Yes, yes, worry not, dear reader. The actual content will come soon. But first, allow me to tell you a wondrous tale of wisdom and woe, of delight and despair, of courage and cowardice!
The tale… of how I started watching anime!
It begins with a very young Korasoff, glued to the TV screen every afternoon after returning from school. See my backpack carelessly thrown in the corner of my bedroom, homework forgotten. See my mother in the kitchen, listening to 80s rock, dividing her attention between my wretched younger sibling and tonight’s homemade macaroni.
See my eight-year-old self: scrawny, booksmart, and irreverent. See the TV screen, feeding my young and imaginative mind with bright moving images that already fill me with awe, names that will later come to color the very concept of nostalgia for me: Grendizer, Captain Harlock, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, and many, many more, most of which are now nothing but flickers and mirages lost in the fog of childhood memory.
Fast forward, if you kindly will, to the young adult version of this innocent child who dreamed of unexplored lands and drew the Arcadia (Captain Harlock’s ship) roughly a bazillion times in his school notebooks. By this time I have moved to The Big City with a handful of friends from the Not So Big City. I rarely get to see them because I go to university; during one of those chance meetings, an old nerdy friend drops names of shows I’ve never heard of. My curiosity entices him to dump (I shit you not) two grocery brown paper bags full of VHS tapes in my lap later on.
I proceed to watch it all over a couple of weeks during the summer break. Here are the titles I can remember: Legend of the Overfiend (aka Monster Attack of the Flying Penises Tentacles), Angel Cop, Macross Plus, Dominion Tank Police, the first few episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Plastic Little (BEWBS), Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and Ninja Scroll (the movie). My mind is blown; I am gobsmacked. However, it is circa 1999 and the Internet sucks. I have no connections to the anime underground black market, or money, for that matter. Eventually I lose contact with the friend (though not before I had returned the tapes to him with many thanks).
The itch, immature and as of yet unscratchable, begins to take over my subconscious.
It begins slowly. I download Agent Aika wallpapers. I read up on Neon Genesis Evangelion and its themes. I win tickets to the Big City premiere of Metropolis from a local radio station. I try to make a midnight Jin-Roh screening at the artsy fartsy movie theater but miss it; I make up for it weeks later when they show Princess Mononoke. This continues for several years, until the start of winter last year, two thousand and seven, one of the lowest points in my life.
A severe bout of seasonal depression has combined with other events to make me miserable beyond words. I have quit my job and withdrawn from the world. Oh, I have plenty of cash on hand, although I have wasted more than what I’ve saved over the last year… But enough so that I can indulge in a few months of idleness, given my monk-like lifestyle, with minor financial consequences. And indulge I do! The nameless MMORPG that has held my steadfast interest for over two years is quickly losing its attraction as most of my friends leave. Fair enough! I retreat into TF2 and Linley’s Dungeon Crawl, two favorites of mine. By then I have stopped shaving, eat two meals a day (when I remember to) and rarely, if ever, go outside. What’s the use? It’s fucking freezing, and no one wants to keep me company. The woe! The despair! The cowardice!
And then one night, as I stumble through the many dark corridors of the Internet, I come upon a site hosting subbed anime series. More specifically, the one that smacks me in the face is Welcome to the NHK.
Try to imagine, if you will, my feelings as I watch it, first with mild interest, later with a morbid fascination, as I slowly come to realize… Holy cow, that’s my fucking life!
On the screen, right there, is not Satou. It’s me! I am Satou the hikikomori! Hell, every action, every word, every emotion could have been wrenched straight from my own existence. Well, apart from the talking appliances and the cute girl knocking at my door to save my soul. But close enough, by gum. I have identified with a completely fictional character who is living my life, in real-time, parralleling my own. I have never felt this way before. It’s new, it’s enthralling, and all of a sudden I stop caring even about the two meals a day.
NHK‘s twenty-four episodes go by in a flash. And at the end, when the final credits roll while Satou and Misaki walk off into the sunset to meet whatever the future holds for them, the itch reveals itself for what it is: a hunger. For more, more, more! Here is a medium so vastly superior to “real” ones: what movie could boast the special effects that even the lowliest sci-fi anime series brings to the table? How many TV series have the heart-wrenching innocence and sadness of a True Tears? I race through Towards the Terra, swallow whole the entire Neon Genesis Evangelion corpus (that hallowed forefather of later emo mecha shows), and get hopped up on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, still my favorite series so far, all within the space of a month or so.
So there you have it. Since those long and harsh winter months that saw two thousand seven morph into two thousand eight, I have been (he said, as he clenches his teeth) an anime fan. Yes, I admit it. I have become an anime fanboy. But the joy’s in the sharing! And so here I am, as are you, reader. Stay for more; I promise not to disappoint.
Once I actually start reviewing shit, that is.
Today’s Karen is: GRATEFUL