Before listening to the NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I had no idea that “cultural rut” was a thing. Like the radio station discusses, people get comfortable with what they know and do it for the familiarity. (NPR 2014)One of the radio’s hosts discusses that she feels like she has never broken out a music rut, which I can relate to in some level. Over the years I feel like we develop a persona of liking certain things and we end up just sticking to them. When it comes to TV shows and movies, I am not one for taking risks. I need a lot of convincing in order to watch something new because I see it as an investment of my time. While on the other very ironic hand, I keep watching over and over shows that I have already seen. I think as a culture we don’t like to venture off into the unknown in terms of our popular culture preferences because they help identify who we are. If we do try and like new things, it in effect changes us a bit.
The piece of popular culture that I chose to focus on was anime, more specific, the show Blue Exorcist. I accessed it through Netflix, which has had a wide range of anime. Initially the reason that I had chosen anime was because one of my roommates is really into it and was able to give me recommendations on what to watch. As I thought about it more, I had never seen any anime shows. I knew what it was and that they were mainly an Asian form of cartoon, but it never appealed to me. I don’t like to stray too much from my viewing habits and often need a lot of convincing when it comes to new shows. I thought this assignment was the perfect opportunity to expand my horizons and watch anime for the first time.
I came into experiencing this anime with a positive attitude. When I normally think of anime I assume a lot of intense action scenes and dialogue. I overall enjoyed my first experience of watching this anime. While I do enjoy animated shows such as Adventure Time and Steven Universe, I don’t think that anime is exactly my thing. I did like the plot of this specific show, however there where things that I did not enjoy so much. One of the big things was the language barrier, since it is in Japanese, you have to read the subtitles. This means that you have to be watching the TV with little to no distractions in fear of missing something important. Also one of the big details is that in this style of animation sometimes there is no movement or just panning, which I don’t particularly enjoy. I can see the appeal of it and why so many people watch anime. Most anime follows a hero’s journey and a call to action which engages the audience.
Anime is very intricate in the sense that every episode can be very plot heavy and there is a lot of attention to detail. One of the more notable things that I got from this is that although Blue Exorcist displays a good amount of violence and graphic (some blood and gore) there is still a message being sent out about the values of the culture. In one of the three episodes that I watched, Rin, the main character, gets in a fight with his adoptive father. They have a falling out but the love of a father prevails and shows that a father will always be there for his children, even if not by blood. That is something that you don’t see very often in our Western cartoons. Respect is a big thing in the Asian culture, which the anime Blue Exorcist shows. While the show portrays a character struggling with self-doubt and finding one self, it also allows for the viewer to reflect on it. Many of the Western cartoons, such as Adventure Time focus more on adventure and being a good person over having deeper connections. The average demographic for anime is early teens to mid 20s, which means its something for young people to do. Not many college aged people watch cartoons. Manga is more of an art form than just a simple cartoon, as many times it stems from manga.
Thompson, S. (2014, September 5). Pop Culture Happy Hour: Repurposing ‘The Simpsons’ And Busting Out Of A Rut [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2014/09/05/346055621/pop-culture-happy-hour-repurposing-the-simpsons-and-busting-out-of-a-rut