Friday’s Feature: Finding Joy and Inspiration In Watching Anime Characters Succeed

There are moments in life when you definitely feel down. I originally wrote this post when I just felt like everything around me was falling apart and I didn’t really know how to hold things together. The stress was overwhelming and I felt sick each morning when I woke up. Then as the day wore on I’d realise more and more what sort of a hole I was in emotionally and I’d feel worse until by the end of the day I was just over it. I realised I needed to pick myself up and it wasn’t the first time, wouldn’t be the last.

So naturally I turned to Yuri on Ice.

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There are so many bloggers out there who talk about how anime has saved them or given them the strength they’ve needed at a certain time in their life. Realistically, any story can have this impact if it is the right story delivered at the right time and the right way. However, for those of us who call ourselves anime fans, there’s something very special about anime and the way we connect with it and the characters. We know they aren’t real (or at least most of us do). We understand these are drawn or computer generated characters. And yet the emotions we feel while watching them are very real.

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I don’t think I’m alone when I say that watching Yuri on Ice is an experience in and of itself. Each time Yuri falls down he picks himself back up whether personally or professionally. The reciprocated respect between Yuri and Victor that ultimately becomes a truly beautiful love is amazing to watch and the scene where they exchange rings is absolutely fantastic.

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Yet none of that beats the high of seeing Yuri performing his routine, to his chosen music, at the end of the series and finally delivery an awe inspiring performance. While the relationship between the characters is great, the whole cast is interesting, and the music great to listen to, for me the biggest high watching this anime through again is in seeing Yuri’s moment of triumph.

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In a way that none of the screaming shounen protagonists have ever been able to do, Yuri’s performance inspires me, lifts me up, and makes me want to smile and cry all at the same time. It makes me want to try things and not give up and for a brief moment I might even crazily think I can accomplish anything and everything I set my mind to. About a minute after that my more cynical and rational mind kicks in and tells me not to get too ambitious but focus on the things I can in fact accomplish with just a bit of effort.

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I followed this up with a round of Snow White with the Red Hair. Let’s be honest, Shirayuki is inspirational from episode 1. She never once lets a single thing set her back for too long. She gracefully rises to each challenge she is faced with and continues to look forward on her path. There’s never bitterness or complaints or looking for an easy path. There’s no faltering just because she’s tired. Shirayuki is the kind of character that might really annoy you if you were really feeling down, but after being raised up and inspired by Yuri, Shirayuki gives you a practical approach to walking the path you choose.

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And finally, mostly for a laugh, I ended this anime recovery session by watching a single episode of Attack on Titan season 2. The one where Eren first actually kills a titan while in human form. Eren is not my favourite character and yet there’s a definite thrill and joy in seeing him momentarily celebrate this seemingly minor achievement during a battle. On a more serious note though, it does remind us to take time to celebrate the little things. Otherwise, we might get eaten by a titan before we have the chance to celebrate anything.

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So while I’m still feeling very tired and behind and like life might just be piling too many things on my shoulders just at the moment, I’m no longer seeing this as a negative. Yuri, Shirayuki and Eren all gave me a reason to look forward, to embrace the challenge, to celebrate small successes, and to remember that I can choose to continue to wallow or I can choose to try to make my situation better. I may not always succeed at what I set my mind to, but I can certainly make some progress with effort.

Once again I find myself very thankful I am an anime fan.

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So I’ll leave you with the question of which anime characters have ever inspired you?

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34 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: Finding Joy and Inspiration In Watching Anime Characters Succeed

  1. I wish anime had that ability to inspire me but it doesn’t. Perhaps I am far too old for the genre. I can enjoy a good plot, fall for e beloved character, feel sadness at a loss but the conflicts they undergo don’t reach me at the level of inspiration.

  2. I feel any good anime gives me a boost when I’m feeling a bit down, but the one that sticks in my mind the most is Shirobako. I’d dreamed of a job in animation for a long time and, at the time, I was stuck in a dead job that just made me feel like I was going nowhere. Watching Aoi and the others struggle with the realities of the industry resonated with me and gave me hope. I don’t think I’m ever going to get a job in animation, but that’s let me channel my energies into my writing, which I love equally as much and there’s always the small hope that one day something I write will be animated.

