Anime: The Power of a Story

anime figurine with guitar
Why are stories important for brands?

On my website, my blog, and my social media, I talk a lot about the importance of stories for brands. Let me say it again: stories are really important for brands. However, it might not be completely evident why stories are so important for business. Let me dive into this with a type of story that is really important to me, anime (or Japanese animation if you are unfamiliar).

Stories are relatable. Stories are personal. Stories are motivational.

All these elements are related to each other and feed off of each other. They are all the reasons why stories are so important. This is why stories have been told since humans have roamed this earth, whether is has been Beowulf, The Illiad, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or My Hero Academia. They let us see ourselves in others and see others in ourselves. They let us understand why we do the things we do. Because of this, they drive action.

That is why I wanted to demonstrate the power of stories with a story.

I love Japanese anime. A lot. Like a lot, a lot. And I like pretty much every kind of genre imaginable in anime, and there are a lot of genres in anime: isekai (when the main character gets transported to an alternate universe), shounen (which is a story of a young boy becoming a man through trials and hardship), and slice of life (which is a common story showing people do regular everyday things). The list goes on and on from here.

Besides documentaries and occasionally a western show here and there, anime is essentially all I watch. What I love the most about anime is that it hits all the three things I listed above perfectly for me: it is relatable, it is personal, and it is motivational. I want to take a closer look at exactly how it has been motivational because I think this is the most important aspect to why brands and companies need to be telling stories.

In the spring of 2018, a new sports genre anime hit the scene. The sports genre was a real hit and miss (mostly miss) genre for me at this time because even though I had played sports my whole life, I never viewed myself as all that athletic. However, Megalo Box was a hot new show hitting the scene about boxers that fought with robotic arm enhancements. I don’t want to give you a recap of the show because I really recommend just watching it: it has amazing animation, gripping characters, and a really fresh hip-hop soundtrack. A masterpiece.

The show is only 13 episodes (which in the anime world we call this a one cour show) so it didn’t take me too long to watch through the series with a new episode coming out every week. As I watched it, though, I felt something coming alive in me. I wanted a piece of the action I was seeing on the screen. I wanted to become a boxer. I told my friends. I told my parents. I told the internet. I don’t think anyone believed me. I was incredibly out of shape, drank plenty of booze, smoked plenty of cigarettes, and was not the toughest guy on the block. But, damn, did Megalo Box motivate me!

The next week I joined a boxing gym in Denver, Colorado named Topeira Boxing Club. When I started I was awkward and really bad, but I was inspired by this story nonetheless.

This lasted for a couple weeks. The motivation of Megalo Box started wearing off. But the motivation of a new story started taking fire: My Hero Academia (also known as Boku no Hero Academia). A story about a seemingly pathetic and powerless boy, named Izuku Midoriya, becoming the strongest hero to ever walk the planet. Boom. The motivation kept going. I ripped through the show, and I kept boxing. And now, I was starting to really see results. I really saw myself as being just like the main character.

This motivation lasted for a couple weeks after I had finished watching what was currently released again. The motivation of stories doesn’t always last forever, but it can. Then, thanks to a friend of mine named Ted, I found what soon became my favorite show of all time and continues to motivate my fitness goals everyday of my life: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. If you want to learn more about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, I recommend checking out my post dedicated to the show.

To make a very long story (one that lasted from early 2018 until now and certainly onward) short, these stories all inspired me. They motivated me to take action. So much so that I am a pretty different person today. Before these stories, I was a nerd. I was overweight. I was out of shape. I smoked cigarettes like a chimney. I hadn’t run a mile since I graduated high school.

Now, I am still a nerd… But I run 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons regularly. I train at least an hour a day for boxing six days a week. Oh yeah! And I did figure skating classes for three months and can do some neat tricks because I watched an ice skating anime named Yuri On Ice.

This is the power of a story.

This is why your business needs to be telling stories. If stories can motivate me to completely turn around my physical ability and change my daily routine for over a year, stories can motivate your company’s target audience to become loyal fans, purchase your products or services, and promote your image. I am sure of it. Tell stories.

John Knetemann serving food as a camp counselor
Before: As a camp counselor in Colorado

John Knetemann at the dam tot dam race
After: Running the Dam tot Dam 10-mile race in Amsterdam

Meet the Author : John Knetemann

From Denver, Colorado. Educated in Rapid City, South Dakota. Living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The most epic and daring content writer you will find on the east side of the Amstel... And sometimes the west side too. I am from the land of mountains, but now live in the land of very small hills and canals. Truly a native of the internet, I work with companies to build adventurous content, engaging social media identities, and addictively informative email campaigns.

I have turned comments off on my website, but talk with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.