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Post Reply Living in Japan ruined anime for me.
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Posted 10/4/16 , edited 10/4/16
A. Not all anime is the same. It needs to be said, apparently.

B. Like others have said, why would you expect that? Also, why do you consider anime to be a glossy/idealized/etc. take on Japanese life, as opposed to life in general? Half of the people you mentioned who want to get out of Japan have the same grass-is-greener idea, but with Hollywood movies instead of anime. And no, not all non-Japanese media is "gritty" or "realistic" or whatever...
Which, actually, is why I want to move to Japan. At least until the west's "gritty" phase passes and glossy fantasies come back into fashion here (like in the '80's, except... without the '80's). I don't prefer that genre, I'm not afraid to say it, I call bs on the idea that it's intellectually superior to wallow in "real" angst as opposed to stories where people actually do things. (Of course, I don't mean the typical shonen action/LN battle harem/sports team shows. I mean real, epic stories, the sort of things Shakespeare wrote.

I'd actually see it as the opposite. You say that Japanese people can't handle "real emotions," so they make flashy media instead of, like, HBO's "Girls" or whatever (though occasionally Japan does do something like WataMote). I'd actually say it's the opposite - Shakespeare, Greek tragedies, opera, and good anime are the things with real emotions - that sort of drama is more meaningful than an in-depth look at one person's life.

"Poetry is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history; for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular."
- Aristotle. (what he means by "poetry" vs. "history", think "fiction" vs. "non-fiction". Of course, the fiction they had back then was all mythology sorts of things. And while the stuff we're talking about isn't exactly non-fiction, it's sort of like, the limit as fiction approaches non-fiction, I think, so it's closer to "non-fiction" than real "fiction").

Modern western people want to think things like, "But Hamlet is a prince living in a castle! What he does can't possibly have anything to do with me!" - but that's not the point. If that were the case, no one would bother with Hamlet, but they do. Benedict Cumberbatch bothers with it. David Tennant bothers with it. To name a few.



... honestly, I feel like we're on the verge of a trend with Japan becoming the focus of international media and fashion, with Japanese trends influencing the rest of the world, and I couldn't be happier about that. Thanks, Olympics!
Posted 10/4/16 , edited 10/4/16
Welcome to reality.
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Posted 10/4/16 , edited 10/4/16
Totally understand where Zipzo is coming from, and appreciate the alternate perspective of Jas_Sedai - I believe the reason dramas in Japan (and in many other countries) are not protraying reality is precisely a reflection of the longing for escapism (from horrible reality) of the creative minds who bring those stories to life, albeit filtered through the growing consumerist cycle of supply and demand which decides which creative minds actually become popular and successful. Dramas which portray the darkness of reality are likely only to be picked up by 外国人 scouting for new material to take back to their own homeland which will seem 'exotic and fresh' in their own country.

That is precisely why the entire world's economy of traditional journalistic print media are facing extinction. The reduced news cycle coupled with bottom-line captalism are forcing legitimate journalism out the door and shoving pure trash, populist drivel, press release propaganda and clickbait down the throats of a gullible and apparently willing public of sheeple. Very sad, but that's what you get when funding for education and advancement of female rights takes a bottom tier under funding for military, and the value of individual banks and derivatives trading now dwarves commodities and the GDP of most nations, and the trading value of the US dollar remains stable even as its national debt soars to 19.3 TRILLION US DOLLARS.

Zipzo more than any non-citizen of 日本 would understand that for a creative work in Japan to reflect the underlying truth of society, that society must be willing to see itself in a mirror, even if it doesn't like what it sees. I'm pretty sure very few countries are at a stage of cultural maturity where any creative work like that would not simply be hidden in obscurity or simply refused funding or broadcast rights.

I am 7th generation Australian - our culture, while 'mature' enough to enjoy a bit of comedy or drama poking fun or exposing the dark side of our own culture, is still not able to rid itself of the unbelievably patriarchal fundamental Christian right-wing nutjobs currently running the country behind the guise of a 'moderate' Liberal Prime Minister.
That means a culture of cover-ups, whitewashing, and pretence of innocence to hide the shame that is our deplorable record of racism, domestic violence, suicides, unprosecuted rapes, Aboriginal deaths in custody, abuse and neglect of the aged, abuse of minors in private detention centres, corrupt control of government policy through secret funding, mistreatment of refugees in foreign countries paid for by Australia to avoid on-shore processing... I could go on, but almost all countries have their own record of shame, Australia is far from alone in that regard. What matters is whether each nation's leaders have the guts to admit there is something wrong, and to allow those creative voices to be heard by way of making it acceptable rather than covered up.

