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In life, we all need goals to strive for. Yet what happens when one of your goals suddenly shifts. Do you let your mindset shift or do you decide to keep going in the direction you wanted? What if your original direction brought harm?
In Chapter 627 of Naruto, Sasuke Uchiha makes arguably the biggest decision in his young life so far. When confronting the previous four Hokages of Konoha Village, he learns about the true origins of how Konoha was formed. Sasuke then decides to go from being a criminal of Konoha to becoming one of its protectors. His decision and also the past behavior of Madara Uchiha makes you think how much emphasis there needs to be made on developing teenagers with critical thinking skills.
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“I refuse…to let this happen! I am Orochimaru! I am immortal! I will not die here! Destined to discover the true meaning behind everything! Destined to take control of everything in this world!!”
Don’t worry, 2013 is your year.
With the Year of the Snake now upon us, wouldn’t you say it’s about time to take a look at Naruto’s own insane yet lovable snake himself, Orochimaru? He is a character that went from a former child prodigy to a psychopathic scientist. In some ways, Orochimaru can be similar to how adults who were gifted at a young age can go down misguided paths due to a lack of proper attention as they get older.
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Ever find it funny how a manga series that you’ve ignored for a while comes back to get your attention once again? This just happens to be the case with yours truly and NARUTO. Are ninjas really that exotic to a Westerner like myself?
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If there’s one interesting habit that I have, it’s that I tend to treat certain emotional moments in manga as real-life stories. In other words, I share them with real folks. A recent article I read, “Who Am I? The Heroes of our Minds”, went into detail on the power of telling stories in psychotherapy. Sometimes, therapists use narrative to get their points across to people when simple advice doesn’t register. So I ask you all if you have shared any manga stories to help inspire others.
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”In my eyes, you’re a proud failure! When I look at you, I get an intense feeling in my heart.”
You ever had moments where you thought blushing was bad? Instead of thinking of the embarrassment it might give you, think about looking at it as a way to be a more positive person. The quiet yet powerful femme fatale of Masashi Kishimoto’s NARUTO, Hinata Hyuga, certainly did so. Her character (and also immense popularity) provides an insight on what makes blushing one of the most unique expressions done by human beings.
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“What a drag.”
Many people will tell you that laziness is a huge hindrance to one’s psychological development. But what if laziness isn’t as bad as it seems? When you look at Naruto’s Nara Shikamaru, he’s a character that is lackadaisical, but highly successful. What does that indicate? Perhaps being lazy to a certain degree can be beneficial to a healthy well-being for yourself and others.
Shikamaru is a character that tends to shy away from responsibility for the most part. He would stare up at the clouds in the sky to pass the time. If anyone wanted him to take part in certain activities, he would usually complain about how troublesome they are and go about his own way. Shikamaru even called himself the biggest coward in all of Konoha (his home village) once. However, he is a natural-born leader and an excellent strategist as he has won many battles with his smarts. Shikamaru is also determined to become a great ninja that inspires others and is willing to protect Konoha at all costs.
Think of Shikamaru this way: he’s trying to gain a sense of balance in his life. Unneeded stress reduces cognitive thinking. For someone like Shikamaru, this is very detrimental to his success. Plus, it takes time to think of great ideas. Having a moment of relaxation can spark ideas in one’s mind. Staying away from “troublesome” activities helps someone to build upon creating a successful foundation for themselves and possibly others around them (if done correctly).
Let’s look at a key moment in Shikamaru’s growth. In Part II of Naruto, Shikamaru’s teacher, Asuma Sarutobi, was killed in battle by a member of the Akatsuki, Hidan. When the funeral was held, Shikamaru did not attend. Why? He was intent on gaining revenge and taking the time to think of a battle plan to defeat Hidan. Was attending the funeral “troublesome” for Shikamaru? Perhaps he thought that being even more sad than he needed to be would only distract his mentality after hearing Asuma’s final words. Asuma told Shikamaru that he had what it takes to be the Hokage.
A slacker sometimes does things out of personal reasons. Even if that’s the case, the slacker tends to grow exponentially from his experiences because he/she will take his/her actions very seriously. Look at what happens after Shikamaru kills Hidan. He then develops a new personal goal that he wants to abide by and commits himself to training Asuma’s child to be great. An act of personal vengeance ends up creating a result that is beneficial to Shikamaru and has great long-term effects for the village of Konoha.
