Anime is Japanese animated productions, usually featuring hand-drawn or computer animation, and for many people it is considered more of a lifestyle than a hobby. Manga, the print version of anime, is a Japanese cartoon. As a result of the internet, anime’s popularity has spread all over the world.

On The Gregory School campus alone 28% of students said they watch anime. Sophomore Eric Johnson remarked on its prevalence even just in the sophomore grade, “It’s completely taken over the sophomore area. It’s impossible to escape, and it’s always there.” Sophomore Patrick Kerwin added, “It’s ridiculous.”

Sophomore Antonia Maher as Asuna from “Sword Art Online.” Photo courtesy of Antonia Maher.

Sophomore Antonia Maher as Asuna from “Sword Art Online.” Photo courtesy of Antonia Maher.

Yet for students like sophomores Antonia Maher, Anna Weesner, Chloe Gardner, and Kyra Weisel, it is a passion that they find immense joy in. Maher discovered anime the summer before eighth grade, and became “addicted.” Now with over 2,100 followers on her anime-devoted Instagram account, it is a hobby she enjoys sharing with her friends.

Weesner and Maher pointed out however, that although anime might be defined as a Japanese cartoon that can often be allegorical, it is not the same as any old Disney movie. Maher said, “It has more mature storylines, although it depends on which ones you watch.”

Senior Sarah Klaehn, who discovered anime in the seventh grade and has loved it since, also added, “Disney tends to have a more stylized take on reality, whereas most of the time anime has a truer view of real life.”

People love anime for the same reasons that people like any other show. Weisel said, “It’s funny, and you can make jokes about it with your friends.” Klaehn even said that a large reason for its popularity is that “There’s so many different genres of it. It relates to everybody, so no matter what your interests are, you can find something that you’ll like.”

Gardner said of the anime genres, “One is really girly, cutesy stuff, and the other is like action and adventure.” Some favorite shows among anime fans on campus include “Attack on Titan,” “Black Butler,” “Fairy Tale,” “Free!,” and “Angel Beats.”

Just like American television, anime offers an escape from everyday life. Weesner said, “I think for some people it’s kind of a way to escape pressure in their real life: they go and they watch it and it makes them happy.”

Maher also pointed out that anime has helped make growing up easier, saying, “This is gonna sound really stupid, but anime has given me a ton of life advice. There will be plotlines and stuff on the show where I’ll be like ‘woah, that’s really deep.’”

An enormous factor in the growth of anime’s popularity has been the massive, international community involved in it. Thousands of fans swarm anime themed conventions, events where individuals can meet other like-minded fans, purchase anime-themed merchandise, and attend panels about their favorite shows. Gardner and Weesner both confided that they had attended one convention each, while Maher said she had been to “around six.”

The anime community extends beyond huge gatherings like conventions or online blogs, and can be observed on The Gregory School campus. Both Gardner and Weisel pointed to school friends as their reason for becoming interested in it, Gardner even saying her favorite part of anime is “being able to share it with other people.” Klaehn pointed out that the availability of manga in the school library, too, has enabled students in all grades to discover anime.

Despite what Weesner called anime’s “plague-like” spread through campus, not everyone understands it, nor is open to its presence at the school. Some students also like it, but are less open with their enjoyment of it than others.

Maher countered, “There are people who are embarrassed to say that they like it, but it’s understandable because I felt that way too when I first started liking it.” She concluded, “People are gonna judge you for whatever you do so you might as well do what you like, and be like ‘Yo, anime is great!’”