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Aesop / Anime & Manga

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  • The main theme running through the ARIA series is that you should enjoy life to its fullest and pay attention to little everyday wonders. It helps when you live on a terraformed planet full of mysteries and are allowed to spend your time rowing a gondola in a beautiful City of Canals, populated by friendly people.
  • Attack on Titan - The world is a cruel place, but you can find beauty if you never stop fighting for it.
  • Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature: Two, actually:
    • "All living beings deserve to live"
    • "Don't mess with nature".
  • Battle Angel Alita delivers an especially hard-hitting Aesop in volume five: Be a little considerate of people's feelings. Always treat others with respect, even if you think they are cowardly, selfish jerks. You may not like the result if you don't.
  • Berserk: While Berserk doesn't answer all of the questions it raises about heavy philosophical and ethical issues, it definitely has several lessons to give:
    • There is little besides wishful thinking to suggest that the universe (or at least the Berserk-verse) is ruled by a just and all-powerful God who rewards good and punishes evil. The world is unjust and unfair, so bad things will always happen to good people for no reason at all. The excised missing chapter goes so far as to indicate that the human condition is that we want reasons for our suffering and create elaborate religious or metaphysical belief systems that get in the way of taking responsibility for our own lives and absolve us of the responsibility of trying to change it. However, there is also a strongly anti-nihilistic message to the story saying that people can make a difference. There were a lot of bad things Guts was unable to prevent, but he has saved people and changed a small number of lives because he had the courage to stand up to villains that no one else would oppose. Even Jill who recognizes that she's weak and fragile decides at the end of the Lost Children chapter that by going home and fighting her own small battle she'll be able to change something.
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    • One of the Golden Age Arc's main themes is that even the smallest of your actions can have an unpredictable effect on other people, and that progress that you have spent your entire life building can be ruined if you take one reckless action without thinking of the consequences. For example, Griffith never thought that his speech to Princess Charlotte about what a friend is would be overheard by Guts and cause him to quit the band of the Hawk, and Guts wouldn't have expected that his departure would cause Griffith to have a breakdown and throw out all the Hawks' work by sleeping with Charlotte and incurring the King of Midland's wrath. The King at the same time decides to pursue revenge against Griffith at the cost of ruining his own kingdom and wasting the effort of a 100 year war that was supposed to win peace and prosperity for his subjects.
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    • No man is an island. Even if you think that relying on others will make you vulnerable, and that you're tough enough to take care of yourself, there will always be challenges that are too much to handle without help. During the Black Swordsman Arc Guts tries to drive away anybody who tries to get close to him because they'll get in his way or get themselves killed, and manages for a while, but after two years of Walking the Earth he is an emotional wreck and only Puck's company saved him from losing both his sanity and his moral compass. Once he decides to stay with Casca he finds himself utterly unprepared to care for and protect another person by himself, and has no choice but to accept the help of the followers who were inspired by his struggle and form a new adventuring party for survival.
    • "Revenge is nothing but the place where men who can't deal with sadness go." Guts learns this from Godo the blacksmith after he goes on a two-year Roaring Rampage of Revenge against all Apostles and the God Hand in retaliation for having everyone he cared about taken from him in the Eclipse, only to come back and find that a mentally-regressed Casca has wandered into danger while he was away. When Guts tells Godo that his companions needed to be avenged, Godo replies he really left on that rampage because he couldn't bear to stay by Casca's side and face the grief of everything he had lost. Instead, he drenched himself in hatred and violence, and while The Power of Hate made him strong for a time, it left him as a wreck of a man and caused the only precious thing he had left to slip through his fingers. Guts redeems himself by rescuing Casca, and afterwards makes a conscious decision to forget about chasing Griffith in order to focus on protecting her.
    • Religious fanaticism cannot save people or defeat evil, and a dogmatic religion will either be used as a cover for corruption or lead to the methods of a Knight Templar. The Conviction Arc features Bishop Mozgus' misguided attempts to purify his flock through inquisition, torture, and execution, which cause hundreds of innocent deaths. Even though he genuinely believes his actions are for the greater good, he is deluded and ultimately leads all his followers to their doom; The only ones who survive the collapse of the tower are those like Guts and Luca who took their fate into their own hands rather than waiting for God to save them. Schierke delivers an Aesop to a priest after fighting the trolls in Enoch village that it's okay to believe in the supernatural, but you have to be open minded about it and see the world beyond ours for what it really is instead of what dogma tells you to see. A small example of this is how Farnese was unable to see Puck when she was serving the Church, but became able to see elves once she started opening her mind.
