Sia: Who says anime can't be useful?

DO YOU watch anime? Or perhaps you read manga? I still do, but only on rare occasions these days. My fellow columnist Riz Sunio does too (much more than I do, I'm sure), and it shows: her column last month was on “Anime and the Darkness Within.”

Riz writes: “A protagonist, for example, may succumb to his evil tendencies and opt for choices that protagonists should ideally not engage with, but still did so, maybe because of mistakes or demands of the moment. But as the storyline progresses, a protagonist will redeem himself eventually.”

That is, before the hero can finally triumph over the evil outside him, he must first face down and overcome the evil inside him – the temptation to go astray that comes with being gifted with the power that he has.

But what if I told you that more than being just a passive hobby, watching anime can give you real-life powers too? No, I'm not talking about things like shooting spirit balls from your hands or strength enough to wield swords as big as utility poles, those are just impossible and silly. And it's not just about picking up the Japanese language on the fly, or sharpening your English-language skills if you prefer English dubs like yours truly.

I'm talking about learning actual marketable skills. If you follow a great deal of anime, one thing you'll notice is that a series may obsessively single out one particular activity and so build an entire world and story around that one thing. That way, you get things like cooking anime, bread-baking anime, sports anime, business and entrepreneurship anime – and now even dancesport and skating anime, of all things! And the stories tend to focus a lot on the nitty-gritty of the show's central subject, more so than character development.

As a result the stories tend to come out rather silly sometimes, like when the heroes get into really heated and drawn-out arguments over, say, whether to use cumin or paprika in the current episode's stew. But that's okay; just think of them as animated, oversimplified For Dummies books.

Merely watching Slam Dunk won't make you the next Dwyane Wade, but stick with it long enough and before long you might find yourself shooting hoops just for the heck of it. Why, you could even learn the basics of Peter Drucker's leadership and management philosophy; just check out Moshidora if you don't believe me.

Anime can also be a good enough reason to meet new people and make friends, like what some fans here did when they formed the CDOtaku community, or even strengthen the relationships you already have. Apart from our looks, my younger brother and I differ so much when it comes to personality and preferences it's like we might not be related. But we have really stupid inside jokes we still laugh about to this day – all thanks to a giant robot series titled Neon Genesis Evangelion, whose pilot protagonist, Shinji, has a propensity for turning into a gibbering buffoon whenever he encounters new terrifying monsters from outer space. And don't get me started on how terrible he is when it comes to dealing with the attractive girls in his life.

And speaking of attractive girls: I've found that whenever a girl digs anime, she really does dig it, so much so that she'll give out a cute squeal if you can show her that you know her favorite anime like the back of your hand.

I know couples who started out as complete strangers bonding over anime and Japanese culture in general. And if this is the kind of significant other you're looking for even though you're not into anime yourself, start out by faithfully following an anime series that's currently in vogue like Darling in the Franxx. Once you feel confident enough, head out to a cosplay convention near you and chat up the people there.

Shoot me an email if you manage to hit it off well with someone, but if not... well, just don't tell them I gave you the idea in the first place.


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