A personal account.
It is amazing how those six words can fill my heart with dread.
“So I hear you like anime…”
I had occasion this week to wonder when it was that those words began to fill me with a stomach churning sickness, make my shoulders droop, and generally make my legs feel like they are filled with lead. It wasn’t like those words always did that. No, once upon a time I would hear those words and eagerly turn hoping to engage in a conversation about characters or ideas from shows and so on and so forth.
Alright, I make it sound like I’m Sister Sunshine who loves to converse with random strangers, but to be honest, if I get a good anime conversation out of it that’s probably the best way to get me actually speaking. That or books or movies. Stories in general.
However, the phrase “So I hear you like anime” is very rarely a conversation opener, at least in my experience. Generally speaking the tone that is used when saying these words is akin to the tone one would say, “So I hear you raise pet snails” (no offence to those who breed snails and even google couldn’t help me figure out if that was actually a thing and if there’s a word for it).
Now, when I was younger, I would simply brush the tone aside and put a smile on my face and bravely agree that I did in fact like anime and ask the person if they also enjoyed it. You know, engage in an actual conversation that was actually initiated by another human being.
The problem being, as I said, the line is not delivered as a conversation opener. In point of fact it has almost always been delivered as a point of criticism. Almost as if the very phrase paints the recipient as some kind of oddball by default. And seriously, my liking anime was the least of my oddities as a teenager so I somehow never quite picked up that it was something worth picking on me over.
And so the years ran past and generally the people I associate with are all very clear about my love of anime and so I haven’t hadn’t heard the phrase in oh so long.
Until this week.
“So I hear you like anime…”
Unlike my teenage self, I am now very aware of the tone in which this line is delivered, the connotations and the preconceived notions that surround it. I’m also very aware that it doesn’t matter. The more closed minded person isn’t going to be dissuaded from their view point and the more neutral person may very well just be curious about something they don’t really get and a conversation might even happen but it won’t be a particularly fulfilling one for me.
“So I hear you like anime…”
I don’t just like anime. I love it. The variety of shows, the crazy characters, the more serious characters that I can relate to, the ridiculously over the top scenarios, the quieter moments that make me think, the music, the visuals, the stories, the community… Yes, I love anime.
But back to this particular conversation. Yes, I heard the words and yes, I felt that feeling and turned to face the speaker like I was about to face my own execution. I had enough else on my plate this week and more than enough other concerns of things gone wrong and exhaustion was a fairly common companion. So I was feeling incredibly weary even before I heard these words.
And do you know what?
I fixed a smile on my face and agreed that of course I like anime and asked them what they liked. Turns out, they don’t really like anime (of course their experience is limited more or less to Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z) but it also turned out they were a fan of horror movies. By the end of the conversation I didn’t have that fixed and forced smile anymore I was genuinely enjoying the conversation.
It made me once again realise that while some people are just jerks, no denying it, a lot of people aren’t. While what they say may make me feel sad or angry or cornered, many times it isn’t intended that way and it is my experiences and interpretations that actually make it feel that way.
“So I hear you like anime…”
I may never like that line and I may never really appreciate hearing it, but I think I’ll dread it less in future. It doesn’t always mean what I think it means. It doesn’t always lead to what I fear it will.
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22 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: So I Hear You Like Anime…”
I rarely speak to anyone I personally know about the anime that I watch. There are other things we talk about – movies and books. There was a point of time, when I was younger, when many of my friends and even my siblings were into anime. These days, they say that they have ‘matured’ into watching shows about real people. There’s not much that I can say to them to explain that the story is what matters, not the medium through which it is delivered.
Ah, I’m familiar with this sort of thing, and I’m pleased the interaction you described ended so positively in this instance! I can understand your weariness though. The same thing happens with video games in general… and can happen even among gaming fans when you bring up the subject of Japanese games and visual novels.
I’ve learned to take ownership of what I love and unashamedly celebrate it. If people don’t like it, I’m not going to try and change their mind — though I will stick up for myself and people who like the same things as me if we start getting actual abuse and insults.
Over time, that’s brought me to a whole bunch of cool people, so I’m grateful for that — even if it has, regrettably, also cost me a few friends in the process.