As such, it is far too late for Zipzo now, but impressionable gaijin would always be better served first looking at Japan (or any country) through the lens of their respective horror genres - indeed, even in Anime - Higurashi, When they Cry, as a prime example of the undercurrents of dark human nature in Japan, where the lowest common denominator rules a mob mentality, and the nail that sticks up shall be hammered down.

Also just read LavenderMintRose's contribution above - agree totally. Creative works need to be interpreted, not taken at face value - always look between the lines or you'll never understand the true purpose of the work.
In feudal English/European history, plays presented to the public by roving bands of troubadours were comic or satirical portrayals of the nobility, disguised such that no player's head would be separated from their body.
In Greek/Roman written history, similarly complex creative works could be critical of the establishment, simply by espousing good virtues versus bad in fables and heroic stories of valour.

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Posted 10/4/16
I mean Japan does exist in the real world, there is no reason to think it was this happy go lucky place that anime and other media made it out to be.
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Posted 10/4/16
Whenever I see someone talk about how having their idealized concept of something broken down causing them to disassociate with an activity they previously enjoyed that is related to that idealized concept, I wonder if they're able to separate reality from fiction. It's really just as bad as people who develop an overly negative view of a concept based on misconceptions about something related to that concept.

I find the disingenuous schism of how Japan is, how Japan wishes they were, and how Japan is seen by others to add to the whole, though, so it may be as bad as each other.
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Posted 10/4/16

LavenderMintRose wrote:

A. Not all anime is the same. It needs to be said, apparently.

B. Like others have said, why would you expect that? Also, why do you consider anime to be a glossy/idealized/etc. take on Japanese life, as opposed to life in general? Half of the people you mentioned who want to get out of Japan have the same grass-is-greener idea, but with Hollywood movies instead of anime. And no, not all non-Japanese media is "gritty" or "realistic" or whatever...
Which, actually, is why I want to move to Japan. At least until the west's "gritty" phase passes and glossy fantasies come back into fashion here (like in the '80's, except... without the '80's). I don't prefer that genre, I'm not afraid to say it, I call bs on the idea that it's intellectually superior to wallow in "real" angst as opposed to stories where people actually do things. (Of course, I don't mean the typical shonen action/LN battle harem/sports team shows. I mean real, epic stories, the sort of things Shakespeare wrote.

I'd actually see it as the opposite. You say that Japanese people can't handle "real emotions," so they make flashy media instead of, like, HBO's "Girls" or whatever (though occasionally Japan does do something like WataMote). I'd actually say it's the opposite - Shakespeare, Greek tragedies, opera, and good anime are the things with real emotions - that sort of drama is more meaningful than an in-depth look at one person's life.

"Poetry is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history; for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular."
- Aristotle. (what he means by "poetry" vs. "history", think "fiction" vs. "non-fiction". Of course, the fiction they had back then was all mythology sorts of things. And while the stuff we're talking about isn't exactly non-fiction, it's sort of like, the limit as fiction approaches non-fiction, I think, so it's closer to "non-fiction" than real "fiction").

Modern western people want to think things like, "But Hamlet is a prince living in a castle! What he does can't possibly have anything to do with me!" - but that's not the point. If that were the case, no one would bother with Hamlet, but they do. Benedict Cumberbatch bothers with it. David Tennant bothers with it. To name a few.



... honestly, I feel like we're on the verge of a trend with Japan becoming the focus of international media and fashion, with Japanese trends influencing the rest of the world, and I couldn't be happier about that. Thanks, Olympics!



^^^this


I get that it might be exciting to see certain sites that have been in anime up close....I know I'd be the same way...but I don't feel sorry for you.

You seriously thought Japan would be something out of an anime? Come on now. Maybe if you're a little kid but as a young adult, one should know better. I've never been to Japan, but I'm sure there's nice people as well as plenty of asses who hate foreigners. And plenty who wish to leave Japan itself...


