Hello there Island Guests, by the time I am writing this it is a nice toasty 30 degrees Celsius out there, the water is great and I might have a slight case of heat stroke! So rather than giving you a deep and insightful dip into what anime means to me, I will just tell you the story of how I got into anime in the first place. I have mentioned this before but now I can really go into depth and it’s a story that’s fun enough so here we go!
The story begins when I went off to college, my health was still finish then and I tried to hide my geek side from the world.
Instead I joined a fraternity of sorts.. we don’t have that Gamma Gamma Pi or Beta Beta Beta Beta stuff them american folks have we have co-ed groups of people who study at the same school branch that just needed some drinking buddies. We even slept in mixed dorms during a our introduction camp. A fact that was used by several people. Talk about classy! I tried to fit in so I joined up went to the camp and made a few friends in the camp. One was a camp leader named uhm lets call her Liliana.. ..it’s not her actual name, but it works on her. She was cute and shy and my type ..before I knew she was. She was a bit of a book geek, mostly a Potterhead. Then there was ..uhm Roland.. who due to a spastic colon was sick during a lot of the camp activities when he spend time reading Artemis Fowl novels. We talked a lot about fantasy stuff. So three days into the camp and I was already befriending geeks again…whoops. I wanted to fit in and both of them took studies far away from me. (The school had several buildings and both lived fairly far from the pub the frat group would chose so we could barely hang out) I found a girl I knew from Middle School and hung out with her and together we befriended a guy named Morris. Vicky as I shall call the girl was the super shallow type.. do drugs in class etc.. she would make me fit in I thought!
When camp was over Vicky and Morris were all the friends I had left Roland dropped out of school entire because his health got worse and Liliana was older and went abroad for an internship .. and apparently fell in love and stayed there. I however was still on my mission to normalise so it might have been for the best. Morris was one of those guys that was heavily into soccer, heavier into drinking and basically one of those Jersey Shore guys without the six pack or “handsome” looks. Just an average cool guy.. that certainly DID kiss and tell. He once spiked my drink.. just to see what would happen with me.. I was fairly uptight when going out and he had fun with it..I never knew it was him way until after we stopped being friends. At one point he made it his thing to pick up the losers and made them cool and that’s how I met Lao! A geeky Dutch-Chinese with the classic tiger-mother who pushed him to be a prominent banker. Lao , not a real name again, once caught me playing an emulation of A Link to the Past , during an hour between class and he wasn’t aware of emulation so I let him play for a bit and we bonded a bit. For the first time I had made a school friend whom I was completely genuine with. He once one of Morris’s projects like me so we suffered his pranks together.. though where I am just under-social Lao was anti-social so he struggled a lot more.
After six month all classes were separated, those who took the fast track to a diploma and those who took the normal track. Morris and Vicky where fast-trackers as well as basically everyone I hung out with except for Lao.
During this time a first group project came out, writing a business plan and managing and doing fictional finances etc for your little start up as well as promote it and sell people on the concept. Lao had two friends in the class we were in I just had Lao..but we were separated in groups of three. So I was out of luck and got sorted in with two randoms. A Latino Dutch boy named Enrico and a backstabbing woman by the name of Daniella! Daniella took the lead over our group project because the leader had to present in front of the school and she looked prettier than me..which she even said when I said I wanted to present. Less work for me though… I was super excited for our business concept which was basically a mediation system to learn skills from a peer. Think having math explained to you by someone your age in your terms rather than a stuffy old teacher, or having a recipe being taught to you by another stay at home mom rather than a french schooled and technical chef. At one point I was so far ahead of my work I basically completed all my work in 25% of the allotted time! I had such great ideas.Everything came to me naturally. I had a lot of fun knocking out all the costs, I even found a way to cheap out on rent and an office. Little did I know she would ruin it all!