Shikamaru is a jab at people who work too hard and/or focus too much on things that may seem important, but they really aren’t. What good is it if you try to be super-active in everything and end up completely burnt out in the end? You have to work hard, play hard, and work smart.
Here’s a quirky quote from Bill Gates that might spark your minds a bit.
“I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job… because he will find an easy way to do it.”
Isn’t it a good time to take a brief moment to look idly at the clouds for some reflection and discover the next big step to positively change your world?
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We all know smiling does wonders for people, but a recent study revealed that smiling actually helps your heart. Even if it’s not genuine, grinning and bearing it during hectic moments lowers one’s heart rate and reduces stress. It might make you wonder which anime/manga characters smile to get through the day. Here are 10 notable characters that, in my opinion, use smiles to cheer up their psyche.
Misa Amane (Death Note) - While she has a smile on her face and a cheerful disposition, Misa has had a rough past as her parents were killed by a burglar right in front of her. Because of this, she has strong feelings of hatred towards criminals and turns to Light Yagami as her ray of light.
Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto) - When your whole childhood has been marred by the fact that you’re hosting a powerful demon inside you, smiling probably has to be one of the main ways to keep yourself going.
Gin Ichimaru (BLEACH) - If you want to mess around with people’s emotions and hide your true intentions, a wicked smile sure helps to get your message across. Though it might not redeem you in the end.
Seta Soujiro (Rurouni Kenshin) - The story behind Soujiro’s smile is probably one of the most tragic stories I have ever read (and also one of my favorite moments in RK). It’s hard to blame him for smiling constantly though. How would anyone feel if they experienced a situation such as his?
Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece) - He always seems to find a way to smile even in the worst of moments. It must be fun to be a dreamer.
Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket) - Underneath her smile and kindness towards others, Tohru was perhaps a little too obsessed with honoring her deceased mother and it took her a while to move on.
Lenalee Lee (D. Gray-man) - A character that secretly hated the organization that trained her. She had a mental breakdown while being forced to be an Exorcist against her will. Who knows what would have happened if her brother, Komui, didn’t come back into her life and fuel her growth.
Kyoko Mogami (Skip Beat!) - She’s one the best examples of taking it to the chin and kicking butt despite being knocked down. Most of her life has been spent pleasing the people around her and trying to win their approval. Kyoko’s determination is relentless as she takes on the world of show business.
Tamaki Suoh (Ouran High School Host Club) - For someone who appears high-class, charismatic, goofy, and confident, he has relationship problems with his grandmother. This is mostly due to Tamaki’s grandmother never getting along with his mother. Despite his pleas to be accepted into the Suoh family being constantly rejected by her, Tamaki still treats his grandmother with love and is happy to be accepted by his Host Club mates.
Orihime Inoue (BLEACH) - We can talk about her bouncy…personality all we like, but she doesn’t believe in herself when it comes to helping people. Seeing her sometimes makes me wonder if certain people feel that way when it comes to being useful to others.
I know there are many other characters who smile to calm themselves (i.e. characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion), so who would you guys put on your list of “smiling to keep it together” characters? >;)
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“I’m always going to be there for you, even if it’s as an obstacle for you to overcome. Even if you DO hate me. That’s what big brothers are for.”
If you’ve had older siblings, think about what they are supposed to do for you. The responsibility of a older sibling entails making sure the younger siblings are treated with respect and care. They must also teach them values and be viewed as “great” in their eyes. Now what if the older sibling tries to impart his/her wisdom via the most violent and traumatic methods possible? You now have NARUTO’s Itachi Uchiha, the seemingly-emotionless older brother of Sasuke Uchiha. Once considered to be an antagonist in the series, the truth about Itachi’s actions towards Sasuke reflects how difficult it can be for someone to be the first role model in a younger sibling’s life.
