Irrelevant Aside: What Anime Can Do for YOU

Everyone loves anime for personal reasons.

That’s the essence of loving something or someone. Something inside you connects to that other thing, and it/he/she makes you say, “Oh, yeah,” or “Be still my heart,” or “I can’t live without you,” or whatever. It’s personal, and that includes how it speaks to you.

I realized how much I love anime when I looked back at the movies I’ve gone to theaters to see in the past year or so.

You see, without getting into the reasons behind it, I’ve always seen movies as a social phenomenon, something you did with people. When I was a kid the family would go, and when I was in college the gang would go. When Lord of the Rings films came out I drove up to Hartford to see each of them with my friends the Mineos. (Fuck cancer.) When the Five Doctors played, I went with the Connecticut Whovians.

When I went to ConnectiCon in 2018 they borrowed the local ball park (two blocks from my hotel) and ran movies on the eve of the con. I went and saw Spirited Away.

You’ve seen it. It’s delightful.

Alita, Battle Angel rolled around, and I had read the manga, so I skipped out on a Monday afternoon in the gym and watched it in the theater around the corner from my place of employment. (Yes, my place of employment has a gym on site. My working conditions aren’t half bad. Invest ten years in a PhD and you can have them, too.)

A Certain Company (if they want to be named they can pay for an ad here) brought The Saga of Tanya the Evil around, and I saw that, and this week they had Millennium Actress, and I saw that.

And I realized I had, for the first four times in my life, gone to a movie alone.

I never did that before. It’s not how I saw movies. I have only gone to four movies alone in my entire life. They have all been in the last two years, and they have all been anime (or anime-related, in the case of Alita).

That I liked them all was not the point. The point was that anime is one of those things that appeals to a small number of people, but it appeals strongly to those of us it works for.

The few. The proud. The otaku.

And if it’s something that means something to you, there are sacrifices you have to make. I pay for memberships in Funimation and Crunchyroll, and while I like Netflix, I got it to see Neon Genesis. (Now I’m watching Violet Evergarden. It’s fabulous.)

Anime is not easy to find in the US. It is a niche market here. And if you want to see it, you have to do what you have to do.

If that means going to the movies alone, then you do it, no matter how self-conscious it makes you.

Being a fan might or might not make one feel goofy in the eyes of people around one. Does that matter? If it does, you’re not really a fan.

That’s what any fandom, not just anime, does for you. It makes you stronger. It makes you part of something larger than yourself. It makes you part of a community.

It’s good for you.

It makes you a better person.

If someone asks you why a “grownup” is so fond of cartoons, explain it to them carefully by extending the middle finger of either hand, your choice.

Incidentally, that goes for my Doctor Who fandom, too. For several years I sat back and watched as others had fun cosplaying. Then, one year, I made the simplest Doctor Who cosplay ever: I drew some hashmarks on my hand, as they do when the Silence is around. Now I’m a regular. That’s me as Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart:

Brig at WingDing

I STILL can’t believe I saluted with my hand in my pocket.

Let’s leave aside that my fandom has led me to learn Japanese. Yes, that’s another benefit of enjoying anime and wanting to understand it, but it’s not my point here. Fandom makes you stronger. Anime fandom makes you stronger. Manga fandom makes you stronger. MCU fandom makes you stronger. New York Jets fandom makes you frustrated, but it makes you stronger.

Go for it. Be a fan. Don’t worry about what others will think of you, just do it.

It’s good for you.

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