NB: This post contains spoilers for the Rebellion movie.
Whilst writing this post, I’ve had to go and do not just a lot of memory back-tracking, but a lot of self-reflection as an anime fan. Madoka Magica is one of the shows that has made me the kind of fan I am, but it is because of what the franchise has become now is why I must walk away from it. 6 years of fanart, fanfiction, outspoken posts about the numerous hidden metaphors in the show, bizarre rumours and a abnormally long wait for new material has made me walk away from Madoka, Homura, Mami, Sayaka and Kyouko (as well as everyone else) for good. And here are the reasons why…
This is a post about Happy Science. You may not have heard of them.
They are one of many ‘Japanese new religions’ (or Shinshukyo) that still operate. No way are they on par with the likes of doomsday cults like Aum Shinrikyo (now known as Aleph). It would be wrong to call them a hippy cult, but peace, love and understanding is essentially what they are about. Believers and converts are required to follow a set path in life, and must have “the aspiration and vision to seek the way and contribute to the realisation of love, peace and happiness on Earth”.
The founder and leader Ryuho Okawa (the reincarnation of supreme deity El Cantare) claims to channel spirits such as Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, among others. However, while the group doesn’t aim for monotheism like most major religions, it recognises many gods…I presume one idea of this is that they see no need for religious war.
So why on earth am I writing about them here?
I’m pretty sure that it was when I was looking into how some religious organisations use anime as a medium to show people their beliefs (and whatnot). I first came across the shorts made by Aum Shinrikyo/Aleph, showing founder Shoko Asahara using supernatural powers like levitating and phasing; the shorts are still scattered here and there on YouTube. But this didn’t directly lead me to Happy Science, though. I’ve had this interest and fascination of religious groups and cults for a good long while; not at all joining them, but instead I think about what drives people from mainstream religion to such beliefs that, to some, could be seen as threatening to everyday life. I researched some more into ‘Japanese new religions’, and pretty much one of the first things that came up was concerning some anime movies that Happy Science had produced to show its beliefs; not so much as propaganda, but to act as information. This, and spreading the message that a deity known as El Cantare is there for all of us, to shield us from greed and lust.
And so I managed to find these movies, and see for myself…
Cringe-worthy, insulting, controversial, hilarious, dumb…we all have a lot of things to say about Watamote. But I can understand all of them because all of them just seemed to happen in the show.
We all winced when her luck ran out (which it did…a lot), with ants crawling up her legs, being neglected by an old friend, finding a PT job she hoped for turning out to be in a factory and not a maid cafe. We all felt insulted at how she was willing to insult and scream at everyone she could see, because they were not what she thought they were going to be like in her ideal school life. And the show (and the manga) became extremely controversial on how it dealt with Social Anxiety Disorder and portrayed it as a negative and something we should poke fun at. When watching it, I laughed, but felt rotten at the same time.
I’ve decided to veer away from anime this time, and have chosen something that has seriously touched a nerve in me and made me feel extremely angry and upset.
Bullying (whether it be at school, at work or online) is something that I am very very against, largely because this is something that has happened to me on a large-scale basis at 3 schools that I attended. However I also believe countering violence with violence is just as fruitless, as the victim would simply be playing further into their hands.
Recently I have heard the story of a fan-artist who goes by the name of Zamii070 who uses Tumblr (amongst other sites) to present her artwork, mostly consisting of characters from Steven Universe and Gravity Falls, two shows I really love. But despite the work she’s made, she has become a victim herself, with a sheer mass of fellow Tumblr users, in particular one select group of users, believing her work is simply not enough to please them.
I’ve had an MAL for years now. Starting today, I will no longer use it. The reason: I find it completely and utterly pointless.
I’ve listed all sorts of shows, movies and specials on there, and given them all sorts of scores out of 10. 5 items I gave full marks, while only 1 show (Pupa) I gave no marks. While just browsing it yesterday, all I saw was one wave of 7s, 8s, and 9s…
…and so this leads me to the point. Is it necessary to show the world all the masses of shows I marked 7 or 8 or 9? Even with people with MALs that have waves of 9s and 10s. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t really want to use the pathetic interaction tools that MAL had to offer. I found their forums to be full to the brim with posts 12 million years old about how Naruto is so superior to Bleach (or vice versa), or the fidelity of Studio Ghibli dubs, or whatever? I guess that would make me a very disillusioned otaku. What do you think? Am I elitist to the point where I don’t find the likes of massive shows like Naruto/One Piece/Bleach/Gundam/Pokemon entertaining to watch? I don’t like to think I am. Which led me to why having a super-long MAL meant the user was well-versed and well-knowledged in shows.
Several people (including myself) say that anime watchers should just watch what they want, and not listen to anyone else. It’s just that I don’t like the people who reckon that every single anime must be watched in order to make a clear and concise opinion.
If you read this and disagree, then feel free to have a go at me, since I welcome various opinions. I don’t claim to be perfect; no one is perfect, nothing is perfect and, most importantly, no anime is perfect.