Evolution of an Anime Fan

Laputa Castle in the Sky Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa Miyazaki Hayao

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.

Laputa Castle in the Sky Miyazaki Hayao Sheeta Pazu

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.

Laputa Castle in the Sky Miyazaki Hayao Sheeta Pazu

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).

Laputa Castle in the Sky Miyazaki Hayao Tenkuu no Shiro

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.

Laputa Castle in the Sky Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa

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.

This post was inspired while reflecting on Canne’s post on gateway anime and Ningyo’s post on the varying degrees of fandom in response to Otaku USA.

Edit: The “pretentious blogger” is referring mostly to myself. ^ ^

Evolution of an Anime Fan Part II. 28. February 2011

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62 Responses to Evolution of an Anime Fan

  1. Canne says:

    I kind of understand why you keep your anime fan identity secret from your friends. I do that, too, because unless you know that person really well, you can never know how he/she will judge you. A lot of people simply have negative view towards anime. Even now that I’m more open(and supposedly more mature) about my anime fandom, I still always whole something back and never talk too much about the subject unless I am asked to do so.
    It’s really great to share this with you 🙂

  2. kluxorious says:

    I have always been the weird one and actually comfortable at being one. Being different is good in my book. And thanks to my personality, I ended up having friends because I shoved anime up their ass. Now they are tards as well although the passion is still a big difference XD

  3. Sellers says:

    I suppose I’m a bit different from you lot. I can’t really say I’m all that into Anime. Never bought a figurine, a poster or whatnot.

    I think it’s a legitimate medium of media, and that some series are worth watching. Unfortunately, just like live action TV…a lot of them aren’t.

    Uhh…doesn’t seem like I had anything particularly interesting to say. Sorry.

  4. Ningyo says:

    I hardly ask people here if they watch anime, as it’s still a faraway culture here. 99% of the time, the answer is just ‘no’. In fact, I think anime is so scarce here people aren’t even bothered by it, because they don’t even know how to react to it… They call my blog’s post topics “Asian stuff”; something so shallow it’s practically floating above the water – I can’t even get angry at that. Still, when they confront me with it, I immediately admit to being an avid fan, and present my points as to why it’s not only children’s entertainment or perverted cartoons. It’s why I’m not part of the ultra-popular group that gets stoned flat every Friday and spreads STDs like wildfire. Really, good riddance.

    It simply just is what one makes of it, yeah. One’s truth is one’s truth – others can criticize it, but it’s up to one to be affected.
    And bloggers don’t have to be pretentious ;D

  5. Yi says:

    @Canne: I tend to hold back on things too, not just anime, but everything about myself. I don’t like to share too much either. ^ ^
    But yea, I’m more open about my interest in anime now, but I don’t think one approach is necessarily more mature than the other. It’s just different.
    Thank you so much for sharing. ^ ^

    @kluxorious: Being different is really a very good thing. I think ultimately, it’s about how you feel. Haha, I’m really glad you have great friends willing to let you “shove anime up their ass”.

    @Sellers: Anime is a legitimate medium, but unfortunately, many people have faulty misconceptions of it. Thanks for reading.

    @Ningyo: I think most people I come in contact with have a vague idea of what anime is, based on the hentai section at Fry’s electronics… Understandably, they also come with their own prejudices and such. Anyway, high school felt like a long time ago, and I think I’m a very different fan now.
    Also, that pretentious blogger was mostly directed at myself. ^ ^

  6. shinra says:

    Me too… eventually, i’m the only 1 in my class that watch animes. The only person that i can chat about animes was my msn pals. XD

    Even my parents also felt disgust on my anime DVD collections. They say its pure EVIL… swt… I dont care about them anways.

    So everyday when i came back from school, i’ll dash to my room and become a Hikkikomori…

    That was back in the days, now, all my cousins, friends r into animes. Thanks to the influence by ME~~~

  7. shijima says:

    Happy Chinese New Year!
    Thank you for the insight into how you got into anime.
    I loved all of Miyazaki’s older works too, like Laputa and Nausicaa.
    I think Nausicaa was one of the first anime I ever watched.

