This post is part of Nopy’s My History with Anime project, where various bloggers “share their history regarding when/how they discovered anime, how it has become a part of their lives, and how they think it has changed since then.”
Most of the otaku generation I meet in person have discovered anime through their interest in fantasy novels or Asian cultures. The younger generation most often comes into contact with anime through television, but for us, ranging from 20 to 35 years of age, this is not the case. Anime just wasn’t aired back when we were kids in our country. With the exception of Pokemon, which never interested me. Not then, not now and probably not ever.
I’m an exception – I first encountered anime in form of Yu Yu Hakusho during a family vacation in August 2003, which makes it about 8.5 years to date. I’m also very lucky to have an open-minded family, unlike many of my friends, and therefore the hobby wasn’t ever dismissed as a phase or plain nonsense. My parents and siblings enjoy anime, watch it together and alone, talk about it, et cetera.
Yu Yu Hakusho still holds some sentimental value for me, being my first anime (accidentally it is also the first anime of my current partner), but I gradually moved to and fro different genres over the years. For those, who don’t know the anime, it’s a typical shounen with several incredibly long arcs and lots of demons, fighting and friendship in a total of 112 episodes and 2 movies. Over the following 3.5 years I went through Miyazaki’s family films, some anime my father liked and a huge number of Yu Yu Hakusho fanfictions. I didn’t watch anything by myself, because my computer couldn’t play anything back then.
The next break point was meeting a fellow otaku girl in my first year of high school. She introduced me to the community. For some reason it never occurred to me that our small country would have an active otaku base. Not only were there regional groups, which met up weekly/monthly over beer or a cup of tea. This was in 2007 – that year there were at least four anime-only conventions and three fantasy-related festival with a small anime division. The largest anime convention had over 800 attendees (last year it had over 1600, the biggest one had approximately 2000) – that was my first convention. It was a pleasant surprise. I met an another otaku I still keep in touch with, saw some screenings and went to some really great panels. There were so many people! Or so I though at the time.
The said otaku girl watched mostly shounen-ai and yaoi, so I got some recommendations from her. I read Sensitive Pornograph of course, that’s a classic. From lighter titles I watched Sukisho, Junjou Romantica and Gravitation among others. Over the years I’ve had, among others, a mahou shoujo phase (ex.: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha or Tokyo Mew Mew), a computer-related phase (ex.: S. E. Lain), phase of catching up on some of my partner’s favorites (ex.: Hidamari Sketch) and today I’m mostly just following the new titles (ex.: Black Rock Shooter or Another from the winter season).
Touching upon the difficulties of getting anime, as a minor I had no legal way of acquiring anime and manga, except for asking an adult. Additionally, some titles didn’t sell to our country at all. Not even today – five years later – can I buy some of them, even though the accessibility has much improved since then.
To pose myself a question: Do you think you’ll ever stop watching anime?
No, probably not. I might watch it a lot less eventually, but I don’t think it will ever leave my life. After all, it’s been with me for the past 8.5 years and it’s brought me many friends and acquintances, related hobbies and interests. It’s not like I can just say those years didn’t affect me and cut them out of my life – today anime is part of who I am and I don’t think it will ever fade away.