    • People can decide to change themselves, no matter who they were before or what they've done in the past. Guts spends the two years after the Eclipse running away from his problems and drenching himself in revenge and hate, to the point where he almost becomes as big a monster as the ones he's fighting. But when he realizes how his actions have distanced him from Casca and put her in mortal danger, he drops everything including his revenge on Griffith in order to rescue her before it's too late. From that point on he feels the burden of responsibility and is tortured by the lingering consequences of his past actions, but those who witness his gradual transformation can attest how much he's changed through sheer willpower and become a far more admirable person. Farnese is a particularly inspiring example of The Atoner, having been a Knight Templar who burned people at the stake just to satisfy her need to feel powerful and validated, but eventually deciding to leave her whole life behind in order to learn from Guts. She starts risking her life to protect Casca, the girl whom she once persecuted, and after spending her whole life being protected and cared for by others she rises to the challenge of being responsible for someone else. Even an evil being who seemingly has no redeeming qualities can do something which—even if it's far too late to make up for their crimes or save them from damnation—can still express their humanity through a last act that will change how people remember them. The Count had cast away his humanity and morality long ago, and he could have kept on living if he had sacrificed his daughter Theresea, but instead he consigned himself to eternal torment out of love for someone else. All of this doesn't change the fact that a lot of characters in the story stick to their evil ways until the very end, and the story focuses heavily on the Freudian Excuse and cruel circumstances that would drive a person to villainy, but there's an implication that whatever the circumstances, doing evil is always on some level a real choice. The God Hand may manipulate fate, but perhaps they need people to believe that their moral decisions are outside of their control in order to trick them into giving it up willingly.
  • The entire tenth episode of Cowboy Bebop consists of each of the members of the Bebop giving An Aesop, which is lampshaded by the use of caption cards reading 'lesson'. The entire concept gets more and more twisted as the episode goes on: Jet starts out with a straight Aesop about how hard work is the only thing that pays off in the end and those who trust in their luck get theirs eventually (after having lost his savings in an attempt to gamble with Faye). Faye follows up with a Hard Truth Aesop about how humans are always playing each other and trusting people is for fools (after it's revealed she was cheating). Ed delivers a Broken Aesop about how, if you see a stranger, you should follow him (after it turns out there's a stowaway poisonous creature on board and Ed tries to hunt it down, only to immediately lose interest and fall asleep). Finally, Spike finishes it off with the episode's real lesson... Don't leave food in the fridge. The poisonous creature had mutated from a lobster left in the ship's backup refrigerator too long.
  • Bokurano has loads. There's at least one in every arc, plus several overarching ones:
    • Valor isn't just for vaunted heroes. It's a virtue anyone can benefit from.
    • A moment's kindness can change a life.
    • Innocence is fleeting.
    • Cherish every moment as if it's your last.
    • Waku's arc: Don't be afraid to scream for what sings in your heart.
    • Kodama's arc: Cruelty doesn't pay.
    • Kako's arc: Stress is no joke.
    • Chizu's arc: Revenge is bittersweet.
    • Daichi's arc: There's nothing more precious than a loving family.
    • Nakama's arc: Humble beginnings beget noble hearts.
    • Moji's arc: Life rises again from the ashes of death.
    • Maki's arc: If you want to be able to fight fiercely, you have to be able to love just as fiercely.
    • Kirie's arc: Sometimes the little things make the biggest impacts.
    • Anko's arc: The truth will set you free.
    • Komoda's arc: Power always has a price.
    • Kanji's arc: The blood of the covenant and the blood of kinship are the same thickness.
    • Yoko's arc: The only way to be irredeemable is to not want redemption at all.
    • Jun's arc: You can draw tremendous strength from those who came before you.
    • Kana's arc: Love is stronger than death.
  • Cross Ange has two:
  • Devilman: War is a futility where there are no winners.]
  • In Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist, the Patient of the Week has to learn various life lessons they've been lacking in order to be cured of their mysterious diseases. Some have been suppressing their true self and must learn to Be Yourself, a philanderer must learn to stop lying and fooling around with women, a woman involved in a toxic relationship (the aforementioned philanderer) must learn to value genuine friendship over superficial romance, a woman in denial over her son's death must learn to accept painful reality, etc.
  • Dragon Ball
    • The overreaching lesson of the entire series. No matter how powerful or good at your craft you become, there is always someone better out there. So keep practicing, keep learning, and honing your skills, otherwise you will fall behind.
