THE IMPORTANCE OF NOSTALGIA
- March 11, 2019
There was a time when everything I did was go to school, play with other kids and watch TV for hours. Most of it were cartoon shows and anime and I know I was not the only one, there are many many others from my generation who did enjoy the same shows at that time, even though some of them do not watch anime anymore.
Recently I was asked what my favorite anime is. As I have been watching a lot of anime in the last two years my number one constantly changes but right in that moment I replied without hesitating: “Spirited Away.” It is an anime that I did rewatch a couple of weeks ago and havent’t watched for several years. When I explained why it is so special to me the person I talked to just said “Yeah but you only like it because of the nostalgia”, as if nostalgia was not a justified criterium for liking something.
First of all, there is no invalid criterium for liking a certain anime or movie in general. I know that some reviewers think so and try to draw a line between “good anime” and “anime I like” but that is misleading in many ways. Everyone values different aspects of a story and yes in the community there is a sort of consensus of what is considered important (e.g plot and character development and pacing) but just the fact that many people agree on certain aspects does not make them objectively right, it just emphasizes that many people seem to share that particular opinion. To others the art style, relatabilty, music, the colors, the scenery or anything else could be a more important factor and that is totally fine. The main point is that these impressions are highly subjective and often very emotional. I am sure that I would really like Spirited Away if I had watched it for the first time right now but the level of emotional impact it had on me while rewatching it after almost 10 years is almost unsurpassable. As a child Chihiro was a character I have seen myself in. She found herself in a weird world , she had the same fears and doubts and she really had to make an effort to be accepted by the people she encountered. I was her in every way, I was afraid of Yubaba and worried about my parents, I was homesick, I fell in love with the night sky and the countryside and the beautiful boy who used to be a river.
Rewatching the movie brings back all these memories not only of the story itself but of me making the exact same experiences Chihiro did and the wall between me and the screen, between my reality and hers vanishes and everything that is left is the unavoidable ambivalence of joy and melancholy.
I know it sounds exaggerated but that is exactly what it feels like and that is the reason why even though I often discover new great beautiful stories, they rarely surpass that level of influence the story had and still has on me. I know people change and so do tastes but nostalgia is an underrated force that sets a foundation for your personal unforgettable stories.
This process and strong influence is only natural because as kids we tend to perceive everything more intense and emotional. Especially when it comes to long running shows like Dragonball, Naruto or One Piece. We literally grew up with the characters as we watched them going on adventures and overcoming obstacles day for day for so many years. This feeling is often triggered by the soundtrack of these shows as they are intended to make you feel euphoric and motivated just as the characters in this particular show.
It does not necessarily mean that just because you liked a show as a kid you will keep liking it but it might subconciously make it harder to get detached from it and its characters. But why would you want to? Sometimes I wish I could have watched way more anime as a kid just to get that longing feeling when rewatching something or listening to certain soundtracks. I think nostalgia is one of the most mysterious beautiful and tragic feelings we can experience. Especially if it is something you did or have seen as a kid, the memories tend to be more lively and colorful in your mind and that is something no one can ever take away from you and I think when it comes to opinions on these stories, we should embrace this feeling instead of refusing or judging it.