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What do you think? Is anime a bad influence?

By October 16, 2007

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The Oregon Daily Emerald posted an interesting editorial by Elon Glucklich, the paper's resident Opinion Editor. I say "interesting" because in the article, Glucklich raises the issue of the effects that anime shows have on our youth and makes some alarming allegations as to the future of our society.

Citing shows such as Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, Glucklich suggests that the mass popularity of these and other anime series are "chipping away at our collective moral fiber".

The reasoning behind such a statement is the content of the shows themselves, complaining that they lack any solid life lesson to be passed on to the kiddos. "Unless something is done to reverse this trend, we're going to be looking at millions of high school dropouts who don't see the point in going to college unless it teaches them to capture magic crystals," he says.

But if we're going to go to that extreme with anime shows, then let's also take a trip back to the days of Tom & Jerry. Was there a life lesson there? Nope, not a one. What about Popeye and Brutus? Yogi Bear? The Flintstones, Woody Woodpecker or my all-time fav, The Wacky Racers? Hmm... entertainment and comedy, yes. Moral life lessons? No.

The truth is, television has always been for the most part, an entertainment tool and not a babysitter, as Glucklich suggests. Sure, there are exceptions - Sesame Street, The Discovery Channel and Animal Planet are certainly good educational programs that come to mind, but again, they're the exception not the rule. Even today's prime time shows are willing to sacrifice education for entertainment and our own news media will focus on Brittney's latest scandal before they'll talk about Darfur. Not to say that I necessarily agree with all of it but I do have a choice: if I want to learn more about Brad and Angelina, I'll stay tuned to the major media stations. Looking for something with a bit more substance? Well, then I know where to find that information too.

Now, I know Mr. Glucklich is not alone in his assessment, just as there were those who thought all rock music was satanic and Elvis' swinging pelvis was a threat decent young girls around the world. But they were wrong and, sorry Mr. Glucklich, so are you. To follow this line of thinking is to assume that the American public (or any "public" for that matter) is devoid of any independent thinking and to put it nicely, as stupid as clams. This theory requires society to be painfully dumb and even more naive, so much so that we'll believe anything that's put in front of us, no matter how ridiculous, incredible or imaginary it might be.

And I'll admit, I know a few folks that would fit that bill but I don't think its a fair stereotype to paint broadly across the board. We have always had imaginary friends, pretend play and a good dose of daydreaming. Its called "creativity" and to be honest, I tend to encourage it in my kids. From our classic superheroes with other-worldly superpowers to Harry Potter, Star Wars and yes, even Dragon Ball Z, imagination is a wonderful, powerful thing that (like Goku's Spirit Bomb) can be used for good or for evil.

The point is that anime, like any and every other television show is not responsible for the "fiber" of our society, moral or otherwise. That responsibility falls to us, as parents, as individuals and as part of the human race and personally, if we weren't always so ready to play the victim so that we could blame our shortcomings on someone else, we might actually have to stand up and be a better "people" collectively - cartoons, anime and all.

As the anime guide, you can bet that my kids see a ton of anime. In fact, we watch it together and just like any other television show, video games and other outside stimuli, I limit and supervise everything that goes into their little brains. That's how its supposed to be and I can assure you, my kids are doing just fine. Because despite the fact that they might do it with magic crystals or hidden powers, characters in these shows remind us that its okay to be different and your strength comes from being true to yourself. The good guys always win in the end and evil is ultimately sent packing. They show us that you can't always judge a book by its cover, no matter how different that cover might be from your own and that it doesn't matter how small you think you are - you should always stand up for what's right, no matter how mean or corrupt the bully might be.

Come to think of it, those are some pretty good lessons to learn... even if they are from an anime show.

Comments

October 16, 2007 at 11:48 pm
(1) gia says:

I read the same article, and I’m pretty sure it’s a satire…a rather poor one, though.

October 17, 2007 at 10:10 am
(2) Tony Z says:

If you think Dragon Ball Z has no moral value, you obviously haven’t watched more than two minutes of one episode. You don’t know what you are talking about.