    • Pure talent will only gets you far. If you don't work to maintain your gifts, you will find yourself lacking when you need to be sharp and someone who's less talented, but works harder can surpass you. The reason Frieza lost on Namek and in Resurrection 'F is because he relied only on his raw might to get ahead and didn't put in the proper amount of work. Gohan also falls behind despite his gift because he stopped improving himself in the field of fighting.
    • Having a lot of pride in yourself is not necessarily a bad thing. It's when you are unable to put it aside that it becomes a detriment. Vegeta learns this lesson over and over again until it finally sticks at the end of the Kid Buu fight. Frieza being unable to let go of his pride led him to ruin and death, twice.
    • There are times when it is best to give up and admit that you're not the best. Take the lessons of losing and humility to heart and improve yourself. Goku learns this from all his losses from Jackie Chun to Beerus.
    • Forgiving those who do evil and accepting second chances can lead to lifetime enemies becoming friends and even family. At the same time, there are times when you will have no choice but to kill since some people will never change no matter how many chances they receive. Although most of Goku's friends are former enemies, he couldn't show any mercy to Frieza and Gohan couldn't reason with Cell despite his pleas.
  • Eureka Seven: Never give up on being with your loved one.
  • Franken Fran: Though there are exceptions, the dominant Aesop to be learned is that death is not something to come back from, especially via science.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Compromise your dreams with what is best for everyone. Roy compromised his dream for power by vowing to use it for others, and being patient about it. May gave up her quest to restore her clan to help save another country. She got both though. Scar compromised his quest for vengeance by just preventing it from happening again in the future. Ed gave up his alchemy, and didn't get his leg back, but got his arm back. Al rejected his body because he couldn't fight with it, and when he got it back it was incredibly weak. The only person who didn't compromise was Father. He wanted out of his flask, and didn't balance it with morality, empathy, or just settling for anything less. And he got screwed.
  • Spoofed in the legendary Full Metal Panic! rugby episode. Sosuke subjects the Jindai HS rugby team to Training from Hell straight out of Full Metal Jacket, turning them from tea-sipping wimps into violent psychopaths. After watching them (literally) beat the opposing team into a bloody pulp, Sosuke muses "Fighting is always pointless. Their actions have taught me this"...and gets smashed upside the head with Kaname's Paper Fan of Doom as she shouts "Don't go trying to put a neat little conclusion on this!"
  • Great Teacher Onizuka shows us that teachers are human beings too. They have feelings and they deserve your respect. They do care about you and are willing to help you if you let them. There are bad teachers but they are the exception and not the rule.
  • Guardian Fairy Michel has one every episode, as the series was made for families and children.
  • Haibane Renmei makes the central point that nobody can shoulder their burdens alone. Not only is asking for others to help with your issues (both emotional and otherwise) entirely okay, it's necessary. The show demonstrates this with the "Circle of Sin", a seemingly paradoxical riddle that reads "To recognize one's own sin is to have no sin". If you believe yourself to be free of sin, then you don't know your own sin, meaning you must have sin, meaning you recognize your sin, and so on and so forth forever. Those trapped within the riddle are described as "sin-bound", a fairly obvious metaphor for Depression, and are barred from their Day of Flight. The solution to the riddle? Have somebody else recognize your sin for you.
  • HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! has quite a few episodes with aesops. One was about the importance of studying, and another was about telling your friends if you are sick before you even get sick (and to dry off after you get hit by water!).
  • Despite being mostly comprised of Aespoic-moments, the 32nd episode of the original 1969 series of Himitsu no Akko-chan plays that straight towards the heroine. When the kind-hearted Akko-chan meets a new deaf kid at school, she hurriedly wishes her magic mirror to turn her into a deaf-mute version of herself, enabling her to empathize better with her plea. Her magic mirror takes her literally, taking her speaking voice again too, and refusing to change her back on the premises that, needing a clearly worded wish to act, it can't understand or obey a deaf-mute mistress. Only when Akko-chan, distraught and terminally scared, is starting to resign to her fate, the mirror changes her back on its own accord, moved by her tears and pointing out how her owner has now learned that a disability is nothing to be wished for, and how her new friend was more brave and resourceful than she could think.
  • THE iDOLM@STER: Almost every episode gives a lesson to at least one character.
  • The overall point of Kaguya-sama: Love is War is that relationships are built upon communication and that there's no way to go about them without risking emotional pain. Kaguya and Shirogane's relationship hit a wall for a year because they couldn't muster up the courage to change the status quo. They confess eventually and openly communicate their feelings after a really long time and much better off than before, showing it was mostly a waste of time. Maki lost her chance for the boy she liked because she couldn't talk to him. Ishigami and especially Tsubasa, on the other hand, seem to be doing well after their confessions even though their target didn't feel the same way at first, especially Tsubasa... not that Ishigami meant to confess. Ishigami eventually gets rejected, but he is still in a better state now.
