With its flashy animation style and dramatic storylines, anime has remained a much-beloved genre in the creative industry. From a wholesome, child-friendly film like Totoro, to a grim and intense series like Attack on Titan, every conceivable niche exists for those who wish to find it – which is both a blessing, and a curse. Heck, even Make it Pop have dipped our toes into anime-based risk-taking, with our manga on Creative Confidence. Of course, there is a crucial question you may find yourself asking now – how is this relevant to improving my creative mindset?
Surprising as it may be, there’s a whole host of ways that Japan’s animated wonders can kickstart your creative mindset. Finding inspiration in unlikely places is a trick used by some of the UK’s top artists – so it’s more than worth setting up a series of Digimon and seeing what all the fuss is about.
#1 – Loveable heroes
Ask any fan about their favourite anime, and it is almost certain to become a ramble about one specific character. Indeed, even academics have used anime to learn about how to best create a beloved character. Google any popular characters name, and you’ll find an endless supply of art and stories, created by passionate fans (as well as some really, really weird stuff, too). Being able to create even a hundredth of that kind of support for your own projects would guarantee almost lifetime support – so it’s a premium trait to add to that good ol’ creative mindset.
Put the spandex costume aside though, because creating a positive bond with clients and potential customers isn’t just about looks. The traits that these heroes possess – infinite kindness, empathy, a need to help others – are all the things your target market wants to see in you. Now, this isn’t to say that you should pretend to be someone you’re not – nobody likes a catfish – but rather to make sure to highlight good qualities you (and your project) have.
#2 -Expecting the Unexpected
Narratives – much like projects – tend to continue as expected in the majority of television shows. Sure, maybe there’s a plot twist here and there to jazz it up, but the plot stays largely the same.
In anime, however, the plots run more like Fight Club – in that there’s not really any rules on plot progression. It’s not unusual for the plot to entirely change halfway through a season. Anime shows will kill their main character with the casual air of someone ordering a sandwich, and it’s admirable. Not the murder, of course – but the seemingly endless desire for complete innovation that drives many of these shows.
#3 -Risk Taking
These unexpected twists teach us another vital ability for any creative skillset; risk-taking. The production team don’t know how fans will react to whatever wild changes they’ve made – they just do it. They must spend the day of release driving themselves insane wondering what viewers are thinking – but it doesn’t stop them. In fact, if you look through lists of the most popular anime, it’s guaranteed 99% of them will be these absolutely insane concepts.
This doesn’t mean you have to add cyborg ninja aliens in every time you feel your work is getting stale. But remembering that watering down your ideas to avoid potential criticism isn’t always worth it is universally useful advice.
#4 – Hype
If you’ve seen any hilariously overdramatic pre-fight scenes, you’ve stumbled upon the golden skill of anime: building hype.
Be it the nervous drama of not knowing a criminal’s identity, or the build-up to a big battle – an anime’s bread and butter is making its audience feel that drama, and getting them genuinely excited for what comes next.
Knowing what creates this excitement is an invaluable skill, given generating interest is key to sustaining a creative project.
#5- A Sense of Wonder
The last four points have been pretty intense, so let’s slow that rollercoaster for a minute. While taking risks and drawing hype are important lessons we can learn from anime, there is one far simpler one.
Take away all the variations in anime, and there’s one key thing that joins all of these shows; the sense of wonder they build. Okay, so sometimes this wonder is more wondering how humans could create something so nightmarish – something horror anime thrives off – but it’s a sense of wonder, nonetheless. Through picturesque fantasy lands, superhuman feats, and general wow-factor shenanigans, drawing out a sense of childlike wonder is where anime really thrives. It’s where you should thrive, too – as, when all the other features are removed, that genuine wow-factor is also found in just about every successful creative campaign.
So grab some popcorn, get cozy, and marathon some Dragonball – it’s for your personal betterment, after all.