Some time ago, I wrote a brief history of how anime became a huge part of life in the context of my cultural backgrounds and real-life social interactions. (It might be nice to read that post first.) A year later, this is part two.
As a child growing up in Taiwan, where there is a vibrant anime culture, reading manga was a natural and common part of most childhoods. It was not a defined hobby, but simply something I, as well as most kids, did. At the time, I had no idea what sets manga apart from other flavors of print cartoons, but I enjoyed reading manga. When I moved to the US, after-school TV shows – such as Pokemon, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Sailor Moon – replaced those trips to manga cafés. Still, in my mind, these were indistinct from any other forms of animation. However, once my after-school became occupied by other stuff, I stopped watching anime.
Putting Anime on a Pedestal
Sometime later, prompted by a few Ghibli movies and an enthusiastic introduction to the medium from a childhood friend, I begin recognizing anime’s own sets of styles, tropes, and surrounding culture. In the following months, I caught up with classics, explored new genres, and kept current with airing shows. As my interest developed, my appreciation grew as well to an almost excessive degree. Yes, I had that phase when I hailed anime as the best thing ever. I would eschew other forms of entertainment, while making sure my anime watching sessions were “perfect.” Because anime is that good. This reaction is hardly surprising; there were just so many incredible titles I had not seen before. I was a fascinated kid in a toy store.
Despite my quickly growing interest in anime, I never tried to bring anime into my highs school life, and kept this hobby strictly hidden. Besides the obvious reputation-killer reasons, perhaps I also delighted in the questionably romantic idea of having a guilty pleasure. In some ways, my love for the yuri genre further adds to that.
However, I needed an outlet for my thoughts on anime, and eventually I turned to blogging. My first posts were very private, and written with no particular attention to its content or other audiences. Most of these were rants and streams of emotions.
At some point, I gained a few readers. And, perhaps not unrelated, I wrote with a bit more focus and structure in mind. At the same time, I broke away from the blind obsessive mentality about anime. Putting my thoughts down, really thinking about the genre, and hearing what others have to say helped me to put the medium into perspective.
Fleeting and Lasting Interactions
The social aspect that comes with blogging has been especially significant in developing my mindset and approach to anime. Anime has become much more of an interactive hobby as opposed to something I watch alone in a vacuum and without context. Though these interactions all seem quite transient – a comment here, an email there, and some tweets in between from people who come and go – there is still a surprising persistence in these fleeting relationships threaded by our common interest in anime. I still keep the hobby mostly to myself in real life, but more because of my transitional life than anything else. In some ways, it makes these spontaneous interactions via social media all the more relevant.
Some Ending Notes
Nowadays, I approach anime fairly casually. I pick up series on whims, and watch most episodes as time-killers or while multitasking. Of course, there are times when I do make myself very comfortable and focused for a perfect night of marathon. Sometimes I like to wax pretentiously the themes and ideas underlying series; at other times I simply watch stuff for the cute girls. It all depends on my mood. Mostly, I am just looking for a relaxing time.
This is a response post to Nopy’s wonderful project collecting people’s histories on anime. Because I had already written on this topic a year ago, I decided to write this part II and approach the post with a different lens. As it turns out, I actually had very little idea what direction I wanted the post to go. Not only did this end up all over the place, I never really got into what anime I watched and when. I guess the pictures do give a slight idea… Kind of…
Well, enjoy nevertheless.