When we are first introduced to Itachi, he is viewed as a criminal. A runaway ninja from his own village and the murderer of his entire clan, including his own parents. Sasuke witnessed Itachi killing their parents and becomes driven by hate to beat him. The two would meet in an intense battle with Itachi being defeated. It is later revealed that Itachi was planning to die at the hands of Sasuke and that he truly loved him with all his heart. We also learn his motivations for wiping out the Uchiha clan. He wanted Sasuke to bring the Uchiha name (as the Clan was considered to be quite rebellious) back with pride. In order for that to happen, Itachi purposely became evil to give his brother a huge incentive to kill him. Although he died, Itachi would make a return as he was resurrected by Kabuto Yakushi’s Summoning: Worldly Resurrection Jutsu. He broke free from the Jutsu and runs into Sasuke once more. The two brothers would subsequently team up to fight Kabuto. Death comes back to take Itachi away in the end, but not before he tells Sasuke that no matter what his brother does, he will love him forever.
Being the first born in life is never easy. So many expectations are placed on you and you have to quickly evolve over time to meet them. Itachi was known to be a prodigy among the Uchiha clan and was constantly praised by his father. He tried valiantly to convince his father that Sasuke was worthy of love as well. While youngest siblings have a high possibility of being pampered brats, they have some good traits that should be taken under consideration:
When Itachi orchestrated his plan for Sasuke’s growth, did he truly believe that his methods would increase the positive traits found in those born last? In some ways, the infamous speech where he tells his brother to hate and detest him helped to encourage his brother to think ahead and take whatever risks needed to reach his goal. Look at Sasuke’s progress from Part I to Part II/Shippuden and you see the potential of last borns fully unleashed. While Sasuke rebelling against Konoha Village was not what Itachi intended, you have to admit that he must have studied birth order psychology during his free time.
During his final speech to Sasuke, Itachi notes that he regretted not consulting with him about the dark history of the Uchiha Clan and Konoha Village before setting his plan in motion. Do oldest siblings take their younger siblings’ opinions in consideration? Perhaps not. It is heavily suggested that elder siblings tend to be less agreeable about new ideas compared to their younger siblings. Itachi’s biggest flaw was that his intelligence, which is the most notable trait of being the oldest sibling, might have hindered his reasoning. Being intelligent doesn’t guarantee that you know everything there is to life and it may not help cure emotional worries. Itachi also forgot an ever-present truth that we’re all familiar with: youngest siblings have a tendency to emulate the bad behavior of their older siblings.
Itachi’s quest to make Sasuke great serves as a reminder that no matter how different you are from each other, your siblings will always have some effect on your life. Develop that relationship for the better especially as you get older. Once your parents are gone, the closest family member you have to rely on will be a sibling.
Remember, blood is always thicker than water.
Love our favorite “big brother” ninja and want more information? I highly recommended you check out Zapenstap’s collection of essays on Itachi Uchiha. Albeit a bit dated, they are insanely good reads and worth the time. Definitely check out “Itachi and Existentialism: A Philosophy of Life”.
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When Naruto said “BELIEVE IT!”, I didn’t think some folks will take it to heart.
News spread yesterday of a 20-year-old Polish college student by the name of Karolina Styczynska, who managed to beat a professional shogi (“Japanese chess”) player in a recent Japanese shogi tournament. Karolina is noted to be the first foreign amateur to do such a feat. The most interesting bit about her accomplishment stems from the fact that she learned how to play shogi from reading Naruto. Apparently, she followed Nara Shikamaru’s shogi games and took a deep interest since then.
Many of you may know that shogi is not a popular game outside of Asia. So what made Karolina take interest in such a game? One possible reason is that she probably had a general interest in chess from the beginning. Another reason is perhaps the fact that in shogi, you can use any fallen pieces that you have taken from your opponent and put them in play. This leads to a more interesting and intense style of play compared to regular chess.
Of course, Karolina could just be a huge Shikamaru fangirl. Shikamaru is quite the tactician and he has gotten a great fan following with his intelligence and maturity. As we all know, anime and manga characters are often very impressionable and many fans are moved by their traits, thoughts, and behaviors. A recent study even stated that identifying with a fictional character can affect your real life. Karolina looks like the type of person Shikamaru is. Well, sort of.
