Fist of the North Star, despite its apparent emphasis on hot-bloodedness and gratuitous violence, makes it equally clear that masculinity and a sensitive heart are not mutually exclusive, an ethos sadly absent from a lot of male-oriented media. Additionally, the series shows the perspectives of every party involved, showing the reader/viewer why they commit certain actions and what pushed them to their current beliefs. If anything, this is a series that teaches open-mindedness.
"The idol of today pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection, and will, in turn, be supplanted by his successor of tomorrow." - Washington Irving
The main anvil of the story: believe in your friends, who believe in you. Believe in you, who believes in yourself. Kick reason to the curb, and go do the impossible! There's nothing you can't accomplish if you set your mind to it and have the will and courage to back it up! In a world of pessimistic stories, belief that Good Is Dumb, and Anti Heroes, TTGL's anvils feel really refreshing to see out of a mecha series.
Another important one is that you can't run away from your problems. All of the antagonists are simply people that are dead scared of something — the Anti-Spiral for Lordgenome and Rossiu, and the Spiral Nemesis for the Anti-Spiral, and think that locking people away will prevent the problem. Also, Simon's first reaction to danger at the beginning of the story is to dig a hole and hide. All of this never works, and it usually causes a lot of unnecessary(?) pain and suffering. As Kamina first, and Simon later, demonstrates, the best way to deal with your problems is to face them.
Another message resulted from Kamina's death. Never disregard people suffering from traumatic experiences or losses, simply believing they should get over it on their own, even if you're at war. Some of Team Gurren tried to help Simon, but failed due to not knowing what to do or so on. By episode 11, they no longer showed any sympathy and felt that he should either get over it or return home, with the only people having faith in him being Rossiu, the twins Gimmy and Darry and more subtly, Leeron. Ultimately though, it's Nia, the new girl that didn't even know Kamina who speaks with him, helping him through his grief and realizing that he needs to be himself.
The series also has a nice environmental message illustrated by the Gundam Fight Tournament. Master Asia wanted to utilize the power of the Dark Gundam, despite its evil, because he felt a deep shame and sorrow over the destruction of the Earth's environment. This was caused by the Gundams fighting each other and wanted to restore the Earth to its natural beauty. The only problem with The Plan is that he felt the only way to restore nature was to get rid of humanity so they could tarnish it no more. Domon gives him an epic Kirk Summation where he tells Master Asia that humans were created on the Earth and are thus part of the Earth too, to destroy humanity would be to destroy a part of nature, and that we can live in harmony with the Earth if we try. This message tells us that we can accept responsibility for our damage to the Earth but we don't deserve to be destroyed for our crimes; we can always try better next time if we admit our mistake and try to correct it.
Another one, by Setsuna F Seiei, from the opposite direction, but something that still needs to be said; yes, war is bad, but there are moments where it's necessary if there's no way of getting rid of a corrupt, irredeemable regime.
Likewise, the ending of Zeta Gundam could be seen as arguing that even though war is terrible, there are some people who are so twisted and evil that violence is the only way to stop them from committing even worse atrocities.
Gundam SEED: The show's messages about racism and conflict escalation just wouldn't hit as hard if they didn't show the effects of Cyclops and Genesis on the human body. And even if one group of people were innately more capable than the rest, racism still wouldn't be okay.
Furthermore, the message about the hopeless spiral that is the Cycle of Revenge hits that much harder because most of the people killing each other over it are characters the audience cares about.
Digimon Adventure: If you and other people have ended up in a very dangerous place, miles away from the nearest civilization, you all have to quickly learn how to work together as one and put all grievances aside in order to survive, or all of you are gonna get picked off. It's even more important if half of your group has some psychological issues, and There Are No Therapists around.
Digimon Adventure 02: Sometimes, you have to use lethal force for the greater good, and to save innocent lives. The "If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him" mentality is just suicidal naïveté at best and suicidal naïveté with genocidal consequences at worst, and your enemies will gladly take advantage of it anytime they can if you don't grow up and see the reality.
Digimon Tamers: Life is life, regardless of whether it's organic or virtual.
And internet censorship is stupid and wrong.
Your past can't be changed, but with the power of dreams you can shape your future.
Morality is not absolute (read: Devas)
Digimon Frontier actually dropped a pretty good one with Duskmon. It is not a given that Evil Will Fail. Assuming that you can win a fight just because you're on the "good" side is suicidal recklessness. Takuya is also forced to face the fact that he can't run from his mistakes; part of being a leader is accepting responsibility when things go wrong.
Digimon Savers: Don't hate all humans because a few caused you pain. The only people you should hate are those who do terrible things and are unrepentant.
