Veganism and Anime? Seriously?
But I’m not so interested in talking about veganism right now (what a shocker), so let’s talk about anime.
I’m the kind of person who strongly believes that anime has literary merit. Sure, anime is dangerously addictive. I’ve lost count of the numbers of times I initially set out to watch 3 or 4 episodes, and ended up wasting away the entire day without even realising it (and night, because who needs sleep anyway when you have anime). So maybe I’m just desperate to justify the fact that anime has been a huge part of my life.
Now, I don’t try to force meaning where it isn’t there. Like any other form of media, the true gems in anime are far outnumbered by the rotten apples. And the rotten apples are honestly terrible. Often they are vacuous, rely excessively on cheap plot devices to shock or sadden the audience, rehash the same tired theme over and over again, and are just so insufferably full of themselves. If love is supposed to be unconditional, then fine, I’m no lover of anime.
However, anime has its moments. Moments of such intense passion, pathos, poignance, that I am left completely awestruck. I wish I could say something intelligent about it, indulge in some form of pretentious witticism involving a lot of sexual innuendos, but I can’t. I wish I could think up a grand theory that deconstructs it into its tiniest constituents to explain away the fact that I simply can’t get it out of my head, but the more I try to rise above it, the smaller I feel. If you’re a fan of anime, you know what I mean. At its best, anime is innovative, enlightening and philosophical. And it is so, so beautiful. A lot animes have very strong humanitarian messages. They transcend the emptiness of a Western kind of alpha-male egoism, framing human existence in terms of a greater, collective beauty. At the same time, they relentlessly emphasise the roles that each and every individual has to play, and the small sparks of beauty that occur in our private lives. Anime makes me think. Anime makes me feel. Anime makes me want to be a better person. Anime makes me want to do something meaningful with my life.
Unfortunately, for a long time that seemed to be where it ended. Sure, anime made me think about all sorts of deep things. However, as much as I’d like to believe that simply thinking about all sorts of deep things makes me a better person, it really doesn’t. You can watch lots of romance anime to try to understand love, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t get into an actual relationship. So I was stuck – utterly convinced that anime had made me a better person – but not quite sure how.
I want to suggest that anime and animal rights actually use highly similar emotional frameworks. My passion for animal rights has a strong basis in empathy, and the humble realisation that I am only one living creature amongst many others in this world – living creatures with interests that matter to them just as much as my interests matter to me. I most certainly don’t need to care at all about the interests of others if I so choose, since they don’t resound with the kind of directness and urgency that my personal interests do. However, as I’m sure many other anime fans will agree, there’s so much more to life than self-satisfaction. Our lives are incredibly short, easily wasted away. There’s a profound beauty in coming into this world and leaving it a better place for others. This is what anime has taught me, and this is what I act upon by embracing veganism.
Ultimately, my blog is about exploring this emotional framework, and how its practical application can be meaningful to our lives.
I am not trying to ‘hijack’ anime using animal rights. I am not trying to imply that the only way to enjoy anime is by filtering it through a vegan lens, or that this is even necessary to find anime meaningful. I was a fan of anime long before I was introduced to animal rights, and I continue to be a fan of anime independently of my passion for animal rights.
So please, read with an open mind.
Otherwise, I leave my posts to speak for themselves.