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The Dive into the World of Anime

I know this post doesn't really fit into the previous posts I've made about projects of mine and such, but this blog site was meant for a little bit of everything.

Disclaimer: This post does NOT contain any spoilers.

Disclaimer: I am relatively new to the world of anime and manga, so anything I could say or word choice could be inaccurate.

How did we get here?

Through the 20 years of my life, I've never really been "into" anime.

I may have seen a couple episodes of Pokémon when I was young, but does that really count? Lately, the last thing that could even be considered remotely close is Netflix's Arcane, though there's plenty of people (a lot) willing to argue that it's not an anime, which I totally agree with.

I never thought it was a childish thing either... I just never had gotten into it. I knew it had a large following. I've seen plenty of people around me set characters set as their profile pictures online, put stickers on notebooks and water bottles, wear affiliated shirts and hats, etc...

Perhaps the second closest I've been is through my years of playing osu!, a circle-clicking rhythm game that contains plenty songs from anime openings and endings among other things.

I really just didn't know where to begin...

There's just so much content out there, and with some series spanning multiple hundreds of episodes to even thousands, it felt like too much. Not to mention it's a medium of media I've never tapped into, which is why I had some difficulty later answering the question: "What are you looking for in an anime?"

Then one day a co-worker who I'm good friends with comes up to me and asks me about anime. I don't remember the exact context but it eventually led to me saying that I've been meaning to get into it. One thing leads to the next and later we're sitting in a Discord VC.

Death Note

Delete! Delete!

Death Note was my first anime. Turns out it's also one that plenty of other people had started with as well, and probably for a good reason. The premise is easy to pick up, it's easy to root for any of the main characters, and the themes and subjects it carries are very practical.

I really enjoyed the game of cat and mouse between Light and L. It started off as a humble idea of "write someone's name in the book, they die," but got more and more complex. I had noticed myself thinking a couple times throughout: "they got x more episodes, surely it can't just rely on this for the rest of the time." Hence, more characters were introduced, more elaborate plans were created, all leading up to the end.

As this was my first anime, I didn't really know what I was supposed to look for, but I knew that I enjoyed it for its entertainment value and its characters. Throughout the series, including the ending, it felt like there was so many little bits and pieces of symbolism and imagery that could be interpreted a million different ways.

However it wasn't perfect, but that's not me saying its a bad series. Compared to other stories I've consumed, it felt that it lacked any major character development besides the superficial parts. The second half of the story felt rushed. A lot of actions and events felt too convenient or way to easy. And before anyone says anything, I'm sure this is all explained by, "read the manga."

In all, the anime is far from bad, I'd even rate it as great, despite having little to compare it to. The ending was one that I felt was expected, but was executed in such a great way.

Vinland Saga

You have no enemies. No one has enemies. There is no reason to harm anyone in the world.

Vinland Saga is a story that I really, really, really enjoyed.

As of today, there are only two seasons released so far, and I was surprised to find out that the first season is merely considered a prologue to the rest of the series. Regardless, both seasons have the best story telling and character development I've seen in a while. It's hard to put into words just how much I enjoyed this series for the action (while little) and the story without getting into spoilers.

Everything is just so, so well written. It's not a typical "beat them all up" type of story nor is it a cookie cutter hero's journey story. Each character is perfectly complex and well developed, and it's hard to hate a character for one reason or another given their backstory. Relationships between characters make sense and the conclusions to "mini arcs" are satisfying and impact the story as a whole.

Season one does feature a lot of viking warfare, and is a great setup to what we get to season two, but it's definitely not a series for someone who's only in it for the action, and I think season two is that turning point for a lot of people.

Season one also had a really cool opening, using the song, Mukanjyo by Survive Said the Prophet. I think it perfectly matches the mood and themes within season one, and looking at the lyrics it's really deep and does relate to Thorfinn's (one of the main character) journey. In fact, all of the openings in seasons one and two are beautiful.

Jokingly, some people call season two the "farming simulator arc," because of the stark contract between seasons one and two, but it has some of the best character development I've seen in a while and sets the scene for the upcoming seasons.

Expectations

Though it is way too early to tell, I do think I got spoiled. Not spoiled in the traditional sense, but rather Vinland Saga had raised my expectations for what I expect from an anime. It's a phenomena I've experienced before and one I'd love to personally call the Red Rising Effect.

Red Rising is a sci-fi novel series written by Pierce Brown and is my all time favorite. Through six, soon to be seven books, Pierce Brown creates a masterpiece. I've mentioned it in a previous blog post, but each character is carefully created, complex in their own ways. The plot and pacing is on point, and the way Pierce Brown writes is amazing.

Few have come close, but to this day, I don't think any novel or series has matched my enthusiasm I have for the Red Rising universe. And I'm afraid Vinland Saga could be the same way. Then again, it's too early to tell, and I have yet to watch some of the other big name anime series.

It will be likely a couple years until Season 3 is announced or released, so I am planning on reading the manga, which is still being written to this day.

Today

My introduction to anime has finally given me something different to consume, and it's definitely a well needed and welcome change. A boredom cure? More interestingly, the stories told through anime aren't always something you can get through traditional hollywood films, TV shows, and books. It's presented in a unique and creative way, and can tell a complex story full of emotion.

I also found there's also some level of emotional attachment you get to the series and characters that leaves you thinking about them, even days after you've finished reading or watching. It's sort of a feeling I don't get often toward many books or films.

There's also still plenty for me to watch and to learn. Because it's a new form of media to me, I'm just coming across new terms, like the difference between shonen and seinen, the different subgenres of anime, and all the different streaming platforms, discussion boards, and all the content people have made through art or videos on YouTube.

Currently, I'm just getting into the new Solo Leveling and starting Sword Art Online, both of which I have high hopes for.

Manga

From the little manga I have read so far, I found it's surprisingly accurate to what's actually depicted in it's anime adaptation, obviously with some omitted scenes in the anime, reordered plot, but the characters, setting, and sometimes dialogue is spot on. Also some manga panels are beautifully drawn.

Footnotes

  • This post is the first step in trying to be more active in blog posts as well as Twitter. Come summer, I hope to at least publish two to three quality blog posts per month, as currently I've been busy with school. Not everything will be project or programming related, but I think it's just a cool thing to have going.