How Anime Helps Overcome Anxiety and Mental Illness
It’s no secret that depression and mental illness sucks. Everyone has a different tolerance for these issues. Some people can get up, go to school or work, interact with others, and do other regular activities without a lot of stress. However, for some people, these “simple” activities can be overwhelming. I can’t even describe exactly how hard it is for me to even get out of bed most days.
I’m a little too introverted for my own good. Every day is a battle between my emotional, mental and physical health. I always have to work at even getting out of bed. After being on medication, I also discovered and was diagnosed with agoraphobia. Even leaving my room gives me anxiety. I scurry like a field mouse to the bathroom and the fridge. My night-side table is stocked with drinks and food so I can stay longer in my safe haven.
Discovering anime didn’t give me a magical light bulb moment of self-awareness, but it did help loosen walls I’d spent years constructing around my depression. What I saw in anime, was a world with paper-thin boundaries between realism and hyperbole. It was a reality I understood.
One example I’ll be using is Owari no Seraph or Seraph of the End. While watching it, I was memorized by one of the main protagonist, Yuu, and a conversation he had with another character Guren.
Seraph of the End Comparison to Anxiety Help
If you haven’t heard of Seraph of the End, I HIGHLY recommend it! Basically, in 2012, the world allegedly comes to an end at the hands of a “human-made” virus, ravaging the global populace and leaving only children under the age of thirteen untouched. (SOURCE) It is at this time that vampires emerge from the recesses of the earth, likely followed by age-old horrors of the dark thought only to be a myth. The vampires sweep the earth and claim it in a single violent stroke, subjugating the remnants of humanity and leading them beneath the surface to safety. This “protection” comes at the price of donating blood to their captors.
At the age of twelve, Yūichirō (Yu)and his friend and fellow orphan Mikaela plotted to escape along with the children in Hyakuya Orphanage. However, this resulted in their deaths and Mikaela sacrifices himself in order for Yu to escape and be saved by members of the Moon Demon Company, an extermination unit of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. Four years later, Yu dedicates his life to destroy vampires and seek revenge against them for murdering his “family.” At the same time, it is revealed that Mikaela is still alive and is a vampire that Yu has sworn to exterminate.
“In a forsaken world such as ours, there’s hardly a person left who hasn’t lost a loved one.” – Shinoa Hiiragi
But throughout the series, you can see what Yu is dealing with. He obviously(in my mind) has depression and PTSD. He’s dealing with a ton of mental illness. At the end of Chapter 9 of the bonus chapter in the manga(Vampire Reign), we have a scene between Yu and Guren that had me re-watching over and over again. It also sealed the fact that I was in love and obsessed with this fandom.
There is a flashback as Yu recalls the slaughtering of his family. Later, Yu wakes up in a room in an apartment complex. Guren is reading a book while sitting at his bedside.
Yu yells at Guren for getting in the way of his revenge and then ignoring him. Guren tells him he is loud and says he does not understand dumb-kid-speak.
Yu shouts that he is a strong warrior now and is doing 10,000 practice swings with his sword every day. He demands that Guren gives him a real weapon, but Guren refuses until Yu is strong enough. He says that anyone who is so dumb that all he can think about is his own personal grudge all day will not be able to protect anyone. Guren then says that being strong is not just about being good with a weapon. He says Yu needs something he wants to protect, such as friends, comrades, or family. Otherwise, Yu will be a weakling forever.
Yu says that he does not have any of those anymore and that anybody he even starts to like dies.
What Happens Next?
When Yu starts crying, Guren asks if he is going to cry and look pitiful just because he did not get his way. Guren calls him a child. Yu quickly wipes his tears and says he is not crying.
Yu says that Guren told him to just think about revenge if he could not find a reason to keep going, and he asks why Guren will not give him the weapons to do that. Guren tells him to quit looking to him for free handouts and says he is not Yu’s papa. Guren leaves.
The following morning, Guren says Yu can do it if he actually tries. Guren says Yu decided to save someone rather than try to get revenge. Guren says that, unlike him, Yu is still nice. No matter how hard he tries, he will be unable to live only for revenge.
Three years later, Yu meets up with the rest of Shinoa Squad in a ruined city and head off to exterminate some vampires. (SOURCE)
OVERCOMING Mental Illness Issues
Anime gives depression the visual to mirror the destruction it can cause in real life. I create new worlds every day to make sense of my depression, and by doing this(fanfiction) it relaxes me and lets me take out my fears on paper instead. As with Yu in Seraph of the End, I also have made great strides in overcoming my fears and anxiety throughout my reality. I related to Yu, especially during that scene with Guren.
I’ll admit though, at first I really didn’t like Guren but now I see him as more of a father figure for Yu. He grew on me. Though I still don’t like Ferid. He’s fabulous but he needs to stop hurting my babies.
These practices, over time, have become invaluable in my fight against sadness and fear. Since first watching I’ve discovered many other anime that portray or describe depression in a similar way. I’m better than I used to be — not necessarily because I’m happier, but because I’ve had the chance to recognize what my depression looks like and what it can do to my world. And each time I find a new anime that similarly depicts depression or any type of mental illness, it’s a bit like a mini therapy session.
No matter what, we CAN kick depression and mental illness in the face!
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