In Burning Questions, Sam Weller pontificates on, ruminates upon or investigates into any and all anime and manga topics.
PREVIOUS QUESTIONS: Do Power Levels Even MATTER in anime?
I am a pretty emotionally-available guy. If I see or hear something remotely sanguine or intense, I tend to feel it a little more than the average male. And I’m terrible at hiding it, even when I want to - - social norms be damned! For me, the act of crying is just me being honest with myself.
Now, I’m asking the Anime Vice community to be honest with itself: Has an anime ever made you cry?
I mean, we’ve talked before on the Vice Pit about sad anime heroes, and we've broached this topic lightly, but we haven't gotten deep enough! I'm talking about what it takes to get a real, honest, cry out of us. And when I mean cry I mean welling of tears, choke back the upper lip, “something in my eye” cry. Don’t be afraid, you can let it out.
And this gets at a deeper question than a simple "Yes" or "No." For some reason, most of the populace agrees that movies, television, music and books can make you cry; but newer forms of art like video games and anime seem to have a variety of angles where it is not black and white. I’m puzzled by this, considering that the narrative aspects of a book or song - - really anything that makes you feel something - - are also used in manga and anime. So I’m assuming of course, for this question, that anime can make you cry. And if that's the case... then why?
ONLY YESTERDAY by Studio Ghibli and director Isao Takahata (who also directed the devasting GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES) is a slow-moving, slice-of-life film about a young woman reminiscing as she returns to the village of her youth.
BOOO! What a snooze fest, right?
Wrong. This film is both a coming-of-age story and a mature take on what people do in their late 20‘s. At my current age, these themes hit me pretty hard.
The sequence in question that always gets me (referenced at 0:58 in the trailer) is where the young girl walking home is intercepted by a boy with a not-so-secret crush on her. The looks on their faces are handled with such subtlety and restraint that the scene really takes my breath away every time I watch it. After the boy communicates his message and runs away, we stay with the young girl as she runs with elation right into the realm of magical realism - - her feet actually leaving the ground as she begins running into the sky in a completely unexpected moment.
The surprise of her sudden flight into fancy combined with the universal experience of a first love is too much for my proud man tears to handle. My next example, however, is all about the man tears! (Minor SPOILERS in the video below...)
BERSERK is one of those anime - - like BATTLE ROYALE (mentioned in another Vice Pit) - - that I feel is sometimes misunderstood by its audience. Yes, while it does feature buckets of blood, demons, and a main character on steroids... it also portrays the horrors of sexual violence and the abuse of power, and it is a deeply tragic and moving story. This isn’t just a dude-bro anime, it is one of the most saddening and personal love stories I’ve seen in any format. Cheesiness of the above video aside, it was one of the only ones to showcase this other side of BERSERK.
Following the path of Guts in the show is a moving affair. He begins life under a hanging tree with dozens of bodies and then receives continued abuse by his surrogate father. As an adult, he learns how to fall in love and operate in a mercenary group that becomes surrogate family (see a pattern?). But then the story turns on Guts and, without spoiling anything, it ends in one of the most disturbing and disgusting two-part episodes I’ve ever seen.
After spending and investing so much time with a character, to see him be put through the ringer was too much for me to handle. I had to have a little cry. As a result, BERSERK remains a show I cannot re-watch - - and that's the highest compliment to its emotional power!
Ready to man up and admit when you’ve cried because of anime? Or are you inhuman and incapable of shedding any tears. If so, why?
Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recently BATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow@cravesam