|Zion National Park in Utah, a gorgeous place.|
Bad memories are something that haunts us, and depending on our actions, it can be a strong motivator or a weight that will eternally hold us back. In the context of an anime, manga, or video game there is a thin line with how bad memories are dealt with that separates a hero and a villain. A classic example of this is Naruto, from the eponymous hero from the Naruto manga. Memories of his childhood are dark, with him being a lone wolf who was ignored. Instead of moping about it, he decided to use those memories of loneliness as a motivator to prove the naysayers wrong. Bad memories can also hold a person back or can be a motivator for nefarious goals and misdeeds. The classic example of that is Lelouch vi Britannia from Code Geass, who used his bad memories to foster hatred for his father and to pursue the goal of toppling his family’s empire. A major plot point in the development of an antagonist is the weight of a bad memory that continues to haunt and eat away the villain. As I mentioned before, the line between using bad memories as a way to creative positive change and negative change is very thin, and that is the thin line between a protagonist and an antagonist in many franchises.
A common statement by many people I know is that they do not have many memories, or at least not many pleasant memories to look back at. This statement is unfortunately very false, since memories are generally created, not made. You cannot have a good memory of going to Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park if you have not made plans to go to those places. Simply put, until a person takes the initiative and actively goes to places to create memories, there will be no memories to create to look fondly back at and recall to others. Recounting how you sat at your computer, browsing on the internet does not make for a compelling narrative as it is exploring a bustling city and meeting eccentric locals or hiking grand trails, only to meet a family of deer. Until a person actively goes out to create memories, a fond memory will not be created.
Memories are created from experiencing something that has a strong personal impact. This memory can be a positive memory to motivate and sustain in harder times. When this memory is negative, the personality of the person determines whether the impact of the memory can be a positive or negative force for the world. The line between using a bad memory to motivate and to destroy is very thin. As a plot point, amnesia as a lack of memory is used to tell the story. The dark side to this is that there are millions who lose their treasured memories, as they get older. Memories are created, they are made by actively taking the initiative to go out and experience something new. Memories are powerful, they make us and they break us. It is up to us to use our memories and motivate us to do better in our lives.
Kris Zoleta started working in Anime Expo as a staffer in Manga Library. He worked in Staff Service in Anime Expo 2006 and became the manager of Manga Lounge from Anime Expo 2007-2010. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the 501(c)(6) non-profit behind Anime Expo and is one of the most recognized cosplay photographers in the West Coast.