October 17, 2007 at 10:43 am
(3) anime says:

That’s what I thought too – I actually found DBZ to have some very “noble” messages in it so I’m not sure where this guy was coming from. If it was a satire as “gia” suggested above, I agree it was a poor one.

October 17, 2007 at 1:00 pm
(4) Stephanie says:

This guy is a total idiot and has obviously never watched anime like Lain or Paranoia agent that explore the Human psyche. Those are two of my favs because they made me go “wow” for obvious reasons. And as far as Pokemon, YuGiOh!, Digimon, and DBZ, they are just fun to watch, and in the case of YuGiOh! it DOES teach the power of friendship. I think anime is much better for kids these days. Shows like Pokemon aren’t even as violent as Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry. It’s kinda strange that an opinion like his would come from such a liberal place as Oregon.

October 17, 2007 at 1:48 pm
(5) anime says:

Its been suggested that this was intended as satire and judging from the responses of several of his regular readers, that may actually be the case.

The problem is, I can’t tell and unfortunately, I doubt those who sincerely follow this narrow-minded way of thinking will know the difference either.

Of course, he is generating some publicity for his column and as we all know, “any publicity is good publicity”.

October 22, 2007 at 11:01 am
(6) ralahinn1 says:

Like I wrote there, people who don’t know the difference confuse Hentai with Anime. Regular Anime I don’t think is a bad influence…at least not any more than any other tv show, movie or cartoon.

October 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm
(7) Scarletmeteor says:

Even if his article was supposed to be a satire, there are people out there who would take it very seriously and they would miss out on a wonderful thing. I love anime, but I don’t go around whipping out my Yu-Gi-Oh cards and claiming that a holographic monster will spring from them to do battle.

October 22, 2007 at 4:17 pm
(8) metaphysicalhobbit says:

Very well said, Mrs. Luther. I can’t really add anything. I just wanted to say that I agree with every point you made. Nicely done. =)

October 22, 2007 at 8:21 pm
(9) Ken S says:

Thank you for sharing this article, satire or what not, its just points out again how people seek to shirk their own responsibilities for their own difficulties and weakness by “pointing a finger” at some other source. Though I’m not mocking anime, I too am a major anime fan but if people really think that kids are going to be that seriously influenced by flying martial artists (Dragon ball Z) or compelled to catch animals with balls (Pokemon) then I think I’d start with the genetic donors of these kids first before considering anime.

October 22, 2007 at 11:19 pm
(10) BULLWHEEL says:

That’s rediculous, not all people are “devoid of any independent thinking and to put it nicely, as stupid as clams. This theory requires society to be painfully dumb and even more naive, so much so that we’ll believe anything that’s put in front of us, no matter how ridiculous, incredible or imaginary it might be.”
- that only refers to voters!

My grandmother says “all things in moderation” and that seems to apply to TV, fried chicken, and burning fossil fuels.

October 23, 2007 at 12:36 am
(11) Germie says:

well the guy who said that anime is a bad influence is totally wrong! how could he say such a thing?! he doesn’t know how to appreciate anime…..i just love anime eventhough i’m already 21yrs old i’m still hook in anime because it’s really fun and entertaining…..anime rockzzz!!

^_^ mie-chan

October 23, 2007 at 1:25 am
(12) Nano says:

I agree with you. The main influence comes from the parents in the first place and then from the schools where our kids spend most of their time in it during the weekdays. We are surrounded by many good and bad influential things but we, as parents, have the responsibility to supervise and advice what ever comes in their way whether it was a good or a bad thing. If the anime is suitable for my 10 years old son, then he can watch it with me as we do all the time. And, if the anime contains language and inappropriate seens then he simply canít watch it. Even when my kid is watching a suitable anime, I make sure that I encourage the good behavior of the character and discourage the bad behavior.

October 23, 2007 at 8:07 pm
(13) GiantPizzaFish says:

Im glad to see there is hope for humanity with you people. at least i know when the intelectual zombie infestation comes and i set out to find the last remnants of intelligent humanity, I have hope.

