How Anime Showed Me That Anger Is Valid, Necessary, And Really Cool


spoilers for Promare, Jujutsu Kaisen (anime), My Hero Academia (anime), Y Revolutionary Girl Utena (anime and movie)/

One of the (many) things I love about anime is its creative use of animation when telling a story, especially when it comes to illustrating how characters feel in certain situations. Sure, you can make the characters blush to show that they’re in love, but you can also fill the space with various colors and shapes to make the point. Being scared to the point of tears can unleash a superpower, feeling like an outcast can cause characters to drown in darkness, and wanting to experience more of life can send someone calmly swimming through the sky.

One of my favorite emotions to watch anime tackle is anger. As a black woman, anger is an emotion that I am told to stay away from. When I inevitably get upset about something, they accuse me of being just another angry black woman before I try to see WHY I’m so pissed off. Anger is seen as something negative instead of being seen as a valid emotion that deserves to be addressed.

That’s why I appreciate the way anime handles anger. Not only are characters allowed to trigger each other, but in many cases, anger is seen as a tool, a kind of trigger to get stronger and get things done. If a character’s anger leads them to be hurt, or even hurt others, they are encouraged to learn how channel instead of ignoring it completely.

The anime was one of the first times I saw anger validated. At times, it was even seen as a necessity, as something to embrace rather than be afraid of. The characters would feed off their anger and go on to do great things to save the world, and would be thanked for their efforts.

Super Saiyan 2 Gohan in Dragon Ball Z's Cell Saga.

Also? She always looks so fucking cool.

Anger is powerful, especially when it reaches the breaking point.

Lio pushed to the limit at Promare
(Toho Animation)

The embodiment of the phrase “Aren’t you tired of being nice? Don’t you want to go crazy? it’s when a character has tried absolutely everything to figure things out, he’s backed into a corner and completely loses his mind after being pushed too far. Usually this is someone who has been wronged in some way, shape or form. Maybe they were completely misunderstood, or maybe they had to watch the villain hurt (or kill) someone close to them.

In the case of by Promar Lio Fotia, he, and his burnished companions have been painted as the bad guys, but in reality, the real villain of the story is abusing his power. Since they are so closely tied to his power, the actual villain is essentially killing them. Even worse? The villain is hailed as a hero throughout the city. Eventually, Lio reaches a breaking point where he gets so angry that he bursts out of a volcano and turns into a dragon.

The animation is amazing. The music is fantastic. And seeing him explode after being abused is quite cathartic. It has become my favorite scene to watch when I feel like I can’t do anything about my frustrations because at least I get to listen to a great song and watch an anime character have a moment as epic as the dragon. FLASH to push an enemy away. Literally. His eyelid snaps shut to ward off an enemy.

Use your anger to make people regret doubting you

Maki fighting in Jujutsu Kaisen ep 17

jujutsu kaisen It’s full of awesome characters and amazing visuals to support your fight scenes. Maki Zenin here is an absolutely petty queen whose entire family has written her off. It’s easy to see that she is an extremely capable fighter, but since she lacks any kind of power like other magi do, she is avoided by her family and considered “low rank” when she accesses everyone’s abilities at Jujutsu High School. .

So? She decides to prove everyone wrong by becoming the best Jujutsu sorceress anyway. All of her fight scenes are a sight to behold. She is an absolute beast in battle and holds her own against some pretty devastating circumstances (especially in the manga). She is not only justified in her grudge against her family, but delights in showing them how wrong they are with her. I want to be this level of petty when she grows up.

Sometimes you have to fight to process your feelings

Deku and Bakugo fight in My Hero Academia

Arguably the whole purpose of anime rival battles, every once in a while, two characters have to punch each other in the face to resolve all the pent up feelings they’ve been holding back. In the case of from my hero academia Deku and Bakugo, this confrontation was so necessary that even All Might himself allowed it.

After dealing with the guilt of All Might’s retirement, Bakugo must process his feelings on his own. He blames himself because All Might fought so hard to save him from the League of Villains, but no one really checks in to see how Bakugo is handling him. Deku isn’t the only one who admired All Might since childhood, but due to Bakugo’s wild wild child behavior, not many people think of controlling him.

These feelings were combined with many other emotions that have been festering since the second episode of the series. Bakugo has always been seen as the “strong” kid. He talks a lot, but thought he HAD to since he was constantly gassed in situations he shouldn’t have been in (note: if a kid is taken hostage, he should probably ask if he’s okay instead of clapping his hands). bravery of him). Even his own mother comments on this.

Bakugo has a total meltdown in front of Deku, then the two of them fight so he can let all that shit go. He’s done a LOT of good for her in the series (especially the manga), and even though he’s still an angry Pom, he has a lot more clarity than he did in the beginning.

You absolutely should fight for something better for you.

Anthy finally leaves in Revolutionary Girl Utena
(JC Staff)

Something anime fans point out every time someone says the medium doesn’t tell stories about fighting for a better tomorrow is the fact that, uh, anime ABSOLUTELY tells stories about fighting for a better tomorrow. Not just figuratively, the characters get fired up and have battles destroying the entire earth for the sake of a better future. This may be for the good of the entire universe, or it may be a moment when someone finally decides to stand up for themselves and fight for something that I might be uncertain, but it HAS to be better than your current circumstances.

Take Revolutionary Girl of Utena Anthy Himemiya, someone who spends much of her screen time being used by everyone around her, including her own brother. While the series ends in a way that shows her walking away, the movie takes it up a notch with a lot of wild symbolism, like Utena transforming into a car so Anthy can grab the key and drive off.

This isn’t a fight in the traditional sense, but Anthy gets to this point and it feels great. His SHOUTING actually feels really good. And seeing her break her brother’s hold in a flurry of rose petals (again, symbolism) feels really good.

Anger can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful.

Megumi REAL fight

Of course, anime has its moments where anger is seen as too destructive to deal with. That doesn’t mean it’s not treated as useful, it just means the character has to learn to channel it.

jujutsu kaisen Megumi holds back a lot, but everyone around him sees his potential (including the King of Curses himself, Sukuna, who decides that Megumi is the only person worth having). When Megumi has moments where she finally leaves, it’s easy to see why she always hesitates. Her power is incredible, but you can see the signs of danger waving everywhere every time she releases it. real. However, instead of being encouraged NOT to do things, characters like Megumi are encouraged to figure out HOW to do things in a way that doesn’t hurt themselves or others around them.

Basically the moment Megumi and characters like her figure out how to use that buildup of anger properly. It’s over.

Shoto Todoroki putting out some flames in My Hero Academia.

(featured image: Crunchyroll/HBO Max)

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