  • A recurring Aesop in Lyrical Nanoha is that regardless of how one was born/created one has the ability to choose whether to do good or evil.
  • Michiko & Hatchin: Let go of your past.
  • Mob Psycho 100:
    • Your life is your own. Whatever your circumstances, strengths or weaknesses, you can be what you want to be.
    • A major theme of the show is that Mob isn't special simply because he has psychic powers, and that incredible ability is no substitute for hard work. One can't just say, Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!
    • There's also a theme of confronting your emotions, instead of bottling them up like the protagonist, in order to reach self actualization and realize one's own self worth.
  • Most episodes in Mokke have mild, safe Aesops in the vein of "appreciate your friends," "set goals in life" or "don't cling obsessively to material possessions."
  • Monster: Forgive, no matter how horribly you were hurt.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Life is painful, and relationships with people inevitably hurt. But it's worth it to not run away from it all, and to keep living and keep having relationships. No matter how you feel now, you can be happy.
  • Ninja Scroll: Delivered by Dakuan, of all people.
    Dakuan: ''By the way, I'm very sorry about having lost Kagero. It's unfortunate, but she did had a few moments of living as an ordinary girl and of course, making love with you that is good after all.
    Jubei: Was that your plan as well, old man?
  • In One Piece:
    • Aside from the recurring Power Of Friendship theme, the CP9 saga and Robin's backstory has "It doesn't matter how you live your life, you are not evil just for existing" which gets indirectly revisited when it comes time to dive into Ace's backstory as well.
    • There are also some surprisingly complicated lessons about racism for a shonen series, especially when Hody Jones is involved, being one of the biggest monsters in the series who has a fierce anti-human sentiment despite humans having never done anything to him. He turned into an extremist and fishman supremacist just by growing up in a racially-charged environment.
    • Hereditary and family doesn't matter and family is who you choose.
    • It's the Journey That Counts
    • Nothing lasts forever; legacies must be passed on if they are to survive, and the old must accept that the world belongs to the next generation.
    • "No matter how much hardship, oppression, and misfortune you may have had, do not lose hope, because there are people out there who will treat you well and be by your side when you need it." This is shown not only in most characters' flashbacks, but Jinbe directly teaches this to Luffy during his Darkest Hour right after the war at Marineford. He may have lost his brother Ace even after all the effort he put trying to save him, but he still has his crew mates waiting for him.
  • At the end of each volume of Oishinbo there are cautionary tales that teach a lesson. At the end of "Japanese Cuisine" there is an Aesop about simple values, at the end of the volume "Sake" there is one about sobriety and at the end of "Ramen and Gyoza" there is one about racism.
  • PandoraHearts: Everyone has the right to exist and everyone has value and meaning and is deserving of love, regardless of how accidental or ill-fated their existences are or whether the world would be easier off without them.
  • Popotan: Moving away from others is not as hard as it appears because one can still have pleasant memories of old friends, and one should learn to let go of said friends in order to move on in life. It's an overarching theme of the entire series, and Konami (the best friend of Mai, one of the protagonists) puts it into words in both the second and the final episodes.
  • Princess Tutu: Don't be afraid of being yourself. Even if you are "only a duck", you don't need to become a "beautiful swan" to be loved.
  • The DiC English dub of Sailor Moon often ended with a "Sailor Says" segment.
  • Super Gals has the ironclad rules for girls which are general Aesop, mainly circling around: Be Yourself.
  • Sgt. Frog:
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • Courage and vigor is the power of humankind.
    • Always face forward, never give up, and know that you're awesome.
  • Wandering Son: If you feel like you're a different gender than you were born as, you don't have to "want" to be that gender, you can just be it. If you're a boy who wants to be a girl, then you are a girl, no wishing required.
  • Umi Monogatari has one that doubles as the central theme of the series. Everyone has darkness in their hearts. That's normal, and we must learn to accept it, not cast it out.
  • Yona of the Dawn: Multiple:
    • You aren't obliged to forgive those who have wronged you, even if you're related to them.
    • War Is Hell.
    • Not getting overcome by anger even if its justified.
    • Revenge is wrong. Don't waste your life hating someone who has wronged but instead move forward.
    • What it means to be a family or friends.
    • Accepting who you are.
    • Showing compassion to people you don't know.
    • Learning from your and other's mistakes.


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