Have you ever seen an anime that really resonated with you? Maybe it was the way a particular character spoke or saw the world. Perhaps you just really liked the aesthetic or message it was trying to get across. For me, two specific shows stand out: psychological masterpiece Welcome to the N.H.K and critically-acclaimed Clannad.
I first stumbled across Welcome to the N.H.K when I’d just started living alone. Money was tight, and I couldn’t really afford to go on adventures with my friends. As a result, a lot of my time was spent in this terrible, low-rent apartment. I wasn’t as messed up as Satō, but his lifestyle and mind-set clicked with me immediately.
It helped that this show had everything I loved: gaming, otaku-culture, forums ablaze with mysterious references to obscure secret groups. I was hooked. At the same time, though, this was the show that made me realize something had to change. Satō is extremely sick, and I didn’t want to end up the same way.
A Few Years Later
Years later, in a much nicer apartment, with a much nicer job, and some hard-earned qualifications, I started watching Clannad. Season one was a fairly standard rom-com with some mildly emotional moments thrown in but I’m not exaggerating when I say that season two, Clannad Afterstory, wrecked me.
Like me, Okazaki dropped out of school at the first opportunity, full of ideas about how awesome his life would be. Like me, he realized that this wasn’t the case almost immediately. And yes, like me, he poured hours and hours of his life into a job that barely made it possible to pay rent.
Life never goes the way you expect. Clannad, in many ways, is about roadblocks: problems that prevent you from getting where you originally intended. However, in Clannad, as in life, these occasionally open new avenues for you to pursue. Seeing Okazaki grow from being an idealistic punk into a mature, responsible, and caring adult was like watching myself in younger years. Sure, I’d never done most of the crazy stuff he had, but once you start relating to a character in this way, the feeling is impossible to shake.
Anything that inspires positive change in you is a good thing. It could be a movie, song, or book, it really doesn’t matter as long as you use it to improve yourself. You do you. Anime, particularly those set in the real world, can be excellent motivators for change, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Too often, anime fans are seen as outcasts. We’re a little weird by nature, a little different. However, if this is part of who you are, you just have to own it. Yes, there are a million shows about little sisters turning into magical girls, but there are also shows that can be a truly constructive force in people’s lives. Believe me: I’m living proof.