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Anime fans fornever

Anime fan forever?

This picture is from Toward the terra. I've included it for no reason.

In the wake of Ten’s exit from anime blogging, I can’t help but reflect on my own love affair with anime. In a few years time, could I find myself feeling similarly ambivalent, thinking back on this odd fascination as a mere fling? Or rather, am I destined to be forever an otaku? Decades on, long in beard but still a Narutard.

Today it’s hard to imagine what I would be doing had I not caught the bug. Simply put, I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) watching, reading and writing about anime; it’s a big part of my life. But why? What is it that attracts me, some bloke on the other-side of the world (England), to Japanese animation? Is it merely an aesthetic thing? Am I attracted to the Eastern-style of art? I would hope the fascination runs a little deeper.

Ten’s goodbye points out that a slump in the quality of Western (basically, US) TV during the early 2000s may explain why so many of us had been ready and waiting to embrace anime with arms wide open. For my part, I’m hopelessly smitten with sophisticated, imaginative and emotional science fiction/fantasy series, and so when I stumbled across the likes of Cowboy Bebop and Escaflowne, the world suddenly made sense again; this anime stuff was awesome, but things change, not least of all for US television, which now offers Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and Lost, to name but a few on-going, quality TV shows that have emerged in recent years.

Yet despite the growing number of diversions vying for our precious attentions, I remain the ardent fan I always was. Sure, I may have lost that all-encompassing, shiny, glowing admiration for everything anime, but I’m still capable of being caught off guard, shocked and captivated. Since it’s clear my interest in anime had nothing do with the supposed lack-of quality entertainment elsewhere, the underlying attraction may be a touch more personal.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the vast majority of otaku fall between the 16 to 25 demographic. Obviously anime is aimed at young adults and I’m 24; hence getting close to the point of no return. Deep down I think we all rely on a kind of base emotional understanding with the characters we follow; we can understand their struggles, dreams and ambitions because to certain extent, we find ourselves faced with similar decisions, but once time takes its course, our lives change and we lose that visceral philosophical resonance, what is left but pretty pictures?

Comments

Hinano says:

I sorta agree with you there. Seems all the anime fans who were once older than me or my age are now all gone and now I’m the old fart in the anime community. As you also mentioned I lose interest in stuff over time. I used to watch almost every show with “cute animation” but now even animation can’t make me watch a stupid show (nagasarete airantou) all the way. I used to feel bad about droppin a series cause it was so hard to get it…now its like “blah this show sucks not watching anymore” and I’m almost gonna be your age soon ;) So it’s not just you.

Sometimes things in life just become more interesting than anime. Sometimes I wonder if like I didn’t have interest in drawing anime…if I would have dropped this hobby sooner.

Ivy says:

I think I know what you’re talking about. I can relate and I can’t relate in the same time. I mean I know exactly what you mean its just I’m not feeling it first hand. Its just the thought of losing something that you felt so passionately about as time goes on can’t really be described until you reach THAT end of the road (which I hope is going to take a while, I adore your commentaries). At some point people will undoubtedly find something that would interest them so much more than anime its the way the world works really. You grow older your interests and your thoughts mature to the extent that you just can’t see some things as you used to see them. Until that time is upon me (and you) I’ll lightly embrace the anime lover that I am and see what life throws at me, hopefully I’ll fall off with grace hee.

cheers

Martin says:

I can see what you’re all getting at now. It’s inevitable that people’s tastes and interest change over the years I guess. I mean, I can remember reading Ten’s blog long before I bothered to get my own, and I’ve seen so many old blogs go onto hiatus and/or disappear in that time, which is a little disheartening. There’s just no ‘permanence’ on the internet or to look at it another way, a blog that’s been going for even three years as YSP is considered old in internet terms! It’s times like this when I look around at fellow bloggers, wondering whether they’ll still be doing this a year or two from now, or even if I have the time or interest by then to see it.

It’s strange but even though my taste in music has changed quite a lot, my taste in film and TV (anime included) hasn’t changed as much. In both cases it’s probably broadened but some very fundamental change in my attitude or outlook on life as a whole would have to occur to alter one of my main interests. I think I’ll be an anime fan for a long time yet, even if my viewing habits change. How long I’ll be able to blog is another matter altogether.