Just like every other country in the world.


As for your love for anime...you got married and have a kid. Maybe your time in Japan mightve played a role, but it sounds more like you just simply grew out of it.
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Posted 10/4/16
I had a witty comment but most people here pretty much said what I was going to say. I don't really feel bad for you because I came to the realization that you can't generalize an entire country's culture based on a small percentage of the media they develop. That's like basing all of American culture on Twin Peaks and Breaking Bad. As someone who plans on making a career in writing and entertainment media, the real world is great, but can become boring in a rut. Escapism can be a fun activity, but you need a dose of reality, in the media or in life, to remind you that it's all fake. It sounds like you lost what made life exciting in your early years, or you can't come up with anything new to fill that void.
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Posted 10/4/16
I believe the contrast between real and what is anime or TV drama in Japan is what makes those formats popular there.

I already knew all the things you wrote up here and I have never even gone to japan, and never will, for exactly the reasons you mentioned.
It's something you can read between likes and from news if you are observant, specially their general distrust/belittling attitude towards foreigners.

So I just enjoy the best part of their culture from the comfort of my home.

PS : to be real the rudeness of adults IS accurately portrayed in anime, on most occasions ( specially the hero type anime), all the adults are scheming selfish greedy F***s. Only comedy generally has nice adults. Outside that one or two support ones like teacher or parent.

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Posted 10/4/16
Let me try to make an important distinction here that could be diluting my point.

Anime didn't ruin Japan for me. No. It's a great place to live, it's very safe, a good place to raise a family. I will happily return when the eventual day comes.

Japan ruined anime for me. Think about the statement carefully. This isn't a case of me being disenfranchised with the actual country because I've seen how it really is, I'm disenfranchised with their portrayal of themselves in the media, whether it be dramas or anime, because I know how it really is.

Get it? I love Japan, but now I can't even feign interest to most anime as I find no root in believability. Again, it may seem daft in the sense that media is always exaggerated and never a definitive display of the actual people/place being depicted, but it's the intensity with which the content is fabricated on an emotional level, a base character level, that disallows me from being able to really relate to anything happening on the screen or with a character.

I didn't go to Japan expecting it to be like anime, but in an inverse way I guess you could say that to be slightly true. I simply went to Japan and found that how they portray Japan and being Japanese to be overtly inaccurate to the point that it makes me question the medium as a whole.

True there are many examples in Hollywood of such things for America, but I imagine the same thing would happen to me should I spend a great deal of time there, too. I am not disappointed in Japan for not being like anime, I'm disappointed in anime being so..."unrealistic"? I know you could construe that as being the same, I suppose, but to me they are not.
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Posted 10/4/16
i think living in anime ruined Japan for me.

in other news...
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Posted 10/4/16
Anime is like other entertaining content, a brief escape into something that's not real(istic)

Thinking an escape would be eternal is just naïve
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Posted 10/4/16 , edited 10/4/16

XxDarkSasuxX wrote:

Not to be rude, but that's kind of how I'd expect it to be.

I know many people who have "learned" about Japan through anime, but in talking to those people, I eventually looked up several of others' experiences with the medium and found that they had a similar disillusionment as you had. I could never give my own take on Japan seeing as I've never been there, but I always relay to people who want to paint this sunshine and rainbows picture of Japan that it has just as many racists, anti-socials, and problems as any other country.

Personally, I want to visit Japan myself; however, it is not because I idolize the place, but it is because it is a haven for many of the activities that I enjoy.
Honestly, my line of thinking was similar to yours when I originally moved there. I didn't necessarily move there because I was a mega-otaku of anima. I was just interested. It was morbid curiosity, combined with the "gaming mecca" feel of it (however this is pretty much only super apparent in Akiba).



Jas_Sedai wrote:

Just my two cents. I've actually had a pretty different view since living here but my situation obviously differs from yours. 1. i haven't been here nearly as long as you have, 2. i never expected japan to be alot like anime, i always imagined it as a fantastical view of japan. So everytime i recognize something from an anime i get more of a "wow didn't know that was a real thing" vibe than a "that's the way it should be" vibe.

