A look into my anime state of mind…

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?

I hope to never get to this point…

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. 😀

Off to discover ourselves…

9 Responses to “A look into my anime state of mind…”

  1. 1 wildarmsheero March 10, 2007 at 3:44 am

    Anime turned me into a pedophile 😦

    Also, American animation is usually more fluid than Japanese animation. I’ve found Japanese cartoons send to sacrifice fluidity for detail. It also goes back to some conventions established by Tezuka…

    (yes, I ignored the real meat of this post. I’m a dick that way)

  2. 2 lastarial March 10, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    It’s interesting that yourself and JAL are talking about this at the moment, as I’m drafting a similar post myself which was prompted by the recent Genshiken OAV, and in fact some of the points have kind of come up in on the MT forum in the last few days.

    I’ve never had any problem about being open about my anime interests. It’s not that I keep my identity secret on my blog or anything, and some of my real life friends post comments there etc on other non-anime threads.

    For the last ten years, one of my main interests has been railways, and in fact being interested in this is my job too. Quite rightly you don’t care about that, but the point I’m making is that I come from a background of being involved with a fairly well derided hobby – at least in the UK, I don’t think there is such a stigma attached to it in the US – so people already think I’m fairly high on the sad scale of 1 to 10 (something like 7.5). Anime probably only added a fraction of a point to that score.

  3. 3 thebign March 11, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    For me, it’s not that anime is derided, but rather the “stigmas” that it probably still has in mainstream society (it’s either just for kids or porn… that sort of stuff). I keep asking myself, “I enjoy this, but should this be something I should keep on doing it if I want to function as a “member of society?” But that’s when I realize that I’m limiting myself, and shut those thought processes off. And I still go straight ahead with my hobby. 😛

  4. 4 Pete Zaitcev March 11, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Who gives shit about mainstream society? Its bi-modal model is one of mindless drones who ride trains to work under control of Hollywood and academic liberals on the one hand and suburban Christian nuts who are afraid of “sexual predators” on the other hand. The reality is that people are neither.

    And another thing. I live in the dead end of suburbia and one of neighbouring APs advertises ESSID “mizuki”. Anime fans are the mainstream now.

  5. 5 shinji March 26, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    This is a good article. In my place, there was a misconception before that anime are mainly for kids but thru the years anime got a wide publicity and now, everyone seems to be acquainted with it. Dragon Ball Z and Yuyu Hakusho are popular here. ^_^

  6. 6 cherylline March 31, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Now I’m seeing the different cultural responses to anime around the world. 🙂 Well sure, there always is a stereotyped train of thought regarding anime, but it varies to different degrees. For example, I studied for 2 years in Singapore, and I think at least half the population of teenagers there watch anime, whether they love it or they just watch whatever’s on tv. Anime gets aired on national tv, so even housewives and mothers, grandmas and uncles, and all other groups of people you wouldn’t imagine watching Japanese animation, have watched an episode here and there. In fact, I was introduced to it there – I kind of think anime really was mainstream in Singapore (Singaporeans, correct me if I’m wrong). In Malaysia too. It’s not hard to find someone not too far removed from your age who grew up on Card Captor Sakura or Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho… So I never questioned what you’re questioning: what anime is for, and what am I getting out of it?

    It’s like CSI, or Lost. :p You just watch it. It’s good, and you like it, and it’s unique. Face faults! Gotta love the face faults >

  7. 7 thebign March 31, 2007 at 11:14 am

    shinji & cherylline: It’s always interesting to hear about perpectives from other areas of the globe, so it’s nice to see that anime seems to be more accepted where you guys are. :3

    zaitcev: That’s kind of an extreme way of looking at it. But I don’t like feeling isolated at all in any case. This just happens to be one of the more prominent examples, IMO. 😛

  8. 8 Elthyra June 22, 2007 at 2:23 am

    France is the country reading the most manga after Japan (I don’t know about anime), so here it is pretty common to see people talking about manga or anime. We even had something about manga in the news few years ago. I’ve lived in US too, and I know that in my school, I was one of the only people watching anime. I hate when people say it’s for kids. I don’t think lots of people would like their kids too watch Basilisk or Elfen Lied… (sorry for any spelling/grammar mistakes, I’m French)

  9. 9 TheBigN July 5, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Elthyra: Thanks for the French perspective. :3

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