  3. I love watching Snow White with the Red Hair and the original Cardcaptors when Im feeling sick or demotivated. I just watched them again recently too while I was similarly feeling sluggish and worn out.

    1. Original Cardcaptors definitely gives a bit of a lift. Sakura is pretty resilient and good at getting back up again when things don’t go so well.

  4. Hope you are feeling better and manage to recover from your recent illness Karandi!
    I’m biased, so I’m going to raise Holo and Lawrence and put them on the pedestal, watching not one but two characters jointly succeeding from lessons and opportunities, and also supporting each other for that reason.
    Take care and wish you good health~

  5. Deku and co. have been really consistent in motivating me every time BnHA rolls around, and I remember Prince of Stride Alternative did the same to a smaller extent while it was happening.

    I think a lot of underdog stories tend to motivate people, regardless of their medium, so Megalobox (which I’m currently not caught up with) might end up being the same way.

    1. Prince of Stride was kind of motivating. It was fairly forgettable afterwards, but while watching it certainly gives you a bit of get up and go.

  6. Most inspiring anime is, of course, Monogatari Series.

    Yeah. It’s just funny, smart, emotional-
    And I’m lying if I said I didn’t feel more attached to this cast of characters more than any other show or movie I have ever watched.
    Watching your favorite characters change to become different than the ones you’re used to…
    It’s simultaneously heartbreaking and unbelievably heartwarming. It’s like watching a kid grow up! (And that’s for the entire cast!)

  7. Oh wow, sooo many and of course for some reason I’m blanking now. I guess Sachiko from Erased and Tsukushi from Days – specifically in his relationship with his mom….

    1. I know. When asked which anime or which character inspired you there’s like this amazing blur of images in your head and then you can’t distinguish a single one. Later of course you realise the massive number that have but at the time its like a brain freeze.

  8. Wonderful post, Karandi! I’ve never put a lot of thought into how anime has picked me up when I’m in a rough spot, or how it’s inspired me, but reading this I totally agree that it can and does. A few I’ve noticed that help pick me up, and they might be odd, are Angel Beats (because it put the whole “I need to move on and find happiness somehow and let go of certain things” in my head even though it’s sad), White Album 2 (because dedication to achieving a goal you’ve set–like playing in a band–can make all the difference), and Toradora (for the laughs and the emotion and everything it is).

    1. Nice choices. I tend to watch Angel Beats when I need to cry. It gives me an excuse to let out bottled emotions. I usually feel better afterward, but I almost always follow a watch of Angel Beats with something very light hearted.

  9. Teshima Junta – Yowamushi Pedal/ YowPedal New Generation

    https://cdn.anisearch.com/images/anime/screen/10/10820/full/349370.jpg

    Now, he and his friend Aoyagi tackle a lot of problems together, but I feel like I relate to Teshima on so many levels, and his character is truly inspiring to me. This is a dude that is clearly outclassed by the other major characters around him, but through planning and intense dedication/work ethic, he levels the playing field and manages to be the captain of the Sohoku cycling team. I legit have a Teshima/Aoyagi wristband.

    Also Mumen Rider from OPM. That dude’s a real G.

  10. It’s a weird choice but early Griffith. He built himself up from nothing and had all the traits of a great leader, then used politics to get closer to the throne. It was inspirational until, you know.

  11. Wow Karandi, I was seriously having this discussion with Mel the other day. My hiatus in blogging has been stems from work and stuff, and partly feeling insecurities on top of whatever. I’ve been heavily invested in a particular anime, manga, and fanfics, and honestly the discussion I had with Mel was basically how much Deku in Hero Academia speaks to me on so many levels, and how much of an inspiration he is. If hero academia had come out when i was younger, I wonder if I could’ve felt better about myself and dealt with things the way Deku does. I seriously need to write a post about Deku and Hero Academia at some point this year.

    Great post – sorry I wrote an essay as a reply.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Midoriya is really inspiring and hopefully you will get a chance to write about him at some point. I’d love to read it.

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