With the Light all but screams to the world, "Autistics are not sick! They can become honest, hardworking members of society, and they will! They don't need a cure, they need to be encouraged and loved!" It took an entire society (one classroom of students, several teachers, a few social workers, and a big family) to get Hikaru into middle school, and it certainly wasn't easy, but it had nothing if not a positive impact on those near him.
Considering the fact that there's going to be a TSUNAMI of autistic adults in the coming years and those stories about various kids/adults getting arrested or abused for varying reasons, ignorance or not, like this one for example, this is an anvil that SERIOUSLY needs to be dropped more often!
Paranoia Agent, a series about accepting reality as it is, features in its final episode an unspeakably creepy town made of cardboard cutouts that one of the characters smashes to nothing in six swings of a baseball bat. The absolute unambiguity of it makes the anti-escapist message feel clear, clean, and right.
Great Teacher Onizuka: Do your Best, Be Independent, Be A Man (even if you're a woman...) And it's better to try and fail than to refuse to try because of uncertainty.
Pet Shop of Horrors drops Anvils about animals in general. In general, there were a number of heavy-handed Aesops about human/pet relationships and how people need to see their pets as companions to be loved rather than stupid animals to be exploited or abused, as any animal rescue show can attest.
A particularly roundabout one was dropped with the chapter "Dreizehn".
A young woman named Karen goes to Count D's shop for a seeing-eye dog with experience in protection as well, after a fire that killed her parents and traumatized her so much she went blind. The titular Doberman chosen for this purpose not only looks human, but feels human, too — to Karen's shock. After she gets used to it, a slightly awkward conversation ensues in which he agrees to let her "see" him by touching his face; after several panels, she comes across his ears. Prior to this, Dreizehn had not been shown as a dog, and as a human, his hair covered his ears — which had been cut into sharp points.
Horrified, Karen questions this and brings to light the practice of cropping dogs' ears from a dog's perspective, made even more disturbing when Dreizehn assures her that since it was done when he was young (a puppy!), "It doesn't hurt anymore."
To drive home the Anvil, there is a short passage in the back reflecting upon the fact that some people refuse to acknowledge Dobermans with natural ears because they don't look like real Dobermans.
Pet Shop also has a lot to say about humanity, particularly in the final volume of the first series, at the end of which Leon manages to make his way onto the Count's ship only to be told that "humans have not yet earned the right to be on this ship" before being pushed off the side, only to wake up unharmed.
The Macross franchise; The Power of Love and the beauty of human culture shall overcome all, even the unstoppable marauding alien death fleets that were designed only for war, or at the very least distract them long enough to give humanity an opening to use reaction weapons.
There are numerous scenes in the anime where characters pause mid-battle or delay combat in order to stand around preaching their own philosophies at each other — notably Ed and his pro-science stance. And, somehow, not only does it work, but the story would fail without it. The manga does this with more subtlety, but the tone and stories of the two are quite different. It helps that the morality is not especially anvilicious, as the characters struggle to figure out what morality is right at all.
There are three major themes in the manga: tolerancenote especially in the 15th volume, which deals with the horrors of the Ishval Massacre, the Cycle of Hatrednote with the Ishvals stating that, while they hate Amestris for what they have done, they can't sink to the level of Revenge, and must endure the hatred, and the fact that the military is for the protection of the peoplenote almost all grunts are good, with the villains being the upper ranks of Central who believe that they are the chosen people who will lead the world, and that the sacrifice of the people was worth it. The basic aesop is "Genocide is bad". All the more powerful because much of the traumatic scenes are based on testimony from Japanese veterans and the persecuted Ainu.
In addition, the military exist to serve the people, not the officials running the government, and if your superiors betray that, you must protect the people from them rather than blindly obeying. Olivia hammers that point in very clearly.
Also, ordinary people are capable of doing horrible things in the right circumstances, but can also redeem themselves and make up for their mistakes.
And "redemption is not death": you can always do the right thing, no matter what wrongs you've committed in the past. Scar lives through the series, even though any other series would have killed off a death seeking serial killer out for revenge. Hohenheim's offer to sacrifice his life for Al is turned down, and he gets to die a (more or less) natural death. Mustang both wants to change the country and wants to be tried for war crimes.
Another big anvil was the lesson that Scar and Winry learned, and that's the difference between enduring evil deeds and forgiving evil deeds.
A subtle but powerful one: Ed talks about how easy it is to create a human body, saying you could buy the chemicals necessary "with a child's pocket money" (which he knows from experience). However, attempting to recreate a human through this method always fails. On the other hand, souls are unable to be recreated through any means (hence why trying to recreate humans fails) and is considered the true mark of humanity. Al is no less a person than Ed for being a soul bound to a suit of armor and questioning this gets Winry legitimately mad at Al.
Sailor Moon S is essentially one long Aesop on expedience vs. morality: Doing what is easy, and possibly justifiable, versus doing what's right.
