As far back as I can remember I have always had a fascination for manga and anime. The artist in me was moved by the artistry, the dramatic in me was drawn to the depth of the storyline. From my early teen years of Dragonball Z and Pokémon I have ventured down the path of appreciation for the different forms of cartoons and come to the realization that people need to be introduced to anime so that they can form their own opinion about it that can then translate to “Anime & Chill”. So today I will talk about three anime I have recently watched, starting with the most thought provoking: The Saga of Tanya the Evil.
Set in a war-torn land where magic dictates status, The Saga of Tanya the Evil is a riveting tale of existentialism and reincarnation. The premise is as follows: a business man that can only acknowledge the tangible and refutes faith in God is confronted by God at the time of his demise. He is granted a chance to redeem himself in another world, but with certain stipulations, such as being a young, poor orphan girl and other such hurdles, in order to find his missing faith and return to the wheel of reincarnation. The catch is that he has retained the knowledge gained in his past life, but if he dies without faith it is final, no more reincarnation for him. I found this thought provoking. The concept of one’s soul being genderless is intriguing, also that one’s actions have consequences that transcend one’s current life. An infusion of Eastern and Western principles in a time akin to our world during World War I attracted me to this anime, only twelve half-hour episodes long so a nice weekend binge watch. Next is an adaptation to a tried and true classic: Dragonball Super.
There a few cult icons like the show that introduced the ‘Kamehameha’ to impressionable pre-teens. Unless you have been living under a rock you have some awareness of the Dragonball Z show, but this iteration gives new life to the franchise. Dragonball Super is the answer to the question “What comes next?” in regards to this particular franchise. It begins with Goku (cult icon) and his never-ending pursuit of getting stronger. He seems to have plateaued in the original series, but in this new one the concept of a ‘multiverse’ is introduced, and he is no longer the top dog. Old and new adversaries come to pick fights and Goku must learn his place within this new hierarchy. Five generous seasons of fisticuffs, powerups, and life-altering decisions have helped to reinvigorate and reconnect this franchise to the masses. Personally this is one of the most beautiful evolutions to a franchise I have ever seen, in both artistry and storytelling. So many concepts, like Gods and the butterfly effects of time travel, have served to shape a new form for an old friend. Who says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks? Lastly, let’s cover a series that is still ongoing: Black Clover.
Here is a story of overcoming insurmountable odds, carving your own destiny out of life and believing in yourself. Black Clover is another magical tale, but the main character cannot use magic. In a world where magic is everything Asta, the main protagonist, is devoid of all magic, but still aspires to be the ‘Wizard King’. The secondary protagonist, Yuno, is a magical genius and they are rivals. The concept is reminiscent of Naruto, but the twist is that there is no hate between them. They push each other to the top even though they share the same dream. They bicker like blood brothers, but they aren’t related. With both being orphans from a nondescript town, they claw their way through the ranks of the magical elite and distinguish themselves as forces of their own making. As the story unfolds, the audience is drawn towards the unfathomable strength of will to never give up that the protagonists exemplify, and the dire situations both find themselves in leave the viewers on the edge of their seats. Considering this franchise is in its nascency, there is a lot of room for growth and maturity (definitely not a show for kids, maybe 16 and older is the proper viewing audience), but these principles hold true for all of us, no?
In summation, these three anime are as different as the seasons and should be watched first before introducing them to the younger viewers. Not because of overly mature themes, but instead in order to foster dialogue between generations. I remember as a young teen watching Dragonball Z, being affected by an episode, and then seeing my elders watching the same episode in a different room. The conversations had bolstered our collective understanding of the message the show was trying to relay, all because we were willing to listen to each other’s reactions without judgement. In this day and age we need more spaces of collective understanding and communication in order to bridge the gaps between us all, and anime is an underrated medium for these conversations. Adults: try not to assume that Anime are just cartoons. Young ones: try to let your elders into your world, they probably have watched more Anime than you think.