Included here is a paper I wrote for my English class. It's memoir-esc. I describe my experiences with anime (both personally and socially). If you are curious about what I mean by anything feel free to ask.
A long time ago-1998, or the year Google was founded, Clinton was impeached, and Titanic made a killing in theaters-I lived in my own little world where watching cartoons was the most exciting part of the day. Everything I saw on tv I thought came from the US. Little did I know, however, some of my favorite shows were actually from Japan and were referred to as “anime” in America. I had a friend-Ian-at the time who enjoyed anime as well and we conversed on a daily basis about our likes, dislikes, and ideas of what would happen next-that fell through when I quit Tae Kwon Do-but it was a very fun couple of years as he was the first person to understand what I was talking about. I continued watching the shows until they weren’t on tv anymore and by that time I was in high school. High school was a time where anime went on hiatus and the glorious pitfalls and uprisings of being a teenager took place.
2007 was a very happy and disturbing year in my life. With the help of eBay I started my anime collection during the precious time between high school and college. With all the time I had to myself Freshman year I found out a little more about anime and what it was while watching the couple of boxsets I owned. I even found out that not all anime is in English! Each one actually is done in Japanese and gets English subtitles before being dubbed to English.
Even with my rising knowledge of Japanese anime in America I was not prepared for the frantic typhoon of goodness to come my way in 2008. I changed work schedules during the summer and therefore had a lot of time to be bored at home and nothing to do but play video games all night, or so I thought. My friend Jon called me up to see if I wanted to hang out sometime. Jon and I were friends in high school but he was 2 years ahead of me so we lost contact after he graduated. Jon was the last piece to the foundation of my anime fandom and I regret nothing. I had come into college only knowing that I wanted to study business but anime had given me a goal to work toward after graduation. I cannot exactly say what fully drew me in with concern to anime. I loved that constant action and good vs. evil of shōnen anime, the fanservice and constant comedy of harems, the originality and flow of stories, and of course the combined use of music, animation style, and anime’s distinguishing characteristics. Japan’s anime was, and is, better than American cartoons as with American cartoons a viewer can jump in at any point and know what is going on because there is almost no semblance of a story. If you don’t watch anime in order you can end up being thoroughly confused-though some anime are just complete mindfucks anyways; such as Ergo Proxy and Neon Genesis Evangelion-and I like having cogent storylines.
That summer Jon and I spent night after night glued to the computer or tv screen with Marlboros in one hand and Bud Lights in the other. We blazed through popular anime like Rosario + Vampire, Spice and Wolf, Kanokon, and Linebarrels of Iron in seemingly record time. In contrast, the real speed work happened when we didn’t meet up because we would spend 8+ hours watching different anime that we took separate interest in. With so much dedication we could watch an entire season in one night! The feat is possible because anime generally runs 22 minutes long with seasons being 12-13 or 24-26 episodes (with some exceptions).
Jon and I’s time together didn’t take long to foster thoughts that we wanted to do more than just watch and enjoy anime and manga-usually the source material of anime and Japan’s version of American comics. Jon and I wanted to create an anime. But not just any anime; we wanted to be almost entirely original because we felt there were some storylines that seemed too overused and themes that had become clichéd. He and I racked out brains for about a week until it finally dawned on me on where to look for influence. That spark of ingenuity came from Eoin Colfer’s intelligent and exciting Artemis Fowl book series.
“So what do you think?”, I said in muffled tones as I lit another cigarette.
“It could work.” Jon replied as he too lit up while offering me his computer chair. That’s right, we smoked inside his house but I got used to the pungent and restricting smell of the air easy enough. “Sounds original to me,” he continued. “But where do you want to go with the story? You kind of need characters, too.” All the while he stroked his beard in time with pacing the wooden floor.
“About that…” I began, taking a deep drag to ensure the cancer agents do their job before exhaling a plume of smoke that lingered in Jon’s face without a minute change in demeanor. “I want the story to be about this really smart kid from a wealthy family. But the kicker is that he has a pretty and badass bodyguard with him while he travels the world in search for a bride. And since we don’t care much for kiddy shows this thing will have language, some violence, and a whole lot of innuendo and nudity. There’s no anime like that! Well, not that I’ve seen or heard of. As for the characters, we can do that right now.”
So our amateur-but-seemingly-semi-expert-creative process began. We came up with a plot summary, very odd named main characters-even by Japanese standards, and what we believe to be the opening scene of the first episode. We were more than just excited. Jon and I were joyous and exuberant in throwing our dream into a Word document.
Jon certainly was a downer about the project from time to time, though. He had positive thoughts but despite my support he felt consistently negative about our chances of learning Japanese, going to Japan, and completing our (let’s face it, my) brainchild. I got pissed off, too. He even wasted the money to go back to school only to get tired of intro classes that he had to put up with. I’ve been on my own with the story and not a lick of progress was made for the rest of my college days. I blame my non-anime enticing environment and excellent-maybe haphazard-procrastination skills.
The summers of 2008 and 2009 saw me doing jack shit except watch anime, work, hang out with Jon, and golf. At least once a month I was on eBay or at Best Buy buying another boxset or video game. Despite such fact I still wonder where all my money went.
My family was-and still is-supporting of my anime hobby. They didn’t know much when I talked about it but they always heard me out and I was able to put some shows on my birthday and Christmas lists. Why would I get my family involved in buying boxsets to support my ever-growing interest? The answer is simply because boxsets are expensive-generally $30 is cheap as most sell for $60-and prices don’t go down.
Sounds like anime and I have done pretty well for each other, no? Well, yes, the experiences I’ve gained have been-and continue to be-great. But there is another side to my acculturation. Like anything foreign, though, there are supporters and haters, and I happened to live with one of those conceited and misconstruing pricks for 2 years.
My roommate Jesse gave me a lot of shit about anime. He was born in New Jersey and took every opportunity to be the “cool badass motherfucker”. I never really liked him-even if I was his neighbor at home and we went to the same high school. Jesse wasn’t too bad with the jibes while he was sober. Hell, I even got him to WATCH an anime! When Jesse was drunk, however, he would break up each conversation I was having with a girl to brazenly state that I watched anime and ipso facto I’m a freak-and the general American idea of anime is that it is animated porn (which is correctly termed “hentai”)-thus leaving me standing by myself. Jesse was an asshole.
One night Jesse and I were at a mutual friend’s party having a good time until he patently stopped a chat of mine. That time I did not take so kindly to his action and confronted him about it in the kitchen. He kept with his idea that anime was gay and that I was creepy and blah blah fuckin’ blah. I pointed out some flaws of his and how he was just like our old neighbor who dropped out of school. I struck a chord because to “defend” himself Jesse escalated the situation to swapping blows. We were broken up quickly so there was no clear winner.
Jesse was my trial of faith, so to speak, and I learned from my time with him that I don’t take shit from people knocking on anime. I quickly correct(ed) people when they are wrong, ignore those who are ignorant, and embrace those who understand and are willing to learn about anime and how American Media’s portrayals are wrong.