Sailor Moon R's one long Aesop: Your family bonds are important (obviously this lesson does not apply to people who actually have parents who abuse them or something, it's just a general Aesop). Trust your family even when there's a conflict; Diamond didn't trust Sapphire until it was too late, and lost his brother as a result. Chibi-Usa resented her parents both for not helping her up when she fell as a child and in general not being around sometimes and leaving her lonely; unfortunately she let this fester instead of directly asking her parents what motivated them to act as they did, and Wiseman turned that to his advantage to brainwash Chibi-Usa into Black Lady, with only Pluto's Heroic Sacrifice (in the manga) and Mamoru and Usagi's reassurance (anime) to fix it. Mamoru didn't trust Usagi to be able to protect herself after Mamoru was shown a vision of Usagi's death, and he chose to handle it by breaking up with Usagi without trusting her with the truth about why he was doing it; this not only caused Usagi and Mamoru non-ending grief until she learned the truth, but by the end it almost made Usagi vulnerable to being brainwashed by Wiseman when he tried to trick her into thinking Mamoru loved Black Lady instead... but Usagi's own ease to trust her loved ones overcame the brainwashing and it didn't work.
Mushishi delivers a striking overall theme: all life is fundamentally equal. There is no 'evil' in nature, only living things doing what they have to do to survive. The whole message of Grey and Grey Morality and naturalistic beauty is sent with surprising subtlety. Even creatures that seem horrible (invasive fungi, scavengers, parasites, etc.) are still living things, and should be respected as such. There's no evil in nature, only a collection of organisms doing what they were born to do.
The Animatrix: The Second Renaissance pre-emptively drops quite a few anvils in favor of granting sentient machines civil rights. Comparisons are made to other civil rights struggles, like the Amistad, Those Wacky Nazis, the Chinese democracy movement, and even Exodus.
Lyrical Nanoha has one really good anvil that it keeps dropping consistently: it doesn't matter what someone's background is, it doesn't matter how they were born, it doesn't matter where they came from, it doesn't matter what they're fighting for, and hell, it doesn't even matter if they're not technically classifiable as human. Everyone is a person, with just as much potential to be good as anyone else, and no matter what else, they deserve to be treated with compassion and love. And firepower.
Grenadier has the message that one should always try to find a peaceful solution to conflicts, whenever possible. The series is largely about Rushuna's inner struggle to find out where the line should be drawn.
War has awful consequences, even on those not actually fighting it.
Honor Before Reason is a bad idea when you're in a city with no infrastructure that almost burned to the ground.
The anvil that the director was purposefully trying to drop: "Listen up, you mindless hedonist juvenile delinquents. You go around and vandalize and commit crimes across Japan and live in some sort of blissful materialistic paradise, while when your parents or grandparents were your age, they were trying not to starve to death or be killed in an American air raid just to survive long enough to make your existence possible. How dare you dishonor their sufferings by dragging Japan down into the mud by your behavior?"
The story shows us how a young republic who managed to fight toe to toe with its much older, bigger, dictatorial neighbour ultimately collapses because its citizens elected nationalist politicians. On top of that, the narrator, and sometimes even Poplan, of all people, spend some time to hammer it again and again and again.
In the case of Nationalism, it's not so much love of country that is rebuked; indeed, many characters on both sides show patriotism to their respective countries and ideologies. Rather, it's on the more hardline, destructive forms which formed part of the reason why the war began in the first place.
Also, take care of your friends. One of those things that just cannot be repeated enough, especially in the shallowness of the modern world.
The Enies Lobby Arc drops the anvil that, no matter what the world sees in you, one day you'll find people willing to be your friends and stand by your side. For Nico Robin, those people were the Straw Hats.
The "Fishman Island" arc shows the consequences of letting hatred fester in society, namely that society cannot deal with racism simply by trying to sweep it under the rug (as the Fishman Kingdom attempted, before a group of charismatic racists rallied those ignored parts of society into an army ready to overthrow it), society must confront its past darkness in order to move towards the future.
Samurai Champloo uses the character Isaac to address both weaboo idealization of Japan, as well as Japan's own tendency to gloss over the past. Isaac is a Dutch ambassador who loves Japanese culture, and as a Straight Gay, he can practice his sexuality there, which during this time would be punishable by death in Europe. However, Issac needs to disguise himself when out in public in Japan, as this was a period where foreigners were prohibited outside of a small "safe zone" (note the series's related discussion of the persecution of Japanese Christians during this era). Isaac ultimately comments that both Japan and the West have screwed up features, albeit in different ways.
Bigger than and encompassing its more famous Green Aesop, Tokyo Mew Mew has "Even if it isn't your fault and it isn't fair that you're involved in the first place, don't ignore or write off the injustice that you see; take responsibility for fixing it, because no one else will."
