Never give up! Do your best! You can do it!

Anime and optimism

I used to watch a ton of anime as a kid, and only started watching more of it again because of the whole work from home situation. Almost every night, my boyfriend and I will plop ourselves in front of our TV, open up one of multiple streaming apps, and choose a movie or show to watch together.

Currently, we’re watching Demon Slayer (for me, it’s a re-watch). It’s a story about a kind, young boy whose family was tragically massacred by a powerful demon, and his quest to turn his surviving younger sister back into a human.

As we binged through the first season, I couldn’t help wondering what my boyfriend, who didn’t grow up watching a lot of anime, thought of the show. I imagined it seemed comically over-the-top with its flashy animations and wildly dramatic characters, unnecessarily expositional (characters constantly explained what they were doing as they were doing it), and maybe even cringey with how intensely heartfelt some scenes and accompanying music were.

I was a little embarrassed for the show thinking of it that way, but we kept watching it. And as the main character gave an emotional speech about never giving up and doing his best and believing in his friends for the thousandth time, my critical adult mind made way for an important realization: I owed a lot of my optimism and idealism to anime like this one.

Hearing messages like that over and over again as a kid, I learned to prioritize possibility, hope, and humor even on my worst days. Moving forward and prevailing was always a given and not merely an option for me. I cherished my friendships. I constantly leaned toward sympathy for others. And no matter how beaten I felt, there was always something bright and undying within me, planted long ago, gently telling me not to give up.

In a world often desensitized to hardships and tragedies, being over-the-top, heartfelt, and idealistic is like slaying those scary, powerful, and overwhelming demons. And whenever I’ve met people with such unbreakable spirits—and in this case, a fictional one in an anime—it reminds me to keep that precious spark alive in myself.