    Hehe, your guess about a relationship between learning Japanese and anime wasn’t that far off though.
    I think over half of first semester Japanese students at my college at least had some interest in anime resulting in quite a large class size.
    Now, once they realized how much work learning a new language actually was, enrollment dropped and 2nd year Japanese classes were much, much smaller. 😀

  8. Smithy says:

    Nice posts, refreshing to see someone so young with such a level headed approach and opinion on being an anime fan and how it is different from person to person.

    As for school and popularity, while it is alas an overwhelming aspect in your life at that time, as you get older and go out into the working world, most of that withers away and you’ll be more free to live your passion. Some people may still judge and condemn but it’s more scarce and you can stand your ground firmer as you yourself will no doubt be more comfortable with who you are as a person.

    Personally never felt ashamed of being an anime fan, everyone has their unique hobbies and passions, what matters most is now what passion you have but that it is a positive passion with a good influence on you and your life.
    Whether your hobby is anime, collecting stamps, playing music, photography, soccer, computers, games,… doesn’t matter, as long as you have fun and are a good person.

  9. enri says:

    It’s weird how people react, when people see me watching anime, some think that that stuff is for kids, some that it’s porn (ok it’s understandable when they see me watching something like Queens Blade, or Mnemosyne hehe..)
    Overall they think i’m weird, go figure…

    “I grew up with classics such as Totoro, Doraemon, Kindaichi, and Conan the Detective.”
    I know a family in Thailand, they have two kids, 5 & 8 year old, they are pretty big fans of Doraemon, so they teach me all the characters & it was great fun, since my Thai is really not good.

  10. Yi says:

    @shinra: My parents, my brother, and my sister are a lot nicer about my interest in anime. I force them to watch certain series with me from time to time, and my mother pays for my figures, so I’m pretty lucky in that aspect.
    Anyway, it’s good to hear that your friends, cousins, and everyone are all into anime. Thank you for sharing.

    @shijima: I would guess that’s the case for college too, although I am sure most also have a genuine interest in learning other aspects of Japanese culture. In high school, only four foreign languages are offered, so that is a lot less of the case. It’s often simply a probability thing.
    Anyway, Happy Chinese New Year to you too! And happy Valentines. ^ ^

    @Smithy: Popularity, cliques, and such are a fact of high school and teenage life, and I was definitely very influenced by peer pressure. But I think once I got into college and nowadays, I’m much more free from those worries.
    “Personally never felt ashamed of being an anime fan, everyone has their unique hobbies and passions, what matters most is now what passion you have but that it is a positive passion with a good influence on you and your life.”
    I really agree with and respect that. ^ ^

    @enri: Haha, I blame tentacles and hardcore hentai for most people’s reactions to anime.
    Doraemon was really a favorite of many many children in Asia. It is a lot fun indeed!

  11. Pingback: Trapped in the past: How many gateway anime do we need, exactly? « Canne's anime review blog

  12. Fuller says:

    Among my friends only a few know anime, but they know the classical (Naruto, bleach, ect). I tried to give them others animes names to show them animes do not stay to the stage of “people with awesome power kicking as of each other”. Unfortunatly, or they don’t like it or they don’t even try.

    To my other friends I never mention anime, ’cause if I do I can’t go against their prejudices. What they think/saw/say about anime (and by the way manga because they can’t tell apart) is far away from the truth. But, they do enjoy watching anime movies like Mononoke Hime and other Ghiglis’ movies. I assume they don’t want to start anime because of their prejudices, whenever I say “anime” I’m sure they think “Naruto”>”childish”>”I’ll pass”. I used to watch Naruto, but then I opened my mind and discovered more about the anime’s univers. So, I think, watching anime is not some think we have to be ashamed of.

    I’m not from USA (so sorry for my english ^^”), but it seems like animes prejudices are the same everywhere.

    Oh, and I’d like to thank you, I saw everybody was advising you to watch Canaan. So I did and I just looooove it *.* Thanks again for what you’re doing ;).

  13. Yumeka says:

    I don’t think I ever actually hid my interest in anime – I usually just don’t play it out to be as major as it is, unless the person I’m talking to is a fellow fan of course. I was made fun of a lot in middle school for liking Pokemon, but despite that I never pretended not to like it. I barely had any friends who shared my anime hobby until high school (I didn’t have Internet until then, either). In high school and college it was easy to find friends who like anime thanks to clubs and Japanese class. Putting anime pictures on my school notebooks or wearing anime shirts also helped me find more fellow fans.

