Right, we are now at the smartphone age so I will try my best to not talk too much about the stone-age!
E-Mails are seriously getting old
But trust me on this — at least in Japan, the practice of communication via e-mail is far from extinct, in fact it has become a more ‘official’ method of contacting another person, sometimes as equally important as paper statements in envelopes.
Smartphones surely provided so much potential in human communications, and while I’ve accidentally ranted in my first part (I was really meant to have that section in this part!), I’m more willing to look into a more neutral side of things. Being able to converse faster is in many cases a good thing and realists of the anime industry has shown us exactly those good instances of quick communication.
With e-mails soon to be out of the mainstream, something has to take its place. Surely it didn’t take long before…
Instant Messaging (IM, DM, etc.)
It bears many names as different services and providers love to be unique. But all in all they are more of the same communication protocol.
Anyone who has grown out of using e-mails for conversations that involve the need to reply every few seconds would know how much of a life-saver IM’s are because it was a common practice to be formal in e-mail writing, even with the replies.
That means having to fill out the title of each text and sometimes even names into the Carbon copy (Cc) and Blind carbon copy (Bcc). I bet that a lot of people born in the age of IM probably have no idea what functionality those two boxes below the recipient’s box (To:) are, unless of course they make a living out of sending e-mails a.k.a. full-on office job.
I remember having to do this with my classmates as far back as 2006. I still have those e-mails saved—no kidding.
Unlike e-mails, instant messages have a status check function where if the message sent by you has been read by the person you’ve sent it to, it will be marked as ‘read’. This one is probably one of the biggest reasons why IM’s have become extremely popular among high schoolers and eventually in anime. This function can have heavy impact on the plot as not having the recipient read your message creates tension.
Have you ever been worried because someone hasn’t read your message?
Have you then wondered if they were okay, as in free from harm and accidents?
Or in some cases, have you ever been feeling frustrated about your crush paying attention to someone else and not you?
You could think that it is a waste of time but that’s half the point of slice of life anime. Shows of this genre do try to be realistic in one thing or another, and those that try to be real with how students communicate today would have to cough out a reliable plot where having to wait really feels like wasting time. One grand example of this—look no further than Tsuki ga Kirei episode 4, where literally half of the episode is the plot of Akane being understandably stood up by her boyfriend Kotarou.
Seriously. Poor Akane!
Because time goes really slow when you are doing nothing, the show pans to give us movements of everything and everyone else around Akane to make it all seem like things are going well forward when for her it really is not. Other departments such as music can help build incredible, worrisome tension much needed by the realistic act of waiting.
See, the plot is technically about nothing-happenings, but good shows can turn nothing into something. That said, when it comes to non-vocal communications, Just Because! is mostly a Lite version of Tsuki ga Kirei.
Another big difference (advantage rather) IM services provide you with an account where you can constantly change your display name, something that could not be said for e-mails for a very long time. Though I’m aware that you can do it now but it’s simply too late; time waits for no one. I will also have to mention the fact that display names in an e-mail is still clunky and dated. Overall it all comes down to advantage via user interface, which is another plus one for IM’s. Please do not confuse display names with usernames because the latter is relatively more difficult to change even for IM accounts.
Tomorrow I don’t have to be Shokamoka but my username will remain the same.
Ever since the smartphone age in anime, we begin to observe more characters showing their personality through their messages; anything else is a bonus.
Although, instant messaging quickly took over real conversations done with our very own voice—something clearly made for communication; later on anime characters became pretty much like that, too. While one could argue about how this phenomena has led to people becoming unsociable, I would love to counter argue with the fact that not everything is black and white. The grey area houses many good things.
Especially in the anime medium, evolution in both technology and human communication birthed a new challenge for character designers and story writers, and that is to write competent personalities of their characters behind the phones.
Unless you’re getting replies from a robot, it is obvious that the people sending those messages to you have somewhat attached some of their emotions into the contents. Some would do it via emoji/emoticons, some can really convey their feelings with unique writing style, some do it old style — voices hardly lie.
