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    Latest Topics


    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?

    • Interesting topic. Shonen is all about existentialism. In any Shonen anime, especially those like Bleach, Naruto and Fairy Tail, willpower goes a long way. Whoever has higher will has higher power. – SpectreWriter 8 years ago
    • This is a really cool topic -- if I knew more about existentialism I would write it. I think it's important to take into account Japanese philosophy and culture and how that affects the writers of shonen manga and anime. – Chris 8 years ago
    • I would love to read this article!!! – Abie Dee 4 years ago

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    Latest Comments


    Great piece! I was definitely one of those fans who was disappointed by the lack of closure at the ending, especially for a series that ran as long as it did. The epilogue similarly baffles me. I loved this line from one critic (shinosays @ tumblr) wrote a great analysis of the end: “[It’s] like meeting someone as an adult that you saw when they were in elementary school. They were a cute kid then, but now they’re a burnt out meth-head and all you can say is “what happened to you?””

    Naruto: The Unresolved Revolution

    Great post! I’m very new to the world of (Western) comics as I’d only ever read manga before, which are relatively straightfoward. Suddenly there were so many different universesn runs, people working on them, not to mention retcons and I felt so overwhelmed. I’ve been trying to cope by following certain characters I like, in addition to recs and explanatory posts like these!

    A Guide to Reading Comics: Where to Start?

    Great article. Fanfiction (and its writers) really get the short end of the stick when it comes to literary credibility. As an English major myself, some of the most intense, perspective-shifting works I’ve read have been fanfiction–which is always hard to explain to people because they never take it seriously. There’s great power in people coming together and writing simply out of a great love of doing so, and being able to challenge mainstream narratives (ie. heteronormative rom coms) while they’re at it.

    Fanficton: A Practice in the Art of Storytelling

    This article is just brilliant. I’d read the 1818 ed. of Frankenstein many years after the compulsory high school reading of the 1831 ed. and have noticed how, as you say, these could very well be two different books, especially with regards to themes and moral economy. But I’d never in all this time known that the 1818 one was written by Percy Shelley!

    The Monsters We Marry—The Weight of Percy Shelley On His Wife, Mary

    I knew of Pottermore and was briefly a part of it, but never got into it too much. This is a very interesting timeline of its evolution (the part about the numbers/censorship is just fascinating in particular), and I’m sad to hear that the magic of it is gone. Here’s hoping that the powers that be notice the drastic fall in participation and make some changes.

    The Lost Civilization of Pottermore

    I’m with you on that makeup is an art form, and that’s honestly something that seems to hard to explain to my guy friends (especially when I’m running late, haha). I think what’s important when it comes down to it is that women have the choice whether they want to use it or not, rather than face all kinds of social pressures to be visually perfect. That’s the worst part, that it’s not entirely my choice to wear makeup–for example, people are nicer to you and view you as more professional if you wear it.

    The Feminist Makeup Culture: Reconsidering Cosmetics

    This is a great article! There’s definitely something special about SOL series that aren’t strictly bound by realism. Like hey, you may be God or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you don’t live day-to-day like everyone else!

    But I do find sometimes when series are too idyllic it feels painful for me, who has to return to my own troubles afterward.

    Slice of Life Anime: Insane Sanity

    I’d always wondered at the origins of OVAs as a form (and why it was so separate from, say, series pilot episodes or the like). This is a fascinating timeline!

    A Look at the 1980's Anime OVA Legacy