Then Daniella quit school without warning , while still having the flash drive that held all my work. After calling her, she blocked my number, refusing to give the work back we were about to fail the most important project of the year because she was a total bitch! Since some things were tied to her account, (we got her log in data so we all had access to the same spot as a co-op method) our project was stuck .. she had deleted her account and everything was just lost and with her not wanting to give back my flash drive irretrievable. I suggested starting again ..but Enrico got demotivated and said with two people we could never do what she could do and that he did not like the school anyway and now that they failed to help out he just quit. Since I was unable to do this myself I got bumped into Lao’s group since the teacher knew he and I were cool and no one else would want me because Daniella had been talking trash to me to the rest of the class on phones for trying hard! Lao’s project was an Anime and Manga Store set in the capital of Limburg (our province) the problem was I had no idea what Manga and Anime was. I came from a hick town and went trough tremendous bullying before, due to my clunky motor skills, the fact that I liked gaming already painted a big target on my back so I watched my Dragon Ball Z , Pokémon Sailour Moon and Maple Town, before I ever knew what it was. As much as possible I had tried to find hobbies that would not get me bullied, not a single person in my middle school watched anime or at least they hid it very well. So I was completely unfamiliar with these terms.
Lao Antony and Jerry (for the life of me I can’t remember Jerry’s real name) were welcoming to some fresh blood, they were stuck on some project issues, like finding out rent of a certain property, which could be answered by a phone call but they were to scared.
So instead I just went to the store in question with a folder and some questions and got the info for them. I became the sociable one because they could not do that. Like they were about as sociable as Tomoko from Watamote. Lao perhaps even worse. I was in a Law class project with Lao and that was my strength I got us a 8/10 while the entire rest of the class.. over 30 people all failed it! Lao was so excited he cheered out loud in class.. we never made any friends again …because people now hated us… and the worst part was I didn’t even try it came naturally so I could not even really help others with their homework, they resented me to much for having it come natural to me and being a bit awkward. Lao chose weird moments to be happy. He felt as human as Tommy Wiseau at times That was his charm was to me and what I valued in him. In a weird way he refused to be anything but himself and it prevented me from being fake..simply by association. When I asked my new task group who was their leader they told me they had not chosen yet because none of them had a business suit to present in and none of them wanted to do it. I did not know a lot about anime..so somehow that ended up in getting me up to speed on anime so I might take this job in the spotlight.
It was a course of watching 3 episodes of Naruto, three episodes of bleach and one or two episodes of Fate Stay Night every day, on project days they would quiz me, or talk anime with me. We gave the company a new angle and since I quickly became a fan we would use that sensation and emotion I just experienced to promote anime onto people. I really got into it quite fast. For once I could let my geek out .. I did not have to act normal anymore or socialise with people i actually did not like..since those gave up on me! I was an outcast once more, but without the bullying just blatant shunning. I could break my own self imposed , be normal conditioning because I had to study anime to sell people on this and each episode I fell a bit more in love with anime. Mostly with Bleach in the beginning. Though I loved the opening scene of Fate Stay Night! I remember those train crossing chimes going off and then the intense fight! That was sweet! This was me! Naruto was sweet as well and within no time I finished the first story arc. I loved the music, so much I started listening to it on the train as I was quickly turning into a weeb before realising it. The project lasted fairly long, and while I was doing my anime homework I overheard Jerry talking about Elfen Lied and One Piece being amazing. So I picked those up as well. Elfen Lied I first turned off after one episode … what was that.. why did I like that?! I should not watch that! One Piece however I completely adored.
The Project came and went and while the teachers still thought selling people “cartoon items” was a stupid idea , I at least managed to put on a convincing presentation showing I REALLY loved anime, they said.
I got compliments for completely winging a section where they attacked me on how viable it was by on the spot coming up with the idea of free movie viewings or manga evenings to get people hooked like how I got hooked. I did not know there were conventions in the country yet so instead I came up with this idea and even stuff like first volume discounts and the suggestion of dressing people up like characters and have them walk in the city..so people would wonder what that is about.. Our business plan sucked.. but I wanted to make it a success and I was very vocal about it.. so we got a fairly decent grade. After that I was still shunned by the rest of the class.. I was a geek now so each project I had to do was with Lao.. because no one else would want the weirdo.
