When I start dating someone, letting them know that I’m kind of (very, VERY) obsessed with cartoon characters, who battle hardships that I would never begin to imagine in my own mundane life, is not my automatic conversation go-to. It’s like how you wouldn’t let someone know that you were a serial killer before luring them into your house; or cooking for your friends, even though you know that making toast is a struggle. Being an avid anime fan is something that you just don’t disclose right away in case it ends up biting you in the ass. On second thought, maybe I’m doing something wrong when I’m trying to pick up a new potential boyfriend…
The main issue here is that I am an anime nerd. Yes, I enjoy sitting down to ‘anime and chill’ (not Netflix and chill) so that I can relax after a long day. It’s something about the aesthetic of anime and the outlandish characters that has me swooning like a 16-year-old girl after seeing Justin Bieber’s shirtless body. It’s a release where I get to escape the constraints of reality and my mind can be set free. Like the act of a bookworm being enthralled by the written words in a book, I froth at the subtitles flashing on a screen while a foreign language fills my ears. However, the stigma attached to avid anime watchers, such as myself, when attempting to impress and lure people into a relationship trap doesn’t work very well for these simple reasons:
- They think you’re a nerd who still lives at home with his parents (true).
- They’ll assume you’re into some weird shit which could attract the wrong crowd (not true).
- They might assume that all anime is hentai (subjective).
I’ve dated someone before who assumed that hentai and anime were one in the same. It wasn’t until we sat down and watched Monster Musume together that they believed in their own assumptions fully, being a mistake on my own behalf. A plethora of people who haven’t watched an anime don’t seem to be able to comprehend the mature themes that it can convey through a drawn, animated filter. Their exposure to anime as a medium does not extend beyond cartoon network or Nickelodeon cartoons for kids; either that or the other extremity of the hentai category on Pornhub of fan service anime galore.
There is a deeply ingrained stigma in our western society which struggles with the idea of embracing the ‘weird’ or ‘different’ with what media we consume and enjoy. Hentai being mistaken for all anime adds a perception of perversion to an individual, which doesn’t help your image on a first date and adds a weird layer of sub-context in the way that you communicate with people. The only looming allusion to western culture cartoons that I can make is a correlation between South Park and The Simpsons to anime with these animated mediums only being mature comedies while Japanese style anime’s are multifaceted experiences. According to The Artifice, American style “adult animation is infamous for being full of crude provocateurs, and the worst of the works belonging to that group failed to develop an identity beyond embodying the aforementioned crudity.” (Source). A lack of complex ideas propagates the stigma which cripples the perception of animation from westerners with the entertainment industry refraining from being an enemy or an ally in this context. Without an animated hero to lead narratives, who encompasses a truly thought-provoking experience for the misanthropic older audience, nothing will change their perception of such a well-loved and (sometimes) wholesome medium.
I cannot neglect the brilliant Avatar: The Last Airbender series and the way it has changed western animation for the better. However, the impact of this series has not broken through the sheer cliffs representing walls that our society has erected to keep out foreign ideas and culture. People will always resist the urge for change, it is in a human’s nature to attack things which they do not recognise and perceive accordingly. Surprisingly when going out on a first date, I don’t want to be attacked for my hobbies.
Keeping such a secret from those who I date isn’t a bad thing in my mind, but these people should be liking me for me. This has me at a crossroads of “they should like me if I like anime or not” and “if they think anime is stupid, I’ll be read to filth and my lonely ass will never get a date again”. In my mind, it’s really that simple; my life as an overdramatic kind of Broadway theatre musical. Coming soon, The Ever-Impending Doom of My Future, playing at anywhere you may find me, most likely in my home, alone. Even if I do bring someone home, they’ll find out almost immediately from either my figurine collection (my anime waifu’s for laifu), the posters that line my walls (yes, okay, not attractive, I get it) or my weeaboo like tendencies (I will say itadakimasu before every meal and there is nothing that you can do to stop me).
It’s a circle of singleness enrapturing me for all eternity, with my waifu figurines always having the same smiling faces, full of malicious intent to ensure that I remain alone for the rest of my life. The reason I don’t tell people I enjoy watching anime is because I’m scared of their reaction toward me because I know I will ruin my first impression. If I’m not already a strange, curly haired wog boy, what’s to say that adding ‘anime-watcher’ to that label will change my luck. I guess I could pretend I only enjoy Ghibli films because all the basic white girls LOVE them.
Or, I could just stay single forever, which is an idea I’m coming to terms with.