My venture into the labyrinth of nerd kingdom began innocently at first. As the younger sister to an older brother, an even older cousin and an entirely male-saturated family environment where all holidays revolved around consoles and controllers, it was only natural to embrace video games. Christmas was essentially our thinly veiled excuse to gather and play the newly unwrapped presents for hours after Santa had stopped by, only pausing to resurface for dessert breaks. My life was defined by the levels of “Starwars Battlefront 2.” Every morning I woke up and asked myself; am I a Mos Esiley today, or am I more of a Kashyyyk, Sith or Jedi? The difference was crucial.
After that it was a long descent, slowly spiraling away from any glimmers of normal life, until I could no longer see the light but was rather consumed in this dark world of being one of the most blasphemous things to occur in suburban culture: a nerd. The games, a common gateway drug, led to the superheroes, something more salient and attractive to developing minds. But I didn’t stop there, even though sometimes I wish that I did.
Before I could stop myself, I arrived at the final level,the doomsday, my own personal Armageddon: anime. The point of no return: after successfully watching one season, perhaps even one episode of anime, there was no reclaiming your former life.
Anime is one of those activities that are like quicksand — you’re trapped, and the harder you struggle, the more futile escape is. There is no escape. Learn that now. I’ll admit, from an outsider’s perspective, I had always judged anime. Animation I had accepted, as I was always an avid fan of Cartoon Network, and watching shows like “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was ritual for my brother and me, but anime was a shadow realm that I knew only from childhood encounters with “Dragon Ball Z.” It was dangerous. It was scary. It was images of some sort of giant baby turning every villager into chocolate and eating them whole. I avoided it at all costs.
As I got older and slightly more tolerant, I became friends with a few weeaboos. For those that don’t know, that’s anime-speak for someone who is unnaturally obsessed with Japanese culture, specifically anime. If you didn’t know what it meant before this, that’s probably a good sign. These friends slowly softened my staunch stance on the shows; what began as disdain slowly morphed into acceptance of jokes and opening themes: Then, one sad day, I began to watch the first anime of my own.
When watching anime, be prepared for anything to happen: unnecessary battle scenes, tentacles and huge sparkling eyes the size of footballs. Also expect to somehow actually enjoy every single part of it (maybe excluding the tentacles). There’s something so addicting about it that I can’t even try to explain, so while I wanted to stop watching, to stop walking down that dangerous path, I simply could not do it. I had to keep going. Maybe it was the blend of silly with serious, the impossibility of learning valuable life lessons from a cartoon character who was riding a dragon, or something of that nature.
Freshman year of college (aka just last year) I learned what is probably my most important lesson from a beautifully crafted anime: “Samurai Champloo.” I was having a hard time adjusting and letting my wonderfully imperfect high school friends and memories out of my grip in order to accept college life. While I wasn’t attached to my former self, the sense of nostalgia was so intense I could not move on. Then,I watched anime. The show ends with the three main characters leaving each other with no way to contact each other ever, content with the almost nonexistent possibility of seeing each other again, but more importantly, content with the experiences they shared.
That hit me. Hard. Somehow all it took was some Japanese animations to impart upon me the truth of life: nothing remains stagnant, especially your childhood. Chapters of your life must be closed and accepted as closed, but that acceptance does not deny you the pleasure of remembering,and it leaves you with the pleasure of making more memories.
In the end, anime is just another metaphor for life. At first glance it’s something strange that you have no intention of ever understanding, and then, begrudgingly, you learn to accept it. Except in this case, unlike in real life, the people have sparkly eyes.
Taylor Bond is a sophomore in the College. Taylor Tries Things appears every other Friday.
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