The series as a whole seems to have the message "Don't dwell on the past; keep moving forward".
The Mahorafest arc ultimately boils down to "You can't always be sure that you're doing the right thing, but you need to give it your all anyway or you'll never accomplish anything, good or bad." Alternately, "Sometimes, you just have to stick to your guns even if you aren't sure you're right."
Tokyo Babylon: The manga drops more than a few anvils directed at Japan (at the time the manga was written) specifically, relating to how Japanese society handles bullying, the mentally ill, rape victims, older people, and immigrants. They don't really propose solutions all of the time, but the idea is put out there.
School Days: Sleeping with someone under the guise of a relationship and then proceeding to ditch them without any warning for another person is not cool at all.
Not only is playing with the hearts of girls for sex not cool, it can also be dangerous as well.
Also, if a girl falls under the influence of such a guy and throws herself at him, even if she has her reasons for it (like Kotonoha's self-esteem issues and later mental problems), it will NOT end well for anyone.
School Rumble. The first person you fall in love with will not be your last. Hell, the person you fall in love with now might lead you to the one you will love for the rest of your life.
There's also the fact that you have to always believe in yourself. If the world says you're stupid, don't stop studying; if the world says you're weak, never stop getting stronger; if the world says you're a monster, become a hero. There is a constant dichotomy between Naruto and those he inspires, and those who give in to the hatred, loathing and darkness... And a truly inspiring message that, no matter how far you may have fallen, if you're willing to try you can still find the light again.
The world must never forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The memory of the atomic bombings maintains a healthy fear of nuclear war, and we must not let this memory die with the generation that saw it or else the next war likely will be a nuclear war. Notably, this Aesop is delivered by a villain who is about two decades past the Despair Event Horizon who is actively planning to cultivate a series of fantastic nuclear wars in order to secure ~80 year intervals of peace between the wars.
No matter how horrible things seem, it can never be too much to ask for help from your friends and allies. Itachi, a villain who was posthumously revealed as a Hero with an F in Good, more-or-less says to the titular character, saying not following will make him no different from the Big Bad. He is also likely talking from experience, seeing that after his zombification, he learned that every contingency plan that he made failed miserably.
Tanaka Yutaka's stories show how communication, honesty and trust in a relationship works, and the lack thereof doesn't.
In the Anime at least, one of the messages seems to be: "Blood may be thicker than water, but a family can look in many different ways."
After its Genre Shift, Kinnikuman continually attempts to burn in the message that "Friendship is a really good thing." Even the villains value friendship in the series.
Monster teaches that Forgiveness is always important, even in the face of someone as unspeakably evil as Johan Liebert. It also makes clear that it is never too late to start anew, which is displayed by the number of people attempting to atone for past sins, or people like Nina, who has been through such horrible trauma, yet puts the pieces of her life back together and tries to live a normal life.
That said, its stance on forgiveness is somewhat more nuanced than most shows: yes, forgiveness is all-important, but nevertheless, there are some people who are completely beyond redemption.
Osamu Tezuka's MW has an entire chapter late in the series' run about how homosexuality is neither wrong nor shameful, a stance that was fairly radical in 1970's Japan. Notably, this Aesop is delivered by a sympathetic lesbian character, in contrast to the two gay/bisexual leads, both of whom are profoundly screwed up individuals.
Shugo Chara!: While it does do the entire "Dreams" aesop much better than most, it has another one that might not count for the "anvil" part of the trope if it were not for the fact that Amu spells it out towards the end ("We are all the main characters of our own stories!"): Don't let somebody else decide everything for you. As said before, it doesn't seem obvious at first, but the afore - mentioned quote, plus some viewing of the characters shows that it definitely is: Ikuto has been following his stepfathers orders for years, although that arguably counteracts it by him blackmailing him with violence towards his mother and sister. Him being reduced towards essentially nothing more than a slave, tired enough by the physical pain inflicted by his X - Egg - corrupted violin that he's prevented from doing anything other than sleep,(presumably) eat, and go Death Rebel/be otherwise brainwashed, however, definitely doesn't. Rima is essentially treated less as a person and more as a valuable item by her parents, who, until later events, basically forbid her from spending any time outside of her house that doesn't involve school, Kairi is forced by his sister into doing actions that he really, really doesn't want to do, Nadeshiko /Nagihiko is, via family tradition, made to conceal his actual gender within order to "learn the feminine grace neccessary for the art of traditional Japanese dancing" (Although this is less severe than the other examples because of the fact that Nagihiko actually does like traditional Japanese dance. It's just the entire "gender hiding" bit that annoys him, partly because he sometimes wonders if it was really neccessary.) and, perhaps largest of all, Gozen himself, A.K.A. Hikaru, eventually was whatheis because of his grandfather basically attempted to control his entire life from the moment he was born, even if it was ostensibly for his "happiness".