If anything living here has gotten me even more into anime, i love seeing the figurine collections of some of the people I know here and am now saving up to start my own, which I was never interested in in the states. I like going to akihabara and seeing the shops there. I like when it's festival season and i can go to multiple festivals a week if i have the time, trying out all kinds of new foods (though i STRONGLY prefer western food, STRONGLY) and immersing myself in the culture, I like enjoying the night life here in tokyo. And alot of the times when i go into central Tokyo I will think about how much I actually like it here. Although I do not seeing myself staying here for more than a few years (certainly not a decade as you have).But then again I go out and drink alot so maybe i'm just tricking myself.

But ye, sorry to hear this ruined a pretty enjoyable hobby for you, but glad to hear you where able to start a family! wish you well going forward!

TL;DR- I like it here, but have nor been here nearly as long as OP


Thanks for your insight. I know that I'm probably not the majority, and that how I feel could definitely be very intrinsic to me as an individual.

As you alluded, this disconnect could be in part to the fact that we're in different points in our lives. I knew plenty of folks who spent their days partying in Shibuya every weekend (even weekdays), didn't have long term plans to remain there, and spent time indulging in night life on the regular, and for them they might say Japan was a rippin' blast. For me, I had a budding relationship which eventually turned in to a big life responsibility, a mortgage, and all that other stuff. I didn't have time for night life (much of it), and I also don't drink anymore.

Japan to me was a stepping stone in life, less than a fun-charged experience of a lifetime, if that makes sense.



AnimeKami wrote:

The subtle aspects of what you love creep up as you indulge in it for an infinite (in this manner) amount of time.

This applies to everything, bad luck of the draw for you was anime. I, myself have started to not love anime as much as I used to. To be more relevant, the second time I went back to Japan, it did not have that "WOW" factor as the first. I would still go back to Japan, just not anytime soon myself.

Question: You say anime (I assume all anime), but what about fantasies? I do think there is some Japanese culture sprinkled in fantasies even if they are nothing Japanese related. From what you described and what I comprehended, it seems like it is the day-to-day life of Japanese livelihood that should only of ruined slice-of-life genres.

To say ALL anime is pretty big leap.


I think a good rule to follow. Do not spend a long, continuous period doing what you love/like. I suggest doing in pulses or short periods to keep it fresh.


This might be the silver lining. There's some anime that is so far removed from reality that my brain cannot make these personal grievances with the work. Something like Kill la Kill, for example, was one of my favorites, but the show is just so ridiculous that I can't make any sort of observations to it that I relate with that would detract from my appreciation of it.

Comedy is not necessarily ruined completely, either, as you know, comedy is comedy.

Pretty much any anime where daily life of living in Japan is invoked in some way, I get really bored and uninterested in the story being told.

You might be on to something, but that's why I mentioned in the OP that because those aspects of Japanese culture are essentially woven in to the fabric of any anime, based in modern-day Japan or not, I am disillusioned with the personalities of the characters. What they say, what they do, and so on.
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Posted 10/4/16 , edited 10/4/16

zipzo wrote:


Japan ruined anime for me. Think about the statement carefully. This isn't a case of me being disenfranchised with the actual country because I've seen how it really is, I'm disenfranchised with their portrayal of themselves in the media, whether it be dramas or anime, because I know how it really is.


Besides the fact that you might be using that word wrong (try "disillusioned").

What would make you think that a piece of media, that happens to be made in Japan, is necessarily trying to reflect Japanese society and its differences from other countries, rather than something that is or isn't present for humanity as a whole? If you watch something and see something that isn't present in your life, why would you assume that it must be present in the author's life just because they live in a different country from yours?

Why would you take an anime as a statement of "This is Japan,"? It's as if you think a Japanese author couldn't possibly write something that isn't meant to represent Japanese society specifically, and cover all of Japanese society.

If you write a story, is it automatically meant to "hold a mirror" and represent your country, or could it have a different focus? Couldn't a story you write be more specifically about the character you've created, and their life, or more broadly about humanity as a whole? What makes a random Japanese author any different in that respect, besides the fact that their country is far from yours, and you saw that author's work in translation?


.... another point, I think, is relevant.

I think people in Japan are more comfortable with fantasy than in the west. Things like maid/butler cafes, where, for the hour or two that you're there, you can immerse yourself in the role-play and be their master or princess - at least, if you can get past how bad the food is (at MaiDreamin', at least - I need to try Cure and Swallowtail when I go back, they seem better). Contrast that with America, where you get articles online outraged that Disney World lied to us by scenting the air in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to make the setting more immersive. If you want to role-play, you're considered psychologically unbalanced. It's not real.

