Many people think that watching anime is a waste of time, but those people are wrong. That's just an objective fact. Also, they're probably jerks who hate kittens and sunshine. If you’re a die-hard fan or even a casual consumer, however, you know that there are plenty of things anime can teach us. From long-running shonen classics like Naruto that teach you everything you need to know about friendship, to unclassifiable masterpieces like Mushi-shi that ask us to consider the natural world, anime can not only entertain, but also teach us valuable lessons.
Anime won’t teach you everything you need to know, of course—for that, you’ll have to read the manga. Hey, no one ever said learning was easy.
- Photo: TMS/8PAN, TV Tokyo
In Yowamushi Pedal, Onoda Sakamichi is a first-year high school student who wants nothing more than to make friends. He thinks he can do this by finding people who share his predilection for anime, but when he can’t find anyone to help start up an anime club, that gambit fails.
Luckily, he’s noticed by the Sohoku bike team. Despite his reluctance to participate in sports, he gives it a shot. He finds out that not only does he love cycling, but he can get along with a much wider range of people than he ever thought he could. He even manages to forge a bond with his abrasive lizard-like opponent, Midousuji Akira.So be like Onoda, guys—try something you didn’t think you’d like. You never know, it could be awesome.
- Photo: J.C.Staff, TV Tokyo
Toradora! seems like your typical high school romance—cute-but-vicious Aisaka Taiga and tough-but-kind Takasu Ryuuji try to help each other win over their crushes, and fall in love with each other in the process. How novel. Despite the typical rom-com set-up, this anime has a lot to teach us about becoming an adult.
Toward the end of the series, the new couple boards a train, intending to run away together and elope. At first, it just seems like anime ignoring reality as it often does, but as the scene develops, we get to see the high school students making a rational decision. Taiga and Ryuuji mutually decide that running away is a terrible idea. Why? They’re still in high school, and they have no idea how to take care of themselves. The people in The Graduate couldn't figure that out, and they were supposed to be adults. Way to go, Western media.
Later, the two return home, and while they still want to get married, Taiga ultimately decides to leave in order to improve herself and pursue her education more seriously. It's implied that the two will take their time with their relationship, and prioritize becoming successful adults before committing. That's... that's some real mature sh*t coming from a couple of high schoolers.
- Photo: Artland, Aniplex
Mushi-shi follows Ginko, whose profession is in the title. Mushi-shis research and solve problems involving mushi, which are the most basic forms of life in the world. They can create traveling rainbows or blinding children. They can be more complex than human beings, or as simple as bacteria. In short, they're very versatile.In every encounter with mushi, Ginko approaches them with respect and caution. He knows that they have power beyond what he understands, so he comes prepared. This is a great template for how humans should approach the natural world, or really anything too complicated and grand for us to understand.
- Photo: 4Kids Entertainment, Gallop
Most of Yu-Gi-Oh will teach you the exact opposite of this lesson, but that’s part of what makes the GX series special. Our hero Yuki Judai is holding onto a key that his opponent, Takuma Saiou, needs to activate a satellite. Defying all logic previously established by the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise, Saiou takes the key without dueling for it.Judai asks for a duel anyway, but Saiou refuses, claiming that it’s a waste of time because he already has what he wants. While he ends up losing the key and being forced to duel anyway (because trading card sales), it still sends the message that you don’t have to fight when you’ve already won. Just, you know, also try not to be a villain that wants to do sinister things with satellites.