I never was a real believer in Anime being the one true form of entertainment. However as I get older and start to look for things with the content and structure that I like, most of it seems like its only available in Anime. Now I know that only sounds natural when you think about it. I mean I’ve been watching Anime for over ten years and did so at a very influential part of my life. However I am a firm believer that Anime is a medium and stems off into every possible variety of storytelling however live action shows in the west do not.
For me its honestly hard to think of live action shows, outside of sitcoms, that I actually love. I usually use Breaking Bad as the ace in my repertoire but that’s almost a given. Fargo and Game of Thrones have been good to me so far but like Breaking Bad they all have something that I think is kind of a misstep. They are all way too cynical. HOLD ON, and hear me out. Personally I think that the reason that I watch so much Anime is because it has a wide selection of good/happy shows.
When I say good and happy I tend to mean shows that are essentially good in quality and have generally happy or inspiring narratives. Most western stories that aren’t aimed at kids are almost exclusively dry and dower stories about how shitty life is through the lens of shitty people, and I’m tired of it. Western media has lost its “heroes” as in there really isn’t anyone willing to take the road of good anymore. Don’t get me wrong because some of my favorite shows both Anime and Live Action are dark and depressing stories with less than upstanding people, but when that’s all you see on TV here in the states, it gets me kind of worried. Maybe I could be reading it entirely wrong, but I feel that people see that and think that’s what life is like. I could be too much of an optimist and see the best in people, but I think that’s something that should be explored more in American television nowadays.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not necessarily knocking the scenarios in these live action shows, most of them are actually very interesting. It’s the way they are treated and where the attention is being drawn to. The Walking Dead isn’t about surviving in a world with zombies, it’s about seeing how shitty humans can be to each other and justifying your horrible actions. Game of Thrones isn’t about trying to repair a nation that has been ruined by horrible people, it’s about seeing who gets killed next and whether they deserved it or not. Jessica Jones isn’t about a young woman trying to find her place in a world that has repeatedly kicked her to the curb, it’s about revealing the horrible and petty nature of human beings. Do you see a common theme here? These are all widely popular shows all with great dramatic premises but they are all churning out the same view of humanity, just in different stories. Now again this isn’t a bad thing but it seems all the effort and creativity seems to be going into these kind of shows with this kind of world view, and that’s the problem.
I don’t know of a show that has family friendly concepts, can be both enjoyed by both adults and children, is live action, and is well written. Sure that may seem like it sounds like a lot to ask for, and I’m far from the mindset that if a show slips up once in its tone that its immediately damning. Still even with that I couldn’t think of a single show that comes to mind. I even tried to cheat and looked at a bunch of top tv series lists and couldn’t find a single show that didn’t focus on the themes and world views that I complained about earlier.
Now Anime on the other hand has a huge variety of shows that spans almost any kind of theme or story that you have an itch for. Naturally its easy to find to family friendly shows that also have some deep and challenging themes and are well written without a horribly cynical view of humanity. Just a few to name, and I promise most of these are off the top of my head, Death Parade, Gurren Lagann, Mawaru Penguindrum, FullMetal Alchemist, Noragami, Blood Blockade Battlefront, and not to mention the plethora of sports and idol anime. Each one of these shows surely has some elements of the live action series I aforementioned but one clear difference. The main themes are generally good-natured and positive. These shows don’t make their bank on the badness of humans but make it on the good. They show struggle, but don’t always have it end in such a dark and unfulfilling way. There are moments of happiness and levity where characters gain true bonds instead of “friends for personal gain”. Again I can’t express enough that I’m not saying that American live action shows don’t have similar things in their shows, it’s what is focused on and given the most attention is what I’m talking about.
So variety is probably the main reason that I almost exclusively watch Anime. I know that idea may have been lost in my ramblings but I think this was also a chance to say what I think about modern television in our culture. Anime just has the wider range of things I like and I personally think a balance is good for people in general and that maybe there should be some more kid accessible shows that are also good. Sure there are things like Steven Universe and Avatar/Legend of Korra, but certainly nothing live action. Meanwhile there are new Anime coming out every season with a wide variety of stories for every age. That is why I mainly watch Anime, because Anime has a variety of genre’s I want to watch and live action only has one. And while there will still be live action shows that will hold my interest, I’m not in the business of having those kind of dark and depressing stories as the basis of my entertainment. I’d also like to be so bold to say that you shouldn’t either.