    Nowadays I don’t hide my anime interest, I’ll only sometimes make it seem like it’s not as big as it is. But like you say, everyone has their way of handling their hobby. If you prefer to keep your anime interest and social life separate, more power to you.

  14. Katsura-chan says:

    That’s a lot of personal information you unveil here.
    Clearly mangas and animes did had a bad connotation in the past for some reasons i don’t understand. Most of the people who say not liking animes haven’t really watched any with an objective eye.
    Myself i always had a person or two to talk about animes but this culture was quite narrow and not really spread among children.
    But one thing is sure is that i was never ashamed to like mangas and i was never afraid to say it.
    I even fought my parents who also had bias about the animes i was watching on tv.
    Never be ashamed off what you love 🙂

  15. biotoxic says:

    Hi there Yi, my first visit here.

    I really liked this article. I think your post sums up nicely how I feel about my interests in anime & figure collecting. I won’t hide my interests from others, but I certainly won’t be explicitly telling others about it.

    I’m fairly new to the anime culture, I only started watching about 3 years ago, which is during my university time. So I’ve never had to deal with the whole “high school & anime” situation.

    Currently there’s no one I know who also shares my interests, but then I’ve never actually attempted to find out. It doesn’t really bother me if others around me like the same stuff or approve of my hobbies, since if I’m spending time with them it usually involves uni work :lol:.

  16. This is an awesome article Yi. I guess you could say that I was prety much like you in which I kept my passion for anime and manga on the down low. But ever since I started blogging last year, I started appreciating the genre more and more. I hope to keep on enjoying it and i hope to share this with my children someday.

  17. lovelyduckie says:

    My best friend in high school (freshmen year) asked me to stop, she knew I was playing Final Fantasy and was vaguely aware that I may like anime. That was a pretty sad moment for me because I didn’t talk about my hobbies unless specifically asked, and even then I’d keep it brief. I didn’t like feeling ashamed of something I’d loved since 5th grade. I continued staying quiet about it throughout high school but my other friends knew about it even though I didn’t talk about it much. In college I suddenly decided screw it, I’m not hiding it. To hide my love of anime/manga in college would mean I would have to give it up completely because I had a roommates. Although I don’t typically use anime as a conversation starter I don’t hide it.

    I haven’t read this issue of Otaku USA yet, I may have to pick it up to see exactly what this article is.

  18. Shin says:

    Not much for me to comment on, other than the fact that my own Origins was a lot less innocent than this.

  19. Optic says:

    Confession: I use to diss ppl watching anime back in my highschool days. I remember a friend of mine showing me an episode of Chobits and I said to him “are u a sicko watching this crap”, something along those lines.
    If I told him, I’ve been watching anime for more than 3 years, he will be taking the last laugh but sadly I haven’t seen in a a long time now.

    I avoid talking about my ‘figure’ collecting hobby at work to not draw attention. I receive “WTF” looks from my relatives each time they visit over or just random ppl my mom brings home from time to time and the last I want is seeing those looks at work. I already know a few ppl hint I collect figures but they don’t make a big deal since they ‘hint’ it’s only a small collection. I’m not keen in finding out when they know it’s 3 times that size. 0_0

    My starting point in the anime world was picking up a volume of Stelliva but when it comes to Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Laputa: Castle in the Sky is still my absolute favourite. ^^

  20. softz says:

    It must be hard on you. I’m glad that you’re more open now. Well, I kinda understand how it feels, trying to hide one’s liking/disliking, in order to avoid embarrassment or being cast away. Well, I think simply take it easy and do what you like (as long as not hurting anyone else). As time goes by, things would be better. 🙂

  21. Yi says:

    @Fuller: Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Prejudices are indeed very common place. Most people I know limit their experiences to Ghibli’s Spirited Away and that’s it. And any attempt to get them to explore is often met with disdain. So yea, agreed with you there!

    @Yumeka: “Nowadays I don’t hide my anime interest, I’ll only sometimes make it seem like it’s not as big as it is.”
    I used to try to keep my anime interest and social life strictly separate. Now I take your approach too.
    I should try to find some anime fans irl too.

    @Katsura-chan: “Never be ashamed off what you love :)”
    I think that’s a really good attitude and it’s something I’ve come to realize and act accordingly as well. People can have their biases but those biases do not concern me.
    Thanks for reading and commenting. ^ ^

    @biotoxic: Thanks for visiting and I’m really glad you liked this article.
    I’ve never really attempted to reach out to anime fans irl either, but maybe that will change later.