(and if the article was satire someone give him a copy of “A Modest Proposal” so he can see how it’s done)

October 25, 2007 at 2:30 pm
(14) Lunchbox of Doom says:

Japanese cartoons are full of sex and stuff that’s not for kids, so they should market most if that junk towards teens and adults and leave our children alone.

February 11, 2008 at 1:36 am
(15) Jessica Alvarado says:

Someone that says that Anime doesn’t teaches you anything has probably never seen an entire anime, all episodes. Anime teaches you a lot of values. It teaches you about friendship, about love, forgiveness, stand up for what is right. Oh my God there is a lot of wonderful stories Anime has to offer out there and these close minded people will miss. I have learned from a lot of Animes, important lessons. Sailor Moon, Saint seiya, Heidi, Dragon Ball, Elfen Lied, Nana, you name it. We grew up with some of these wonderful stories and I feel great, I am glad of the person I am now, with all my values.

June 9, 2008 at 10:02 am
(16) Dan C says:

I hate when people blame something else for parental mistakes. Anime can be a great tool to teach people about life. You make a choice, like in full metal alchemist, and good and bad things happen, sometimes, more bad then good, and no one fixes their mistakes excpet them. Can you get a better life example? Nothing kids, or people watch can make them do bad or weird things. It is up to the parents to watch their children and teach them. And if your child likes heavy metal, rap, anime, role playing games like magic the gathering or Dungeons and dragons, horror movies, or whatever had a bad reputation, do some research in it and you will see that many people who share similar likes are normal decent folk, just like you and your child are. There is a difference between a person who likes something and a person who escapes whatever is bothering them and goes to the activity b/c of the stigma. Those are the people who bring the whole group down. Nothing can make a person do something they don’t want to, each person or child has to make that choice within them if they will do something evil or bad, and it is up to the parent to help them in these life choices, life is difficult, especially for children, so, help them to become the people they are capable of being in the future and encourage them to explore the things they really love.

June 15, 2008 at 12:46 am
(17) Christine says:

Reading this article has been one of the best choices I have made in a while! It’s as if you’ve taken all of my thoughts on anime and the people who protest it and typed it with such fluidity! In fact, you did just that, and I truly do thank you for it. You’re my new hero!!! (Besides Goku, Naruto, Sailor Moon and Edward Elric!)

I mean, sure anime can be a bit suggestive at times, but it’s actually quite amusing! And yeah, it is a bit awkward to be watching those kinds of things with children MUCH younger than yourself, but that’s just a signal to get them out of the tv room and shove a gameboy in front of their face, right??

June 17, 2008 at 6:47 am
(18) IJ Dee-Vo says:

Anime has a lot of moral fiber, espicially DBZ.

1. Never give up, no matter how bad it looks, allways give it your all till the end.

2 People can change. The most horrific person may one day become aforce of good.

3. Work hard and don’t take short cuts.

4. Sometimes you must make sacrifices for what you hold dear and believe in.

5 Not everyone is like you…and that doesnt make them bad.

June 20, 2008 at 12:13 am
(19) Sole says:

Anime will only start to be a bad influence if idiots bicker and argue about it on the news and on the web like they do everything else. Us anime fans are fortunate that most of these people were too busy buttering their own ***es most of the time to even notice something as ‘subtle’ as actual culture on a television.

June 24, 2008 at 8:13 pm
(20) Brandon says:

dude yugioh help u learn how to do MATH!!
yugioh is a card game which is mostly about subtracting and multiply and dividing and adding
and for DBZ its about being the good and not being the bad person >

June 30, 2008 at 3:44 pm
(21) Steve C. says:

As a product of the 1950s, I remember the same things being sad about Saturday morning cartoons, comics and television in general. I’ve got a few college degrees, work as a librarian and have a wonderful wife & step-daughter.

Guess they weren’t all that bad!

