May 2019 OWLS Post – Finding Happiness In and Out of Your Comfort Zone

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Hi everyone. Sorry it has been a couple of months since I’ve had a go at an OWLS post but I decided to definitely get back to it in May and then, once I saw the prompt for May I knew I had to write something for this one. Let’s get into it.

Happiness is subjective. We all have different definitions of what happiness means to us and we also feel happiness in varying degrees. This month we will be exploring several questions describing our happiness in our fandoms, communities, and hobbies. Why do we find enjoyment watching anime or reading manga? Why did we decide to join the anime or pop culture communities?  Why do we blog about our hobbies or cosplay as our favorite characters? This topic is all about the passions we have for our interests and why they are important to us.

OWLS Theme for May

Finding Happiness In And Out Of Your Comfort Zone

When I read this prompt the first thing I was reminded of was Prince from Run With The Wind and while I’ll get to my own experiences in a little bit, I’d like to examine his character first the journey he went on throughout the series.

Run With The Wind Episode 7 Prince

Prince has a clear comfort zone at the beginning of the series. His room in the apartment is floor to ceiling stacked with his manga and he is most comfortable when his nose is stuck inside one of those volumes absorbing the story and the characters within it. While superficially this might seem like a story about getting the loner out of his room and exercising, what we see instead is Prince connecting the new experiences he has with his experiences within stories and blending the two in a way that few anime or stories dare.

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Prince

Ultimately, his passion for manga is still burning fiercely at the end of the series. He hasn’t moved on from it, grown up, found a new love that surpasses the old. While the manga is visually less prevalent in later episodes, in case there was any doubt that the message here was about embracing multiple experiences, Prince’s passionate speech to Haiji about the great characters who could inspire him makes it clear that Prince’s head is firmly still with his beloved manga and the characters he has formed attachments to.

Run With The Wind Episode 19 - Prince

Equally though, he tells Haiji at the end that he’s had fun with running the race and its truly the first time Prince acknowledges what the audience has seen in the second half of the series, Prince has embraced the team and the new hobby without compromising on his first love.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Prince

I bring up Prince because he’s a truly wonderful example that it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. I am an anime fan and also a fan of gaming, a fairly new fan of light novels, a much older fan of novels and movies, but I also enjoy hiking, travel, and anything that involves eating chocolate. As such, I don’t define myself solely through one fandom or another and nor do I allow one fandom to prevent me pursuing new avenues should something take my fancy.

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One of the many things I love about anime is that it is squarely in my comfort zone. It is largely an individual hobby, though there is a thriving online community I can interact with, largely activities involve being indoors, and anime, despite having some interesting variations and themes, essentially follows the same basic rules and structures of narratives that I love from movies, books and other TV shows. Slipping into the anime fandom was easy, getting hooked even easier, and staying within the fandom is very comfortable.

There’s a genuine happiness that comes from finding a new anime and falling in love with it, watching a terrible anime and pulling it apart, watching an anime with a friend and cringing when you realise that they are about to do something that as an anime fan you are very used to but you are about to get asked to explain by someone less familiar with it. There’s happiness to be found when you finish an anime, whether it was better or worse than you expected and there’s true joy in the anticipation of a new season even if it doesn’t end up panning out. Then there’s the happiness of connecting with others who equally love what you love, collecting figures, books or other merchandise of characters you’ve truly come to care for, and ultimately owning the shiny DVD’s of a series that you will binge again and again.

However, anime also takes me out of my comfort zone in ways I’ve learned to love and appreciate.

Five years ago I would have said I was never going to watch harem based shows. Now I routinely have these in my list of anime watched for the year, though more reverse harems.

Three years ago I would have said I wouldn’t watch sports based shows. Now I’ve got quite the catalogue of sports anime that I’ve finished and I’ve had in depth conversations with a friend who coaches volleyball around a game we were watching because having watched Haikyu I actually know what is going on now other than the ball goes over the net.

There are so many anime in so many different genres that I never thought I would try that I’m now loving each and every season.

Two years ago I started reading light novels and some manga. I’ve since had to once again reorganise my shelves in order to find space for the next volumes of Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash and of course Natsume’s Book of Friends. The collections are growing as quickly as I can buy them and yet my shelf space is limited and I already have quite the library of novels that I’ve been accumulating since I was a pre-teen.

I don’t actually dislike e-books, but there’s something truly magical about opening a new volume and the feel and smell of the paper.

In the last couple of years I’ve been to two conventions (which given where I live is quite the venture) and spent the weekend surrounded by hundreds of people. For me that is an intense and overwhelming experience and yet because everyone there was embracing the fandoms and a love of the same kinds of movies and anime that I love both were incredibly rewarding experiences.