    @Anime Full Circle: Blogging certainly helped me become more comfortable with my passion for anime. I still somewhat keep it on the down low though in that I don’t explicitly sport my interest with Naruto headbands or such. Still, I don’t hide it either. Thanks for reading.

  22. Yi says:

    @lovelyduckie: Your experience actually parallel my own too. I also had a really really close friend (Not the one from the article) who told me to stop watching anime. I told her that it’s actually really good. And she says, “I’m sure it is. I’m sure I’ll like it if I watch it. But it’s not cool and it’s not constructive.”
    So I pretty much didn’t let anyone else know it.
    Anyways, now I’m much more relaxed about it.
    The issue of Otaku USA does not address this, but I was just reflecting upon something Ningyo wrote.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    @Shin: I’m afraid to ask…

    @Optic: I know those “wtf” looks… I have a really small collection though so usually when people visit, they kind of just glance over the collection and maybe take a second look.
    Good luck at your workplace. ^ ^
    Anyway, I should watch Stellvia.

    @softz: It wasn’t necessarily hard or anything. It was a guilty pleasure and it still fit into the rest of my life pretty well.
    I’m more open now but I think either approach is perfectly OK. They’re simply different.
    Thanks for reading!

  23. 2DT says:

    Chances are that girl taking Japanese was just putting up a front, too. Out of the foreigners interested in Japan today, there’s just no way that they don’t like SOMEthing about that segment of the culture. If not icky horrible anime, perhaps some manga. Or perhaps Ghibli movies don’t count as anime– I’ve seen that sometimes.

    Well, this is interesting. I may have to do some reflecting, if only to participate in the blog lovefest. Cheers.

  24. moemoekyun says:

    we start from manga *_*
    for me I start from manga by CLAMP(all that published at that time)
    and all manga you mentioned above (I am influenced by my big sister I read both shonen and shoujo)
    for anime I only watch that my local television provide like macross(classic),gundam,dragonball,cardcaptor sakura,sailormoon,etc start anime on the internet this past 3 years
    for hiding like anime I just start lately coz when you grow up and tell your passion to person that don’t know you well you know some people still think silly about anime especially if you turn adult right ?? -_-

  25. Reltair says:

    Excellent post; it was an interesting read. My first anime was Laputa with Cantonese dubs (yeah…), and I didn’t really think of it as anime at the time. It was in a category of its own since my family would be like, “Let’s watch Castle in the Sky tonight!” Must have seen it 10 times or something by now.

    This is such an interesting topic to talk about, I can rant on but I’ll try to make it short.

    Anyways, I basically started watching anime in High School. I think I was the first in my group of friends to do so, and then others did. We follow various anime and randomly talk about them in Vent along with reminiscing about old series. Good times.

  26. It’s about the same thing when I first moved to Canada. It was hard to find anime here, so my interest in anime was disappearing, but I know in the back of my mind I was still in love with Voltes V and all other Japanese subcultures (the live action sci-fi stuff). Eventually it was Ranma 1/2 that took me back when I dropped by Blockbuster (where they only rent you any anime VHS if you’re 18 or older).

    Now that I’m older and (sorta) making money from working I’m living that missing life where anime becomes quite central. Sadly work is the reason why I can’t always watch those anime I’ve acquired with my money…

    I’m all out there. A lot of my friends and co-workers associate me with anime. I don’t hide it. I’m always wearing clothes that are related to anime. To me I have to be myself and that is to be an anime fan no matter where I go. Live it no matter what others say; from one end of the spectrum to the other end.

  27. I do know that to a major extent, I just stopped caring about what people think about my anime hobby, taking the policy that those who don’t seek to understand aren’t worth convincing. Thankfully, most of my IRL friends are understanding of it or are into it, so it’s not that big a deal.

    As for me, I’ll probably keep on telling how Gunslinger Girl brought me back into the fold and that came in during a period where I was sure anime had gone stale. Glad to know that I was really wrong in that respect and I don’t think I’ll be giving up any time soon.