DS says:

Well, I’m older than you and Hinano, and while my interest in anime has varied now and then it has remained for over ten years. Anime has always been one of many interests, though, so that may help in avoiding burnout. I was into Dr. Who for a long time until my attention lapsed, but then a new series come along and there’s nothing like new material to rekindle an interest. So you never know what can happen! And I have never had a problem having a “base emotional understanding” of teenage magical girls :)

bateszi says:

I suppose the “age thing” is just a feeling I get from time to time because I feel like I’ve been around the anime community for a long time now and often you see people you respect rise and then fade. Like with Ten’s blog, I used to read her reviews of Naruto and One Piece back in 2004, now I’m the one blogging while she’s just quit, that scares me. A similar thing happened with Mangaminx’s anime blog, people’s interests just seem to change like the wind. Part of me wonders what people get out of anime that suddenly disappears for them? Is it like a superficial attraction to “cute” things that gets tired after a while? Because for me, it feels like a goes deeper than that, but is that simply because I’m of a similar age and situation to the main characters and as my life changes I’ll see things from different perspective?

I’m just being introspective really. I feel like I’m going to be an anime fan forever and I’m not sure whether or not that’s a good or bad thing? :)

kauldron26 says:

i think it all comes down the concept of burning out. if you stick solely to the stuff you love and avoid filtering through so much shit, ur passion can be maintained. all we really need is that one show that reminds us why we love the medium. for every shit like school days and lucky star there is a gem like terra.

maglor says:

Hey! I’m 37 and is still a fan!

Owen S says:

A case of mono no aware, perhaps, bateszi? :P

I’d like to think of an affair with anime like a marriage; you’ve got to keep at it to make it work. Letting things “be” as they are means that it all goes downhill at some point, and you’ve got to think of ways to spice up your relationship with it, otherwise it just fails.

My whole business with blogging probably started as an attempt to prolong it too. I love peeling away at the layers of meaning beneath things, probing and prying to get beneath the core of things and… I can see myself doing this for life, albeit with literature rather than anime (although getting paid to do this would be great). That’s how I look at it, I suppose. Which also explains why I don’t blog when I don’t get that burning, passionate itch to say something to the world. It just wouldn’t do justice to me, or my readers.

Ark says:

I can remember feeling like this early this year, but then I went on to watch Berserk, Lain and Macross. If you focus most of your attention on anime then this burn out is quite likely. Let’s be honest, 90% of it is garbage. There isn’t really enough to serve as an everlasting interest unless you have absolutely no standards. Right now I just look at anime as part of world cinema rather than a separate medium.

bateszi says:

It’s interesting how people approach that feeling of anime “burn out”; some seem keen to embrace new genres and styles to spice up their predictable viewing schedules, while others prefer to retreat into the familiar, knowing that what they are going to get is quality. I have to say I tend to the latter, I like to stick to what I know, often to the point where I haven’t even seen an episode of such popular series like Fate/Stay Night, Lucky Star, Nanoha or whatever else is big with the “cute” or “moe” crowds. I think there is a lot to be said for allowing yourself to enjoy a variety of different genres, but still, it’s hard to unlock these shackles; there are some things that you can never enjoy, and often trying something so profoundly new can result in the final nail of the coffin.

God knows where you get these phrases from Owen S, but “mono no aware” (as per the wikipedia entry!) sums it up perfectly. I can’t help but feel the transience of this community, even if I’ve only been involved for little less than 5 years. From blogging to administrating an anime forum, you can look back over generations of fans who either outright disappear or just fade into the background. Everyone has their unique reasons but people who once had such passion for anime just fade, change, grow-up, move-on, whatever really. What is that they lose? Or rather, what is that I’ve found to last so long?

Animated FatCat says:

For me life has simply been so messy over the last 3 years and ongoing that anime along with other interests have faded into the background; as I’m sure everyone knows there are more important things in life to deal with as you grow older. I am now 21, and not as rabid a fan as I was during the 16-19 ages where I was still discovering masses of stuff, watching as much of eveything as I could whether on tv, dvd, or the internet.

I also tend to prefer manga now to anime. Both are still pastimes that I dip into when I can, or when I have the desire to. It’s still there but it has been marginalized into an irregular and occasional hobby.

Hige says:

I think here is where the inherent strangeness of “anime as a medium” becomes really evident, or at least the way people seem to compartmentalise it in their heads.

