BENGALURU: Being a single child, brought up by a single parent, Christina David took to watching anime at the age of 3, when TV was her "only companion". She is 21-year-old and pursued animation studies, for her sheer love for anime and manga.
For the uninitiated, anime is animation of a cartoonish show and manga is book of pictures or comics (also graphic novels).
“I used to finish my homework during recess just so that I could sit and watch anime right after I got back home. Anime's been an addiction since 1998 and it's not getting cured any time soon,” she says.
While superhero fans are a more obvious fan base, the niche anime/manga fans too form a growing community in the city, with close to 3,000 members in the group's Facebook page.
“Not all are active, but we do have meetings where we discuss anime and cosplay events. Due to the varied age differences and time constraints, we usually just connect via Facebook,” says the Goan-Keralite who moved to Bengaluru in 2014.
One of the defining features of these Japanese comics is violence and bloodshed. There has been growing concerns among parents who accuse anime/manga of feeding violence to children.
“If anime encourages violence then how have parents not become psychopath assassins watching the ridiculous cutting and slicing body parts in Tom and Jerry in their days,” questions Rahul KD, who got hooked to anime after he discovered an AMV (Anime Music Video) at a pub in the city. AMVs merge intense anime action into songs.
“If parents think that anime or manga culture feeds violence, I think it’s high time they shut down their TVs too. Have you seen the amount of violence involved in movies and daily soaps? Anime teaches children a lot of things. It has taught me the importance of respect, friendships, hope and perseverance. Stop watching crime shows and Bollywood movies," fumes Christina .
Another fan Ankita Kemkar feels the mainstream view among parents that anime purely means violence is a generalised idea. "I personally feel that there isn’t enough exposure, hence the very obvious reaction from parents. I don't blame them. However, maybe watching/ reading along would help clear the misunderstanding," says the 23-year-old, who is also an active cosplayer.
The argument is illogical, says Rahul. "(It's like saying) your kids can become obese by watching Chota Bheem, which has the logic of eating ladoos to grow stronger. Basically it's just reasons for parents to make kids not distracted and become the - mera beta engineer banega logic," he says.
Among anime/manga, other than the action plot, the stories also have several emotional and philosophical layers depicted in relationships between the characters.
"In-depth story line with a message is what I like about anime/manga. No, Chota Bheem doesn't count! You're teaching your kids to steal food. Anime focuses on the raw emotions and plays around it. We can connect better with anime. People say it's childish. I say, watch some anime like Fullmetal Alchemist and Anohana," says Christina.
"It's something I can easily connect with and there have been times where a particular scene has been exactly what I've gone through and my eyes well up with tears," she says.
So, what do the fans think about the idea that most animes are always gratifying women sexually?
"I don't feel that's true in all cases. There are different genres of anime which place characters on different levels. I could say the same thing about Bollywood. Why no item numbers with scantly clothed men, eh?" asks Christina.
Ankita thinks the logic is debatable. "If you generally look at genres which contain ecchi, smut, harem, comedy and fantasy they will have overly voluptuous women in general because of the storyline, but not otherwise. Even if the characters are drawn that way, that doesn't necessarily define them," says architecture graduate.
Rahul says that animes "gratify males too" and says that it differs with the genre and one can spot well endowed women characters in Shonen anime.
An ‘Otaku Karaoke Night' was hosted recently hosted at Opus Out of The Box to celebrate the fandom for anime and manga in Bengaluru as a run up to Comic Con, which will be held on November 12 and 13.
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