  28. Ruby says:

    Great post Yi 😉
    I often try to hide the fact that I’m into anime too!, me watching anime and blogging is my secret life that none of my friends know about xD actually my parents doesn’t even know that I paid to have my blog or else I’ll be in big dodo~ o_o It’s rare to find someone to be into anime/manga where I live or if they are, they’re only into the very popular ones that are licensed and on tv like Naruto, Bleach, and Death note, no one understands how much of a major anime watcher I am so I don’t like sharing any of my hobbies to people (only close friends/family know) and most friends would just judge me on the spot and avoid me ~.~ maybe one day I won’t feel the need to be so secretive :3

  29. Yi says:

    @2DT: I guess I wasn’t way off base in my assumption. I agree that many do not think of popular Ghibli movies as anime. In their minds, Spirited Away is akin to Beauty and the Beast or Up.
    If you do do a self reflection, I really look forward to it. It will certainly be very interesting.
    Anyway, I tend not to like to blog “meta” or trending topics, but this entry was already mostly drafted since a month ago, and I needed to post something this week. This seemed like a perfect timing.

    @moemoekyun: I actually was pretty big fan of CLAMP as well in my childhood. I really liked Cardcaptor Sakura manga.
    A lot of people still kind of silly so I do hold some back. That’s also why I don’t particularly broadcast myself as a raging anime fan.
    Thanks for commenting. ^ ^

    @Reltair: I’ve seen Laputa so many times as well. Love it!
    Anyway, your high school anime life definitely sounds like a lot of fun. ^ ^
    I kind of wished a bit that I could’ve shared and discussed anime with someone as well.
    Thanks for reading and sharing. I really appreciate it.

    @lightningsabre: Yea it was definitely hard to find anime as a kid. I hope you can find more time to watch those anime you bought!
    “To me I have to be myself and that is to be an anime fan no matter where I go. Live it no matter what others say; from one end of the spectrum to the other end.” I really respect that. I hope one day I’ll get to the point where I can go all out as well.

    @zzeroparticle: Gunslinger Girl can bring anyone into anime. I got my mother to sit through it with me one time because she was really curious about my passion. Now she has a much better understanding of anime.
    It’s good to hear that your IRL friends are understanding!
    Thanks for reading.

    @Ruby: Thanks! I really appreciate the nice words. ^ ^
    I think your experiences really parallel my own in the past. I had only a few friends who know I like anime, and even they don’t know how much of a huge fan I was. I didn’t particularly mind that too much though.
    Now I’ve taken a different approach, and that’s fine too.
    Good luck keeping it a secret or not. I think whatever you decide to do will be right.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  30. lovelyduckie says:

    I want to watch Kindaichi, I’ve been watching and loving Detective Conan, but I was told Kindaichi is even better so I want to give it a try. But it doesn’t seem to be licensed and I can’t find the episodes subbed beyond the first 10 😦

    Manga won’t do either since Tokyopop vstopped releasing it.

  31. lylibellule says:

    I was never ashamed of my tastes even if i don’t yell it everywhere. I’m a discrete otakus 😛
    Animes, mangas and figures, i love that! and if it’s bothering my surroundings, they can go see elsewhere if i’m there!! I’m not preoccupied with their case of conscience.
    But i totally understand your feeling when you were younger, to be a part of the society and “deny” a part of your passion…
    Not always easy to unveil your true personality. ^^

  32. Kairu says:

    I like to scream my passion for Anime and make sure everyone knows about it. I have been judged by so many people and some people think I am a freak of nature…but anime is a huge part of my life and if someone just cannot accept that part of me then there is not much use in me attempting to find friendship in that person. I have plenty of non-otaku friends that know of my collecting habits and my anime, but they are not disgusted of me because I like it, and because of that I try and tone down how much I talk about it for that persons sake.

    In general though I like everyone to know…simply because for so many years I saw nothing wrong with it, I never saw it as embarrassing or a “bad” thing. I do not wish to hide it because of certain people.

    Though that being said I was a typical outcast and loser for most of my educational career =3
    You win some and lose some haha

  33. Yi says:

    @lovelyduckie: I think Kindaichi is much better. It’s a more mature, smarter, less gadgety Detective Conan. The schemes and the murders are also much more sophisticated. I read the manga for both and never really watched the anime though, so I don’t know how those are.
    Anyway, if you do get a chance, Kindaichi is really awesome.

    @lylibellule: I think that’s how I would consider myself now. A discrete fan.
    Anyway, thanks for reading!