July 21, 2008 at 8:44 pm
(22) Confused Teen says:

I’m still confused. The bible says that anime is bad because it talks of powers and such and that God is the only one with such things. But that still confuses me. Not the fact that God is all mighty, but, the anime part. I’m not as into anime as I once was, but is it still wrong? I’ve been prohibited from watching such things, but is it so bad? True, while there are some evil animes, are they all bad? Is this an individual decision? Or is if one apple is bad, then it ruins the entire bunch? Thanks for listening.

Confused Teen

September 8, 2008 at 10:10 pm
(23) Al Nickel says:

Dear Confused Teen,

I am also a christian that believes in the bible. I am also an artist trying to create my own anime studio and Series.

The bible was talking about “real life” witches and powers. Any “powers” in an anime series, whether it is given by technology or magic in the story, is fiction. Not real.

Those powers are to make the story interesting and fun to watch. The stories of anime usually have a strong moral regarding the use of these powers.

My suggestion, so as not to cause dis-harmony in your family, wait until you are 18 years old. Then check out anime titles that interest you. Make your own opinions. The bible also demands that we think and chose what we believe is right.

Start with titles age-rated 7 to 14 to start. Also, check out the culture and history of Japan.

Only 10% of Japannese are christian, the rest are “shinto/buddist.” To the majority of Japannese, christian symbolism is just another form of occult symbols. (Occult in this context means “not of the native religon.”) This explains alot that you see in anime.

Or try some animes that are based in christian/american culture:

1. Gunsmith Cats (3 episode series): Based in Chicago, USA current era (1990-2000). A story of a couple of cute bounty hunters catching the criminals.

2. Kiddy Grade (24 episode series): A pair of interstellar female 007s that keep the galaxy from the forces of chaos.

3. Royal Space Force – The WINGS of Honneamise (2 hr movie): The fictional story of Japan’s development of the first astronaut in space, set in the 1960s japan. The hero is encouraged in his endevors by a Christian Missionary.

4. Negima! (26 episode series – First Series): The hero is very “Harry Potter”-ish.

Finally, the bible, after the creation of Adam & Eve, God pronouced his work “Good.” This molding of Clay into beings was the first artform. And the Lord was happy with them naked. The “American Puritism” and “Moral Majorities” forget that. The bible also says that the Right of Judgement of a person’s soul is God’s and God’s alone.

I have been told that no-matter my beliefs in the Lord, I was going to hell because I was an artist! These people are not educated, and have severe problems of their own. The bible does not say that I am condemmed for being gifted as an artist. The bible does not say that I will be condemmed if I write fictional stories.

I am saved or condemmed by my actions for or against God. To praise good over evil, to exhalt God’s work, to use the gifts God has seen fit to give me to bring beauty and harmony to the world, these are things that will save me. Not condemn me.

Keep in mind that some of the most famous (and nude!) artworks were made for the church in Europe during the Middle Ages.

I hope that this will clear-up your confusion.

October 4, 2008 at 3:18 pm
(24) dipo says:

i think from this guy argument, there is a reflection that he absolutely hasn’t watch and read manga/anime
this guy just judging by it without knowing what he just said just look from bad perspective
metaphorically this guy just know shallow knowledge of manga and anime
he just know some anime
please don’t listen to this guy
he is absolutely blind about manga and anime
he is a doctor but he is absolutely blind about what he has just said
thanx

October 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm
(25) Shiori says:

In the past, I would be cursing this guy out for his negative views on anime, but I am no longer the anime fan I once was. That’s not to say that I dislike anime, no never! Even now I still watch anime while doing homework and stuff, anime is the one thing that actually helped me. My parents are the strict type, and I would always be locked up at home not allowed to do anything but go to school and study and stay home. My daily life was go to school, go back home, and it would repeat over and over again. This had a serious affect on my social life as I could never go to a friend’s house or have them come over, nor could I ever go out with a friend. I was a pretty timid and slightly anti-social. But anime changed that. When I got my first taste of anime, I was hooked forever. It taught me so many things that teachers and parents would never teach me, it taught me how important it was to live life fully regardless of what situation you’re in, and now my life seems to be much more livelier than in the past. I met many awesome friends these past few years, sure, my grades suffered a bit, but I got something much more important in my eyes. I learned how to actually enjoy myself, and for those who think that grades are everything, that’s not true. You should always learn to enjoy yourself or else the grades will always be just grades. And like always, I am keeping up my grades, because anime teaches me that I should always follow what I think is important.