Also, just because you take one hit, don't just give up then and there. Remember: Everything that does not kill you only makes you stronger, and you learn from correcting your mistakes and recovering throughout everything that harms you. Trying again, despite what has happened within past, as long as you see where you screwed up and decline to do it again, is highly probable to increase the chances of getting it right. This is effective because of the fact that, unlike other extraordinarily saccharine series, which tend to represent humanity within general as a huge sugar bowl with the only harm that may come to you outside of magical, otherworldly beings being occassional and, indeed, rather minor. Shugo Chara, however, admits that, within everyday life, harmful events happen all the time, be they malicious actions (Ikuto protecting two strangers from whats implied to be attempted rape, and then having the shit beaten out of him for it, albeit offscreen, Rima's bacstory having her kidnapped, Utau VS. the ecording and music industry and mostly forgetful general public after leaving Easter, ect.) or careless mistakes (Lots of filler characters, (Kazamu's son, daughter-in-law, and wife dying in a car accident, although, admittedly, that one didn't turnouttoo well... Until it does., but like hell does it give them an excuse to give up, and, honestly, nothing does.
In the first volume of the manga of Barefoot Gen, Gen is torn between believing the government sanctioned propaganda being espoused at his school or believing in his Father Daikichi's radical anti-war, anti-governmental views. Ultimately he ends up believing in his father's beliefs and he and his family pay the price for it. Despite it's downer outcome, it shows that groupthink and collectivism isn't a good thing and sometimes being an individual is more important than following what others tell you to believe. In an age where schools and colleges have teachers who force students to believe in what they believe rather than let students find out for themselves about facts, a moral like this really needs to be dropped, lest the kind of totalitarian rule of schools and governments mix again.
Kyo Kara Maoh!: No matter how different two groups are or how much bad history they have between them, it IS possible for them to live together peacefully.
Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers: No matter how necessary a war may be, people are going to suffer. Turnabout isn't fair play; killing is and always will be wrong. There often isn't a clear difference between the good guys and bad guys, in the end. Revenge is a slippery slope that will never, under any circumstances, make you happy.
If you know yourself you can take care of yourself. The uploader of the video says this specifically: You are the one who writes the story of your life. If you run away from doing so and immerse yourself in something else to avoid thinking about it - to the point that it consumes you (excessive gaming, anime binging, alcohol, sex, becoming a workaholic, etc.), you will have wasted your life instead of doing something meaningful with it. Life is worth living, but only if you choose to live it rather than run from it.
Communication and interaction with other people is extremely important. Even when it's to avoid pain, sacrificing intimacy is not worth it and will make your life worse.
Don't kill yourself. The series makes more sense if you think about the Instrumentality Project as an allegory for suicide.
The third Rebuild of Evangelion film has the basic message that in life, everyone screw up, and sometimes, obsessing over your mistakes and trying to undo them only makes things much worse. Much much MUCH worse.
The manga's ending basically says that no matter how bad life gets, it can get better. And no matter how fucked up and beyond hope life may seem, you can fix things.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Making other people happy often requires you to sacrifice your own happiness in exchange and doing selfless acts for selfish reasons will usually backfire.
Also from Rebellion: Regarding Fix Fic's. Trying to change reality to be the way you want can have consequences you aren't prepared for.
Also, make sure you know what kind of situations you're getting yourself into. Doing something just because it sounds cool and exciting could be a mistake that either kills you or damages you for life.
Koi Kaze: In Real Life, falling in love with your brother or sister is not something that anybody wishes to happen to them, and whoever tries to break up a sibling couple may sincerely want to prevent them from getting hurt (either by their own feelings or bigots attacking them). Even if both siblings accepted each other's feelings they would first have to deal with severe feelings of shame or depression and the fact that they could never get married, have their own children, or tell anyone about their relationship. Even so, if the couple were to accept these burdens and responsibilities in order to stay together, they might stand a chance of making their own happiness.
The world is full of enough pain and injustice to make anyone despair, and a major motivation for turning evil is wanting to become invulnerable and throw away any connections with other people that might cause you to get hurt. Human emotions and loved ones make you vulnerable, but they may be the only things preventing you from becoming as bad as the monsters that you fight.
People look to some all-knowing and all-powerful God to prove that there is order in the universe, and to provide reasons for the seemingly meaningless suffering and death around them. However, if something like God does exist it then it might very well be malevolent in nature rather than looking out for our interests, and humans will have to use whatever weapons and allies are immediately available to them in order to survive.