    @Kairu: “I have plenty of non-otaku friends that know of my collecting habits and my anime, but they are not disgusted of me because I like it, and because of that I try and tone down how much I talk about it for that persons sake. ”
    Sounds like some of my friends now. ^ ^
    Anyway, thank you so much for your comment!

  34. koyot3 says:

    Oh, I said a bunch of stuff and it failed to post. I cant remember most of what I said, but basically:
    It’s nice that you are more open about your anime hobbies now. No, the post isnt pretentious at all! This is a nice reflection on the origins of your fandom and brings the reader to reflect on theirs.
    And then I went on (rambled) about how I’m rather a closet fan from the first anime Dirty Pair Flash, lol.

  35. TheFatherCat says:

    Interesting topic, I’m more of the opposite XD
    I have more trouble interacting with anime lovers in real life than non anime lovers. The lack of similar interests can get ugly at times or they are just too crazy, personality wise, for me. I am not exactly saying it is a bad thing…

    Then again, the only anime lovers I know are from the anime club that I used to go to. *shivers*

  36. Yi says:

    @koyot3: Sorry about the comment not posting. WordPress had a rather long downtime a while ago.
    Anyway, thanks for the kind words and the comments. ^ ^

    @TheFatherCat: I think I kind of share that sentiment. My few experiences with anime fans irl have not been that great. I think the people I met simply had personalities that do not match mine.

  37. Persocom says:

    I don’t hide it at all. When I first got into anime it was more of a personal thing, but it wasn’t really weird to others because I didn’t watch it a lot and it was “just another cartoon” to them back then. Of course over time that changed. As I became more and more obsessed with anime and the things that are related to it, I just naturally went with the flow and didn’t hide it. I’m still a bit embarrassed to take figures in public and that sort of thing, even in my own front yard I feel weird doing it, probably for the most part it has to do with the environment around me though. However, if someone is a true friend they will accept you for who you are, and not force you into pretending to be someone you’re not. I find the friends that you can truly share yourself with the ones that matter the most. The only person I was ever really nervous about seeing what I’m into is my mom, and that was only really about the figure collecting part. Since that’s been done and over, I’m free as a bird. Now once my son gets older, we’ll see if he evolves from loving my figures and anime to being the complete opposite.

  38. Yi says:

    @Persocom: You have really awesome friends! I do aspire to one day be as “free” as you. ^ ^
    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  39. Laguna Loire says:

    It is awesome how the shock in cultures can be fascinating, you had to hide yours tastes and likes in anime to be “social” at school, but if you had stayed at taiwan, i think that if you didn’t join the anime side you’d be the weird one 😉

    I’m Brazilian, here things work a little different, anime is widespread and, like in japan, you can find manga readers everywhere, even if they are not hardcore otakus, and just read them for fun (casual readers), time killing… et cetera, it is kinda normal and this (to like anime) won’t make any difference if you want to be “social” at school.

    I think our society is very open-minded with cultural aspects and respects others differences, so… one thing i can be sure about, if i moved to other country, like the u.s. or china for instance, i bet wouldn’t recover the cultural shock…


  40. Yi says:

    @Laguna Loire: You make a lot of really good points. If I lived in Taiwan, manga and anime would be much more common and casual than here. Culture shock indeed.
    Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    • Kuro says:

      That’s actually a lie. Anime is not widespread in Brazil and you can’t find manga readers everywhere. Most of the brazilian people despise anime, they think it’s childish and lame. There are few licensed titles and the most popular stuff are things like Naruto, Bleach and Saint Seiya. The only Gundam avaible in here was Gundam Wing, one of the wrost in the whole franchise, which suffered from bad translation. Speaking as a brazilian anime fan, I wish I was born in the US, since the industry’s so much better in there.

      • Yi says:

        @Kuro: Industry in the US is not that robust and is quite lacking for a passionate fan. Outside of Japan, anime has a larger presence in Asia than the Americas in general (for obvious reasons), but it’s growing here for sure.

      • Laguna Loire says:

        Sorry i said that, i always forget Brazil is large and not everyone lives in DEVELOPED São Paulo, there is always those from rural areas with strong conservative culture which doesn’t accept japanese good imports, but the internet nowdays had already broken this barrier, don’t be afraid of social exclusion anymore. ^^

        But thinking better, you denying your nationality just shows how imature you’re, and yongs in brazil doesn’t know english unless they’re rich.

