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Why do we do this to ourselves? Why? We know live action versions of anime are awful! (There are few exceptions.) So why are we tainting Fullmetal Alchemist with the release of a live action movie? Because we want to live in fantasy; we want to become tangibly apart of fantastical worlds and larger-than-life characters. But when do we cross the line? When does watching hours of anime upon day after day morph into something more sinister than a favorite TV show? Are you an anime addict? 

 

Hi my name is JessiRae, and I’m a recovered anime addict.

 

Is Anime Addiction Real?

Anime addict
Owlxie OC for Osu by Owixie licensed under CC by 3.0

I’ve done it all: the manic season binge watching in one day, dressing up anime-esque at conventions, obsessing over my favorite show- torn they weren’t real. Anime addiction may seem a stretch, but just as video game addiction, an anime addict is a tangible psychological condition.

 

I know because I’ve lived through it.

Anime becomes a stepping stone out of your daily life. Like any distraction, that’s perfectly normal. Watching anime is as simple as watching your favorite episodes of Game of Thrones. (Have you seen what the Game of Thrones Cast has done?) Anime is harmless. It’s on TV (sometimes streamed from the internet). Anime can’t touch you. Or, can it?

Did you know TV rewires your brain? Just as an addictive substance, anime- and other TV shows- watched to excess shorten our attention spans and enlarges certain parts of the brain, including:

  • Hypothalamus
  • Septum
  • Sensorimotor
  • Visual Cortex
  • Thickening of Frontal Lobe Region

Studies show these effects manifest behavioral conditions and mood/emotional disorders. Come on, we all know that one anime obsessed friend, who just isn’t quite right. This research is not to say anime addicts are doomed to develop detrimental psychological conditions- but perhaps anime addiction- akin to typical drug addiction or alcohol addiction- may be a means to self-medicate pre-existing psychological conditions. I know this too from experience.

(Does it help to know the researcher of this study is Hikaru Takeuchi?)

What Is Anime Addiction?

Before my diagnosis and treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) I used anime as a crutch to help myself regulate my moods.

Crazy, right?

anime addiction
Labeled for reuse.

Because anime characters are outlandishly emotive, this helped alleviate my own inability to show emotions. People with BPD are known for being unable to “feel” in times of distress, which can last for weeks- despite the absence of the initial catalyst of unrest. (In BPD this is called a continual crisis.) During these periods, watching anime was my way of coping with this aspect of BPD.

At the time, I had no idea I had BPD. It is only with the clarity of the present that I am able to look back at my previous behavior and understand the underlying factors governing my actions and reasoning. Anime served as my escape from my life which I found largely unfulfilling; I lived vicariously through my favorite characters.

What is anime addiction then?

Signs of Anime Addiction

Quantifiable addiction is marked by changes to the brain- check- insatiable compulsion- check- and an inability to use alternative methods of coping with everyday ails- check! If you’re wondering if you watch too much anime, or may be psychologically dependent on your favorite “deres,” (tsundere, kuudere, dandere, yandere) here are some red flags to look out for:

  • rize tokyo goul anime addict
    Rize Tokyo Goul by Perikada licensed under CC by 3.0

    Compulsive watching of anime

  • Using anime as a means of escape
  • You spend more time watching anime than spending time with your friends
  • You watch more anime than enjoying your favorite hobbies/passions
  • Your grades fall as a result of watching anime
  • Poor work performance
  • Irritability when separated from anime
  • Feelings of emptiness without anime
  • Binge watching (Stop it Rize!)
  • Seriously claiming anime “wives” and “husbands”
  • Becoming genuinely upset when someone disavows your favorite anime
  • Defensive against questions into your anime watching
  • Losing your sense of identity to one of your favorite characters; complete assimilation of their personalities, habits, and physical behaviors
  • Obsessive, and frequent, day dreaming you’re in an anime

The Recovering Anime Addict

How’d I do it then? Separating myself from binge watching anime came when I realized my life was truly unfulfilled because I spent all day watching anime. All of my friends watched anime- and so we binged together. All the time. Almost everyday. Eventually I got sick of sitting in front of a TV around my loved ones when we could be actively pursuing our real passions and aspirations for life.

And if not something as grandiose- at least actually leaving the house like normal people!

Anime addicts
Ikitai! by Deventh licensed under CC by 3.0

Eventually I forced myself to stop spending time with some of my closest friends. Unfortunately they didn’t share the same sentiment about our obsessive anime watching. (And yes, copious amounts of video games were involved. Gaming addiction is real.) I got so sick of the entire thing I decided to take a break from anime completely.

That’s when I reclaimed my life from the wonderful realm of anime! Now I’m devoting time to doing the things I love, and not wasting away in front of my television or laptop screen on Crunchyroll. I’m able to watch anime in passing today, but I try to limit my time around my wide-eyed friends because I am acutely aware I have an addictive personality.

You can watch anime without falling into “anime addiction” as long as you are mindful. Ensure you’re still progressing your life in healthy ways. Take every day to make movement of your ultimate ambitions- without that as a crucial aspect of your everyday routine, you will fill your time with something else. Sometimes, that’s not always for the best. Your life is your choice.

 

Take a page from your favorite series and make waves in your own world, just as the characters you admire do in theirs.

 

 

Know anyone who’s an anime addict?

 

Further Reading:

SNL Skit for ‘Heroin AM’ Falls Flat, Sparks Outrage

10 Quotes for Strength and Serenity During Addiction Recovery

16 Myths About Addiction

Middle School Student Snorting Smarties Shaped Methamphetamine

Dealing Drugs for Textbook Money: Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time