This blog entry is going to be a little different than my usual entries.
Last blog entry I discussed the differences between being inspired and being motivated.
In it, I mentioned that I’m inspired by those who struggle and work hard to achieve something great. There are a lot of inspirational events I’ve seen that illustrate this.
Whether it’s my fellow gym member who went to every single back-flips class for 3 years to master the move or the truck driver who spent any free time he had learning how to program in hopes of getting a better job. All of these stories show a high level of passion and continuous hardship to achieve their goals.
These inspirational stories do not extend strictly to non-fictional people either. Sometimes it’s just as good to be inspired by a fictional story as well, and it’s no secret that I enjoy anime.
So I compiled my top 5 anime series that inspire me to push myself harder towards my goals. Whenever I’m looking for ways to keep on pushing I can find myself looking back at any of these series to keep going.
#5 Silver Spoon
Silver spoon is the light hearted tale about the young high school student, Yugo, who found himself in the unusual Oozero School of Agriculture. After failing the entrance exams to his chosen school, Yugo decides to go to what he expects to be a much easier school. However, with waking up at 5:00 A.M. and spending 14 hours a day on school, required extracurricular activities, and other work, Yugo finds that this school is anything but easy.
One of the most admirable concepts of this anime is how it touches base on a number of life’s problems many of us have felt before. Our character, Yugo, is thrown into unfamiliar territory. In the first episode, we find that his classmates all hail from an agricultural background with each student already set on where they want to be once they graduate. Yugo, on the other hand, doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life.
For most of the series, Yugo is simply focused at being the best at what he can do and works his way to the top of the class. Although, this does not come without difficulty. While Yugo is able to master the core subjects, he struggles with very fundamental concepts about agriculture, something his classmates are able to do with ease.
One of the most evident examples that show the differences between him and his classmates level of expertise is in episode one. After getting back his exam results, Yugo prided himself for acing a test in admiration of his classmates. This pride is soon crushed when he listens to his classmates discuss animal cloning. His classmates, whom most of which failed the exam, carry on an entire conversation about college-level molecular biology that completely goes over his head.
It’s nice how quickly Yugo’s illusion is broken when he finds out that being the highest ranked student in the class does not automatically make him the smartest person. Yugo is constantly pushed out of his comfort zone in this series and, as a result, ends up growing up to be a more mature, compassionate person. He finds challenges in life where he realizes that simply putting in effort and having a dream is not always enough. In the end, it’s about coming to grips with reality in order to produce results that leads to success.
This show does well to drive its message home while keeping it comedic. Through the use of visual gags and likeable characters we’re able to get a good laugh from the series then emphasize with the down-to-earth problems the characters face. I applaud the variety of personalities each hard-working classmate has. The large diversity in characters helps us understand each person’s struggles and sympathize with them when they hit a wall in life they cannot overcome. It also drives home a valuable lesson that when a struggle becomes too difficult, sometimes it’s best to go down a different path in order to move forward.
#4 Hunter x Hunter (2011)
In the world of Hunter x Hunter, humans live in a land where mythical beasts and magical artifacts are commonality. Understandably, the most dangerous areas of the world remain restricted to humanity unless they have earned the respected title of Hunter.
Our series follows protagonist, Gon Freecess, who, upon learning his thought to be dead father is an accomplished hunter, sets off to take the hunter exam. Although the exam proves to be a huge undertaking where thousands of applicants set off to take the exam but only a handful of them pass each year.
When I first watched this series I quickly drew similarities between it and Dragon Ball. However, this Hunter x Hunter quickly establishes itself as its own thing by separating itself from similar Shonen anime tropes. Our characters, while likeable, have flaws that are not easy to over come, and has caused tragedy to those around them. Never before have I ever watched an anime series without feeling tense that there is a very real possibility these characters will not survive.
The idea of being killed so easily ends up influencing how our characters fight. Instead of solely relying on strength, our characters find they need to rely on reflexes and wit in order to win. This is a really admirable direction Hunter x Hunter takes. Our characters, although established as strong, are often pitted against enemies that vastly outclass them in terms of strength and skill. The fighter who gets the upper hand in battle is the one who thinks better on their feet. Rather than spouting an inspiration speech of getting a power up, our characters assess the situation and take risks(sometimes fatal) to outwit their opponents, just enough to either flee or land a critical blow.