And that eventually led us to watching slice of life anime where we spend at least half of the time looking at characters’ reactions to messages sent by their target of attention/affection. The change, if isn’t for the better, is for making up to some of what children cannot easily achieve in real world today.
What is it, though?
Making new friends
Now with the ability to convey all of your messages and more importantly feelings through smartphones, people are often found hiding behind them as well. And frankly I am no exception but I ain’t afraid to admit it!
Is it a bad thing?
Yes and no.
Let’s start with the bad:
Don’t believe everything you see in anime! A character that spends so much time behind their phones cannot possibly be naturally sociable!
This is basically me telling you, ‘someone like Komiya Ena is far from real.’
What’s more believable is how they went from A to B; it is much more likely that any truly sociable person spent a lot of time talking to others before ending up having a smartphone stuck to their face. What I mean by this is people who grew up without technology tend to be more talkative and proactive outside. I feel a little weird about this since I’m basically describing millennials. You are very welcome to experiment on my claim by talking to three people, each from generation X, Y (the millennials) and Z.
Psychology is real and effective, so there are definitely exemptions out and about, but this bold claim of mine is mostly for the general census. Though, I would really much love your input regarding this issue with kids and smartphone today.
I have yet to see this issue in anime; maybe no one wants to write about a realistic character who is too shy to talk to others because they spend too much time behind their phones.
If you are aware of yourself becoming someone like this, please consider the fact that despite having a smartphone as the most convenient method of communication, Nishimiya Shouko tries harder at socializing than you do.
Start going outside and make a difference in your life~
It is a little bit ironic from my side because here you can probably see a hell lot of my personality from all over my own blog posts; it is then really easy to assume that I don’t go outside much.
No, guys. I’m the product of having a smartphone stuck to my face from the age of 20.
That’s right, I did not have my first mobile phone until I was 15 and it wasn’t a touchscreen one at that. My job is also not restricted by any kind of ‘work area’ as I travel out and about to meet new and repeating clients every day. Note on how I used the word clients instead of customers; there’s a hint in it.
Let’s end it with the good:
Given that you clearly are not the person I have just recently described with the paragraph above, there is still hope!
You don’t really have to literally be out there in person; be active online and that would be plenty of fun for you. But this would mean you are practically doing the same thing as socializing in person.
Practically yes; technically no.
Anyone who has had plenty of conversations via IM apps and in person would tell you that it is easy both ways, but they are done differently. Take this for an example…
I’d greet my gaming friends with, “aye nigga” in a heartbeat, but never would say that in person. I go for a more PC version of, “yo naga!”
Another good thing about online messaging in general and not just IM’s is that it gives the power of speech, putting you on equal grounds with others. What I mean by this is how people can be stuck and stuttering with words, or accidentally saying something downright out of context and/or rude — IM’s allow time for you to think twice. Naturally, all of the good stuff I’ve mentioned here got transferred over to the anime medium and we then start to see our very own experiences in anime shows. That is also half of the point in Slice of Life.
Don’t you dare lie to me about never having to delete your almost-fully-written message.
This is from my experience — conversations in person and via mobile phones are less different when I put in equal amounts of effort. I have found it near impossible to maintain my social life in both places; at times I’d be all talkative and cheerful in person then a certain unlucky person would be getting a message from me saying that, “I’m too tired. Talk to you later (which is never)!”
But if I balance them out (meaning that I don’t go make friends with literally every person I speak/message to), it becomes a healthy social life for me.
Speaking of making friends, you could always go the old and direct route of requesting friendship via social media profiles or snipe your crush via…
Want to know how?
Simply make you way into any group your crush is involved in.
Haha damn it, now I’m certified creepy stalker.
But it’s true! While it is not simple when you are too shy to contact the person you have the hots for, it is a hell lot easier to side with their close friends in order to get closer to them.
