Extra: Isolation

[Note: This article contains spoilers for Pretear]

isolationAnime very rarely takes extreme isolation too seriously. More often than not, it’s used as a joke. But I am happy to see, no matter how awkward the attempt, some shows face it head on.

For all its creepiness, and oh how very creepy it is, Pretear did manage to pull of one stunt I don’t often see in shows. How self-isolation pits you against everyone and drives you into madness. Now that sounds pretty simple. Of course you’d go mad if you’re always alone. But you might be surprised how often people pull away from the world, shutting themselves in their rooms, avoiding family and friends, and honestly see no harm in the action.

As someone who is an introvert and thus needs alone time more than some, I’m going to call that out right now. Shutting yourself off for long periods of time is not healthy. I’ve done it myself and let’s just say the person I became wasn’t the nicest person around. Even shallow acquaintances started to notice my attitude. My smile disappeared, I snapped at people when I was around them, I was pessimistic 24/7 and I was flat out unhappy about life. A little alone time is good, even necessary. But isolation isn’t like alone time. It’s when you push people away, usually gradually, with no intention of getting close to them again. Eating meals at odd times to avoid family, telling people you’re busy all the time when you’re not, and feeling like people are always judging you the rare times you are with others. It doesn’t feel like you’re cutting yourself off in the moment, but when you haven’t been interacting with and enjoying time with friends in many weeks and don’t like the mere idea of spending time with your family, those are red flags.

As eerie and, well, pervy, as some of the stuff in Pretear is, they did manage to show us a character who wasn’t isolating herself as a joke. In fact, she had very real reasons for cutting herself off. Her father was gone, she felt he was being replaced by someone she didn’t know or trust and no one bothered to even ask her if she was okay with changing her name, family life and nearly everything else at the drop of a coin. Little wonder she was upset and even less of a wonder why she pulled back and shut the door in her family’s face. And it wasn’t long before her sorrow turned ugly. Now, sure, you might not be taken over by some evil entity when you isolate yourself. But you’re not going to be fully you, either. Numerous studies have shown that humans aren’t made to be alone for long periods of time. We’re built to be loved and to love others. Isolation is in direct conflict with that inner drive. But, for some reason, it’s a topic no one likes to take too seriously. Perhaps because it’s an issue that’s so gradual that many don’t notice what’s happening until it’s too late. Or perhaps it’s because there’s no good solution to the issue unless the isolated individual wishes to change. Like depression and anxiety, there’s no easy answer.

But just because the answers aren’t easy, nor pretty, doesn’t mean it’s a topic to be ignored.