Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Making of an Otaku, Part Six

When I left college in 1997 and began "adulting," watching anime had turned into a casual activity for me. A bit here. A bit there. 

By now, anime had hit the American consciousness thanks to Sailor Moon and Pokemon and going into the 00s saw shows like Trigun and Cowboy Bebop getting American airplay on Cartoon Network/Adult Swim.

For me, though, they were on the edge of my radar. I got into other hobbies. Wrote fiction and screenplays. Read more sci-fi and fantasy. Played more D&D.

Pat and Mikey did keep me apprised of cool shows they were enjoying. Evangelion, for one. Rurouni Kenshin, Blood, and Serial Experiment Lain for others. I saw Blood and a couple episodes of Rurouni Kenshin

If I watched at my place, it would be going through episdoes Robotech. Or maybe Project A-Ko.

Or, again, Nausicaä.

Casual, though. A bit here. A bit there.


*   *   *

Back in '95, Pat had mentioned a comic series he'd picked up called Gunsmith Cats and thought I'd enjoy it, too. After all, he knew I liked girls with guns. I went down to my local comic shop in SLO, picked up the first few issues, and got hooked. I grabbed the issues first and later switched to the TPBs when they came out. 


Five years later, I was at a Suncoast Video store at the local mall in San Bruno drooling over their good-sized anime section when I spotted the 3-part Gunsmith Cats OVA on video. I bought the set.

On my next visit to Suncoast, The Castle of Cagliostro called to me from the shelves. I immediately liberated it and gave it a good home (i.e., mine).


*   *   *

Anime watching continued to be a casual activity. I didn't actively seek out shows or movies but I did watch them if someone invited to do so. For instance, Pat, Melody, Mikey, and Angela invited me to join them to see Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away when both films hit theatres. 

The only time I did seek out a movie came with the 2003 announcement that Nausicaä would be re-released by Buena Vista/Disney with Patrick Stewart as Lord Yupa and Alison Lohman as Nausicaä

The DVD came out in 2005 and I now had a "clean" copy of a movie that first seared itself into my consciousness 21 years earlier.

But again, I kept it all casual.

*   *   *

When anime titles started appearing on Netflix, I became intrigued and started to watch. The Sacred Blacksmith. Kaze no Stigma. Scrapped Princess. Last Exile. Darker Than Black. Eden of the East. Log Horizon.

But it was still casual. Little here. Little there. 

In 2015, a friend introduced me to a little show called Girls und Panzer

This was immediately followed by another little show called High School Fleet.

Then Stella Women's Academy.

Then Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

Under my own devices I found Gate, Mushi-Shi, Fullmetal Alchemist, Sword Art Online, and Granblue Fantasy.

Fun stuff to be sure. Entertaining. 

But still casual.

At one point, I was talking to my friends Joy and Jake about anime. They'd been watching religiously for a while. Jake was the one to point me to Girls und Panzer, High School Fleet, and Stella Women's Academy.

I asked them for some anime recommendations. Something I could look into in future and check out.

They give me a page long list.

I remember chuckling and thanking them.

"My 'To Be Watched' list," I'd said. "I'm sure I'll get to these eventually."

They smiled and nodded.

Still casual. Bit here. Bit there.

I'll get to these eventually.


*   *   *

Four months ago, something called out to me. 

Maybe a feeling. Maybe a little voice.

Something.

I listened for a moment.

It wasn't insistent. 

But I knew it needed to be followed.

"Go on," it said, that still, quiet voice.

So on Amazon Prime one afternoon, while scrolling through Prime Video titles, the voice piped up: "That one."

"What--?"

"Hey hey."

"Oh! Hey."

"How goes?"

"Um...fine..."

"See that?"

I looked.

"Um...yeah?"

"Click it."

"What?"

"Click it."

"....why?""

"Why not? Looks interesting, doesn't it?"

"...sure..."

"Go on."

"...um..."

"It's okay. I'll be right here."

So I clicked a link to a video.

An anime series called Just Because!

Finishing that led to Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku.

And finishing that led to Princess Principal.

Then, in late February, still listening to that little voice, I dove into the waters called Crunchyroll.

And you know what?

That same feeling came back. The one I felt when I first saw Starvengers. The one that hit when Warriors of the Wind came on-screen. 

And Robotech.

And Diacon IV.

Excitement. Goosebumps. Dokidoki. 

Then warm. 

Soothing. 

Comforting.

All rolled up in one, washing over me like a Hokusai Great Wave of feels.

After all that time, I can describe it in three words. 

I've come home.



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