A while back, I wrote a post about the sentiments of death. How the nature of death is one filled with sorrow and the frustration of a sense of loss. Ultimately, how death isn’t necessarily always sad. But I realised, my vision had actually been quite narrow. That post was meant to show how death brings potentially tons of emotional value to the table. But I forgot the most elementary part of death that creates the ultimate sense of sorrow, and that is love.
I realised I had been missing the very basic aspect of why death was even sorrowful in the first place. Love is what makes death immensely saddening. Love is what gives birth to the most powerful of emotions. I can’t believe I overlooked this simple fact, but having watched a very powerful piece of work recently that resonated with me made me realise my nearsightedness. So this time, I wish to explore the value of love… in anime, of course.
What is love, to me?
Love is a powerful thing, said everyone nonchalantly. But what makes it so? What about it is able to make a person so strongly immersed in multitudes of various emotions? We all have our own notions of this.
Love could be attachment, love could be sexual, love could be pleasure. Many things could fall under the category of love, and any of them could create heavy sentiments. It has the power to transform the most trivial of notions into one of the most heart-wrenching acts of affection. A simple hug into the most painful display of love. Hence, when designed to influence emotions in various art forms, it is every bit as powerful as the impact of death, but is even more flexible to employ.
The Many Wonders Of Love
Love is the secret ingredient to create strong meaning or sentiments. If you want to deliver a meaningful and emotional piece of work, be it frustration, disappointment, joy or even death, what better way to do so than to first create the idea or image of love? Let me demonstrate through the various genres.
Romance / Fantasy / Shoujo – Romantic Love
Romance isn’t limited to that of the love of couples and relationships. It also refers to something picturesque, or beautiful. In these genres, they often portray romantic love in both these two senses. Hence, romantic success is when us audience are able to feel and immerse ourselves in the feelings of love in the show. Love is most strongly emoted here.
Action / Adventure – Camaraderie and Friendship
What we see often from the likes of these genres is the existence of some form of a team. One of the biggest things that create a cohesive and enjoyable team is simply love. Love in the area of friendship and camaraderie. To enjoy the interplay of characters in a team, they need to first develop meaningful chemistry. What better way to develop good chemistry than to create mutual feelings of love and affection in the group? Just look at Straw Hat Luffy and his Nakamas.
Drama – Tough Love
Where else would you find heavy emotions if not from the drama genre? Drama is a broad genre, seeking to emotionally awe. Similarly, love is inherent in almost everything, with strong emotional value. Thus, together they can stimulate powerful forms of emotional excitement, capable of bringing out the rawest form of love to explore all its intricacies and complications. If there’s one genre that does best at exploring love, it has to be this one.
Sports / School / Music – Passion
Passion is a form of love. It is the love and enthusiasm for something, say for example hockey, guitars or even teaching. This is why these genres do well at pronouncing the passionate love the characters have for their ambitions. Without love in the form of passion, how dull would these genres become?
Shounen – Loving Oneself
We’ve seen love expressed for something or someone else, but let’s not forget that we can also love ourselves. In anime, who else are more independent and completely believing in themselves other than our dear narcissistic and energetic shounen protagonists? These guys really love themselves. Nobody in their right minds could believe in themselves so much as to even try to accomplish the things they have. Right, Light-kun?
I’m kidding of course. Not all shounen protagonists are so full of themselves. I mean, we mustn’t forget that the seemingly depressed and suicidal Nozomu Itoshiki from Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei falls under the shounen category as well. He’s legendary.
Ecchi – Sexual Love
To me, when I think of ecchi in the form of sexual love, I think of Zero no Tsukaima. The anime portrays romance with sexual tones. While ecchi is often fan service, it isn’t always just empty fan service. This anime did well in using ecchi as a means to show sexual affection that represented love, allowing me to truly feel the growing relationship that develops in the anime. Alright maybe it is kinda fan servicey…
The list goes on. The many forms of love, or the lack thereof, is hence a powerful element that dictates and shapes relationships, emotions and especially meaning in a show. The skilful portrayal of love is highly effective to deliver certain tones that mould and define the character and their developments in a show. Basically, if you’re an anime that even tries to delve into emotions or relationships, then you’d better make sure that I can feel the love. At the same time, knowing when to purposefully omit any semblance of love from an anime is one way to let us audience feel the impact of love through it’s absence.
I decided to write this after a sudden spur of inspiration, but as usual my thoughts got jumbled up along the way. I hope this post didn’t sound too meaningless. Do you agree that anime needs love to be powerfully emotive? Were there any anime that let you truly feel the presence of love? I personally thought Barakamon was a decent one that expressed love with its community spirit.