Mentoring Across Anime

Mentoring Across Anime
Since time immemorial, mentor-mentee relationships are given great importance.

Mentor-mentee relationships can be of various forms. But, one thing that remains constant is that they are always glorified. They show the significance of the bond between a learned man and the one he is imparting his learnings. One of these forms is Anime.

The most popular form of anime is Shounen. This represents the most number of mentor-mentee relationships as well. Shows like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Fairy Tail, etc. have dominated the sphere of anime for a long time.

Among them, I have watched Naruto like a true, diehard fan. The lessons I learned from that show are diverse and very personal to me.

Naruto himself is the most isolated and discriminated against kid in their village. The story revolves around him, his teammates, Sakura and Sasuke, and their teacher, Kakashi.

Naruto and Jiraya 

Naruto’s mentor is his father’s teacher, Jiraiya, one of the greatest ninjas alive. Their relationship is full of acceptance and inclusivity. Knowing and learning from Jiraiya changed Naruto in many ways and made him the hero he later becomes. Jiraiya saw his former student in Naruto and accepted him in ways that the village couldn’t. The show calls this the ideal mentor-mentee relationship. A mentor who would try to help his student and ask him to carry his will forward. That is what Naruto meant to Jiraiya.

Coming to another relationship, Tsunade, the head of the village, trained Sakura. Tsunade, like Jiraiya, was also one of the strongest ninjas. Holding the same place as him, she taught Sakura everything she knew. Theirs was a simple relationship since Sakura’s entire motivation was to prove her worth. The show is not kind to female characters, and Sakura is constantly put to the test. Tsunade recognizes her potential and brings out her best side.

Finally, Sasuke goes on a completely different tangent. Sasuke leaves the village to go to Orochimaru, his mentor. Orochimaru wanted to use Sasuke for his benefit. Theirs was a more complex relationship since Sasuke and Orochimaru never saw eye-to-eye. They knew exactly what the other person wanted.

The basic gist is that there are all types of mentors. The ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who take advantage of you, and the ones who will teach you everything they know.

This relationship is a two-way street that is full of challenges, failures, and successes. One thing many people forget is that mentors themselves learn as they teach. No teacher or mentor is perfect. Every student is a different person and requires different levels of attention.

Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura with mentor, Kakashi

There was a time when Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura had the same mentor, Kakashi. He would have to explain things differently to Naruto and Sasuke. Kakashi would pace himself for all 3 children.

The best way to see this 2-way street is through the relationship between Asuma and Shikamaru. Not as important as the main 3, Shikamaru is the smartest person of their generation. Asuma, his mentor, dies on duty. Actually, in front of Shikamaru. Shikamaru plans his revenge and punishes the person responsible. This is befitting everything Asuma taught him. Shikamaru lets go of his grief and became his daughter’s guardian.

Besides Naruto, Food wars is another anime that captures a very interesting mentor-mentee relationship. Tadokoro Megumi is almost expelled by Shinomiya Kojiro. Megumi is a nervous wreck who cannot imagine being in the same room as him, let alone proving her worth. Yet, she battles this chef, and though she loses, Shinomiya changes his decision. This was because Megumi, unknowingly, helped Shinomiya in his thinking.

This relationship later evolves into something where Shinomiya agrees to mentor only Megumi. He teaches her how to be confident in her skills as a chef and trust his judgment. Megumi, who went from slipping in an exam, went on to come first in the preliminary round of an international event. This sort of mentor-mentee relationship is not common. But it tells the story of how perceptions and ideals can change. Such relationships which evolve have a lot of scopes for the world to see that things can get better with determination and love for the work you do.

I have been a mentor and a mentee. Being on different sides of the spectrum is a very unique experience. I love learning as much as I love teaching other people my ideals.

My style of mentoring has always been the one that is a 2-way street, an opportunity for me to share my knowledge and where I get to learn from them as well. Be it, the interns, volunteers I work with,  or the founders I mentor. The relationship is largely built on trust, loyalty, and the ability to understand each other. My style involves a lot of questioning, getting involved both professionally and personally (to an extent), and supporting them throughout. It's fluid and largely focused on understanding the needs and supporting and building a system that supports them throughout the journey.

My value and belief system is something I strongly believe in. Even if someone has contrary beliefs to mine, I would want people to know how to defend their ideals. Rather than to conclude whether they are correct or not. This not just builds confidence and belief but also becomes the foundation for the future.  I have had some interesting conversations with my mentee. Everything from food, Netflix, productivity, personal challenges et all is covered. Something I would want them to remember is that no one is wrong, it’s just how well you can defend yourself. Conviction, Belief in oneself, Empathy, and Loyalty. That's all that matters in the long run.