Anime and Cosplay Explained For Parents
Welcome to an official guide for explaining Anime culture. Whether you’re taking notes to explain the culture to your parents or friends yourselves or you’ve just stuck this small essay in front of them to read, by the end I guarantee that your parents will understand anime culture and the importance of it to you personally a little better.
Anime are cartoons, but they’re also not
For starters anime is just an abbreviation for animation. What makes an animation or cartoon an “anime” is the fact that it was made in Japan. So for instance, if Family Guy or South Park was created in Japan it too would be considered an Anime. The difference between the western word cartoon and the eastern word anime is that in the early global history of animation, the west decided it was for children, very much due to Disney’s influence. Disney set a benchmark in the west for how animation should look and who its demographic is. They did so well that other western companies replicated their model and so to focused their efforts on the child demographic. Japan decided early on that animation was for all age groups.
Examples of stories in anime
A child is shunned by his entire village since his birth, his parents are nowhere to be found. The reason for the shunning is because this child has a demon sealed inside of him (although this is unbeknownst to him), he doesn’t understand why the village despise/fear him. Through hard work and determination he is able to obtain friends and skills. However, recognition and his true goal are blocked by death, heartache, and sorrow. Will he be able to endure and evolve for his ideals and his dream? (this is actually an anime targeted towards children, Japan allow much more mature themes in their children’s programs which actually means that adults can enjoy it to).
A doctor has to make a life-or-death decision. Does he save the child that arrived only a few moments ago, or does he save the mayor that was brought in after the child. As a doctor’s beliefs should lie with the phrase “every patient is equal” he decides to save the child at his professional careers expense. Years later a serial killer is on the loose, the doctor becomes intertwined with the killings. Evidence is pointing in many directions, one of those directions points straight back to the child he saved years prior. The psychological dilemma the doctor now finds himself in drives him to act, but the question is, what action should he take?
Its just a hobby
Having cosplay as a hobby is far better than many other hobbies that people pick up in their teens/adulthood. It’s a mixture of theatre and artistic aspects, it can build genuinely helpful life skills. Its much easier to build confidence around like-minded people. A cosplayers conversational skills are likely to be more refined than someone who spends their free time only watching Netflix. Conventions and events force you to talk to people, improving your speaking/listening and debating skills, these will all be able to be transferred into your professional life either now or when you grow up.
Hobbies = Passion
Cosplaying is a hobby, and hobbies are generally fuelled by passion. Parents think about this, and cosplayers ask this question to your parents. What was your hobby when you were my age? Maybe the answer is football, dancing etc. then ask why that was their hobby? Why were they so passionate about that hobby in particular? Parents answer this question to the same extent that you want your child to answer as to why their passion is cosplay, it’s harder than you think because most of the time the answer is simply because you like it.
I don’t know anyone that has a hobby they don’t like, and when you boil it down, a hobby is just a form of escapism. Whether you believe it or not everyone has a form of escapism, humans need it to keep mentally healthy, life sucks sometimes. As with anime you don’t need to understand the appeal of cosplay yourself, you just need to support the person in their chosen passion, for both you and your child’s health.
Why do people get into cosplay?
So why do people get into cosplay in the first place, what attracts them to it as someone outside looking in. Most of the time it is formed from of a specific character in anime, or a series as a whole. Contrary to popular belief, anime can be very emotional. Yes, it’s an animation, not real people but that same argument can be leveed against books, and pretty much everyone has accepted that books can have a profound effect on one’s life and emotions. So, having an emotional connection to an anime can be one of the major reasons someone might want to cosplay as their favourite character.
A cosplayer could feel that the character they want to portray is relatable in some way. In the series said character may have been through similar experiences, the character may have faced similar traumas but made it through them becoming an inspiration. However, the biggest and simplest reason is because the character looks cool and/or has great fashion sense and a person just wants to replicate that.
The main reason why people in the West don’t understand anime culture is simply because it wasn’t created in western culture. It’s been adopted by a small portion of the people in the West, which means most people don’t understand the appeal. The East and the West have thousands of cultural differences, and almost all of them are shown through anime culture due to the nature of it portraying mainly Japanese ideals and beliefs. However, slowly but surely as the world interlinks and globalises even further, lines between cultures are being blurred and people are starting to accept the things they don’t understand. Out of all the differences between cultures, accepting that someone is into anime culture isn’t a big ask when compared to other differences.
Also, anime culture is getting more popular by the day. Currently, Manga (the comic form of anime) is out selling all USA written comics, streaming services are eyeing up anime as the next big form of entertainment, western companies are emulating the east by using animation to tell mature stories. You’d be surprised how much anime is on western Netflix. Parents in their 50’s (in the UK) grew up in a time of American influence, Millennials grew up in the tail end of American supremacy over media. Generation Z and younger will grow up in a mix of American and eastern entertainment influence. Soon anime will be the norm, alongside all the western media we currently have.