Animated Life Lessons Series

I recently posted a piece about magical girl animes and the fact that they don’t get the appreciation they truly deserve.  For all the important lessons on friendship, teamwork, and girl power they present, they get written off because of their ‘girly’ status.

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Unfortunately, magical girl animes aren’t the only shows getting written off because of a mistaken stereotype.  Taking a step back, animation in general is judged as being for children.  Cartoons or anime, 2D or 3D, comedy or action or drama, hand-drawn or CGI or claymation—the format doesn’t seem to matter, as they’re all largely lumped together into a box labeled ‘Kid Shows,’ and enjoyment of these shows by anyone over the age of 20 is likely to be frowned upon.

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But as I pointed out in my magical girls post, there are so many things to be learned from ‘children’s’ shows, regardless of age, gender, race, or anything else.  There are so many animated shows that tackle interesting subjects and tough situations, and the lessons the characters learn are ones that many people–especially in this day and age—need to be reminded of or learn in the first place.

I will be the first to admit that I watch a lot of cartoons.  Aside from the reasons I’ve already given, I find animated shows to be more enjoyable than the fifty thousand cop dramas, hospital dramas, bad comedies, unwanted reboots, or ridiculous reality shows that make up the majority of primetime television.  I adjusted my cable service when I realized I watched only a handful of channels, and then I ditched it all together when I realized just how many great animated shows are offered on Netflix, Hulu, and other various streaming services.

I’m not trying to sell you on cutting the cord, but I want to make the point that I watch a lot of cartoons and anime.  And I’m probably not the type of person you would expect to watch kid’s shows: I’m a 27-year-old female with two Master’s degrees under my belt and a PhD in progress.  Not exactly the weird guy living in his parents’ basement, spending all day on the Internet that you might expect to be into anime.

But that’s exactly my point.  I—and likely many other lovers of animation—am not necessarily what you’d expect.  You can’t just look at me and know all the lessons I’ve learned, the relationships I’ve formed, the things that make me laugh or cry or fly into a rage.

Animated shows aren’t always what you’d expect at first glance, either.  

You don’t judge a book by its cover, so you shouldn’t judge a show by its promo or its description on Netflix.  These shows, like people, have more depth and relevance than you may think, and they deserve more than just an off-the-cuff judgement.

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I don’t expect you to accept all of this without any evidence, though—what kind of scientist would I be if I simply let you accept my claim without any proof?  That’s why I’ve gone through some of my favorite animated shows and found an important theme of each show.  Yes, I realize that this is almost exactly what I said you shouldn’t do and judge these shows by one aspect.  But the themes I’ve chosen aren’t the ones that are necessarily the obvious feature of the show or aren’t truly appreciated unless you’ve watched the show and seen all the intricacies.  More importantly, these themes all reflect lessons that, as I said earlier, are ones that we need to learn or at least reexamine during the chaos of today’s society.  Like our favorite literary characters, there are many animated characters that we can look up to and that we can strive to emulate in terms of their wisdom, maturity, and leadership.  Just because they aren’t real doesn’t mean they don’t make a great role mode.

So, starting this week, I’m going to be presenting a series of posts as proof that animated shows have important life lessons to teach everyone.  They’re all pretty recent shows, and each has garnered praise in its own right.  These are the shows that are shaping today’s generation of children and children-at-heart, and I think we owe it to them and to ourselves to personally see what they have to teach us.

It’s the least we can do for an art-form that, despite its current-day juvenile connotations, has changed the lives of so many people over the years.

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