Tag Archives: Politics

Anime and the Environment

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


You ever just think about how are existence on this planet is becoming increasingly fragile and that human activity is largely contributing to our own demise? Yeah, me too. The amount of immediate world issues that are important tend to overshadow environmental policy, even during a time when these issues are too crucial to ignore. Luckily, the lineage of great anime directors seem to understand their importance. In my column for this week, I touch on Anime’s environmental messages. Enjoy!

If the quarantine regarding COVID-19 has revealed anything, it is that human impact on the environment is still at an all-time high. The empty roads, the parks littered with trash and gas stations are all a reminder that humans have, for the better but mostly for the worse, altered the planet to suit our needs, causing pollution and the rise of man-made climate change. 

While its oftentimes quirky and abundantly random nature may make it an odd choice for messages about the environment, directors like Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai have already used anime as a way to warn people about the importance of environmental awareness.

Miyazaki’s work on this topic goes back to his earliest films working as a director. In “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” Nausicaa attempts to learn the secrets of an ancient forest that has been attempting to communicate with her. However, she has to do so before the kingdom of Tolmekia succeeds in wiping it out for good. The film subtly represents the idea that humans are not above nature, but rather a part of it.

A similar concept appears in Ghibli and Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke,” where a young prince named Ashitaka must find a cure for a disease given to him by a demon. After journeying to a place called Irontown, he finds out that the mining and crafting of iron products have polluted the nearby area and made the spirits of the surrounding forest angry. Again the film shows a conflict between humans who wish to alter the environment for selfish gain and nature itself. 

Rising star and director of the 2016 hit film “Your Name” has also contributed to environmental consciousness. His latest film “Weathering with You” features a story about a girl named Hina who gains the power to control the weather. However, after using her powers in order to make money, she is forced to join the sky with the weather spirits, although not before being rescued by Hodoka, a boy who recently moved to Tokyo. 


As a result of not paying the price for her powers, Tokyo becomes cursed with constant rain, leaving much of the city underwater. These depictions of a new dystopian world reflect the director’s concern for climate change, not just as a threat to nature but as a threat to human existence. 

However, these depictions of human impact on the environment in anime are not surprising given the cultural context of Japan. Ever since Japan’s emergence as a world leader on environmental policy in the late 1980s, its government has continued to emphasize reducing citizen impact on the environment.

Much of this has been done by introducing recycling in major metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo, as well as across the country. Japan has also asked private businesses to consider the environmental impact of their day-to-day operations. They have even gone as far as to introduce a number of voluntary programs and campaigns encouraging citizens to participate.

While it is true that younger people are increasingly skeptical of the government’s efforts, many in Japan are of the opinion that environmental regulations should be stronger, not weaker. 

It seems common knowledge at this point, but the media people consume can affect their positions on political issues. Even though environmental issues can seem far removed from people’s everyday lives, they are an ever-looming presence that is inescapable. Both Miyazaki’s and Shinkai’s films are not only great entertainment but emphasize one of the defining issues of this generation.   

How do you all feel about these issues? Are you fans of Ghibli and Shinkai? Let me know in the comments below.

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Everything is Politics, Including Anime, and What That Should Mean

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

The phrase “Everything is political” has gone from an obscure term which originated in the late 1960s to something of a rallying cry for those who consider themselves to be on the left. The phrase has especially picked up a lot of value in recent years, as we have arrived at a political era in which people’s identities are more and more become a source of contention, and are sometimes even leading to violence.

For those who are unaware, while its exact origins are unknown, the phrase’s creation is generally credited to Carol Hanisch, an American activist who fought for women’s issues, and in 1969 joined the Women’s Liberation Front, an organization which was considered radical by the political establishment at the time. In an essay of hers which was later retitled “, The Personal is Political,” Hanisch describes her journey at the Women’s Liberation Front and how it was difficult to get other members of the group to agree that problems such as how men treated their wives, how much money a woman makes compared to her husband, and abortion were more than just personal ones. During the period of second-wave feminism, Hanisch and others like her managed to start a whole new conversation about what exactly was worth getting involved over.

