I turned 34 a couple of weeks ago.
I think it was only recently (in the last few months or so) when it occurred to me that I am no longer that young weeb I had been playing for the last 10 years, and that I should stop trying to act like I am. Is this called maturity? Is this the one thing that some weebs fear the most? I’m supposed to grow up when I reach 25 or something, and yet now, as I reach my mid-30s, it just hits me like a cannonball out of nowhere. I don’t know the hows or the whys, and I suppose it doesn’t matter really. What does matter is that acting like a young/reckless/rebellious weeb now just makes me look like an idiot.I grew up in the 90s. Back when I started on anime, Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Nadesico, Tenchi Muyo! and Pokemon ended up on my watch list. I felt weird liking Sailor Moon because as I was watching the original English dub (the DiC/Cloverway one), it was pictured as for-girls-only (of course I know it isn’t but I was just a young kid then). I tried to get the few friends I did have in high school into Evangelion until I realised that, truthfully, I really really hated it. Nadesico just happened to be sort-of popular in the UK, but I can no longer remember any of that now. Tenchi Muyo! was just this condensed piece of crap on Toonami that I felt obliged to watch as a new anime fan. And Pokemon was something that everyone was talking about at the time.
Between around 2006-2007 and now, I had been involved in a lot of things in the UK anime community. When I was at college, I had campaigned for years to build an anime/manga society, only to find there was not enough interest (it was only until a year or two after I graduated when one was finally set up). I had been doing volunteer work for about a dozen various industry and fan conventions across the country, only to just get tired of…well…not actually having any fun over that weekend. It just felt like a duty to me. I had been close to the committee of one fan convention, only to grow tired of going altogether because it seemed such a waste going sometimes (and that decision has nothing to do with the committee themselves btw; they are all amazing people that I wish I still had contact with). I’ve made a lot of friends. I’ve lost some too (in my total hardcore weeb years when I obsessed too much over shows). You see, because the UK community is not massive, that makes it rather tight-knit; most of us all know each other, and when someone is called out on a bad thing, pretty much the entire community will end up finding out about it. This definitely applies to the last 6 months (don’t want to go into too much detail on that, as I don’t want to get any more dragged into it than I have already become).
I know what you may be thinking. I might just be panicking that age has just suddenly caught up to me, that I’m beginning to think that I don’t deserve to be a part of this community which is, in all fairness, full of youngsters, and that I shouldn’t listen to that logical mini-me in my head and just not worry about it. Well I can’t help it; I just can’t.
Perhaps I should look at this dilemma/Catch-22/whatever you want to call it in another perspective. But in the weeb culture does age necessarily mean maturity? Just because you realise that you look a lot older than that Naruto cosplayer ordering his next beer at the bar at the con you’ve been going to for years doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re smarter. More experienced in the fandom, certainly, but not always smarter. Perhaps, as you read this, you could believe that being an older anime fan actually has its advantages…well it’s all the more often now that attending fan cons can make you stand out even more, especially when you’re surrounded by the 16-25 folk who just plan on getting drunk over the weekend (only because their parents aren’t around to ground them when they puke on their cardboard cosplay of…I dunno…Kirito…or Mikasa…).
Or maybe I’m just feeling this way because of how I got into anime in the first place. As I said earlier, Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Nadesico, Tenchi Muyo! and Pokemon were on my TV set or in my VHS player (either bought or taped). Back then in the 90s, we didn’t have the luxuries of frequent fan conventions, anime streaming, Anitwitter or waifu/husbando culture…we were the outcasts, and it felt like we were doomed to be outcasts for as long as we ‘supposedly’ grew up, had nice careers, wife/husband and kids, and so on. But then, as time went by, nerd-dom became the cool thing. Movie and TV adaptations of comic books came out in their droves, Japanese-only games got licenses in the West, Spirited Away got its Oscar, movie channels began to show more anime movies, Hatsune Miku made her first appearance on a US talk show, e-sports arrived and exploded…
…I could go on.
I suppose I can just call myself a bitter person for being envious, because we didn’t have it like the millennial fans have it now. We had to work hard to both embrace our fandom and keep it hidden from the people who would torment us for liking it. My own family still see it all as just ‘crazy violent cartoons’, and so I no longer bother trying to reason with them now.
I will of course defend anime, because that is what I have always done. I’ve been a part of this dumb-ass community for over 20 years now. I will not quit. Even if I do end up turning to religion or take up golf or collect jazz records or something, I won’t turn my back on those ‘crazy violent cartoons’ that the media have (and still do) portray them as.
I’m hoping that this new reinvention of this dumb blog will show that I can now look at my fandom through the eyes of someone who has been a part of it for over 20 years, and try (emphasis on ‘try’) to look experienced/jaded/act-like-I-know-what-I’m-talking-about…and not feel any shame or disgust at the same time.
Try to be a good senpai to these kouhai millennials and stuff…