Even on this last trip to Japan I made a note of a few things I particularly wanted to find and managed to even ask at shops for certain items or shows to see what they had in relation to them, though my tongue tried to glue itself to the roof of my mouth before hand as I freaked out about whether I’d be understood or not.

All of these things bring me happiness even as they push me further beyond what I thought was my comfort zone and I try things I may never have given a chance and interact with people I might never have had any reason to speak with, because of the happiness and joy I’ve found in anime.

here’s no one reason why I love anime, but because of my love of anime, my life is filled almost daily with small pieces of happiness. For as long as I keep finding those moments of happiness I will continue to love anime. How about you?Be sure to catch Jack’s post on the Aniwriter and next up in the tour is Naja on the 13th.

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Karandi James
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In Case You Missed It

One Punch Man Saitama Flying

Another week and another round of excellent blog posts from around the internet. Hopefully you’ll find something great to read in the list below and remember, if you have a post or read one this week that you’d like to give a shout out to, just let me know in the comments below or you can always send things my way via twitter.

Just so you know, from now until just after New Year’s I’m winding down blog activities. Part of this is to give me time to finish a video review for patrons, participate in the 12 Days of Anime, and prepare my ebook for January 20, and part of it is just wanting to have a bit more time for family and friends. I’ll still be doing my episode reviews and Top 5’s (most of my top 5’s for December are already written) but whole series reviews are on hold until the new year as are light novel/manga reviews. I’ve already halted Inquiring Minds posts until the new year and I’ll probably only release features every second week during December.

Thanks for everyone’s support during 2018, and I look forward to getting back into everything in January.

Reminder: the poll is now open for you to vote on the best and worst anime of the 2018 Autumn Anime Season. Be sure to jump in and have your say.

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Posts From Around the Blogiverse

This Thing Is Neat had a really interesting post about pacing in shoujo stories, using Kimi ni Todoke as an example that I felt was a great read. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kimi ni Todoke and hold it up as one of my favourite romance anime ever, but to say that it is slow moving would be a drastic understatement. For an interesting discussion about the pace of these stories, be sure to check out this post.

Dewbond from Shallow Dives in Anime put out a conversation starter around whether anime fandom is ready for mainstream attention. The post was an interesting read with some fairly interesting points raised about other media that have gone through a similar transformation and then they tagged a couple of other bloggers to see if we’d share our take on the idea. And I will admit, I’ve been mulling it over ever since so probably will put a post together on this one. Whichever way, it is an interesting conversation to have and I’d love to know what people think about this one.

Cactus Matt gives us a top ten OP list for 2018 with a bit of a difference giving out awards for ten top OP’s in various categories before deciding on the best of the year. Very fun to read through and if you don’t know some of the fantastic openings he’s selected he’s embedded the video for you to watch. Great post and great fun to read.

Lynn Sheridan  shares his thoughts on Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai episodes 5 – 8. I was waiting for this to see if he continued to enjoy the anime or not and I was really happy reading this post to see that they were still enjoying it. If you are one of the very few people not already following Bunny Girl Senpai, check out this post to see why it is something you should be diving into.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 8 Sakuta and mai

Ya Boy Jack also takes on Bunny Girl Senpai looking at what the show gets right about being a teenager. This makes for an interesting read and really looks at adolescent syndrome and the insecurities the characters are bringing to life. A great read about a great anime and well worth the read.

Gracie on Anime Trending News has a really interesting piece about Banana Fish and how it is a triumph in terms of the portrayal of LGBTQ stories. It focuses a lot on the usual tropes found in BL and yaoi stories, and how Banana Fish isn’t a story about boys in love, but rather a story where two boys are in love. I really enjoyed reading this and was glad it popped up on my Twitter feed this week. 

Banana Fish Episode 20 Ash and Eiji

Geek and Gear discuss episode 10 of Run With The Wind and both the positives and negatives of the episode. It’s a fun piece that covers what the episode was about and what it got right and really looks at the impact of Haiji on the team and Kakeru. Well worth checking out if you’ve caught the episode. Spoilers though if you haven’t already watched it.

Reasons to Anime gives us 6 reasons to, well not watch an anime but read the manga, the Cardcaptor Sakura Manga to be precise. Given this one is already on my wish list to check out the manga for, eventually, I really enjoyed their reasons. Great post to check out.

Pick of the Week

Geek Gals has a really interesting post on Sailor Neptune and looks in detail at her role in the original anime and in the manga as well as her relationship with Saturn. For Sailor Moon fans this is a great read and one well worth the time. Be sure to check it out and get your Sailor Moon fix for the week.

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Karandi James
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Friday’s Feature: So I Hear You Like Anime…

Bloom Into You Episode 4

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.

Tsurune Episode 2 Minato and Who

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.

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San Episode 4

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…”

Index4a

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.

Dakaichi4e

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.

Natsume Season 3a

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.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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