This means my normal anchor began to fade fast. I had some “normal” friends who on occasion came to balance me out when the geeky thing was to bad.. but that did not stop me from catching up with Naruto, Bleach and eventually even One Piece. I also watch Death Note, though I did not care for that one to much. I started a bunch of things, dropped a few and mostly stuck to the Shonen shows. Which Lao was very much into.. then my health began to falter and bad luck struck. My grandma became terminally ill during a series of exams I once failed due to not being very skilled with taxes. Since the study I was following would seize to exist.. because of a merger.. I could only repeat this once. That re-do happend right after Grandma had her funeral. I was mentally fatigued and failed .. and had to leave Lao and the school behind. Lao having a tiger mother basically only hung out during school time.. so our friendship ended soon after that unfortunately. My health waning made me struggle to hold onto a school or a job.
This however did result in me watching wackier stuff, but also more classic stuff. Stuff like Beyblade Metal Fight, Card Fight Vanguard, Gantz, Monster, Steins Gate and eventually it would lead me to Kill la Kill and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann..though that last one not until a lot later. . I was very much into Yu-Gi-Oh and I could finally finish Metabots! I watched a Zoids show Battle Century I think was the one.. with Bit Cloud, and more. I also watched Code Geass..I hated it and gave up on it.. Yet I missed people to talk about anime with! I got my cousin hooked but he hid that he watched it! Being just a closet geek! My normy friends wanted nothing to do with it and did not give me the light of day. A friend of mine named Suzie was a fashion blogger at the time and she advised me to start writing about it and people would come! So I did …but no one ever came to my blog! When I searched I came across two bigger dutch blogs writing about anime. One of them was recruiting so I applied. As an assignment I had to write about either, Japanese Food, Japanese Gadgets or something geeky Japan related that was not directly video games or anime.. it could only refer to them on the side. So I wrote an article on how to survive the T-Virus using Japanese Gadgets. She loved the article but told me I needed to work on how neat I write. Still I got the job!.. Well I did not get payed, I just had people to hang out with and talk anime with. I found out that the blog founder lived super close to me and when she invited to join their DnD because they needed a healer.. I was hooked to that too.
This new job made me watch a lot more anime and with the founder of said blog, lets call her Fatima Minusima.
I formed quite a strong bond quite fast. She took me to events with her, she showed me her favorite anime (Tengen Toppa).. well she told me how she loved Kamina and I looked him up, found the show watched it and now it’s my favourite show too. She even let me go to my first Con for free.. in order to promote our blog! She was big enough in the country to do so and she had a sponsor and fans so quite soon I found myself giving a presentation at my first con ever! I worked my bum off during the second con as well trying to sell Japanese EShop cards. Staying in a hotel at the convention with breakfast included and two overnight stays! I had an amazing time and fell in love with the atmosphere and the fanbase even more. While I am a geek much more in the broad side, than a few people here, I game a lot more, I tabletop, I fan fiction and I am a big movie geek and all I very much love anime and even more so the saving power it had on my life. Without anime I would have never been me! I would have been that push over that got betrayed by people at a whim and who got walked all over.
Now I am a person who knows what she likes and who is passionate about that like as well. I am an Otaku and I am a geek and I am proud of it! While I wish the community mostly, in terms of gaming and other geekism was a bit more open, the warm blanket of Otakuism and how accept it is of stranger cultures was something so special I just wanted to be part of it forever. About three years ago I began more liberally introducing people to anime which involved taking a super normie friend to a convention.. he wanted to experience it’s for one. Now that friend is gay and has always had to deal with some sort of squinty eyed looks when he was acting like himself. On the convention floor sure there were some socially awkward geeks that ran at his sight but there were also a lot of people who were super curious about what he’d buy or who wanted to hug him. He was surprised when he saw a half naked boy carrying a rainbow flag and a free hugs sign get hugged by so many guys. It moved him to tears how wholesome the community could be. Before that day my interest in the community had dwindled a bit, I had great friends I had a good solid base I did not need anymore.. but on that day I knew I wanted to get back! I fired up my laptop and binged Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, I devoured One Punch man and I even started Code Geass again.. which I dropped right after Shirley’s final scene… I really did not like this show! That didn’t matter though.. I had found my way home again! Right where I am here now!
Thanks everyone you for reading this post and a big thanks for Fatima for giving me my new life! I love you dearly as a friend and without you I could not have been as happy and as strong as a person like I am now. You are a BIG influence on my life, perhaps even the biggest. Even though now we can only see each other under heavy constraints.. I hope one day you will read this..knowing you though that might be a bit late.