I’ll always love anime as I’ll always love film, or reading books, because fundamentally the variety within those mediums is potentially endless – as endless as any method of telling fiction. I’m not suddenly going to dismiss anime because it has slightly more overt unifying characteristics (its aesthetics) because by doing that I’m cutting myself off from the future realising of peoples’ imaginations, and so far I’ve really freaking enjoyed experiencing that.

My love for anime will be a resilient as my love for good storytelling or plot or characterisation because, to me, they’re all are identical in the basest, most important sense. Anime is just a means of doing them with vaguely distinguishing characteristics (though seemingly none of us can articulate specific what anime is). The day I stop liking anime is the same day I die inside and stop liking fiction. The prospect of that is possibly my most irrational nightmare. Too much of my self is intertwined with the articulation of imagination. Such a whimsical child :/

Ark says:

Exactly. For me there’s no fundemental difference between watching something like My Neighbour Totoro and watching Pan’s Labyrinth.

BrikHaus says:

I’m now 26 and my anime watching patterns have certainly changed. I used to be able to watch everything (harem, action, comedy, romance, drama) and like pretty much all of it. Now, I seem to have far less patience for stuff I don’t like. If I don’t like an opening, I skip it. If I don’t like a show, I will instantly drop it and no longer wait for it to get good. I suppose I may be missing out on some good stuff, but that doesn’t really matter to me any more. As I’m a little older now I think I don’t have time to waste watching things that don’t appeal to me. I started watching shows from the 90s, from which there were many masterpieces. The more recent switch to an infestation of moe series has left me fatigued by the current state of anime. I suppose if this trend continues, I will eventually stop watching new shows altogether. But I will probably rewatch the DVDs I have purchased of my favorites like Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, Berserk, and so on.

Sy says:

I’m reluctant to even call myself an anime fan at all and not because it’s part of so called ‘geek culture’ but because lets face it about 90% of anime out there is a load of old rubbish and saying that i’m an ‘anime fan’ kinda seems to me like I’m saying to other people ‘Yeah, I love it all’. I just see anime as any other sort of television of movie, if I like it I’ll watch it and if I don’t then I won’t, same with anything else.

Given that I’ve always been a sucker for animation and enjoy the Japanese’s unique style of storytelling (because it is, even if something has heavy western influences it’s origin always seems to shine through in some way) I don’t think i’ll ever just say ‘Ok, I’m bored of this’. I’m sure Yoshitoshi ABe’s ‘Haibane Renmei’ and Satoshi Kon’s films will always remain as prizes in my relativly small DVD collection given the creative an emotional impact they had on me. Citing a cartoon as a creative driving influence? What is this nonsense? ;)

Ten says:

Ah. Anime love is as such a strange addiction. I am a couple of years older that bateszi, so technically I passed the target bracket. Heh. But I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving anime. It will always be somewhere in my strange life; may it be on the background or on the foreground. It will be always a constant presence. I’m sure of that.

As observed by a fellow commenter, storytelling, no matter what medium it is, is storytelling; Anime is such a wonderful medium for storytelling, only limited by one’s imagination. Unfortunately, these days, this medium is plagued with quite a few unpalatable shows. And I guess I am veering away from majority of them right now. (Then again, one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, right?)

bateszi says:

I think it’s interesting that so many of you guys are talking about viewing anime as just another hue in the kaleidoscope of film. I find it somehow hard to view it that way when we’re all here, on an anime blog, as a part of of the anime community, talking about anime. In an abstract way, I suppose I view the majority of anime as an entity in and of itself, separate from everything else I’m interested in; it’s nothing to do with just “good films”. I wouldn’t be watching half of this stuff if I was just looking for engrossing world cinema – something specific about anime reaches out to my spirit, and I suppose my concern is simply in losing that spark.

@Ten: That’s somewhat reassuring, I guess I was a little thrown off by your references to US TV, so I’m glad you haven’t completely abandoned us! I’m not sure what I would write about without anime and all of this, best of luck. You hooked me into One Piece, it’s all your fault!!

Xerox says:

I’m on the left end of the age spectrum and already went through a tiny period of neglecting anime and only turning to it as an after thought. Some part of me thinks I’m going to be a die hard anime fan and end up scaring my kids, if I have any at all, while another knows that the effect is going to wear off. I’m dead scared of “losing that spark.”