Shiori

October 9, 2008 at 6:45 pm
(26) A Kid says:

I think there is nothing wrong with anime. As long as you do not venture into the wrong areas you’re fine. Hentai,yaoi or whatever is just a small part of what anime is. Even if you religion doesn’t like it as long as you dont think anything wrong and believe that anime i just for entertainment nothing will go against any religion and it’s not harmful at all. Lots of time some animes will be based of religion and say things that might not be true, but its not there fault. They are just trying to make an intresting series and do not mean to go against anything the bible or what any other religion says.

October 29, 2008 at 10:41 am
(27) devlin says:

i love sailor moon and its a really cool show im only 11 and been watching for as long as i know its about 5 teens who are super hero but it sounds kinda lame but realy cool teaching us alot of stuff well bye and in the name of jupitar i shall punish u

November 8, 2008 at 3:59 pm
(28) mEmO 1563 says:

wow this is just like the article written about emo’s
its funny how close minded some people can be
for instance i watch black lagoon and thats full of violence but in a way it can show you that life can be incredibly diffucult so your compleatly right in saying that anime does have some meaningful messages ^-^ (well at least thats my interpretation of black lagoon and i love it ^-^)

November 28, 2008 at 10:19 pm
(29) AnimeGirl says:

Dude, where did this guy get that? Anime filled with values! Like Goku’s “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” Or Naruto’s “I won’t ever give up!” or Edward Elric’s determination to get his brother’s body back or to save Rose’s baby in the final episodes! Apparently this guy has never watched Anime before. It’s not Anime’s fault. It

November 30, 2008 at 2:46 am
(30) MoralLessons? says:

Anime is just the new age cartoons, kids don’t want to watch loony toons or bugs bunny anymore, theres so much more fun things to see. I must agree, some anime is inappropirate for certain ages, but is liking anime’s with magic in them going to make you drop out of college? I don’t think so. And besides, even the anime’s you don’t let your kids watch right now, they will find them eventully and will more than likey already heard of half the things in them and understand them. I love anime a lot and watch a lot of it too. My mom trusts me not to watch bad stuff but trusts me with stuff and knows I’ll do the right thing.

February 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm
(31) rc333 says:

What about Disney Animation? They’re the only company that ever put true meaning in cartoons.

March 16, 2009 at 10:05 am
(32) Saints says:

I don’t think that guy is much into creativity. He sounds more of a left brain thinker than a right. He also sounds like he lacks the knowledge that, if it wasn’t for imaginative people we wouldn’t have any buildings or technological advances and such to that manner. I’m seeing ever so often now technologies I saw in cartoons as a kid become a reality. Science-Fiction becoming Science-fact. This guy seems to have no real logical thinking, nor has he sit still long enough watch what he bad mouths, if he did he’d notice that shows like Dragonball Z and Pokemon, have underlinig themes like helping others, or doing the right thing. Know your subject before you judge cause all assuming does is make an A** Out Of U And Me.

July 31, 2009 at 5:12 pm
(33) L lawliet is awsome says:

Alot of anime teaches things like DBZ tells you to be good and never succumb to the dark side….i dont know where he got that from but most of the problems he talks about are from bad parenting…

August 11, 2009 at 12:46 am
(34) Ethan says:

Like with all forms of entertainment, there’s good and bad sides to anime. But there is so much fantastic moral development and character exploration in many anime series out there that I think the writer accusing anime of being a bad influence has had very little exposure to it himself. Other commenters here have already brought up a number of fantastic series, and there are countless others. I just finished watching Gundam SEED, and (corny as it may sound), it has been a highly enlightening series to watch. My viewpoints on war and death have been drastically altered thanks to this series that would be dismissed by many as a mere cartoon.