Fast forward to today and, while many of the problems that second-wave feminists dealt with in their time have largely been solved, it seems like a large number of new problems have come to take their place. Rape on college campuses has become increasingly common, Revenge Porn, while having been dealt with by a few places on the state level, still goes largely unpunished, Sexual Harassment is still a problem in many workplaces, including in Hollywood and at large media corporations, as demonstrated by #Metoo, and while men are still more likely to commit suicide then women, the rate among women has increased about 50 percent over the past two decades. Now, I am three paragraphs into this article already and haven’t mentioned any Chinese cartoons yet so you might be wondering: What does any of this have to do with anime?

Well, a lot actually. In his TEDx talk titled, “Everything we do and don’t do is political,” Zachary Baiel stresses the importance of community involvement by using his own community of Lafayette, Indiana as an example. He further goes on to point out how many changes in his community only happened when people decided to get involved, like how a local biking group managed to get actual legislation passed on the city level by getting signatures for a petition and then getting it to their city council representative. Michael Toland put it well in his piece titled “Everything is Political” When he said “If your someone who takes the time to volunteer, you’re most likely volunteering with an organization with which your values align… Each of these decisions affects our communities, working to improve them.” Now, we may not gather together every month to meet with our local representative or hang out at the local library, but anime is a community.

Of course, everyone in the community watches anime, but we also converse online through various forums and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. Some of us write for blogs, make YouTube videos, and work in journalism related to the community. Sometimes we even take a break from our screens to go out into the real world and enjoy the many wonders that wait at anime conventions. There are so many ways in which people enjoy being a part of this wonderful little slice of the world that we as fans have carved out for ourselves, many even that I did not mention.

It is also important to recognize that our community is a diverse one. There are anime fans all around the globe of many different races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and genders. Every possible flavor of human being has been joined together by a strange addiction to Japanese animation, to anime. And it is not just the community itself that is diverse. Anime, for being more or less its own medium within animation, has many varying genres and subgenres for fans to explore. Wanna watch a show about giant robots? We have that. A dramatic romance? Got that too. A Slice of Life Comedy? Anime has you covered. Each of these diverse genres can also encompass a wide-ranging set of ideas on many topics, from big inherently political shows like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and its exploration of military dictatorships to the much more subtle politics of shows like Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai which is often underlined by a mental health epidemic. The reality is that all anime is going to have an political message because there are many aspects of life that we don’t often consider that are also political.

Take just the place where you live as an example. If you have a house, that means you probably got a loan in order to pay for it. The interest rate you got on that loan is directly affected by your country’s monetary policy. The electrical work, plumbing, and material used to build the house are all affected by regulations to ensure that it is safe. If you have an apartment, the rent you are charged and the cost of your utilities are affected by any rent controls that are passed by the local government. Also, the quality of your drinking water is also affected largely by your cities regulation. As much as we might not like it to be, everything is politics.

However, this does not mean that everything has to be viewed as politics. Sure, every show will have them, but that does not mean that you are required to engage in a shows politics if you enjoy it for other reasons. Even a show as universally enjoyed as Naruto has politics that explore the responsibility one has to their community, but even I have to admit that most of the time I am just there for the action.

What I am advocating for is not a constant political debate, but rather that we engage our entertainment critically, and ask ourselves why it is we enjoy certain shows. I am not even asking people to change their political viewpoints, necessarily. It is important, however, to recognize certain brands of reactionary politics that seek to make other people feel bad about their identity because those who engage in said reactionary politics feel like their own is somehow under attack. As a community, we should be united in making sure that everyone feels welcomed so that we can all get together in watching anime and solving the real problems, like why Crunchyroll is really bad at picking nominees for the Anime Awards.

Its been a while since I’ve written something on the longer side, and this was something that I personally felt like I needed to write. Just want to add, I know the Anituber Zeria did a video with a very similar topic, but I didn’t find out about it until after I finished writing this, so apologies about that. You can watch their video here.

So, here’s a question that I would love to here an answer to: What do you guys think, if anything, should change about the anime community? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you would like to support The Aniwriter or are just feeling generous, consider donating on Ko-fi or using one of my affiliate link to buy stuff:

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!