Psychological Effects of Anime
Anime is one of the most popular genres of film on the planet. Originating in Japan now reaching all over the world, its effects have been massive on us. Recently, we have began to become more aware of the psychological effects of anime.
Specifically, how can anime help us heal? Are there psychological benefits to watching certain anime? If so, what are they and how can they help you?
This question came to me after watching a video the other day. One of my passions is videogames, which has been shown to be highly effective in healing when used intentionally.
Media absolutely plays an important role in how we are able to heal and grow as a species. It is especially important right now in our world to have modes of healing to cope with everyday stresses. Anime being a medium is included in this!
In this article, I will talk about the psychological effects of anime, the healing anime Iyashikei, and where to start if you are interested in watching anime.
What is Anime
Before we talk about the psychology related to anime, what exactly is it? I’ll admit, historically I’m not the biggest fan of anime. It was only recently that I started watching one after watching a video by one of my favorite youtubers, screen therapy.
Friends of mine throughout my life have been into it, so I’ve had a lot of experience learning about it. I also have been to Japan! Anybody that has traveled there knows how significant anime is to Japanese culture.
It’s pretty much everywhere you look there. So if you are an anime fan and I say something not quite correct, sorry! I’ll do my best to reflect it as best I can.
Anime is a a genre of film that originated in Japan that is characterized by hand-drawn, animated characters. Many anime are based off of manga, which are Japanese graphic novels that closest resemble American comics.
Within Japan, anime refers essentially to anything animated in film. Outside of Japan, Anime tends to have a little bit more nuance as to what it is characterized by.
Anime has evolved more into an art style in addition to its film presence. I would say one of the major psychological effects of anime is that you probably automatically have a mental image of it when thinking about anime!
This goes to show the cultural grasp it has had on the world, particularly in the last 20-30 years. Different anime are popular depending on the place.
Anime From The 90s And Early 2000s
From my childhood in the late 90s through early 2000s Yugioh, Pokemon, Naruto, and Avatar the Last Airbender were very popular anime for mostly kids at that time.
I remember being in school and everybody having their favorite characters that we could role-play as! Anime has made a massive impact not only in Japan, but for folks all around the world.
Since its inception there have been many titles that fall under this genre. In fact, there are even sub-genres in Anime! From epic tragedies to comic-styled fighting anime to slice of life-the “feel good” anime-there’s something for everyone!
Depending on where you are in life may be the deciding factor that plays into the kind of anime you watch. I know this influenced me in my most recent exploration of the slice of life genre.
Are There Good Psychological Effects Of Anime?
So what are the psychological effects of anime? It’s such a widely consumed media type, surely there are benefits to it? With traditional cultural knowledge of “screens rotting your brain”, you may be reading this with reservations to its benefits.
I assure you as a mental health professional that anime absolutely can have positive mental health benefits! Let’s talk more about Iyashikei, the healing anime, in the sext section.
Iyashikei is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “healing type”, or “healing genre”. It is a sub-genre of the slice of life anime genre which focuses on ordinary aspects of everyday life.
Slice of Life and Iyashikei are anime created primarily for the purpose of allowing the viewer to experience an “escape” from everyday stressors.
Iyashikei was specifically created for this purpose following Japan’s period known as the lost decade. Due to nation-wide financial hardship during this time mental health problems began to skyrocket in Japan.
Anyone knows that when finances begin to be compromised other aspects of life begin to be compromised-mental health being one of those aspects. The lost decade was the perfect opportunity for Iyashikei to flourish.
This idea is discussed in screen therapy’s video more in depth how the healing boom in Japan was jump-started by hardship. I recommend you give it a watch!
How Does Iyashikei Work?
Like I mentioned prior, Iyashikei focuses on promoting emotions of relaxation and content through its consumption. The art style, soundscape, and writing are all meant to target and soothe a specific piece of us.
For example, soft and predictable music is a great tool to help soothe our nervous system while it plays. Coupling that with nostalgic and calming art in the background is a great recipe for a healing atmospheric experience.
