Anime, a style of animation that originated in Japan, has grown in popularity in India over the last few years. Naruto, Death Note, and Dragon Ball Z are some of the most widely watched anime in the country. While it is a beloved form of entertainment for many, there have been questions about its potential impact on mental health. In this article, we will be exploring the psychological effects of anime on the human mind.
Body image issues are a potential side effect of watching anime. In a lot of anime shows, you’ll notice that the characters have heads that seem bigger compared to their bodies. In addition, most anime characters often have small and very similar body shapes with little diversity. Research shows that unrealistic body portrayals in the media can contribute to low self-esteem and eating disorders among young people.
A common criticism of anime is how they portray their female characters. Most animes show female characters being submissive, which contributes to gender stereotyping. Another criticism of anime is that they show female characters in an overly sexualized manner, which might have negative impacts on the minds of female and male viewers.
Some anime series might include extremely violent and graphic content. This can not only contribute to normalizing aggression but also lead to other mental health side effects, such as nightmares.
Anime and female representation
Anime is a form of animation that has its roots in Japan. So researchers in Japan have been studying the mental health impact of anime for a long time. In recent research conducted in Japan in 2022, it was found that young people who identify as anime fans are at an increased risk of facing mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression.
Anime linked with anxiety and depression
Other psychological effects of anime
- Anime, like any other form of entertainment, can be addictive. This can lead to a loss of productivity in other aspects of life.
- Binging on anime can cause sleep issues.
- Overuse of anime can lead to escapism from real-life issues.
- Binging on anime may also cause social isolation and excessive screen time.
The brighter side of anime
Previously, we explored the potential side effects of anime on mental health; however, watching anime can also have positive effects on your mental health, such as:
Anime talks about mental health openly:
One of the positives about anime is that it brings mental health issues into mainstream discussion. Multiple animes depict characters going through mental health issues and overcoming them. For instance, the popular anime character Naruto is said to have been suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By creating characters with mental health conditions, anime challenges the stigma around mental health. These characters can also act as inspirations and role models for someone who struggles with mental health issues.
Like other forms of entertainment, anime has both positive and negative effects. It can be an effective coping mechanism on the one hand, but it can also lead to escapism, unrealistic expectations, and exposure to violent content on the other. The impact of anime is heavily influenced by how much it is consumed and influenced. You can reduce the negative effects of anime on your mental health by managing your anime consumption.
- Brumfield, S. (n.d.). Column: The culture surrounding anime. The Ithacan. Retrieved October 25, 2023, from https://theithacan.org/42771/life-culture/popped-culture/column-the-culture-surrounding-anime/
- Exploring the Dark Side of Anime: The Negative Effects of Anime on Mental Health. (n.d.). Gidgymode Tech. Retrieved October 25, 2023, from https://www.gidgymode.com/2023/03/exploring-dark-side-of-anime-negative.html
- Halovic, S. (2020). Using the manga/anime Naruto as graphic medicine to engage clients in conversational model therapy. Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia, 8 (1). 8.
- Life, U. (2021, April 21). How Anime Brings Mental Health Into The Mainstream. Unwanted Life. https://unwantedlife.me/representation-how-anime-brings-mental-health-into-the-mainstream
- Liu, Y., Liu, Y., & Wen, J. (2022). Does anime, idol culture bring depression? Structural analysis and deep learning on subcultural identity and various psychological outcomes. Heliyon, 8(9), e10567. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e10567
- Yassin, F. (2023, August 4). Exploring Anime and Adolescent Mental Health. The Wave Clinic. https://thewaveclinic.com/blog/exploring-anime-and-adolescent-mental-health/