After two extensive and grueling months at Ranger Selection and Assessment Program (RASP), we finally got a couple days off before heading to our battalions. While wandering around the barracks, trying to find something to entertain myself with, I noticed one of my Ranger buddies sitting on the edge of his bed and staring intently at his phone. Curiously, I plopped next to him and to my delight he was watching “One Piece” (Skypiea Arch). With a simple, “Anime!?” and a response of, “YUP!” it turned into a two to three-hour anime marathon.
Much of Special Operations and the conventional military have a dark secret that is beginning to become impossible to hide: there are a lot of nerds in our ranks. Through the years of watching anime I’ve personally noticed three reasons why many veterans and military members love and relate to Anime: Training, Sacrifice, and Camaraderie.
Everybody in the military went through some form of training. Even if their training was just Basic and AIT, it is likely one of the most memorable parts of their military careers. There are very few times in our lives when we can be 100% focused on one thing and align all our focus on a single mission. The military throws you into this world from day one and creates an environment to improve or fail. I’ve always been drawn to Anime that have extensive training scenes and a well thought out character progression because of this. Watching characters push themselves to the limit, and progress to the next level, always made me reflect on trying times in my own training and relate to their struggle.
Notable Anime with awesome training scenes/progression: Yu Yu Hakusho, One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, Dragon Ball Z, My Hero Academia
The concept of sacrifice can mean many things to different people, but it always boils down to giving up something for someone or something else. In the military, sacrifice and service go hand in hand; whether it’s the lower-level forms (time lost with family, stress, health) or the most extreme version (giving up your life for others). Many veterans and active duty soldiers would be willing to give their lives to save their fellow soldiers and/or civilians. Fortunately, most individuals won’t be in situations where they have to make the choice. Anime, though, tends to focus on this extreme version sacrifice, with a character giving everything to save the world or his/her friends. It may be a trivial comparison, but it does connect me to the hero’s morals and their choice of sacrifice.
Notable Anime with sacrifice(s): Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Naruto, One Piece
Camaraderie is a hot topic in the veteran community — both in and out of uniform. We spent years garnering strong bonds and trust with fellow soldiers through training, deployments, and missions. Many of these bonds become life-long friendships and ,basically, family. I love a lot of Anime because they focus on the concepts of loyalty, friendship, and support that is tied to camaraderie. Most of the first seasons in Anime focuses on building the team and showing the start of these connections. Good Anime continues and evolves these relationships through their adventures and mishaps, just as we did in the military.
Notable Anime featuring camaraderie: One Piece, Naruto, Bleach
Many veterans love and relate to a lot of Anime because of the core principles the stories/characters focus on. Whether it’s the training, sacrifice, camaraderie, or another facet you relate to, Anime has much to offer. If you haven’t given Anime a chance, do some research to find one that best fits you, because anime has many different genres and sub-genres.
Nerd Rangers are coming! What’s your favorite anime?