“You never really know how you’re gonna feel about something until you try it and step in. It could be for you, it might not be… you just have to take that leap,” says Alaina Coates a few short hours before Game 4 of the Finals.
Alaina, freshly a WNBA Champion with the Las Vegas Aces, is a world class athlete; one of the most decorated players in Southeastern Conference history, a vital part of South Carolina’s first national title and rise to dominance, and an accomplished professional who has competed around the world (now overseas with Turkish club Nesibe Aydin).
We’re not talking about basketball at shootaround; it’s all about anime today.
Pushing forward and slaying demons along the way 🗡️ pic.twitter.com/KGqvEDgsct
— Alaina Coates (@Aye_itslaylay) October 16, 2023
Coates first fell in love with anime during COVID, nudged on to try something new and explore.
Her first show? Danganronpa, an anime adaptation of a 2010 Japanese video game of the same name.
You can find the show on Hulu’s streaming library.
“I very much still love that one to this day. I love a good whodunit mystery type vibe. That’s the one that got me into it, I was on Tik Tok, someone reviewed it, and I was like oh, it’s like a whodunit, so I watched it and I loved it,” says Coates.
Danganronpa pools together a multitude of thematic elements and story designs, centered around a high school setting and eventual Battle Royale-esque environment with a detective mystery atmosphere and scenarios.
The art is fantastical, with a dark edge and comedic undertones mixed in.
“In the stories (of anime) everything’s not super far-fetched. Some of this stuff is real life… sometimes people like seeing things animated instead of seeing real people do it,” says Coates.
Reality is often tied directly into how something looks, but Coates feels that so much of taking something in and appreciating it is the emotions it hits; seeing something that may not be “realistic” can hit harder or get points across with more efficacy, because it’s not so on the nose. Leaving room to breath with imagination opens up more possibility for your own interpretation and understanding.
“There’s so many different pieces to anime as a whole that just makes it so great. There’s so many to watch and they’re always making new ones so it’s probably impossible to catch them all.”
That hasn’t stopped her as she’s dove farther and farther in.
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) October 18, 2023
From Danganronpa, Coates has only found more love and appreciation for anime; One Piece is a favorite.
“I love Robin, Robin’s my queen,” gushes Coates.
“I love all the straw hats, and it’s just like following the story, alright well, I want him to be king of the pirates too, like who are you gonna bring along for the ride?”
She’s been able to binge to the Wano Country arc (season 20).
Coates prefers subbed animes over their dubbed counterparts, enjoying the original voice acting. Part of the beauty though, is that you can get such a different feel for a character depending on the voice actor, so it just depends on the show.
YuYu Hakusho is another favorite, and she cried when the last episode ended. She’s psyched excited about the coming reboot in December. Undead Unluck has been on her radar for a while and she’s just starting it.
“I just would love to have everything, instead of waiting six months in-between everything… it’s a lot, but I’m ready to see the conclusion,” she says of Attack on Titan.
“Getting into part four, I think, when we started seeing Eren and he can like come to the past, and he started talking to his dad, when he was with the royal family, I was just like, yo, this is really the tightest part, this is crazy!”
Delving into the darker side of anime is one her to do list; she wants to watch Berserk, the 1997 edition. Helsing is an eventual must see. She credits a friend of hers for starting to immerse herself in anime she wasn’t sure she’d like at first. Watching the trailer together for The Eminence in Shadow had her unsure, but it now sits as one of her handful of favorites.
“The trailer for it, he was like slicing and dicing people up like real bad, and I was just like I don’t want to watch this… but it’s such a good show. It’s hilariously funny, they finally have season 2 out now… the way that the story comes about from the main character Cid is hilarious to me, like he came up with this entire story and it ended up being true and it’s like, How?! But it’s so cool, it’s funny, it’s gory, he’s got a whole team of badass women behind him… it’s just a good show,” says Coates.
Anime is representative of Coates; she wants to learn, experience, and try new things. The only way to figure out what she does and doesn’t like is to try things out!
You may find intrigue in the action horror that Guts, The Black Swordsman, experiences constantly in Berserk. Or you might find it terrifying and gruesome. You could absolutely love the comedy and sarcasm of Chainsaw Man, but you might also not vibe with it in the slightest.
“If there’s anything that piques your interest, just give it a go! Be curious, go into your curiosity.”