Iyashikei stories are also usually built on some sort of tenant of growth for the character. Usually the characters are written to be highly relatable to us as the viewers.
In Poco’s Udon World, the Iyashikei anime I’m watching currently, the protagonist is a young professional who just turned 30 wrestling with his familial legacy upon returning to his home town from Tokyo.
Just reading that description of the show was enough to get me into it! I’m a young professional who has a familial legacy that is very important to me that I am trying to make sense of everyday.
Because the main character and I have this connection, it is easy for me to be engaged with him in the show. When he experiences something, I experience it. I even am able to relate to some of his struggles.
What Does This Do For Us?
When we see these elements on screen that we can relate to we can receive a sense of community from it. Seeing somebody struggle with similar things I struggle with helps me feel less alone in that struggle.
This is a key component to mental health treatment-normalizing the struggle.
We all struggle. It is important to remember this because most of the issue with mental health is feeling like you are isolated.
So watching others struggle with similar problems give us a chance to flex our empathy muscles for our fellow humans. Empathy helps us all feel more connected, which can lead to better overall wellness.
Aspects of Iyashikei anime are also important to take into consideration. The music, artistic style, and story writing are all important components of the Iyashikei healing vibe.
This study shows how even listening to music at night can completely change the mood of a nighttime forest walk from scary to relaxing. If music by itself can do this, imagine what the combination with visual and written art is capable of.
But don’t just take my word for it. Explore the genre for yourself and see what good it can do!
Where Should You Start?
So now that you have read about the benefits of healing anime, where should you start to look for one to watch? This question depends on so much.
Ask yourself these questions:
-What am I struggling with right now?
-What would the purpose of watching Iyashikei be for me?
-Will I be watching Iyashikei passively or actively?
-Are story, music, and art all of equal importance to me?
These are some simple questions that can help you start to figure out which healing anime may be right for you. Like I said before, I relate to Souta from Poco’s Udon World in identity.
This is what drew me into his story.
Maybe you want a healing anime with great music. There are a multitude of composers, especially from Japan, that are experts in creating a beautiful emotional spectrum in their music.
You may want to look more toward the visual art component of your healing anime. Every anime has an art style that can be celebrated and promote healing and relaxation.
Story might be the most healing part of a healing anime for you. The way characters interact to each other and their circumstances may be what you need right now.
All of these components of Iyashikei are vital to your usage of this anime for healing. Start by researching anime that you may be interested in.
Also, be sure to keep an open mind. There are a wide range of anime out there, so there most definitely will be one for you! Allow yourself to truly sink into the feeling of being in another world when you feel like you need it.
Where You Can Watch Anime
The most popular way to watch anime (in my experience) is on crunchyroll, the main site you can access anime. I watch Poco’s Udon World here! It’s free and you have access to tons of anime that you may be interested in.
Other than crunchyroll, it really depends on the anime you may want to watch. Netflix recently has been making lots of anime that you need a Netflix subscription to access.
I am also aware of other streaming companies offering access to different anime. With the internet, healing anime is so accessible. So be sure to enjoy researching and learning more about it!
The best way to learn about healing anime is to watch healing anime!
In a time of such great tension all over the world, healing anime is one source of wellness that we can return to as needed. Throughout history we have faced many hardships as a species.
War, financial burden, divisiveness, discrimination, uncertainty, and anything else you can think of. These all have significant impacts on our everyday lives.
When we struggle with our environment, our bodies and minds begin to deteriorate. Trust, positivity, and security all become compromised in the face of a struggling world. Only through healing can we reverse this deterioration.
Is anime going to solve all of our problems? Of course it won’t. It’s too simplistic of an answer to a highly complex set of problems.
However, managing our problems is the best way to overcome them. What healing anime can do for us is give us the space to recover while we navigate our world.
This WILL help keep us grounded and in-tune with others while we better our environment for ourselves and generations to come. So spend 30 minutes unwinding with a healing anime periodically.
Give yourself the space to heal and recover so that you can tackle the problems of your future with a stronger resilience. For the best resilience outcomes, consider getting yourself into therapy!
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