Recently, I was pulled up by a “fictional” person on Twitter for a reference to escapism in Amagami SS. More specifically, I called it “the sad, sad escapism that is Amagami.” Predictably this led into a debate that really went nowhere mainly because of my own time restrictions and the fact that I was in two minds about escapism in general. However, there were a few interesting things that came out of all of this.
The word escapism when tied to anime had about the meaning I expected when I asked a couple of fans on Twitter. Aria, Mushishi and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex came up mostly for reasons of music, characters and atmosphere. Without revisiting the slice-of-life debate from last week on the blogs, it is interesting to see fantastic world creation as a centerpiece of an escapism definition as much as it would for a description of the supposed genre.
In the initial debate, we agreed that almost all forms of entertainment can be considered escapism. Watching anime, attending sporting events or simply sitting outside can all be forms of escapism depending on the original context. Escapism is generally not a bad thing in my opinion, since it makes society what it is today.
The question was raised about my wording of Amagami SS as an escape versus any other form. One of the reasons I referred to it as sad has to do with the structure of the series. The protagonist, Tachibana Junichi, develops relationships with six different girls in six different stories in which he always ends up with the girl and there is no danger of a bad ending. At first, it was an initial reaction to those who would try to use this as an escape, but then I was thinking I was using it as an escape at the same time.
As was highlighted in my mid-episode thoughts and comments in the most recent Legend of the Galactic Heroes post, relationships aren’t exactly an area of expertise for me. So a character with little personality suddenly having improbable success over and over again, does certainly have its appeal as an escape. However, the fact I am writing this post shows that it has limited utility for me.
There are other anime-related escapes that do provide that, though. Giant Killing’s story of a football team fighting against the odds in the top division of the Japanese league provides the excitement I don’t have from watching the team I support finish mid-table every season while never challenging for promotion (though off to an unexpectedly good start this season). Blog posts on Highschool of the Dead show an interesting contradiction between intellectual debate and screencaps that constantly fight for attention, though I haven’t watched any of it. Legend of the Galactic Heroes has its own fantastic world creation complete with story going back to the present time, though I doubt the many dystopian aspects of society in the series would be seen as escapism for many.
So now a few questions for anyone who stumbles across this post. Do you see anime or any other form of entertainment as a form of escapism? If so, do you have any particular favorites? Can the way something is watched actually be harmful if it is used as an escape?