What’s amazing about manga and anime is that they both open up new worlds to young people. They often portray notable traits of Japanese culture and make them look very appealing. There’s also the fact that some folks tend to view “exotic” and “foreign” things/ideas with great wonder. That aura of mystery can get them curious to explore further. I do wonder if the otaku here in the United States have developed some interest in Japanese traditional culture through anime and manga.
The fact that Karolina learned about shogi through the Internet signifies a current truth: the world is getting even smaller by the minute. Face it, everything is cultural.
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This May is once again Mental Health Month and recently, a blog on Psych Central called “Your Body, Your Mind” challenged readers to incorporate laughter into their daily lives. Laughter has so many benefits as it helps boost your immune system, relieve stress, and improve relationships with people. With that said, what are some anime/manga series that get you smiling and laughing through the day? Here are some favorites I would recommend to those who want to turn their frowns upside down.
Hayate the Combat Butler
An unlucky poor butler works for a spoiled rich otaku girl. Insert a great number of female characters and wacky situations and you have an quite humorous title with some added drama in-between.
The above picture does not capture the wackiness of this series. Oh, the life and trials of supervillains trying to live the villain life, while dealing with superheroes who just happen to be their neighbors. If you love weird and strange humor, Excel Saga is right up your alley.
The funniest little girl in all of manga is in this series. Yotsuba Koiwai is the queen of the universe. There’s a reason why she would be the President of the University of Anime, if it ever existed. Besides being very funny, Yotsuba&! is ADORABLE. Funny and adorable = super, positive, happy feelings.
Daily Lives of High School Boys
Do you get a kick out of seeing teenage boys acting stupid as they usually are? This is your series. As the Otaku Journalist once said in her analysis of the series, I don’t understand how Nichibros was never picked up by Crunchyroll when previously, Nichijou (which is very similar to this series) got chosen.
Naruto Spin-Off: Rock Lee And His Ninja Pals
This is a series I really recommend to kids. All the jokes in this series are targeted towards that demographic to begin with. Plus, it’s NARUTO, the ninja that everyone likes. What makes this series even funnier is that the original voice actors from the Naruto anime also voice their respective characters in this spin-off. Will the Rock Lee spinoff manga be licensed next?
Great Teacher Onizuka
When you have a teacher that’s perverted, dumb as bricks, and a former gang member teaching the most troublesome class in school, you can bet there will be no shortage of laughs when that happens. Onizuka Eikichi is probably the most immature teacher you will ever see and he will have you cracking up in no time. Despite his wackiness, Onizuka has a heart of gold that will shine bright in many fans’ eyes.
A classic series in Japan and one that actually had quite an interesting English anime dub by Funimation. Shin-chan’s crude and vulgar, but hey, I’m sure we’ve met a kid like him once in our lives. The manga is being published again in North America as well.
If the idea of a high school delinquent running around with a naked baby (who just happens to be the next great demon lord) doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will. Beelzebub is a pretty funny series with over-the-top characters and gags. While the series does have a lot of action, Beelzebub is still a comedy at heart and that part is reinforced throughout its story.
A series that I feel is underappreciated by many fans. This is a really funny look at high school extracurricular clubs and activities. All of the characters have some wacky quirk that makes them unique. It won the 55th Shogakukan Award for Best Shonen Manga in 2009.
I can’t make a comedy anime/manga list without this gem. Gintama is probably THE current king of comedy anime/manga series to read/watch. Even the name of the series itself is somewhat of a joke (it’s a play off the word “kintama”, which means testicles in Japanese). What makes this series extremely hilarious are the character interactions and ridiculous banter. Be prepared for parodies, wacky references, and lots of dirty jokes.
This is a title that’s definitely for all the otaku out there. It’s a humorous and yet realistic look at Japanese otaku culture. Genshiken still has some relevance today with the continued rise of the otaku.
Ouran High School Host Club
Yes, this series has cute boys, but more importantly, it pokes fun at many common cliches found in shoujo manga. Not only that, Ouran also parodies the views of female anime/manga fans. Take a look at this wonderful article about the main character, Haruhi Fujioka, and you’ll see what makes Ouran a joy to read/watch.
If you want to share any other interesting series that tickle your funny bone, feel free to post your comments below!
To quote the great Bob Hope,
“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”
Let’s all find some funny anime/manga and laugh for the better, shall we?
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