Anime flu is a term used to describe a common trope in anime and manga, where a character gets sick from a minor exposure to cold or rain, and becomes bedridden with fever, delirium, and weakness.
This trope is often used to create drama, comedy, or romance in the story, as the sick character is cared for by their friends or love interests.
But why is anime flu so prevalent and exaggerated in anime? Is it based on any reality, or is it just a convenient plot device? In this article, we will explore the origins, functions, and examples of anime flu, and see how it reflects the culture and history of Japan.
The Origins of Anime Flu
Anime flu is not a new phenomenon. It has been around since the early days of anime and manga, and can be traced back to the influence of classic literature and folklore. One of the earliest examples of anime flu is in Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, where Astro Boy gets sick from being exposed to rain, and has to be nursed back to health by his creator, Dr. Tenma.
This scene was inspired by Pinocchio, the Italian fairy tale about a wooden puppet who becomes a real boy. In Pinocchio, the puppet also gets sick from being caught in the rain, and is taken care of by his father, Geppetto.
Another source of inspiration for anime flu is the Japanese concept of kaze, which literally means "wind" but also refers to a cold or flu. According to traditional Japanese medicine, kaze is caused by an imbalance of ki (life energy) in the body, which can be affected by external factors such as weather, stress, or emotions.
Kaze can manifest in various symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, headache, or fatigue. To prevent or treat kaze, one should avoid exposure to cold or dampness, rest well, drink warm fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
Kaze is also associated with certain superstitions and beliefs in Japan. For example, some people believe that cutting one's nails at night can cause kaze, or that sleeping with wet hair can invite evil spirits that cause kaze.
Another belief is that kaze can be transmitted by eye contact or by sharing an umbrella with someone who has kaze. These beliefs may explain why some anime characters are so paranoid about getting sick from minor things.
The Functions of Anime Flu
Anime flu is not just a random occurrence in anime and manga. It serves various purposes for the story and the characters. Here are some of the main functions of anime flu:
- Character development: Anime flu can reveal different aspects of a character's personality, such as their vulnerability, strength, kindness, or stubbornness. For example, in Naruto, Naruto gets sick from overusing his chakra during a mission, and has to stay in bed for a few days. This shows how Naruto is reckless and determined, but also human and fragile. On the other hand, Sakura takes care of him and brings him food and medicine. This shows how Sakura is caring and loyal, but also frustrated and annoyed by Naruto's antics.
- Relationship development: Anime flu can also create opportunities for characters to interact with each other in intimate or humorous ways. For example, in Toradora!, Taiga gets sick from walking home in the snow without an umbrella, and Ryuji comes to visit her at her apartment. This leads to a series of awkward and funny situations, such as Ryuji finding out that Taiga has a crush on his best friend Kitamura, or Taiga mistaking Ryuji for Kitamura and confessing her feelings to him.
- Plot advancement: Anime flu can also serve as a catalyst for major events or changes in the story. For example, in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2, Lelouch gets sick from using his Geass too much, and loses control of his power during a meeting with the Emperor of Britannia. This causes him to accidentally order his sister Euphemia to kill all the Japanese people, which triggers a massacre and a war.
Examples of Anime Flu
Anime flu is a very common trope in anime and manga, and can be found in almost any genre or setting. Here are some examples of anime flu from different genres:
- Action: In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Edward Elric gets sick from being exposed to rain while fighting Scar, and has to be taken care of by Winry Rockbell, who fixes his automail arm and scolds him for being reckless.
- Comedy: In Nichijou, Yuuko Aioi gets sick from eating too much ice cream, and has to stay home from school. Her friends Mio Naganohara and Mai Minakami come to visit her, but end up making fun of her condition and playing pranks on her.
- Drama: In Your Lie in April, Kaori Miyazono gets sick from an unspecified illness, and has to be hospitalized several times. Her sickness affects her ability to play the violin, and her relationship with Kousei Arima, who is inspired by her music.
- Horror: In Higurashi: When They Cry, Keiichi Maebara gets sick from a mysterious parasite that infects the residents of Hinamizawa, and causes them to go insane and kill each other. His sickness makes him paranoid and violent, and he ends up killing his friends and himself.
- Romance: In Kimi ni Todoke, Sawako Kuronuma gets sick from catching a cold from Shouta Kazehaya, who kissed her on the cheek. Her sickness makes her miss school for a few days, and she worries that Kazehaya will forget about her.
- Sci-Fi: In Steins;Gate, Kurisu Makise gets sick from time traveling too much, and has to rest in the lab. Her sickness makes her more vulnerable and emotional, and she confesses her love to Rintaro Okabe.
Anime flu is a trope that has been used for decades in anime and manga, and has its roots in literature, folklore, and medicine. It can serve various functions for the story and the characters, such as character development, relationship development, or plot advancement.
It can also reflect the culture and history of Japan, and its views on illness and health. Anime flu is not a realistic depiction of sickness, but rather a creative and convenient way of creating drama, comedy, or romance in anime.
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