        And that explains why you haven’t seen manga readers everywhere because the social elite you’re in treat it like that (childish and lame).

        I am from the working class, love my country, have been through public middle/high schools (for the poor) and can assure to you anime/manga is popular among the yong and more grownups like myself =P

        PS: I am only replying in english ‘cuz otherwise others wouldn’t understand ‘k?

  41. Neko_Len says:

    I am lucky. All of my friends are anime fans, even if they would not seem “the type”. As far as gateway anime, for me it was the original airing of Robotech on cable.Yes I am that old.

  42. blur says:

    I go about it in a different way.

    I make it an effort to letting my friends know what I enjoy.
    And if I’m getting some procrastinating vibe off them, I literally tell them they can choose not to “hang out” with me.

    Which I’m sad to say, has more than once ended up in them walking away from me and waiting for me at the other end of a walkway while i pose a figure and snap some shots. Sad not because they don’t understand my interest, but because it didn’t occur to them to support.

    Still, doesn’t deter my love for animes or the related. Lol…

  43. Yi says:

    @Neko_Len: I never saw Robotech, but that’s probably because I am not a huge fan of mecha. Anyway, I’m glad you have a close group of friends who can share your interest.
    Thanks for the comment!

    @Blur: I think that’s a perfectly legitimate way to approach your fandom. It’s awesome though that while do walk away, there are still those who stay to support.
    Thank you so much for sharing your approach. ^ ^

  44. Andrei says:

    Im an anime/manga/comics fan who lives in Romania. Here is pretty hard to follow your passions with no obstacles, because our society is stiff, close-minded and totally rejects what is new and ”not normal”. I knew anime fans and comics book fans who gave up their passions only because it wasn’t ”right” and they they wanted to fit in. Fit in, like blend and live a normal boring life, from my point of view. Who are we if we don’t differentiate from other people? We all are individuals. We have different characters, different passions and different ways of life. We all live as we like and as our brains and hearts tell us to do. The moment we are all alike, the individual dies. And the passion for anime manga and comics is one that differentiates people. If they think we are not normal because of that, please let them think like that. They are the ones they are missing something, not us. Because I think it takes something special to be able to watch, understand, enjoy and experience anime and other forms of popular culture.
    I wasn’t much different from other fans that gave up at their passions in here (romania). But over time I begun not to care anymore. I dont have any friends that like anime in here so I am pretty separated from other anime fans from my city (if they are any). So what if that lady at the news stand makes a weird face when im asking a Spider-Man comic-book? Im not going to explain myself ”its for my little bro”. NO way. Let her wonder. And im not hiding my passion form any member of my family either. If the society I live in doesn’t accept these things as normal, maybe the society isn’t normal and I need to live in other country (or continue to live here and not care about what they think). My wife is Brazilian and we intend to live there in the future. Brasil has a very open minded society, as Laguna Loire said. Plus, they have manga, comics and im pretty sure they have anime too. Long post 🙂

  45. Yi says:

    @Andrei: Your comment gave me a lot to think about. There are a lot of things that I agree with about the individual and societal pressures. I think (hope) that most eventually grow out of their accepted realm of the “norm”. I think people do. Anyway, thank you so much for such a thoughtful and dense reply. ^ ^

  46. baka says:

    I think I can understand a little bit about how you feel
    I’m in Vietnam and whenever I talk about anime with my friends, they look at me as if I’m an alien.

  47. Yi says:

    @baka: Yea… I get those looks occasionally. Thanks for reading. ^ ^

  48. bluedrakon says:

    I myself had to keep it kind of to the side when I was at work (old job as no job now). They usually did not understand so much and thought I was a bit weird for watching “cartoons” at my age. The good thing however is that my wife and son both love the stuff as much as I do and I can proudly showcase it.

    Since I have moved to Western Maryland however, that all changed a bit as I am in the rural area and not to may people here know about that stuff. The local Library did have some current Anime, but I felt weird looking at it as it is in the “Teen Loft” with the Manga. Don’t want to seem like an old pervert when I check it out tere, so I usually order it through their online holding page.

