Silly as it may seem posting an article like this on an anime related blog but the internet does the wonderful service of giving the user whichever degree anonymity they so choose. Well thank heavens for that because if the people I know found out I watched cartoons then I would have to carry that terrible burden of shame with me forever… or would I? Given my reactions in my day to day activity it might seem I thought along those lines at some point.
It started several years ago. I discovered Cowboy Bebop through Yoko Kanno’s fantastic soundtrack and I decided to give the series an equal chance. Shock horror, I liked it. I liked it a lot. A guy who supposedly past the age of cartoon watching several years before. So what do I do now? Well I went in confident search of Cowboy Bebop merchandise which although the series hadn’t been released over here yet several volumes of manga had. Comics as well? What’s happening to me?
This is where it hit me. It wasn’t until I started walking up to the counter to buy the book that a niggling feeling started to gnaw down the back of my neck, so much so that I tried to hide the contents of the book from sight. I was slightly embarrassed but I knew I was being silly and approached the counter. The girl serving was attractive in that girl next door kind of way. I said the usual stuff you say to somebody who works on the counter unless you’re just being rude but then it came to handing over ‘the item’. The equivalent of buying a stack of porn. All I needed was a dodgy trench coat with the collar pulled up and some squeaky shoes.
‘You like this sort of thing then?’ The girl at the counter asked me cheerfully. Hurriedly thinking of an answer that didn’t involve, ‘Yes, sure do’ I suavely answered, ‘Oh no, this is a present for someone else’. She smiled and wrapped it up for me. She knew. Even through my masterful lie she could tell and as I left I just felt more and more silly for being embarrassed about such a thing but the sad fact about it is that I was in the anime closet waiting to come out. At least I’ll have something to read.
Years went by and my fandom started to grow little by little in secret. The only way to hide my shame was to drag a TV set up into the mountains early in the mornings when no one was around and watch my daily dose. Eventually I decided to finally blow my cover and actually attend one of those dreaded conventions with all that stuff that to the outside world I knew nothing about. I prepared myself for the event of cosplayers, those that dress up like their favourite anime and manga characters who at one point I would have probably glanced in a sorrowful contempt as I whisper, ‘That poor man’. Not anymore. My understanding of the medium now allowed me to accept that they were just doing it for fun and really it wasn’t that different from going to a fancy dress party. I’ve been to a couple of fancy dress parties myself.
Unfortunately my experience at my first Expo was not one to lay my soul in the open. On the day the rain was so bad that it began to flood but it was also hot and humid. I was irritable and hungry but couldn’t find anywhere to get something to eat. Inside the Expo was even more hot and uncomfortable because it was jam packed with people and stalls. In effect it was just like an indoor market but with anime merchandise and you’d bump into the occasional person wearing a Naruto headband (Naruto headbands always set off alarm bells). I left disappointed and tired but at least I wasn’t embarrassed about going in.
How do I feel now? Well I guess I’ve come to the point where I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter. No one really cares. Of course there are those that take the fandom too far and they are the one’s that end up on the news or have rooms filled with anime related stuff but most people with intelligence won’t associate you with those extremes anyway although there are always a few… Having said that when I have people over the anime still gets hidden away at the back of the cupboard . Let’s put it this way, it’s not a subject that I readily dive into conversation about. I’m quite content to just watch the odd episode of Lupin III without a single person knowing about it.
Damn, and I was doing so well.