[Editorial Tuesday] Anime Body Language: What We See

The human race is a very interesting one to say the least. We communicate using various techniques which allow us to establish rapport and build cohesive relationships. Body language plays an extremely important role in how we express ourselves around those we know, because the way we form close ties with others is through movement more than the words we speak. Words do play an integral role as well, but unlike body language our words can be misconstrued which can lead to various unpleasant scenarios. Word is our bond, but our body is the canvas which we use to paint a picture for the world around us to see.

Anime body language is no different than the language we speak in reality, but of course with anime there are many exhagerations to emphasize meaning all throughout. So in our article we will be looking at the body language in anime and what we actually see when tuning in, and what meanings we can discover through the art of body language.

A true form of expression

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As stated earlier, our body speaks more than our mouths because of how many expressions we can pull off. For example, when we watch anime which focus on crime such as the more recent Ace Attorney, the way the criminals express their guilt is all seen through their body. One fantastic example is when Naruhodo was defending Steel Samurai and the elderly security officer was quite animated when on the stand. When Naruhodo fired questions at her, she began to demonstrate emotions through her movement which gave off guilt entirely and led her to admitting that she was at the crime scene during the murders. While her animations were surely over the top, what we see were beads of sweat, her pupils growing in excitement, and her lacking the ability to stand still and keep calm.

Anime is a form of expression in of itself, so it comes as no surprise that a lot of the emotions we express in real life are mimicked within our favorite shows. So what exactly do we see throughout these situations? There are certainly many things we can see such as micro expressions and the more obvious body movements. Micro expressions are subtle in their movement but they play such a major role in how we can understand how someone is feeling, for example a twitchy eyebrow can tell us that this person may be annoyed and frustrated despite putting on a smile.


Over the top expression

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Anime is an art and so therefore when we watch our favorite shows, we are expecting to see many types of emotions flying around on screen. There are many forms of body language such as the heroic pose which we tend to see a lot of in many action oriented anime, while in the more horror centric genre we see a lot of shock and fear. So what we are truly watching is a mirror image of ourselves in the form of exaggerated expression. These types of expressions are done so to of course provide us with entertainment, but also to give us an idea of what we look like in a certain state.

For example, in many comedy anime the body language has been stretched in order to show us an extreme emotion. When someone is surprised, their eyes grow abnormally large and mouths extremely wide. It is done to send us a message that of course there is shock, but to emphasize the philosophy that actions speak louder than words. One great example of over the top expression is in the very popular Osumatsu-san where Osumatsu takes on various roles throughout the show, which all have different attributes attached to the portrayed character. Whenever Osumatsu gets himself into a pinch, we see that his expressions start to blow out of proportion to let the viewer know that either something funny is about to happen, or that he is about to put himself into trouble. His many forms of expression are what we see all throughout the series, which is what makes him so entertaining to watch and learn from.

Another great example of over the top expression is when a character becomes so infuriated at another character, that the one being yelled at is seen as tiny while the more outspoken character is extremely large, which demonstrates anger and power over the other. Further features that are seen are the puffed up cherry red cheeks that also embrace one's frustrations toward another character. We can see this in almost every anime every time, clear as day.


Using external objects as an extension of human form

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Human form or rather animation is how we all interact with each other on a daily basis. Body language is universal and so when we are confronted by many people, our forms change which send off different messages. Whoever can interpret them correctly are more than likely very keen on picking up subtle actions, while the more slow may not see what is being truly said and will overlook everything with a slight chuckle of confusion (which is another body language cue also!).

There are many times however when we use external objects to communicate with those around us, and this is a very important form that is seen throughout the entire anime universe. We often use objects to exemplify how we feel towards a situation, and so that object becomes personified as well. There are a plethora of examples that demonstrate this such as the Gundam series where there are so many actions happening on screen that it's hard to really decipher the meaning. The suits that many of the cast wear in Gundam are an extension of who they are, and we can see that in the construction of the suit itself. Some suits have more guns than others which show us that this character is more direct in their approach, and is very much a leader, while other suits may have medical kits attached which signify this character is more compassionate and willing to help at any given moment.

In Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, the main character Orga is quite small when compared to the rest of his team, but his suit of armor is quick, decisive and in charge of the situation in battle. This behavior can be seen throughout the series where Orga is very determined to rebel against all of the adults who betrayed him, and so his demeanor is seen as calm and cool but when in his armored suit he completely takes control and unleashes an array of bullets on his foes. This is something we can all relate to since most of the time, it is only when in times of adversity do we put on our suits to fight for what we love and embrace the truth that lies within.


Learning about ourselves

So this brings us to to learning about ourselves, which is what body language teaches us. Life is most certainly our teacher and there are plenty of things to pick up along our long arduous journey through life. What anime can teach us to do more of, is to become more expressive through our movement and to let others know how we truly feel. As stated earlier, anime is essentially a cartoon representation of humanity with exaggerated movements to demonstrate emotions. This is something we can learn from since anime is merely just who we are but painted with more vibrancy and excitement.

Being more open in our lives can lead us to many great destinations throughout our time, and introduce us to things and people who we may have never met had we not expressed our body language. What we see is anime is teaching us to be a little more honest in our approach, and to embrace our inner child to free ourselves from the shackles of society. From the heroic protagonist to the more adventurous, anime shows us that life is best enjoyed when we learn to break free and let ourselves be heard.


Final Thoughts

Anime will always continue to grow in popularity not because of its body language, but more so because of the messages that they provide should you be paying close attention to them. With various genres to sink your teeth into, there are certainly a lot of ideas that we can discover and perhaps use them in our daily lives. While we don't condone such exaggerated actions to be done consistently, we welcome the idea to embrace yourself and let everyone know how you really feel through body language.

Are there any anime that you love that show off very strong forms of body language? Was the main character so powerful in their actions that you felt the need to mimic them in real life? We most surely have, so we hope that you leave your comments down below so we can all share and discuss the things we love most!
As always, keep it locked here for more anime entertainment. Leave a comment below and discuss your passions with everyone! Take care.

Rob

Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, anime, and philosophy. I do lots of graphic design, and stream a lot of games on twitch. I play fighting games competitively, as well as hearthstone. I've lived in Japan for 4 years now and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love ramen, and various types of Japanese style cuisine. Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles! Take care!

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