Destiny plays a role in our lives. You cannot help the circumstances of your birth or the times that you are born into, and there may even be some greater power orchestrating the events that you are part of. It takes effort and sacrifices to change your fate, some of which might not be worth the cost. Whatever you decide to do, you have to live with the consequences of your actions.
Strictly defined gender roles are crap. If you believe you can do something, don't let societal norms stop you. Also, you don't have to be imprisoned by your family; if you can't help them and they hurt you, your priorities and safety come first.
"A woman who hates other women will never be able to love herself". Meaning, if you look down on other females and think "I'm not like the other girls, ewwww", you are doing it wrong. It's double meaningful because of the person who says this very wise quote: Anthy.
When you try to project your hopes and ideas onto other people, it just ends with everyone getting hurt. Especially if you start expecting the other person to live up to those hopes.
No one can save someone else from a destructive situation, be it self-inflicted or an abusive relationship. That person must first want to be saved, and to choose to save themselves; until then, the best that anyone else can really do is offer support and encouragement. Sometimes, that works; Utena's Act of True Love doesn't save Anthy, but it does help her find the strength to save herself at last. Other times it doesn't; [[no matter how much Anthy plays along, Akio is a lost cause and Anthy rightly decides to leave him behind.
From the movie: reality is HARD to deal with, doubly so if you've grown up with a rosy, idyllic view of adulthood and triply hard if you're dealing with a half-forgotten trauma of some sort. Breaking out of that illusion will take everything you have, and relatively few people manage it. But if you really want to be an adult and take control of your life, that's the only way.
Hell Girl: Two anvils this time. First, no matter how satisfying it is to see your tormentor get a taste of his/her own medicine, getting revenge on him/her will dig your own grave along with him/her. Second, if Japanese society cannot restrain tormentors from torturing people in the first place, it may benefit from some social critique.
Devilman: Fear and paranoia towards strangers and your own neighbors will only lead to sorrow.
Princess Mononoke is anything but subtle about its aesop that war, greed, and hatred only escalate with no true resolution, and is all the better for it.
The Tatami Galaxy's main lesson is that chances are that you're probably never going to experience the ideal college life that you see in movies, on TV, or even from your own pre-conception. But at the end of the day, you will still meet people and make memories that you'll appreciate, which is what the Narrator learns after he becomes a shut-in to avoid the "Groundhog Day" Loop, only to realize that he misses all the friends he made in previous iterations.
The narrator's pursuit for Akashi basically boils down to "Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today".
Koe no Katachi shows the hardships that come from being the pariah of the class, bullied by others which can even be ignored by the authority around you. The fact that most of the bullying in the manga is treated realistically hammers the impact in.
Bullying, picking on others, no matter what the reason, is never a good thing to do.
Basically: "Treat others the way you wish to be treated."
You can't just judge someone permanently based on things they have done in the past.
Even someone who did you wrong in the past deserves a second chance, whether or not you can completely forgive them. Because as long as they let themselves, people can and will change.
Handicapped people aren't freaks, even if they're different from you, they're still people just like you.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Everybody deserves to love and be loved, and being the same gender as your loved one, having an age difference, etc. doesn't make your love any less special. While some think CLAMP went a little too far with it, it's still a decent moral.
+Anima drops many good anvils, a lot of them on the same subject.
Discrimination is wrong. Especially if it's against people who are born with or contract things that they didn't want. The manga demonstrates this by showing the after effects of discrimination and the feelings that those who are prejudiced develop when experiencing the hatred that's thrown at them.
When things are bad, you can't always expect someone to save you. Instead, make do with what you can do and try to get yourself out by any means necessary.
You are not alone in this world. There will always be someone like you out there, and perhaps if you find them, you can help each other through any obstacle that society throws at you.
Don't let someone else control you and decide what you should and shouldn't be. You are your own person. Do what you want to do, not what someone else wants you to do, especially if that someone is using you as a means to an end and plans on throwing you away or putting your life at risk and not caring about your well-being.
AKB0048's entire story is revolved around its moral about not banning entertainment, especially through means of dictatorship and oppression just to keep people from causing trouble, when in reality, entertainment DOESN'T cause trouble at all.
Romeo's Blue Skies absolutely LOVES dropping anvils about The Power of Friendship and how working together can help anyone overcome any obstacle... and really, the show is much better off for it, especially since nowadays young boys are being persecuted for showing friendship-like affection for other boys simply because it's considered gay, which is something that REALLY needs to be rectified.
How much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your dreams?
While filial piety is good, putting your family first over anything else, even common sense, will harm you, your family and even your friends at the end. as Leina, the heroine, her family and everyone else finds out the really hard way.
Another anvil from the OVAs and Rebellion: Don't be a bad ruler, or your subjects will make you pay when you lose that power.
