I spent the first ten years of my life in Taiwan. For Taiwanese children, manga and anime are a large part of our childhoods. I remember borrowing and trading manga with friends, taking trips together to manga cafes, or discussing last night’s episode of Chibi Maruko Chan. I grew up with classics such as Totoro, Doraemon, Kindaichi, and Conan the Detective.
When I moved to the U.S., all of this changed, I had little access to manga or anime. Without any nearby stores or any friends (I did not speak any English then), I was cut off and my interest simply withered away.
A few years passed, while visiting a family friend also from Taiwan, I was once again reacquainted with anime. To pass the time while our parents chatted, the friend and I decided to watch a movie, Laputa: Castle in the Sky. I was absolutely blown away by this beautiful masterpiece. That was the moment I recognized anime as a distinctive medium from western cartoons, Disney, animations, and films. Laputa presented this fantastic world that I wanted to explore. Miyazaki’s masterpiece is undoubtedly my gateway anime and one of my favorites ever.
In high school, a friend mentioned that she is taking Japanese. I naively saw this as a chance to find another with a similar interest, so I casually asked her, “Do you watch anime?” She replied in disgust, “No, ew… Of course not.” To that, I simply said, “Yeah, me neither. That stuff is weird.” Popularity is a bitch and I wanted to stay on her good side. As insignificant as image and social status are, I cared a lot about them in high school. I guess I was pretty immature and superficial… Well, I still am. Regardless, I was consuming mass amounts of anime by my senior year and happily keeping that a secret from everyone else (except for that friend and my family).
When I started college, I was still watching anime in the closet alone. I also began blogging (albeit not on Listless Ink) and shaping my internet identity. In my early years of college, I kept my internet life and anime interest strictly separate from my social life. Reconciling the two personae was actually kind of fun and easy, especially because I had no intention to seek out other anime fans.
Eventually, I became much more comfortable with my passion. Although I do not particularly broadcast my interest in anime, I do not reject that part of me in real life either. For example, when I met my new roommate this January, I had a quick relaxed conversation with her about the figures on my desk. Only a few years ago, I would have put my figures in their boxes under the bed whenever I had friends over. I suppose I have really evolved as a fan and it is kind of interesting to see how differently I deal with my fandom now.
Indeed, everyone’s love for anime is different. But I believe that however you choose to interact with the medium will be valid. No one particular approach or “level of knowledge” makes you a superior fan to another. Whether you are a genuine lover, a hardcore otaku, an anime clubber, a casual watcher, a pretentious blogger, an “intellectual”, or a closet fan, I think it would be fun and maybe even rewarding to reflect a bit on your own fandom.
Edit: The “pretentious blogger” is referring mostly to myself. ^ ^
Evolution of an Anime Fan Part II. 28. February 2011