While a lot of the cast are shown to be both strong and clever, these traits are not the reason Hunter x Hunter is on this list. What makes this anime truly inspiration is how gradual each character grows. Hunter x Hunter rarely introduces a strong character whose abilities stem through natural talent. These characters are shown to have endured the worst they can put their minds and bodies through to get where they are. For them, to grow their abilities a tiny bit they are shown to endure harsh training that takes a prolonged period of time.
Truly, Hunter x Hunter illustrates that in order to really progress you can’t rely on training montages, inspirational words, or pulling a new technique out of the pocket. Rather if you want to win the battle you will need to put your mind and body through hell repeatedly for a long time.
It’s no surprise this series has been critically acclaimed as one of the greatest anime series out there. Although this series was put on hiatus since 2014, the 149 episodes released so far has been smart, wild, and overall, inspiring.
#3 Hajime No Ippo
Hajime no Ippo is one of the few sports anime series I’ve watched and enjoyed. The protagonist, sharing the same name as the show, is a young high school student named Ippo. Ippo lives with his widowed mother and spend all of his free time helping support their family’s fishing business. Because he never has time to hangout with his classmates, Ippo finds himself often alone and bullied.
However, one day while he was walking home from school, a group of bullies come up to him and start beating him up. A passing jogger, later known as acclaimed boxer Takamura, sees Ippo being picked on and scares away the bullies using quick feints. Ippo is taken to Takamura’s boxing gym where he meets the gym owner, Genji. Genji teaches him how to do a basic punch and finds that Ippo has a natural talent for boxing after he sends the punching bag flying.
Ippo then starts his boxing career and trains to become one of the most talented and hard-hitting boxers over the course of several years. Throughout his journey we see Ippo push himself hard and slowly rank himself up with each victory. He also interacts with other boxers he meets along the way. Each of these boxers have their own varied skill set and talents that make their training style unique. From the gifted boxer who never loses a match, to the fighter who relies solely on technique, to the fighters who train hard but just can’t make it to the top.
This diversity helps illustrate a number of different characteristics when it comes to skill-building. The first being how everyone who wants to follow their dreams will not often start at the same place and the same level. There are some characters who are good at boxing because they were able to train when they were young. Then you have those characters who do start boxing at the same time, or later, but end up excelling at it faster because of their natural talents.
Despite where they start, the journey for them to improve is never an easy route. The series is not short(with over 3 seasons and 126 episodes) and the series is not one to compress story arcs. Often we see several episodes dedicated to a character trying to either learn or improve on a move before a big fight. This leads to them going through several months of intense physical training just so they can get slightly better doing certain punches.
I felt that unique approach speaks volumes about something we’re all too familiar with. A lot of these characters pick up the basic boxing moves within a year then move on to doing fights. However, there comes a point in time when a fighter will hit a stride and find themselves pushing themselves hard but not improving as fast as when they started out. This is a training plateau many of us can relate to when trying to master a skill.
I’m sure we all hit that point when we first learn a skill and feel like we are picking up things pretty quickly at first. Eventually, that pace starts to slow down then it takes a lot longer before noticing any improvement. Hajime no Ippo follows suit to this. Often our characters find themselves having to spend countless hours/days/months/years just so they are slightly better.
The diversity of characters helps demonstrate the typical routes a lot of people end up going about tackling gradual improvement. There are those who continue to train at the same level and find themselves never getting any further in their abilities and there are those who push hemselves by doing a harder regime and gradually work their way up over time. Sure it may be long and difficult, but with patience and strive, progression will happen.
Hajime no Ippo does an excellent job to illustrate an important part of skill development. It’s not about dealing with the big picture, rather, it’s about tackling one small task at a time. By breaking down that much larger goal to small, incremental ones, achieving that level of mastery becomes more obtainable. This is why Haijime no Ippo places itself on my list of inspiring anime series.
#2 One Punch Man
Whenever anyone thinks of an inspirational anime series One Punch Man will very likely come to most people’s mind. In a world where super heroes and super villains exist, the hero, Saitama ranks right up there as the strongest hero out there. While he largely goes unnoticed in the world Saitama has proven himself to be an unbelievably strong character able to defeat his opponents with just one punch.
Our protagonist, Saitama, is somewhat of an unusual character. Mainly because he’s unlike your typical anime hero. He did not gain his power through some mystic artifact, technological upgrade, or born from some extraterrestrial being. No, our hero just stuck to a good old exercise regime every day for 3 years. What is his routine?