Different series are directed at different age groups. Some are good for a younger audience, where as others are definitely directed towards teens and adults. You just have to know what to watch, and what to let your children watch.

August 12, 2009 at 7:50 pm
(35) Daikirai says:

Hi

Please go watch the first episode of Death Note before saying this crap.
For your information, if anime is bad then what is Harry Potter? What about Twilight?
You say that anime corrupts children’s minds but that is an extremely biased comment.
What you state in your writing is only the base storyline of the animes, not the actual scenes that HAVE lessons worth learning for kids.

Anyway, anime’s main purpose is for entertainment, not teaching kids. That’s why we have Blue’s Clues & Dora the Explorer.

November 7, 2009 at 5:54 am
(36) joe says:

some of japanese anime are good for children, but you can count them with one hand.
the majority of japanese anime available on the market contains a ‘plain’ violence and sexual or erotic scene,
like Popotan, Maburaho, Komugi-chan, etc, there are lots of it that i couldn’t write it all out here.

and those ‘bad’ scenes are are not something appropriate for children.
as you may know that chlidren will imitate anything they ‘see’, NOT anything they hear.

people said that japanese anime teaches lessons to kids, but it told you, THEY’RE NOT!!
even if does have, the ratio is 10:500.

November 23, 2009 at 2:46 pm
(37) thefirstforgottensoul says:

As a producer, I of course am not opposed to the viewing of anime, I promote it. Having said that, my opinion on the matter is biased. However, one can not ignore the fact that Anime is just as much at fault as American cartoons are. In fact, American cartoons are worse because of the fact that they can be accessed by anyone with basic television channels.

On Nickelodeon, there is a show called iCarly. This show is about a young girl and her friends doing a webshow. They have people half naked, floating bras, and there are numerous references that take a little thought to get, but the mature references are still there. The popular cartoon character “Spongebob” constantly gets in trouble, even provoking some characters into nearly attempting suicide (check Dunces and Dragons for this reference).

No matter their content, American cartoons and Anime both have messages beyond all of the fighting, the humor, and the drama. The messages for Anime can be to find strength to fight no matter what, or to always chase your dreams, or that you must not act rashly as to not hurt your loved ones. If someone is to say that there is absolutely no meaning behind an Anime, they are probably wrong. Even when there is no obvious meaning, often an Anime show’s purpose is to just get the viewer thinking about the plot, which actually helps in the development of the viewer’s intelligence. American shows like Monk do this as well.

So no matter where you look, you will find meaning in both. There are many with an automatic bias against anime because of the fact that it is Japanese. The interesting thing is that the Japanese recieved inspiration from American cartoons like Snow White, and from this, they created Anime. So American cartoons essentially gave birth to Anime, making them equally at fault.

December 28, 2009 at 11:59 am
(38) JuJu says:

actually disney and looney tunes arent inocent, there have been quite a few hidden messages hidden, i notice in an episode of looney tunes that a row of blocks secretly said @sshole ( was spelt out as AsxHo) then on another episode when bugs was getting out of a shower (early episode) fudd reached him a towel, just as he pulled the towel up it briefly showed bugs penis, and in disney in a mermaid movie the priest got a boner, these are just examples

January 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm
(39) Alice says:

Honestly, the only things that would be bad about anime(to certain people) is if they go against what you believe. I have no religion, so I have never had a problem with any anime whatsoever. I’m 14, and I like yaoi(shounen-ai). Yaoi is what got me my best friends, and if I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be half as happy. If I didn’t have anime and manga, I wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as I am today. And guess who got me into anime? My mother. It really brings us together sometimes. And if the anime influences your kids, then do something about it. I watch Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Death Note, Hellsing, Loveless, Devil May Cry, and a whole ton of other super violent ones. I’m not some crazy violent person. So if your child is a crazy and violent kid, they probably need counseling.

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