*Warning: This post gets personal. Sorry in advance.*
Since graduating college, I’ve been living at home with my parents (anyone here in the same boat?). I’ve been trying to spend time with my ailing mother, and just earlier today she unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. As I was wrestling with that, and trying to think of a topic for this blog, I felt I should touch on something a bit deeper than usual. Seems fitting, as my mom was the one who encouraged me to start this blog. I’ll try to keep it short as I take a critical look at why I watch anime.
Bit of History
I know, you’re wondering how the fuck my current life situation relates to the topic of this post. Well, let me explain. I first got into anime in college. Okay, technically before that, watching DBZ and Tenchi Muyo on Toonami (the latter, I was always a bit embarrassed to be watching in the living room…), as well as things like Pokémon (somehow, I used to actually haul my ass out of bed early for that before school… man how times change). But it wasn’t until college that I really got super into it.
My college days were spent basically just going to class, and then spending the rest of my time in my dorm room. I didn’t really have friends at the time, and hadn’t braved visiting the martial arts classes they had on campus yet, so I just kind of did my own thing. Eventually, I ended up finding my way to the college’s anime club, where we just watched the first few episodes of whatever anime they picked for that week.
Before long, I started exploring anime more on my own time. I still had no friends, and anime club was only once a week, so I had tons of time. I could have been studying, I guess, but fuck that shit. Either way, I eventually stumbled upon a series that really pulled me into anime: Fullmetal Alchemist. To this day, it remains my favorite anime (assuming you watch it properly, but that’s a whole essay I’m working on, so I won’t get into it here). From there, I was hooked.
So… What’s This Got to Do with the “Why”?
There’s something to be said about anime that sets it apart from other forms of media. The stories are sometimes super far-fetched or fantastical. Other times they’re incredibly grounded and realistic. It really varies based on what series you pick. And, due to this vast array of stories, you can find a series that fits any situation.
Toward the end of my freshman year of college, I was having a difficult situation with my first (and, thinking on it, ONLY) girlfriend. Naturally, having issues with it in my life, I tended to gravitate toward romantic series, basically helping me through a tough time. I always really appreciated the relationships the characters formed. Arguably, even better seeing it within the harem genre. Ironically enough, the only series I didn’t finish was a harem that had one of those “I pick this girl, let’s break the hearts of the rest” endings, which obviously didn’t sit well with me. Either way, seeing romantic stories play out cheered me up.
As time moved on, I did end up finding some fellow anime nerds in the martial arts classes I ended up taking. They’re the assholes who actually gave me my pen name here… Love those guys. But yeah, I finally had some people I could actually binge anime with, which was cool since I had a hard time actually interacting with anyone at the anime club. It was a big club after all, and most people already had their little friend groups. Eventually, they got me into Dungeons&Dragons, which pulled me in yet another direction.
I always enjoyed fantasy, though my first real dive into it was probably my dad introducing me to Lord of the Rings. With how engrossed I became with D&D, it’s probably not surprising I got really into fantasy anime. I loved exploring a new world, so much more interesting than the boring reality I lived daily.
This feeling was amplified after graduating. Getting shit from my dad pretty much daily about finding a job (which was a perpetually insurmountable problem for me, for one reason or another) really got me down on my reality. Despite all of that, anime gave me a place to escape to. To explore. To enjoy, without the bullshit I had to deal with.
Conclusion Anytime Now?
Okay, sorry about running so long. Easy to get rambling, you know? I’ll cut to the chase here. Yes, there’s facets of anime to love that are enough of a draw on their own. I love the animation style. The fact that a great anime usually has an even greater manga or light novel if I want even more. I adore the character designs, and unique stories. I’ve come to love the anime culture too. Like how anime fans tend to be some of the coolest people, and usually more accepting than most. I wonder if it stems from a sense of bond we feel, all being fans of a niche fandom that’s had plenty of mocking and ridicule by some less-accepting people.
When I dissect my love of anime however, especially now as I deal with my mom’s passing, I think it’s deeper than that. For me, at least, anime gives me a way to cope. Anime has been my rock, a place I could escape to forget life for a bit. It makes me laugh when I’m upset. Makes me happy when I feel lonely. Gives me a moment to explore a fantastical world when this one feels so dull. And, of course, gives me an outlet to express myself, now that I have this blog. I think, deep down, that may be the most significant reason I watch anime. It really has become a way of life for me.
Well, there you go. Sorry again for the long, drawn-out personal post. I’ll try to get a bonus post out to make up for it later this week. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Catch you in the next one.