With just a little strength routine, 3 meals a day, and going without A/C or heat, Saitama has achieved God-like strength. However, such a simple strength regime seems a bit silly to achieve such power.
However, Saitama tells him that there was really nothing more to it. He dedicated himself to this regime and got to where he is today through it. A very simple idea that may strike a chord for many viewers. There is no secret formula for success, it’s just a combination of sticking to good habits and slowly growing over time. There are many people out there who thinks that there are little hacks to lose weight or become a millionaire, but those same ideals is what causes us to lose focus on the very simple concepts we know will get us there. We often ignore the routine that leads to success in favor of an easier solution.
Being dedicated to good habits is not the only thing that makes Saitama a truly admirable character. Saitama has one thing that separates him from many of the heroes and villains out there. His power is largely unknown among many. Mostly this because of how modest of a character Saitama is. He doesn’t care if he gets credit for his work, in fact, he often goes out of his way to not credit himself. Saitama is a very Taosit-like character. He recognizes himself as strong and doesn’t feel he needs to prove this to anyone. Instead, he will go without the flow of the world and intervene whenever a situation get too dire.
Saitama truly illustrates the idea that it’s the result of your hard work that matters more than the person who does it. When I thought of Saitama’s personal beliefs and resistance for appraisal, it gave me an epiphany.
Take a look at the things around you. We live in a world of technological advancement but the majority of us aren’t really sure who invented it. This is because a thousand years from now, we aren’t going to care who invented our every day conveniences rather more about the influence it has on us. Personally, I feel making a difference in someone’s life matter more than being known for it.
This series has made it’s mark as one of the most popular anime out there, and for good reason. With a perfect blend of comedy and action we are taken on one entertaining ride throughout.
Hard work, conceit, and luck.
These are the three attributes needed to be successful in the manga industry. That’s at least what our protagonist, Moritaka Mashiro, believes.
The story of Bakuman follows an aspiring young artist who has long forgone his dream of being a Manga artist after the death of his uncle, a professional Manga artist who worked himself to death. It wasn’t until top-class student, Akita Takagi, approached Mashiro asking him to partner up and become managa creators together.
Mashiro, reluctant at first, joins Takagi after being tricked into confessing his love to long time crush, Miho Azuki. Azuki agrees to marry Mashiro on the condition that both Takagi and Mashiro create a manga successful enough to become an anime and Azuki lands the role to voice the leading female characterWhat follows is several years of Mashiro and Takagi working through various successes and failures in attempt to get their manga popular enough to be picked up by an animation company. What ends up separating this anime from the rest of the list is the down-to-earth nature of the show. This anime is adapted from the popular manga with the same name, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. If you are deep in your manga creator knowledge those names might be familiar to you for iconic show, Death Note.
Throughout Bakuman, Ohba and Obata do well to draw in their experiences to the series. It’s very easy to emphasize with these characters as they go through a roller coaster of successes and failures in attempt to reach their goal. Throughout the series we find our two protagonists go through many sleepless nights working, constant anxiety to make their work successful, and even working so hard one of the characters ends up in the hospital.
With each failure these characters take it as an opportunity to grow. Despite them being, what many would consider, talented at what they do, they find that they need to try and fail a lot if they want reach their goal. Alongside them is a wide variety of characters. Including Eiji Nizuma who is known as a “Manga genius” able to produce work that becomes huge hits in far less time than our protagonists can. As well as other characters introduced in the series who also dream to become future manga artists.
A lot of these characters have different kinds of personalities and talents to them, but nonetheless are supportive to one another to follow their dreams. These characters also have their share of successes and failures we’re familiar with. Some of these failures drive these artists to reach out to others to improve themselves. While others end up giving up on their dream. Those who do succeed are the ones who have spent half of their lives trying and failing to get there.
It’s sense of realism adds a feeling of empathy for many of these characters. Like many of the characters, we have all failed when trying to reach a goal. We may have found ourselves discouraged to keep trying after we see people who seem to succeed in our dreams with seemingly no effort. But what makes this anime truly inspiring is, despite our failures and successes, what really matters it to still work hard and improve.
This will involve going through a lot of different events in our life. We need to find people out there who will support us and we need to support them. We need to get out of our comfort zone and prepare for failure. We also need to build up a portfolio that shows what we’re capable of and that we can improve.
Bakuman does a really great job demonstrating all these attributes and has taught me quite a few things about working towards my goals. For these reasons Bakuman earns its spot as the #1 most inspirational anime series out there.