  49. Yi says:

    @bluedrakon: My local library relegates anime and manga to the teen section as well, which always made me feel a bit awkward to read there, so I never did. Anyways, one day I do hope that I can proudly showcase my hobby to my future spouse and children as well. ^ ^
    Thanks a lot for reading and commenting! ^ ^

  50. Pingback: A Quick Tour of Listless Ink « Listless Ink

  51. Pingback: Evolution of an Anime Fan (Part II) | Listless Ink

  52. Fabienne says:

    a nice post again thx for sharing your experiences even the little bit sad ones 😉
    I started watching anime in a regular manner pretty late, first I only consumed anime which aired on tv,before changing to subbed anime. I watched a few shows on tv with my best friend, the shows were ok, but not really my taste, that I would say thei were awesome at all. After the anime boom in my country ended there were no anime shows airing anymore only pokemon or Digimon and so me and my friend stopped watching anime on tv. That was the timc were I started to search for anime shows by myself. I never tried to convince my friend to watch subbed anime because I thought it would be a pain for him. since then I enjoy watching anime alone I don’t talk about it to anybody in rl but I don’t hide it as well. If Im asked what my latest dvd is about I give them a short answer. My parents accept it and are always impressed how fast I can read subtitles XD
    Well I’m a calm person in general but If someone talks bad about my anime I can get quite angry, very angry *Hulk mode* ;D

    • Yi says:

      Back in the days when I was still just a kid, I watched anime with my childhood best friend too (the one who introduced me to anime). It’s a pretty fun thing to do! But like you, we don’t watch anime together anymore because we don’t see each other much. I also watch anime alone now and take the same attitude as you.

      “My parents accept it and are always impressed how fast I can read subtitles XD”
      Loll my mother too!

      Anyways, thanks for the comment. ^ ^ It’s fun to see all these people with similar/ different experiences.

      p.s. I’d like to see your hulk mode. Haha.

  53. shockerz says:

    That’s funny. I’m on the other hand is much more different that most of you have experienced. I never really hide the fact that I watch anime and is crazy about Japanese pop culture. While others might have their opinions of me. Well, to say the least I don’t really care about them.

    Up until College I have been sharing what’s good to watch and what not to my friends which eventually turned them effectively into anime fans. I guess sharing one’s interest does gain a lot friendship in return xD

    • Yi says:

      That’s the attitude! I kind of wish I interacted with more anime fans in real life during my college years. My university had a pretty prominent anime club, and perhaps I should’ve gone.

      Anyway, thanks for reading my post on this and thanks for sharing your own experiences!

  54. jreding says:

    Yesterday I finally watched Laputa. I felt somewhat exhausted from life and longed for an immersive anime experience without the stereotypes all too common in television series nowadays. I was right in saving this movie for such a day. It was so touching that I felt like I’d be watching anime for the first time.
    Occasionally I wonder if I will become kind of jaded after a while. Perhaps I will one day. But for now I rather feel that naive curiosity has just given way to a more nuanced experience. In Laputa, for instance, I could much more deeply appreciate the themes of love of nature, opposition to war and, yes, the friendly robots.
    In my anime history, like you describe, dear Yi, I had a first encounter (Sailor Moon, in my case) followed by a long period of desinterest and an epiphany moment much later (for me involving series like Gunslinger Girl). A few years later on, again, I spend less time on anime than before and other aspects professional and private take more importance. But anime is still enriching my life and I hope for many more joyful experiences like Laputa!

    • Yi says:

      I am so so glad you feel this way about Laputa. It is one of my favorite anime ever, and the anime that sparked my love. The story is rich and the art concepts are brilliant. I’ve re-watched Laputa dozens of times, and it still feels fresh each time.

      I think I can relate a bit to that possible jaded feeling. Truth to be told, today was the first time I watched anime in months. I’ve simply not had the time or the energy. I watched Saki, Side A, and while it is a very very charming series, I could see how I might possibly get tired of such anime in some years. Then again, there is Laputa and all these wonderful titles. So today is not that time.

      That synopsis of your anime watching habits over the years sound very similar to mine. A first encounter, an epiphany, a consuming love, a few hiatuses here and there, and now, I’m in a phase where other personal and professional priorities are taking most of my time. Hopefully, we’ll both still be able to squeeze in a few titles here and there. ^ ^

      Cheers, my darling friend, jreding!!

  55. nxgprasad says:

    You Inspired me Yi! That was a wonderful post!

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