Welcome to the N.H.K. has many minor messages, like how you shouldn't be overly reliant on others to come along and fix your problems, you shouldn't run from said problems, that pedophilia is wrong, but the big message it's trying to give is this: people with mental problems are NOT freaks. They're people just like everyone else, people suffering from depression, isolation, and various other issues, and that even if you shouldn't rely on others, sometimes a helping hand is what you need.
Kyousogiga drops a very important one that people forget way too often: your family is your world and if you forget that there are these people who care about you, your world will fall apart.
Real Accountbrutally drives home the message that most online friendships and followings, no matter how impressive they may seem in number, are ultimately detached, nominal, and loose compared to the real love and connection actual relationships foster. It especially has an impact in a world of social media, where such phenomena can be commonplace, and where online relationships can be incredibly frivolous with the instant option to friend or "unfriend" someone at one's convenience.
The Monster Rancher anime's anti-war message really hits home after you see what war did to the planet in the past, and how it affects the Monster Rancher world in the present day. The backstory has humans who grew proud and destructive, creating Monsters for anything that would suit their wants. Eventually they created Moo in an attempt to end the last war, which ended up nearly destroying the entire planet until they created the Phoenix to stop him—and what it took to defeat Moo involved destroying virtually everything. When Moo returns to finish what he started, great sacrifice is required yet again—this time on a personal level, with the Searchers fusing together to become the Phoenix, and their consciousnesses ceasing to exist.
Episode 73 has Mum Mew screaming that she likes herself just as she is when Moo's soul starts to consume her and the others. After an entire season of buying exercise gadgets and hating being called old, when her life is on the line Mum Mew accepts herself and her body image.
Cyborg009: War is, at best, a Necessary Evil. The villains may sound about as subtle as Captain Planet antagonists in their goals to prolong war for money, but the focus on the effects war has on the individual civilian shows just how devastating and pointless it is. The manga also argues that bigotry over one's nationality or ethnicity is pointless, as the heroic characters all judge each other as humans:
001: It's okay, 009! Do not feel ashamed of having mixed blood. You should be proud! A living symbol of the erosion of borders between nations and races.
008: That's right, 009! We are all humans and brothers.
Attack on Titan has a pretty good one: "Those who cannot make sacrifices will never be able to change anything."
Ouran High School Host Club has several but the most important is that even though your genitals don't define you as a person, believing that your sex doesn't matter at all is a delusional and immature stance.
Another one that is shown when we see the backstories for the Club members: there's nothing wrong with wearing a mask...as long as the mask doesn't become all you are. The masks the boys wore before meeting Tamaki left horrible scars on them that they kept inflicting every time they put them back on. However, since Haruhi is essentially herself while in host mode, the mask she wears then is mostly harmless.
Anvil dropped via Huni, Mori and Kyouya: family loyalty is all well and good but when what your family expects chokes out the real you and your potential, their expectations can go hang. Setting limits on who you can be and what you can enjoy will only do harm for you and everyone around you in the end.
Love triangle related: romantic love should never drive you to hurt someone, even if they're your rival. Compare Hikaru's reaction to Haruhi's old classmate who had feelings for her (essentially an angry temper tantrum) to when he realizes Haruhi loves Tamaki (pained by sorrow but respectfully bowing out).
Yu-Gi-Oh!: You can achieve things together with others that you never could on your own, and courageous acts are easier when you have someone to fight for and support you. Also, being able to accept that sometimes victory, even to protect something precious to you, isn't worth the price to be paid for it. One from the Death-T arc: having friends teaches you to like yourself, as well as others. The themes of friendship were much better executed in the manga and the Japanese dub of the anime.
One of the central themes of Yu-Gi-Oh besides this is, oddly, death. People die (even in the dub) and the dead have to stay dead. The ending drops a big one by killing off one of the two main leads. It never hides from the fact good people die; it's not fair or just and it can't be changed with a magic marker smiley face drawn on your hand, but it's the way things are. This wouldn't have been half as powerful if we hadn't been hit with the friendship anvil so heavily throughout the series, or we hadn't viewed death and the threat of it in the show so many times, and on so many levels.
You should never give up on your dreams, even if you sometimes fail. And hard work pays off, as the Devil Bats through sheer determination and dedication, prove that they can defeat even the toughest opponents.
Monta's dream of playing baseball and following his idol didn't work for him due to his poor throwing abilities. But where he failed as a baseball player, he excelled as a football receiver. He found out that while his dream changed, his interest in catching didn't.
Yukimitsu's arc is all about getting out and trying sports. You don't know what you are missing and you never know that you might be good at it.
A totalitarian justice system that judges people on the basis of what they are rather than what they have done, no matter how much crime it prevents, is using evil to combat evil. For every potential criminal put away, many more innocents are killed or have their lives ruined.
If you turn away from the people you love because you don't understand them, you will regret it when you lose them forever.
