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…”

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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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