Why is it that many toss anime off to the side, calling it “childish” or say “it’s just a cartoon”, when many anime shows deal with heavy issues, such as mental illness and suicide? These shows portray these topics in a realistic sense, not like many shows in america that toss it off to the side as if it’s nothing?
“Neon Genesis Evangelion” is one example. The creator, Hideaki Anno, has a history of clinical depression and it’s believed the show was heavily influenced by his personal struggles. Many of the characters suffer from some type of mental illness, like the main protagonist. Shinji Ikari is heavily introverted and suffers from social anxiety. He shrinks away from human contact, avoiding school because of either injury or being afraid of ridicule, while also ridiculing himself.
“Psycho-Pass” deals with mental health and the possible connection to the ‘criminal mindset’. It shows what a civilization would look like without fear of crime and free from stress. In 2113, Japan is under the control of a computerized system called Sybil, which analyzes the criminal tendencies of the population. Anyone’s crime coefficient that is labeled as a “latent criminal” is taken away to be reformed and clean their psycho pass to make it clear again. If they’re crime coefficient is to high, they are killed. In the first episode, a woman is kidnapped and abused. Because of the trauma she went through, Sybil deemed her crime coefficient too high and calls for her to be killed.
“Paranoia Agent” is a 13 episode series that deals with the mental and psychological health of its characters. The characters refuse to see a problem with their mental state until they are attacked by a little boy, nicknamed “Lil’ Slugger”, on roller skates who hits them with a golden baseball bat. These attacks don’t happen until the character is on the verge of a mental breakdown. Toward the end of the series, the show makes the viewer question if “Lil’ Slugger” actually exists or if he’s a figment of the first victim’s imagination and her fear helped “Lil’ Slugger” spread across Japan.
Mental health and mental illness is not something that should be shrugged off to the side, but something that we all have to help combat. Anyone could have depression. Anyone could have anxiety. It’s not just up to them to figure it out, but to every single one of us to keep an eye out for each other because mental illness is not something that is easy to see. If watching a show helps you understand the different types of mental illnesses, please research and find shows that show the illness in its true light.