Anime Today: Sharing Anime with Family

If there is one anime that I have been most looking forward to this season, it is absolutely the newest season of Mushi-shi. And I can say confidently that my unrealistically high expectations for the season have been… met, actually. Possibly even exceeded, even!

Art by 猫屋敷 (Pixiv ID 43383288)

It is rare to find an anime that is beautifully animated, intelligently written, and also has little to no inappropriate content (the only other anime that I can immediately think of that fit these criteria are the likes of Now and Then, Here and There, Haibane Renmei, and Nichijou, though I’m sure there are many others). All of this together is what has made it possible to share Mushi-shi with my father, one decidedly uninterested in anime and the like as well as a former pastor. However, it didn’t take long to get him hooked.

Now, I should make mention that my parents (who I see on university breaks) and older brothers (who I keep in touch with but don’t often see) are all quite familiar with my Japan mania… and quite okay with it (something I have been blessed with as I am familiar with quite a number of others who have family that is not so accepting). However, there is a difference between allowing or even passively supporting something, and actually participating in it. With that said, actually convincing a family member to watch an anime is always a great triumph for me (I managed to convince one of my brothers to watch Steins;Gate and Nichijou, and my mother to watch Usagi Drop).

Watching the first season of Mushi-shi with my dad was one of the greatest experiences I have had in my anime-consuming career, so I was ecstatic (as was he) to have the opportunity to watch a brand new season with him. While it has been a great bonding experience and an opportunity for him to learn a bit more about what makes me tick (one huge motivation to sharing anime interests with family), I discovered that my sharing was not just a one-sided chance for my family to understand more about me.

The experience is mutually beneficial.

What do I mean by this? Well, there’s always the satisfactory feeling of knowing that someone you are close to (such as I am with my parents) approves of something you adore, and that is important, but it also gives you the chance to learn more from that person. What I have discovered over the past half dozen episodes of Mushi-shi is that my father has shed more light on meanings, inspirations, and other facets of deeper anime writing than I could have possibly discovered myself.* I, the (self-proclaimed) otaku, was party to the views of a non-watcher**.

Thus, I have, over the past weeks, come to the conclusion that the anime world that I have hoarded to myself the past few years, truly is something worth sharing with those you love. Whether those people are your blood-related family, like mine, your spiritual church “family,” or even close friends that might as well be related, there is something special in sharing your passions.

*In particular, the differences in eastern and Western thinking, and how Mushi-shi actually reflects much of Western thinking rather than eastern, for better or worse, in many cases. I was originally planning to write my article on this topic, but felt horribly uneducated in that department and more inspired to share a shorter piece on the experience I was able to have with my father in this discussion.
**Oh those “non-watchers”… Is that even a term?

10 thoughts on “Anime Today: Sharing Anime with Family

  1. I don’t think Mushishi is western so much as it’s naturalistic.

    A lot of shows present magic as a kind of paranormal feudalism. The gods of the moon send a talking cat to a blonde girl, she agrees to fight for the moon, and BAM! instant superheroine.

    Gingko is more like a Daoist natural scientist. He has to observe nature, read books, accumulate lots of experience, until finally he can function somewhat like a physician. he doesn’t supplicate any gods; he is not particularly meditative or ascetic. He observes the outside world of spirits rather than his internal thought process. He endures hardships in order to travel through the external world.

    1. That seems like a feasible explanation, though I’ll just have to take your word for it (as I mentioned, I don’t feel I am adequately prepared to get into any sort of intelligent discussion).

      Perhaps mixture of east and west isn’t accurate, but mystical vs. natural (which I sometimes, erroneously, label as east and west).

      Thanks for your input!

  2. My mom and I sat down over the course of a few days and watched “Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven” a few months ago. She absolutely loved it! I was shocked that she would actually like it as much as she did. Granted, she didn’t understand a lot about the WORLD of “Eureka Seven” (heck, I still have problems with some of the more interesting concepts of the story) but she understood things on her own level. She also loved Maurice, Mater and Linck and would ask me frequently “Are those kids going to be in this episode? Are we going to see them?” I had to explain to mommy that, no, the kids don’t appear in EVERY episode…much to her disappointment. 🙂

    1. That sounds like an awesome time! I have a good friend who watches anime on a daily basis with his mother (he has a disability that keeps him home-bound and his mother is retired), and it always surprises me to see her actively interested in what he’s watching next… even providing her own input!

      I’m glad you had the opportunity to share that experience with family, and I hope you’ll be able to do more in the future!

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I feel similarly triumphant when I get family to watch anime. I have some success with Miyazaki films and my mom. I hook her with, “You’ll love the portrayal of childhood in Totoro and Ponyo!” Lil Sis enjoys making fun of me, so it’s too much work to get her to seriously consider anime.

    I’m still working on my dad. He likes action movies, so I was hoping I could get him into Gungrave or something, but there’s no luck yet (I’m not sure he even gave Gungrave a proper try – I think he made an excuse last time I asked). He’ll be a tricky one. We share other interests, though, like Lord of the Rings, and we can have fun with analytical discussions. So there’s hope for finding an anime to share with him. I’d welcome suggestions. Not Mushi-shi – I haven’t watched it yet, but I read some of the manga, and I doubt it would keep Dad’s attention for that long (although I will try the anime, and I might change my mind).

    1. Miyazaki’s films are (nearly) always good examples of “gateway” anime, I would say. It’s so easy to pop in the film in front of the whole family and not have to worry about them getting accustomed to the mysterious world of anime first.

      I can empathize with the part about your sister. One of my two brothers I was able to convince to watch a few shows and movies, but the other, while not having any ill feelings toward anime, is just completely disinterested.

      For your dad, it’s hard to say. I’m not very helpful when it comes to recommending anything beyond intellectual or slice of life anime, so standard action is a bit outside my zone of expertise. Sword of the Stranger is a great movie, if you’ve seen it, that doesn’t require much knowledge about the culture surrounding anime.

      1. Oooh. Sword of the Stranger looks good, and it’s on Hulu. I haven’t seen it, but I now want to, whether or not my dad is interested. Thanks for the recommendation!

      2. Update: Thanks again for the recommendation! Dad used the word “good” when I asked him what he thought of Sword of the Stranger. I struggled to get over the English dubbing of it, but I thought it was decent, too. He’s willing to try another anime sometime. I’m not sure how much of that is genuine interest, and how much is him being a loving daddy, but I’ll take it. ^.^

  4. […] In regard to point one, I often remind myself of the many times I have come across a new hobby that I might now love, all thanks to a friend of acquaintance introducing me to said hobby. Somebody felt the desire to share their passion with me, and without losing anything, they were able to improve my happiness with this new interest. To withhold a passion of my own from someone who I know would appreciate it, simply to retain my residence in my personal “aristocracy,” is nothing more than petty and selfish. Besides, as I’ve previously written about, as much as I might sometimes reject it, sharing what you love with others is almost always better than keeping it to yourself! […]

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