It’s a common story. A Saturday night, no plans. What do I do? Seek out a new anime to watch, of course.
To Aru Majutsu no Index has been on my list for a while, but I’ve passed it up for things I’ve categorized as more “high brow”, “mature”, or newer. It wasn’t high priority. But on a quiet, snowy Satruday night I figured why the hell not? It’s nice to know what the younger generation is into these days (since my own, refined tastes are oh-so-far removed).
I set up my torrent, and as I was doing so examined that last train of thought mentally:
The younger generation? Bullshit.
It has come to my attention that, somewhere in my recent history, I’ve identified a “younger” generation of anime fans, and for the first time ever, I haven’t self-identified with them. This “younger generation” is the Other. At the tender age of 23, I am now old.
In fact, recently, quite a few ‘firsts’ have been recorded in my anime viewing career. Notably:
- Consuming alcohol when watching anime. In fact, I sat down to watch Index with a glass of wine and croissant in hand.
- Dropping more anime that I pick up. Both for currently airing series; even ones I’m interested/emotionally invested in, such as the -monogatari series. And for older series (still haven’t finished Mirai Shounen Conan).
- Watching anime with someone else. Not that this is particularly new to me – my early days of anime watching were spent alongside my sister and good friends. I’m talking in more of a significant other snuggle-up kind of way, which is certainly novel. If I may be frank, this impedes viewing the screen properly (one person is always more off-center than the other) and isn’t the best arrangement.
I suppose this time was bound to come. I’ve been watching anime for well over a decade, and well over half my life, and that anime watching career has gone through more than a few translations. From dub watcher to sub zealot, anime fansite creator to blogger, and all the stages inbetween. In the end, as a person I’ve gone out into the world, and experienced things, and matured. It’s hard to keep any part of your life static when the core of who you are seems to have refined itself so much.
What I find funny about watching To Aru Majutsu no Index as an “older generation” anime fan is that other older generation anime fans tend to view it as a part of the same pile of harem moeshit that is the Cancer that’s Ruining Anime. Ironically, Index is probably more quintessentially anime than anything I’ve watched. It’s all chibi characters and banter and action and fireworks and chase scenes, even a token bit of random appropriation of Christian imagery. It’s kind of fun, in that way.
Interestingly, To Aru Majutsu no Index extrapolates the traditional setting of a school, instead choosing to set itself in a city of schools, Academy City. With a population of 80% students (naturally), Academy City, and the To Aru Majutsu franchise is leading itself towards one elegant conclusion: once the casts graduates, they must invariably leave, and scatter across Japan to become adults. A true ‘going out into the world’ if ever there is one.
There is a reason for Academy City, of course. For a normal character, the confines of a small building in a big city are enough to develop themselves. But I suppose for espers and lightning-bolt shooting teenage girls, like the ones in To Aru Majutsu no Index, an entire city is needed.
The prospect of being an “anime fan forever”, much like being a high school student forever, is one doomed to failure. However, though we may grow up and grow older, and appear to move on, there is a part of our histories which will always remain in a certain time, and a certain place. In the tweeted words of a famous Japanese idol – “I’ve become an adult but I’ll be Peter Pan forever”.