The law doesn't protect people, people protect the law. The law is not the system and it's not the provisions of the system. The law is the accumulation of everyone's wishes for a better society. And the worst thing you can do to these laws that should be sacred is to create a law that is unworthy of protection.
Otomen: Japan's restrictive gender roles aren't doing anyone any good.
The end of the Tower of Heaven arc emphasizes that just because a Heroic Sacrifice saves your friends' lives, that doesn't mean that they're going to be happy to be alive at your expense.
Much of Natsu's fight with Gildarts in the S-Class exam was a big anvil drop on his tendency to Leeroy it up. Considering that Gildarts had just come back from fighting the black dragon, it was probably also dropped the anvil that if Natsu couldn't beat Gildarts on his own, he has no chance against the black dragon.
People are always going to look at you in a sexualized way, whether or not you want it. But being overly self-conscious will only distract you and keep you from pushing yourself to the limit when you need to. Mako's encouragement and affirmation that Ryuko shouldn't be worried (because she thinks Ryuko's hot anyway) is what pushes her to finally stop being embarrassed about Senketsu's Stripperiffic form, allowing her to power-up and stand toe-to-toe with Satsuki.
Bestowing power and status through conformity is harmful to the society. Goku Uniforms were only granted to those who showed loyalty to Satsuki's tyranny, while those just wanting to live were relegated to a giant slum surrounding the city. Then the harm of forcing conformity reared its ugly head when the Big Bad's Assimilation Plot was presented.
In the same vein, true merit and strength can and will overcome any false power that was granted by someone else. Ryuko and Senketsu ultimately persevered against everyone who wasn't Satsuki and the Elite Four, because they fought with their own strength together while their foes relied on borrowed power.
Above all else, Kill la Kill's greatest message was the one that was repeated throughout the whole series: DON'T LOSE YOUR WAY! Throughout the series, everyone's greatest struggles happened when they lose sight of who they are and only thought about what they are:
Ryuko alone struggled the most. Dealing the idea of being a sex object; being consumed by the vengeance for her father; discovering her origins; and finally being taken in by the thought of being a "normal girl". Each of her lowest moments happened until she's reminded of who she is: Ryuko Motherfucking Matoi.
Mako's stint as the president of the Fight Club resulted her family go from Rags to Riches. However, Mako and her family become blinded by greed, forgetting that the Fight Club was originally formed to help provide for them. This rears its ugly head when Mako and Ryuko finally duke it out, with Mako's family actually cheering for Mako to in in order preserve their excessive lifestyle... Until Ryuko stops fighting back, prompting Mako's Heel Realization.
One overarching thought is the very real threat of the current generation is that won't know procreation, the emotions it spurs, and how to handle it. Japan's notoriously low birth rate would plummet into nothingness and render the nation extinct.
Rurouni Kenshin: The will to live is very important. It's easy to throw your life away, and someone that's quick to do so, be it out of despair, guilt, or even for a noble cause; doesn't value their own life. Maintaining the will to live no matter the cause or hardship will make you a stronger person in the end. Ceasing to value his own life is what caused Kenshin to revert to his ruthless Battousai persona when pressed, and his Character Development in the Kyoto arc revolves around him regaining his will to live, allowing him to unlock his full strength without turning back into the Battousai.
Dying doesn't help one atone for past sins. Living on and working to make up for those sins does. Megumi wanted to kill herself to atone for all the opium she was forced to make that killed people, but Kenshin tells her that such an act would not bring those people back to life and that she could use her skills as a doctor to help people as atonement instead.
Don't try to shoulder everything yourself. Your loved ones will be more than willing to help you with your burden. Kenshin gets chewed out repeatedly by his friends because of his tendency to put the weight of the world on his shoulders, culminating in him leaving Tokyo for Kyoto alone to fight Shishio. His friends are left angry and despondent that he left without them and immediately follow him to Kyoto, with Sano in particular punching him in the face for this upon catching up to him. After this, Kenshin becomes more willing to accept help from his friends.
Might doesn't make right. Life isn't so simple that the truth can be decided through a couple of battles. Soujiro staked his entire ideology on his battle with Kenshin, and when he was defeated, conceded that his views were wrong and Kenshin's were right; but Kenshin tells him that the truth is something that one has to discover through the way they live their life, not by winning or losing a battle. This lesson applies to the protagonists as well as the antagonists as Yahiko receives a similar response upon asking Kenshin if they were the ones that were right because they defeated Shishio, with Kenshin saying that logic would make Yahiko the same as Shishio.
Citrus: Sex shouldn't make up the entirety of a relationship. Even though it's made blatantly apparent that Yuzu wishes to have sex with her stepsister, Yuzu firmly believes that it shouldn't be the basis of a relationship with Mei.