I definitely don’t really try and change anyone’s mind these days. They tell me anime is trash and I normally just shake my head and walk away because that kind of person isn’t interested in hearing a reason why it isn’t so it really is just a waste of time either defending or arguing.
You had me really worried for 3/4 of the article! I’m glad the experience wasn’t dreadful!
A couple of years ago, I was in a rush and went to a store with one of my High School of the Dead shirts on (yes, “one” of them — I have multiple!). I was standing in the checkout line when the gentleman in front of me (probably in mid mid 50s) glanced back and did a double take.
I did the same “brace myself” that I think you did!
Fortunately, he surprised me by saying, “Wow! I thought I was the only old guy who liked that show!”
But that’s not the typical exchange! Enough so that I’m more careful which shirts I wear when I leave the house! It’s not that I’m ashamed or anything! It’s more that I don’t want to embarrass my wife!
Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by how this exchange ended as well and it made me realise that instantly going on the defensive is probably not the best mentality. That said, there’s been good reason to be wary in the past and I didn’t get that natural bracing reaction just for fun. A lot of experiences have created that response in me.
Still, it is good to know that sometimes people are just genuinely curious rather than judgemental.
Never had this conversation. On the few occasions I’ve mentioned anime to people I don’t really know, it’s usually followed by “Oh, have you seen…. (insert title here)?” and off we go! 🙂
That is incredibly lucky.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard those exact words being used as a conversation starter, but I’ve always noticed I was kind of a “weird” person and getting (back…?) into anime was just a way to make the “weirdness” worse. It helps there are a lot of anime fans in my general geographic area, at least from the people I know and mingle with.
I think the closest experience I’ve had with something like that was when my dad told my uncle I liked anime – it embarrassed me half to death, but at least I got to watch the first episode of Darker than Black for my troubles…
The first episode of Darker Than Black is a fairly good consolation prize.
Back when I lived on the Gold Coast that was often something I’d hear, followed by that derisiveness you speak of. Thankfully living in Melbourne means people seem to be a lot more tolerant and accepting of anime, even (some) of my co-workers at least feign interest in it enough to hold a minute long conversation with me lol.
As much as I love QLD, sometimes we’re just a little slow on the uptake.
I can totally get what you are saying here. People used to do this a lot but it happens a lot less now that anime is kind of an, “in” thing to do with most people.
Unfortunately, where I live it is still fairly much a random and weird thing to like. There are certainly other anime fans in town, but it is still considered quite the oddity. It is great that there is generally more acceptance of a larger range of hobbies these days.
Hmm, that’s interesting to hear. Too bad people look down on it, there are a lot of excellent anime. I’m with you on the generally more accepting being good, I hope that trend continues.
Well..it’s a common conversation, and one that I have had many times as well. Some people just smile politely and listen to you explain why you like it, or if they don’t know anything they might even list to you explaining exactly what anime is. But more often than not, when I walk a way I hear them grinning or talk about it to other people saying things like “ He’s still a kid”. And you know what: I still am. And I never want to grow up either. I love anime like you (and a lot of other geek things) and I couldn’t care either way what other people might think about it.
But you are right though: sometimes you can misinterpret a person’s reaction. It’s nice to hear that this turned into a very cool conversation. I always try to keep an open mind as much as I can. But…it honestly doesn’t always work.
Nevertheless, I will never be ashamed about liking/loving anime…and nor will I ever let anyone make me feel that way 😊
I think sometimes people who get criticised for what they like a lot tend to get defensive, but that doesn’t really help (and I’m definitely guilty of building fairly solid walls around myself). So yeah, I’m glad this conversation happened and it went the way it did. I also now have someone who wants to marathon some bad horror movies with me, so winning.
Well, I’m certainly one of those that builds walls as well, but I do try to be open to things as well when I can 😊
Haha…and you can never have enough bad horror movie marathons 😂😂 So that’s a good thing! 😊😊
The judgement that can come with that phrase can be so hard to deal with, it took me a long time (sadly) to be proud of what I like. I’m hoping that people will really start to just let people enjoy things. I find that I tend to find more new things to enjoy that way too!
I don’t think I’ve ever not been happy enough with my choices, but I do feel just weary when you are going over the same ground particularly when you know the other person has no interest in hearing a different perspective. It just makes me feel tired. But, this week it ended well, which makes it one of the few things that did.