The Phenomenon of Utopia Inside Anime

Utopia – a perfect world, something that people long for and yet never seek because it’s impossible. Anyone who even attempts to create a utopia nowadays will probably be scoffed at and scorned for their naive idealism. And yet, it still fascinates us, this impossible concept. And though it might not be realistic to dream that we will be living in a ‘utopia’ anytime soon, we can still recreate it in our dreams and fantasies. And thus, this is one of the concepts most prevalent in the plots of several anime series: the quest for the famed and fabled utopia.

The anime that first comes into my mind when I hear the words ‘utopia’ and ‘anime’ in a single sentence is Deathnote. Yagami Light, the main character, was someone who was disillusioned with how horrible the world has become, with its ever increasing crime rates and the ever worsening condition of the society. But when he got hold of a deathnote, a notebook which he could use to kill anyone he wants to as long as he knows the person’s name and face, he started using this to create his own world a utopia of sorts based in his own definition. He wanted to create a world wherein the good citizens would be free to roam. He theorized that society would be perfect as long if you remove the bad eggs. However, his method of ‘cleansing’ the world was through oppression. And instead of creating a utopia, he would be creating a dystopia, where the main oppressor would be him and all people would bow down to him as their ‘god’. Of course, this kind of thinking would never go unpunished. A dystopia, wherein people live in total oppression, would be even worse than a world that could never be a utopia. And it is because of this that L, the world’s top detective, decides to counter Light’s actions. Thus begins the elusive game of cat and mouse.

A similar situation wherein a character wants to create a utopia would be in the anime, Naruto. It has recently been revealed in the manga that the Akatsuki’s aim is to pit the nations against each other and to make the nations dependent on them and their weapons (the Jinchuuriki), enabling the Akatsuki to ultimately take control of the world. Upon further delving into the background of the Akatsuki Leader, Pein, we find out that he has had traumatizing experiences as a child because of the war that broke out in his country. And to end all wars, he decides to wreak havoc on all the other countries, causing war, in order to make them feel the pain that he felt. He thinks that by making people feel the pain, he can compel them to feel disgusted at all forms of war, thereby bringing peace. It’s a lovely concept except that it’s weak and likely to fail.

In fact, it’s an irony that villains are usually the ones who are trying to create a utopia, only to cause more harm in their attempt to bring perfection. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And I guess this is what makes those characters so appealing – their desire for utopia is a desire that all of us share. And yet, most of us are content to just sit back and dismiss it as impossible. These characters, however, represent those who aren’t afraid to try. Against all odds, they strived for their goal, misled as they were.

Source by Henry Hsieh

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