Things I took with me from Anime Boston: DVD’s, a new appreciation for having graduated high school, lots of pictures of cosplayers, the flu…
Yeah, I’m sick, and I’m willing to bet that I caught some nasty germs at the con. So it goes.
I had wished to do this sooner, but spent the past few days blasting through Blue Seed and Gundam X, along with tossing a few episodes of Rose of Versailles in for extra measure, all while not getting further from my room than the bathroom down the hall to blow my nose.
Anyway, along with the garden variety things learned from a con (gee, a lot of people like Bleach!), I did come away with some more instructive observations and lessons. One which was probably the most important discovery of the weekend was the simple fact that I do not exist within the “mainstream” anime community in this country, something I realized in a. the fact that I saw two Clannad cosplayers TOTAL at the con, and b. how many people I spoke with who had never heard of Kanon, including a friend of mine who I’ve always thought was fairly knowledgeable upon the topic.
Honestly, this really shouldn’t come as a shock – in a sense, bloggers occupy pseudo-ivory towers in relation to the rest of anime fandom, pontificating on the fine points of shows such as Aria or Maria-sama ga Miteru while the vast majority simply takes delight in the antics of Naruto and his friends or the protracted sword battles of Bleach. Which isn’t to say one isn’t superior to the other, but simply a statement of the fact that we take different approaches to being a fan. And although I’ve been aware of that divide to an extent, I think I still very easily bought into the notion that if the aniblogosphere (there’s that pesky portmanteau again!) talks a show up, then everyone must love it – particularly if it was a show that had “wide” appeal, so we’re talking the Kanons of anime, not the Arias.
It was a bit weird to suddenly be faced with the fact that I am part of that potentially-snobby segment of domestic (America and Canada) anime fandom. It was very bizarre to casually mention shows I thought most people had heard of and have been met with blank stares. I suppose I could take it as somewhat disheartening that this means that so many truly enjoyable shows get overlooked, but at the same time I can’t say I begrudge the fun many derive from more popular franchises (even if I still find many of those shounen juggernauts to be pretty boring myself – but, hey, I’m pretty sure most of them would say the same about Jigoku Shoujo).
Of course, this wasn’t just a case of “I like to watch Mouryou no Hako (seriously, can someone finish subbing this? please?), you like to watch Dragonball Z.” Or, rather, it didn’t just tell me something I knew already, which is that people have differing tastes. It also made me realize that I’ve really changed as a fan over the years, back from those first days when I’d scramble down the the television at the crack of dawn to get to see some Sailor Moon before I trundled off to school. I’ve matured as a fan, going from what could’ve easily been a temporary time as an anime fan to a lifelong fan.
Looking around the con at all the kids dressed up as shinigami and ninjas, I thought about the people I’d spent my first few years as a fan with, people who are simply not fans any longer. One of them told me their interest in anime simply evaporated as they got older, and another similarly packed away their old tapes as another relic from childhood to be tucked away in the attic. They really loved anime for a while, but it was something they grew out of as they became young adults. By comparison, I seemed a bit mired in my youth, although it was never explicitly stated to me that way.
I don’t think that in sticking with anime as an adult versus giving it up as something of one’s childhood one is making a better choice; really, all that matters is that the choice is one’s own and that they’re happy with the outcome. But I am pretty happy with my own path, as I think my love for anime has only grown over the years, even as I’ve come to realize how much of anime is pure crap. I enjoy the anticipation prior to new seasons as I pick through the listings and choose which shows I want to check out. I love the thrill of cutting the plastic wrap off of new anime DVD’s (even as I shudder about the wastefulness of such packaging!). And one of the things I’ve really come to love in the past year has been the fun of getting to read what other fans think via the blogosphere.
I suppose what it all boils down to is that I’ve come to believe that I am a lifelong fan, and will continue to blow money on anime for the next however many years. And you know what? I couldn’t be happier – I love my hobby, and I’m thrilled that it has become such a key part of the backdrop of my life.