Reading this post has made me think (obviously not long enough) about how I see myself as an anime fan. I’ve only really seriously started getting into it since the beginning of college. Sure, I watched whatever was on TV for a couple of years beforehand at that point, and re-watching Flint the Time Detective is always brief and cheesy blast from the past in that regard, but then, I never really thought about anime as more than entertainment. Whenever I talk to other anime fans I know in real life, this still seems to be the main impression I get from them. So I wonder a lot about if it is strange that I take this hobby more seriously than many other people I know. It does help that I have several friends that also look for deeper meanings in what they watch, as well as having a forum that does the same, so I’m not alone. But what does that really say about me or about anime fandom in general?
Even in college, I really didn’t get the kick to look “deeper” until the second semester of my freshman year. When I first started watching anime, from when Toonami filled itself with it, it was interesting to me because of its difference in comparison to other forms of animation that I saw. Anime seemed more fluid, had more dynamic characters (could you imagine Bugs Bunny doing a Kamehameha for example? :P), had plot linearity that American cartoons didn’t have. It wasn’t often that I saw a cartoon with continuing plot until I saw silly shows like Dragon Ball Z on TV, and seeing that was a nice change from before. Yet it was still only mindless fun at that time and not thought provoking in the slightest. It was only until I watched Haibane Renmei that Spring semester that my mindset changed. Never hearing of it (still in my “beginning” phase of anime fandom you could say), I immediately had reservations about it because it was “different” then what I was used too. Now these random reservations are something I now try hard to stop (don’t knock till you try sort of thing).
Watching it changed my perception of anime and entertainment in general, where I wouldn’t mind actually thinking about a show after it aired. And it also helped that Haibane “asked” questions that I didn’t mind thinking about too, which is more than what I can say about others who dislike not being completely filled in. Sometimes it’s fun to not be concrete, and not get everything that you want to know immediately, if at all. In any case, watching it spurned the current love I have for anime right now, and also why I might feel like I go off the deep end sometimes, though thankfully not deep enough.
Now, I’m comfortable with liking anime, but I’m still not comfortable with admitting that passion to many others. Part of it is not wanting others to typify me with just that characteristic, that “that guy that watches anime”, as if it was my only merit. Anime is also a niche here in the US, with its good and (very worrisome) bad traits in shows and associated fandom, so I feel that I wouldn’t be appreciated for liking it now, if that makes sense. Looking at the pile of DVDs and manga I’ve amassed in 3 and a half years is mind-boggling to me though, seeing where I have come from. It always brings up questions that I’ve yet to answer, and probably won’t for while: Am I a better person for liking anime, or worse off than before? What do I see myself as, and does it really matter what other people think about me? Why do I even care about this situation at all?
It helps that anime is still changing in my opinion, and that it can become something more mainstream than it is now. We as current anime fans can always change with this flow, and maybe even someday become jaded with it in the future though I’d like to think it’s unlikely. There’s always time to think about stuff like that, so I shouldn’t sweat my current indifference so far, but reflect on my anime state of being every once in a while like now. Doing so while listening to the ARIA the NATURAL Original Soundtrack would probably help with said reflections as well. 😀