It’s really great that a lot of what I feel, about anime, is echoed in your blog. Part of the reason why I enjoy being in this anime blogsphere is that I’m able to find people that is just as passionate about anime as I am.

Ark says:

As to the question of why I come here if I just see anime as another cinematic form. I think it’s because right now anime offers the best prospect for really decent story telling, for two reasons. One is the nature of Japanese culture is as much as it differs from western culture in having a more realistic view of human nature. Secondly animation in general allows stories to be told that would be difficult to present in a live action format. Sadly in terms of western animation all we see now are totally CGI animated comedies about animals and nothing else, which I think goes back to my point about the cultural differences. Sure in japan you’ve got a bulk of stuff like Kanon but you’ve also got Satoshi Kon. Whereas in the west, in terms of animation we just have the equivalent of Kanon minus the contrived drama. I’m not sure if that last sentence made any sense.

Equitan says:

Being pretty much the same age I too have thought about the question of “Will I always like anime?”. I got into anime back in 1998 when I was fourteen. Certainly five years later I suffered something of a burnout. Over 2003 and 2004 I watched almost no anime. I kept abreast of everything, and heck, I even ended up at Anime Expo those two years (despite, like yourself coming from England). Still, I can count on one hand the number of series I watched in each of those years. I’d go to AX, see everyone raving about Last Exile in 2003 and be all “Ehh. Might watch that one day.”

I’m not sure what it was that made me fall-out of watching anime but I think it was largely over exposure. I spent five years watching anything I could get my hands on. As digital fan-subs and broadband connections became more common so I was able to watch more and more. I reached a saturation point and turned back to “real life” entertainment in the form of Asian cinema (mainly South Korean and Hong Kong cinema which I had gained an interest in a couple of years before). That became my new staple form of entertainment.

Eventually however, in early 2005, I got back into my anime habit. It was Mai Hime of all series that did this. I think I spent most of 2003 and ’04 complaining about how anime just wasn’t very good anymore (Princess Tutu being the amazing exception). Mai Hime though was just *fun* and its second half was great classic anime action (forget the lame conclusion).

Don’t know why I’ve prattled on like this, but I think it shows that I probably will remain interested in anime for the foreseeable future. I’ve not no reason to give up on it provided there are always some quality shows out there. I’ve also come to realise that even some of the old, tired anime clichés are, well, comforting. It is kinda nice to tune into some series and be all “Oh! There’s the rival!” or whatever. I’ve actually come to quite like that aspect of anime (provided the series isn’t totally derivative).

My main interests all compete with one another: when a new game comes out I tend to spend my free time almost exclusively on that, when I’ve got a load of new films I’ll spend evenings watching them, if I come across a great new anime (which isn’t new and being released weekly) I’ll cram that one evening after another. So anime goes up and down as my main interest but I can’t see myself growing out of it. I’ve been interested in it since I was a kid and saw the artwork style on all those computer games I liked. For me at least there’s certainly a deeper bond which won’t be broken too easily ^^

bateszi says:

@Equitan: You traveled from England to visit Anime Expo? Even though you say you weren’t so interested in anime, that’s some amazing dedication there! Ironically, you stopped once you found yourself hooked in by anime again! :)

And that reminds me about Princess Tutu, I still haven’t seen that despite all the hype surrounding it.

Karl says:

Western shows – I watch House MD, Lost, BSG, Avatar, Stargate and occasionally Dr Who – but I think it might have been the demise of science fiction on US/British TV that pushed me to watch more anime. Either that or just the quality of shows I saw.

Out of all the western shows, Lost and House are the most consistently entertaining in my opinion right now – on the level of a good anime :-)

BSG hasnt really impressed me much, Dr Who makes one of the most simple mistakes of drama quite often (i.e. he saves the universe virtually every episode), and Atlantis can sometimes seem like the ultimate ‘reset button’ show where everything is better by the end. I mainly watch them out of loyalty to science fiction geekery.

ok i hate that sasuke never fricken talks and i wish sakura told him way before he leaves that she loves him.by the way i cant belive you think that picture of sasuke is stupid cause hes like dead and yaeh so kool.but he will never die so im happy cause sasuke is the sexxiest anime ever bye luv ya

[…] we are, almost two years on and still talking, ranting, in love with anime. Back during September, I was wondering if I’d ever just suddenly grow out of all this, stop blogging and disappear, but deep down, the […]

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