Nerd life had become somewhat of a normal thing as the years passed by. With High School life dwindling away, and career paths to choose, there was nothing else on my mind but the important, yet unimportant choices I had to make. Yet all the while I was fascinated by every article, every episode and every small detail of what I was obsessed with at the moment. Welcome to Night Vale, Sherlock, Doctor Who and a variety of average nerdy things came across my path in this unsure time that everyone has to go through in their young life. Which is all but easy-going and pleasant to tell you the truth.
One glorious day though, as I sat in front of the television in my usual Supernatural-marathon way, I turned to ask the only person I'd talked to in weeks, my sister, about what show we should watch next. This is when she ruined my life for the better, and when my anime addiction began.
Whether it was by hearing the glorious German words at the beginning of an epic anime opening, or by watching an expensive vase fall to a sakura-petalled floor, or even when a certain teenaged kid cried out that he was God, it didn't really matter where any of us Otaku came from, what really mattered was the fact that we'd found a really awesome place, and that we were definitely in for some major anti-social anxiety.
As I sat, taking in the blood and gore, shoujo manga wind and sexually frustrated antics of a British noble and his butler, I realized that this was what I'd been looking for, for a very long time. This place was filled with the impossible and with things that here, in America, people find very unusual and controversial, and I immersed myself in it's wonder wholeheartedly, up to the point where I'd find myself sitting up at 3 in the morning, looking for a specific subbed show called Future Diary, and ending up watching the entire thing in one sitting. It was amazing, and truthfully, it was eye opening.
Fans, whether of Yaoi, Shonen, Yuri, Shoujo or etc., have made me glad that people are interested in such diverse things. I'm not one to judge and I'm extremely open minded when it comes to these particular subjects, so I was grateful that my colorful generation, and a handful of other ages, were here along with me in this new world that I'd discovered. The fan art and cosplays are amazing, the fanfic is incredible and the Pinterest boards are what I'd call a guilty pleasure. Basically, I'd realized that my constant ignorance toward the term Otaku was just that, ignorance. This community is tight-knit, and very much like a huge family. It consists of many views and opinions, and many people are there whenever I need to vent about my constant feels of No. 6 and Free!. It was just a wake up call from the usual fan-life that I'd lived, up to this moment.
Now, even after months of binge watching and merch hunting, I'd find myself thinking deeply about what this specific episode meant, or what this character symbolized in the arc of the story. It gave me a sense that these authors, animators and artists were trying to do more than just write a heart-wrenching story, they were definitely aiming at giving us something to really feel.
Anime, is more than just 'cartoons', as my mother had put it, and manga isn't just a book full of awesome drawings and dialogue. They have affected me greatly, even on a personal level.
These are but the early stages though, and my young life as an Otaku has barely begun, but all the while I can't help but know that I am a part of something great. I even dream of sword fighting with Kirito and I have nightmares about centipedes and murder-obsessed teddy bears. It's definitely impacted me and the personal things that I've kept on a tight leash my whole life.
As a starving writer and overall artistic nerd, I'd had trouble over the years with angst, shitty writer's block and a hell of a lot of things that people do not want to hear about. Before any of this Otaku-related stuff had happened, I was struggling immensely about what purpose my writing had, and basically what direction my life was heading towards. I didn't feel as if my moral compass was set properly, even though I was more than content with what my goals were at the time. I guess something just didn't feel right.
When I'd come across this strange, but great life as a lover of anime though, I realized that I'd been one my whole life, and yet I'd put it aside by just thinking that it was childish, but it's not. I've seen the way people react to certain deaths of fictional characters, even outside of the Otaku realm. I've also seen many deep reactions from fans whose shows have ended, and it pains me to imagine what they're going through.
All of these thoughts and ideas, and certain times when I feel as if the show or the character are actually talking to me, and not just to the secondary characters or to the plot, are when my creative juices start to bubble. In those valuable, yet small, certain moments, I come to terms with the shared love of what makes the Otaku community awesome. I look at what makes true characters come alive, and I ponder at the amazing talent of these artists, authors and even seiyuus because they've created something quite unique.
I guess the terms 'Anime', 'Manga' and 'Otaku' may seem a bit threatening to people outside of our circle, and I hate to think that they have another idea of what it is we actually do. It also frustrates me to know that even certain Otaku criticize this new generation of anime-loving nerds, because of how much we 'lack' in Otaku experience. It sucks, really, and sometimes I even question my own title as an Otaku. But every time I watch another episode, or when my favorite Senpai or white-haired anime boy comes across the screen, or when I'm more than excited to read the next chapter of Attack on Titan, I know that even though I'm being judged, I'm still a part of this great life, and so are many other people in my situation.
Don't get me wrong, every nerdy thing that I've come across has affected me, yes, but I guess since this had come at an important moment in my life, I couldn't help but embrace it with open arms. I am more than glad that it was anime, and now I can't picture living my life without these characters in my heart, because they have become something truly valuable in my creative realm.
Wow, too personal now, I know, but I can't help but become sort of emotional when I talk about this stuff. Never in my life did I think that certain shows like Hetalia, Noragami, or Durarara!! could impact me like this. It was amazing to know that I could find such gems in such beautiful shows, and still, I've yet to watch a handful more, and read a truckload more of my newly discovered obsessions.
It isn't easy, stepping into such worlds and regarding certain things on a personal level. Even this lonely article might seem a bit too overwhelming to whatever bored reader is out there, heck, I'm even mortified about what I just spilled out, but I guess that's what this certain genre has done to me and to many. I'm proud to call myself an Otaku, and whenever I meet a closeted Otaku in the streets, I get even more excited, that I embarrass myself entirely.
So as I sit, clinging to the manga in my hands, gripping the computer secretly with my Amazon wishes of a Levi Ackerman body pillow and slowly typing up the next anime quiz for my lone Buzzfeed account while eating strawberry Pocky sticks, I'm silently thankful that I am allowed to contribute such stuff as I am doing now.
I'm saddened by the lack of Otaku-related things on the web, and yet I'm terrified of it's growing mainstream success. Anime, in general, is expanding, and many newbies are joining in as well. It's also amusing and pleasant to watch them continue on this journey that I myself am going through too. It pleases me to recognize that I have something amazing in my hands, and that it has given me nothing but a lifetime of feels and happiness.
This is only the beginning, and yet, as I look back on these short months of genuine sadness and excitement, I know that there's no going back now, and I'm more than perfectly fine with that.