiction and wanting to strangle someone over what they did, other than the fact one is a figment of your imagination. Oh wait, that is a big deal.

I’ve already laid my case on dealing with fantasy too much as it is, so I don’t need to rehash what’s been said (though I’ve probably done too much already). In summary, learn to deal and cope with the emotions entertainment gives you, because while it isn’t real and therefore shouldn’t be close to your heart, it’s still telling a story. Violence is a storytelling element, and some stories can’t be told without violence. Cartoons just open up a hella highway for detailed violence to come about. Not a bad thing, but certainly not something to get too immersed in. I of course speak from the example of one who dealt in too much fantasy, so I may be biased in that regard.

Let’s just say I would like a better appreciation of the human body and what it can do than what mega violent cartoons showcase (and do not click that link lest you wish to see bodies torn apart like paper…and I realize how redundant I’m getting). Sure, the rush of power and all that, and I would be a hypocrite to say I don’t have a story in mind to eventually publish which is similar to that thought. But it’s what comes to mind as I write this. And the sense I need a good dose of reality to clear my head from some of this stuff. Gah.

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One thought on “Conversations with a Therapist #7 – If There’s a Shooter, Blame the Anime?

  1. […] I mentioned in the past, Vampire Hunter D was quite possibly one of the first ventures I’ve had into cartoon violence […]

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