The more realistic fiction... you seem to see it as productive navel-gazing, I see it as somewhere between self-flagellation and self-pity, that accomplishes nothing. If "real", gritty, angsty fiction is the cure to the problems that Japan has, why do Western countries still have a lot of those problems, even thought we've got bucketloads of that stuff? From my point of view (experience mostly with New York, Tokyo, and various parts of Italy), there are a lot of problems that Japan has that the West also has, and there's a lot of problems that Japan has, where the West has the opposite end of the spectrum but it's just as bad, and it's a matter of personal preference which you'd rather live with (just like some people can deal better with extremely cold weather vs. extremely hot weather). The fiction is not even the issue...

Which goes back to my original point - why do you think it makes sense to take this thing that happens to be Japanese, and expect to learn things from it that apply to Japan as a whole?
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Posted 10/4/16

zipzo wrote:

Let me try to make an important distinction here that could be diluting my point.

Anime didn't ruin Japan for me. No. It's a great place to live, it's very safe, a good place to raise a family. I will happily return when the eventual day comes.

Japan ruined anime for me. Think about the statement carefully. This isn't a case of me being disenfranchised with the actual country because I've seen how it really is, I'm disenfranchised with their portrayal of themselves in the media, whether it be dramas or anime, because I know how it really is.

Get it? I love Japan, but now I can't even feign interest to most anime as I find no root in believability. Again, it may seem daft in the sense that media is always exaggerated and never a definitive display of the actual people/place being depicted, but it's the intensity with which the content is fabricated on an emotional level, a base character level, that disallows me from being able to really relate to anything happening on the screen or with a character.

I didn't go to Japan expecting it to be like anime, but in an inverse way I guess you could say that to be slightly true. I simply went to Japan and found that how they portray Japan and being Japanese to be overtly inaccurate to the point that it makes me question the medium as a whole.

True there are many examples in Hollywood of such things for America, but I imagine the same thing would happen to me should I spend a great deal of time there, too. I am not disappointed in Japan for not being like anime, I'm disappointed in anime being so..."unrealistic"? I know you could construe that as being the same, I suppose, but to me they are not.



So....you're mad at Japan because it was nothing like how they portrayed themselves on tv?

Media is meant to be an escape, not necessarily a course on how a country really is. Especially expecting it to be like anime.


I'm sorry to be rude for a minute; obviously, you enjoyed the people enough to where you married a Japanese woman and even settled down, but how f**king old are you to expect a country to be like it was on tv???

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Posted 10/4/16 , edited 10/4/16
zipzo, you're alive!

Haven't seen you around here since Kill la Kill ended years ago... I guess now I know why.

On topic, I don't watch anime actively looking for realism, so I expect it to be super exaggerated most times. I have not lived in nor visited Japan, but from when I was studying the language in school, I learned quickly how detached anime was from Japanese life and that it was very much an ideal fantasy world meant to escape to and usually not an honest reflection on Japan in the least.

Like others have said, most media in the US is the same, very idealized and not all that well based in reality. I mean think about it... do you think the average working adult anywhere has time to have such interesting lives as is displayed in most fiction? I'm pretty sure the average schlub goes to work, eats, has maybe a few hours of free time in the evening and goes to sleep, then does it again until their weekend. If you are said person, watching something mirroring that would likely be boring if not tormenting, haha. Having an exciting or idealized escape would likely appeal to you much more since you'd likely want a reprieve from the monotony.

I've also heard time and again how middle school or high school life is looked fondly on in Japan as some of the prime time in one's life. So, it is no surprise a lot of anime mirrors this sentiment and idealizes and accentuates the most prominent positives from that time for many, and maybe offering a way to live vicariously through it if the person did not have much, if any, really shining moments. This may also be true for those currently in school, stuck in a rut of endless studying and feeling isolated from others. it is a way they can escape a harsh reality and think more positively I guess.

That's not to say there isn't any anime that tries to capture more realism in a poignant way, just that they are likely the exception and not the rule. Rakugo comes to mind from recent times if you are interested in something more mature and thoughtful.

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