There are a vast amount of messaging applications that come with group chat feature, and they vary from countries. Having moved from New Zealand to living in Thailand, I swear that I could almost abandon Facebook Messenger for…
A freeware messaging application developed by a Japanese subsidiary of the South Korean internet search giant, which was initially a method of communication for disaster response when Japan was struck by an earthquake in 2011.
Remember how I talked about smartphone age in anime began from as early as 2010 (in the first part)?
Koe no Katachi was probably written in a few years earlier and got published as a one-shot in February 2011, just over a month before the 9.0-9.1 magnitude earthquake and hence before LINE’s existence. From this you should be able to notice how the characters are indeed holding onto their smartphones but still communicate via e-mails.
LINE obviously soared in popularity and went through a couple of server overload, probably because Japanese people totally got sick of the old ways of e-mail and other IM services such as Facebook and WhatsApp were not so lenient. Also R.I.P. Windows Live Messenger.
How could those giants forget that the Japanese LOVE cute and expressively odd stuff?
Like, seriously. Kawaii is a culture and being expressive is their way of life.
This is where LINE quickly came into Japan’s pop culture and eventually anime, having literally placed itself in Kimi no Na Wa. (2016) as Taki’s main method of keeping up with his friends.
The app makes appearances here and there within the anime realm. It was not until Tsuki ga Kirei (2017) when LINE once again became a main socializing tool—the two leads’ number one communication priority. The show emphasizes the app’s importance in everyday lives of teenagers because without the application, Kotarou is practically stuffed — LINE has that much impact on a character.
And the craze didn’t stop there.
LINE continues to be featured on pretty much nearly every new anime shows involving teenage socialization. You wouldn’t believe me when I say this, but they did not really force product placement; instead, anime is just doing what the medium has been doing ever since its existence — replicating and applying real world technology into the aesthetics. LINE is the most popular messaging application in Japan so it is only natural that anime would be showing the reality.
Most of the examples I have used in this post are from anime shows that involve usage of LINE to certain extent. From Animegataris‘s casual read and sent to Just Because!‘s expressive dialogues within the app.
Speaking of Just Because!, it is good to note that the show is the second anime show in 2017 to feature LINE’s capability and involvement in social interactions within a group of high schoolers. Picture say a thousand words; in today’s language — those words are equivalent to a few stickers.
Oh hell, I’m sure you can expect more of this kind to come!
I want to share some of my own experience with this application, too!
To me, LINE is probably one of the most, if not the most stuffed messaging application I have ever seen to date. It is filled with so much junk, your phone’s RAM is probably more at risk of facing issues than meeting up with Google Chrome (click for memes).
Despite those glaring issues, I can totally understand why the Japanese love LINE sooooo much.
I mean for one it is filled with not only junk but a hell lot of expressive stickers on top of the already massive, unique range of emoji’s, something I would actually fancy if I was still a teenager. In LINE and probably most other messaging apps now, there are thousands of emoji’s that bear the same meaning but illustrated differently; this is basically a display of your personality. Do you like using bear or rabbit stickers?
Second is the downloadable content — not all is bad. While it is true that I love things to be simple (hence my love for WhatsApp), sometimes community created stickers can do the talking for me because for most of the time, they are up to date with current affairs.
Seriously, you can really find a Donald Trump sticker somewhere in that app. I won’t do it, though.
Third is the group chat. I find it odd that some popular applications still cannot have me upload videos into a group chat today. That said, LINE clearly is on the upper ground as its flexibility is massive. Overall a landfill of an app it may be, but perhaps I should start taking things for granted.
Because of this, even my job requires me to actually have LINE installed on my phone for group work. Close to a thousand messages (more like sticker spams) per day just from my co-workers alone! Like holy shit, do any of you work in a job that requires social applications?
Moshi moshi desu ka?!
Oh, right. We’re way past that time. Less of the, “Hello? Can you hear me?” and more of the sticker greetings.
This phone call has been going on for far too long. Let me hang up on you right now.
Thank you for staying on the line (reading). It is about time I cut the line and greet you all with another blog post tomorrow—no more phone calls.
Have a good one, ya’ll! ^_^