Depressing Anime: A Battle Between Light and Dark


 Spring back has ended, college has started, and I'm back from my short hiatus. Over the break I got to spend a good amount of time observing others, and looking at the anime community as a whole. Something I've noticed is that a lot of the things that fans seem to idolize and make well known is the depressing side of anime. Even when scanning the top anime I see a lot with more serious and solemn plots. Why is this the case?

Since I have no clue of answer to this myself, I decided to speak with a few friends about this topic. The responses I got were mixed, but the ones who enjoyed such things said that "Anime that were cheerful or lighthearted were boring, due to their lack of anything really bad or serious going on." So the only way to make something enjoyable is to have something serious and perhaps deadly happen to the characters?

This answer didn't really satisfy me, so I took a look back into my history of anime. I never watched anything too bad, but there were a few series that could be considered dark that I enjoyed. However, when looking at them again they don't really provoke a good feeling, unlike series such as Naruto. I'm aware that Naruto has darker parts, such as the Uchiha Clan massacre, Pain's attack on the village, and certain deaths. (Pardon spoilers.) Yet, these things happen for a reason, and we're provided with ways to fix them. In a way it provides inspiration as it shows, despite the bad one can pull through.

When it comes to other series that aren't as happy, I'm left with a horrible feeling, one that makes me think the world is a horrible place. It doesn't make me feel energetic, it doesn't excite me, it doesn't make me feel like doing anything. This is a large assumption, but it makes me wonder if I can link this feeling to the situation of hikikomoris, one who does not want to exit their house. Could similar feelings in large amounts lead to the conclusion to not leave one's house?

Perhaps it only works this way for me, and not other people. I noticed that some people find inspiration or comfort in these types of situations. Is it because they've experienced similar, or do they really feel the world is such a dark and horrible place? Thinking about the minds of viewers and the ones of people who've created things like this, it is kind of scary. If I compare myself to others, my thinking is a little bit different. I start to wonder if it is because of the things I view is why I think the way I do, or is it the other way around?

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying people shouldn't be able to create things that are extremely dark and twisted. (Like Higurashi.) I just wish that cheerful, lighthearted anime would be seen in a greater light. I recently watched Angel Beats and loved it. Though people might say it's sad, in my eyes it was very inspirational. Dog Days was also another one of these, the anime was pure, (disregarding the fan service) and I was left with a great feeling after watching. Which brings me to the point where I think, why would you want to feel bad, when you could feel good? I just don't really understand.


I understand that we have this notion that light is boring, and dark is exciting...but why?

Comments

  1. Great article! I guess for me dark shows give me some perspective. Suddenly my everyday troubles don't seem so big anymore, and I become more grateful for the things I usually take for granted.

    I can see why people might like light and fluffy shows more, but to me, they'll never be as unintentionally uplifting as dark shows.

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    1. Thanks for commenting!

      Hmm that's an interesting outlook on it! Sometimes I feel that I could look at things more positively, even darker shows. Unlike you I've just been focusing on the negative aspects of them, and how I find them so different...but in a way they can both be inspirational. Not in the aspect that, "Oh the world is so depressing, I feel horrible now," but more like "Wow this stinks, now what can I learn from this that can help me?"

      I'll probably still like the lighthearted ones a bit more, but you've somewhat awakened me to somewhat pessimism about dark stuff...which is pretty ironic!

      Thanks for your input, and hopefully I can hear from someone who likes the "depressing" side of anime in a different way.

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  2. Know for myself that dark stories in anime and in books will bring out more emotions from myself compared to a slide of life or a story were the main character doesn't struggle against something. The struggle makes the story come alive and feel real even if its in a fantasy world. Top rated anime normally have a dark struggle in them for this above reason I feel, maybe because we know that life isn't perfect. Even the new disney movie frozen puts a dark struggle in it. Well that's my spin on it.

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    1. Thank you for commenting!

      Interesting, as it's the complete opposite for me. I feel more emotion from stories such as slice of life, because I can relate to it more. Although I need to clarify something that might not have been obvious in my post.

      When I mean when I say light anime, it is not literally an anime where there is no conflict, no hardships, no struggle, of course that would be boring. When I speak about lighter anime, I mean one that has an overall mood of happiness or cheerfulness, but isn't without a dark struggle. An anime that is known for provoking positive reactions or emotions in it's viewers is something that's light to me. Something that provokes negative emotions (despair, depression, helplessness, etc) is something I consider a dark anime.

      Of course it's not all black and white, because different people experience different stories in numerous ways, so who am I to judge what is light and what is dark. I apologize for not being specific in my post.

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