I know September isn’t here, and yet something spooky doth draw near. The shelves at the market are covered in chills, which give folks like me such wonderful thrills, so we are going to talk about some anime monsters.
In a non-rhyming language, Halloween’s prep season has already begun before September hits the calendar. Stores are already stocked up on candy and novelty Halloween items, and I’m absolutely giddy.
It may be hypocritical of me to be this thrilled when the sight of early Christmas decorations fills me with dread, but I’m content to stew in my witchy delight and enjoy the spooks and kooks that will be rolling out real soon.
This early start to the scary part of the year left me with horror on the brain, specifically anime monster horror.
I’ve been fascinated with the human love of anime monsters and creatures, as B-movies are some of my favorite things to watch around this time of year. But, naturally, I couldn’t help but wonder how anime handled its audience’s craving for anime monsters and madness.
And, as always, the answer varies.
Sometimes You Wanna Beat Anime Monsters
First and foremost, anime for children handles Anime monsters the same way most cartoons do: kick’em to the curb and rub’em out.
Shows like Sailor Moon, Tokyo Mew Mew, and others stray away from the horror and adrenaline approach and just create an ugly “monster of the day” for the heroes to vanquish.
The mood is less about fear and more about action and excitement, a simple but winning formula that both kids and retro nerds like myself can get behind. The only real pitfall is when the Anime monsters stop being scary or cool and just become stupid.
But ah, monster anime for the kiddies isn’t all power rangers and sparkles. Shows aimed at an older audience take it a step further by turning the monsters into a natural hazard of the environment, keeping that “conquering hero” feel without being too silly.
Nothing slakes the thirst for adventure anime like watching a shounen protagonist encounter some massive, heaving, beast that’s known to roam these waters or these trees.
Sometimes you Wanna Be With Them
And, while the simple approach of “catch/kill monster” works for some, others may have some less violent ideas. Some have a more… romantic approach.
It’s long been established that Paranormal Romance holds a special place in the hearts of both adult and young adult literature, but I like to think anime covers more ground than they do.
Because, while most literature is stuck on the prospect of dating demons and the blood-sucking undead, anime also speculates on what it’d be like to date all kinds of other creatures: dragon creatures, half-demons, mutants, you name it.
But I don’t suggest breaking out the social pitchforks, because it isn’t all big breasts and fantasy harems. There are shows that take more subtle, darker looks at this subject matter; they may even dabble in tragedy and horror while at it.
Take, for example, the very dark Elfen Lied, an anime whose main character is as cute as she is frightening and sad.
Her race, the Diclonii, has very ill intentions for humanity, and yet the story spends painstaking attention on her love for one specific human boy and the troubles she’s suffered along the way.
The rest of the series is painted with unabashed gore and horror, but the anime monster within is still treated with beauty and grace.
Even Though They Seriously Want to Kill You.
With all this talk of monster-mashing and romance, you’d think anime would forget for a moment that these are still creatures predisposed to harm humanity and all it stands for. Do fret not, gentle readers; anime do not forget. They simply try to push through.
Let it never be said that anime doesn’t understand horror in its monster reincarnations. Shows with these monster romance partners make quick work to remind readers that these non-human creatures will not hesitate to kill you should you be near them, or that you at least run the risk of it while trying to associate with them.
Even if the anime monsters somehow have a connection that makes them less hostile, there will always be the threat of being eaten or ripped apart hanging over your head.
So, why does anime dabble in danger when it comes to men and women inevitably doing the monster mash? From what I gather – as an admitted fan of the Vampire Romance trope – the fantastical danger of it translates the same way scary stuff in horror movies does.
There’s adrenaline behind that rush of fear and paranoia, with the added bonus of not actually being in any danger. You get all the excitement of being in a dangerous romance without risking your valuable “bits,” so to speak. It might not be your kink, but it seems to demonstrably work.
Either Way, Pretty Damn Scary
Lastly, and my personal favorite, anime handles monsters in the traditional sense: shit-your-pants scary, and completely inhumane.
Attack On Titan, Blood +, and Berserk take great pains to make their resident creatures frightening. They hurt anyone that they find, without remorse, and in ways so ghastly that you’d have to look away if live-action had the technology. But they stray away from the childish “we gotta beat ’em!” trope specifically because they do not go down easily… and not without taking several people with them.
I believe this last trope has more universality than all the others because there’s something inherently terrifying about multi-limbed, misshapen, sharp-toothed creatures that dethrone humanity from the top of the food chain.
They can be pretty; they can be silly looking; they may even be trying to befriend you, but you just can’t shake that fear that one little slip will lead to all your limbs on the floor, and anime won’t let you forget it.
How do you think anime handles monsters? Feel free to leave a comment below, and don’t forget to like and follow for more posts just like this one.