How Bakuten Teaches Us That "Be Needy” Is a Good Thing - VRGyani News and Media


Friday, August 27, 2021

How Bakuten Teaches Us That "Be Needy” Is a Good Thing

If there’s one thing sports anime is full of, it’s feel good messages and encouraging lessons.

Almost every sports anime is filled with themes of friendship, teamwork, and perseverance. It’s part of what makes them so enjoyable; there’s just something about watching a group of people come together and become a team, a family, who have each other’s backs. However, as with any group, sometimes there are issues. Maybe one member doesn’t quite trust the team. Maybe another is working through trauma that’s preventing them from reaching their potential and thus holding the team back as well. These are things that make for good conflict, especially when the team has to react to them.

Most sports anime take the same route when dealing with these problems. First, they tend to be a bit harsh. They get upset with the person for not being a team player and feel hurt that the person doesn’t trust them. Then, they start to understand why the person is having trouble and try to help. This help often comes in the form of the team telling the person that they need to be more trusting or more open. They place the burden back on the person by telling them that they didn’t come to them for help, so there was no way to fix the problem. This is meant to be a lesson about not being afraid to ask for help. Bakuten, however, takes a different approach to this message.

Bakuten, for the unacquainted, is an anime that follows Shotaro Futaba, a boy who dreams of being on a rhythmic gymnastics team after seeing their performance in his last year of middle school. He and another first year, Ryoya Misato, join the team and with a full roster, the team can finally begin working towards qualifying for the Inter-High tournament. A major point of contention in the series is Misato’s lack of interest in bonding with the team. He doesn’t stay in the dorms with them, he never stays to spend time with them after practice, and he always seems less than pleased when asked to help them. Normally, this would be attributed to his position as the ace of the team, but Misato even dislikes that title and asks not to be called by it.

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While some sports anime might make Misato learn the hard way that he needs to trust his team, Bakuten instead uses a simple phrase: be needy. These are the words Futaba says to him once he understands the reason why Misato is reluctant to get close. He doesn’t berate Misato for not trusting them or tell Misato that it’s his fault for not coming to the team for help, he simply tells Misato to be needy. This is an important subversion of the usual “don’t be afraid to ask for help!” lesson. “Be needy” doesn’t place blame on the person, nor is it meant to shame them. It isn’t meant to make them feel guilty. Futaba says this phrase as a way to tell Misato it’s okay to need things and ask for help, and that being needy with the team is important. The team is there to support each member as much as they need, so don’t be afraid to say you need things!

This may seem like a minor detail. After all, it shouldn’t matter how the message is put across as long as everyone understands each other in the end. However, people are often so afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to seem stupid or needy to other people. It’s incredibly difficult to admit that there are things you can’t do on your own, and it can be daunting to feel like you might be an inconvenience. That’s why “be needy” is such essential phrasing. It encourages people to ask for help in a non-judgemental way that also says that neediness isn’t a negative thing. Everyone is needy at times, it’s human nature, and when you’re part of a team, that neediness is important. Whether it’s a personal issue or a performance issue, the people around you care about you and want to help.

Upon first glance, Bakuten is just another sports anime. It’s a feel-good, “friendship always wins” story that’s meant to make the audience happy. However, the direction it takes to teach one of its main lessons is incredibly refreshing and important. Bakuten’s use of the phrase “be needy” adds a new perspective on the traditional “don’t be afraid to ask for help” lesson of sports anime by not placing blame of the person it’s directed at and reminding them that the team is there for them when they’re struggling and that it’s okay to need a little extra support. It’s a message that’s necessary for audiences of all ages to remind us that in every group, it’s important to be sensitive and uplifting to those around us. After all, everyone needs to be needy sometimes.

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