Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Junior Contributor II
Existentialism in Shounen Anime and Manga
Existentialism is often seen as a depressing philosophy, but I ultimately see it as a hopeful response to absurdity–a struggle for meaning and maybe a better life, whatever shape that may take. On that line of thought, popular shounen series with their various "never give up!" themes and questioning of humanity, morality, religion, and so on, seem to fit right into it. Naruto in particular reads like a bonafide Kierkegaardian Knight of Faith.
Does shounen anime/manga seem existentialist? If so, what kind of specific existentialist themes are in play? Does this help readers coming of age prepare for life by giving them a taste of having to figure things out in the face of adversity (and absurdity)? Or does it exceed itself and become naivety?
More broadly, what’s the relationship between philosophy and fiction? Does fiction “play out” the ideas of philosophy, or does it create its own philosophical ideas?
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