Hey folks, I, Star, hope you enjoyed our 13 days of Otakutober event. But it’s time we get back to the normal pizzazz. I’m wondering if any of you have ever had the same feelings I do when it comes to anime? Since when did being the weeb become the popular trend? Here’s what I’ve observed.
STORY TIME! Obviously, I have been a weeb for a very long time. In fact I would say I was born into it. My background comes from being on a very small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. My immediate family was small but included my first generation Japanese great grandparents. I have cousins, who live in Japan and would visit every 3-5 years or so. I, of course couldn’t communicate to them because I didn’t know enough Japanese. But that definitely didn’t stop me from learning as much as I could about my own heritage. My great grandparents taught me how to read kanji, say some very light phrases, explain to me the art of sumo wrestling, and play hanafuda. But when I moved away from the island I could only learn Japanese in the summertime until I went to high school.
In middle school (the early 2000s), I was gifted a jacket. This jacket was brown and it had Inuyasha and Kagome on it. I wore it everyday in middle school because at the time Inuyasha was my favorite thing in the world. I still loved Sailor Moon, DragonBall Z, Card Captor Sakura, Digimon, and still do to this day. But at the time I didn’t realize how much of a target this put on my back. I was all of a sudden considered to be the weeboo. (And that was an offensive term back then.) So I did what any kid would do, I stopped wearing my jacket to school.
Has a reflection nowadays, it’s totally fine to wear anime to use to school. In fact some people design their entire wardrobes just to have different shirts to wear everyday. We sport accessories, bags, shoes, writing and eating utensils and more everyday. It’s become the norm.
Now my story has a happy ending, I did find my clique that didn’t care if I liked anime In fact gave it a try and we became obsessed together. But never to the point of showing the rest of the student body that we were. They just thought we were a little weird. I was lucky to have found a tribe, but of course the tribe didn’t stay past Middle School. So then I started looking for other outlets for my otaku needs. And that’s when I discovered conventions.
Anime conventions as well as other nerdy conventions, has become mainstream. Once the movie industry and foreign partnerships got involved, this became everyday news. The culture of convention life birthed so many other lifestyles and hobbies. Like cosplay, raving, reviewing, and vlogging. I think the call to share the news became so important that we needed to make our own news reporters and channels just to share the latest and greatest.
High school was a similar story for me, although my particular brand of weeb, is collecting box sets of my favorite anime. Because at the time streaming services didn’t exist. Not really. Subs took a lot longer in coming out. And at the time I didn’t have the means to carry around a laptop and Wi-Fi was a lot harder to find back then. Like some high schools, we had an anime club. I was always intrigued but I never joined in. Due to my trauma in middle school I stayed away from most of them. I did find a middle ground in art classes though. Which ended up being a huge introduction to transgender communities as well. I learned a lot from them. And word got around that I had box sets, which meant the anime club could ask to rent my anime. It ended up being a very elaborate scheme, involving times and secret meets in the hallway where I would deal my anime like it was drugs.
Now let’s look at today. You can learn languages on your phone now. Thanks to streaming services everybody knows about anime. And the likeliness that one person has seen a show or two is high. It’s very entertaining to listen to people who have just found it for the first time especially when you’ve been in the game for more than 20 years. It’s almost like I had discovered a desert island with treasure and only a select few knew about it. The treasure was storylines made for every age and every genre that were simple and complex, touching and disturbing. They were real gems of originality. And finally, more of the world is taking notice.
High school, also gave me the opportunity to learn Japanese. Thankfully, I had been listening to so much Japanese pop and rock to sound nearly fluent in the language. But I had no grammar and no formal training in the language at all. So I signed up for Japanese to be my one language. I was in it for four years, our department was pretty small for beginners so our year three class and year four class were taken together. Although I sounded fluent I struggled with general conversation and some grammar structure things. But I excelled in kanji, understanding/comprehending and sounding fluent. (Thanks to my summer courses with my great grandparents.)
Strangely enough, my stories nowadays of secret obbsessions, learning Japanese, watching lots of anime on the internet is all just a part of history and now a norm in life. We watch anime as casually as we watch reality TV. With that being said, I do hope that one day all those people out there who are obsessed with one anime, will open up their avenues to others that are just as good if not better. because to me, you truly have to experience a little bit of everything to fully understand the beauty of what you’re seeing.
You noobs are lucky. Being able to surround yourselves with people who were into the same thing is by far the best experience. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.