Post BGM – Love is War – Hatsune Miku
There was once a time in my life where I could confidently say that I liked anime because it had action, bloodshed, and badass characters. There was a time where I could confidently say that I liked anime because it had better plots or directing than other mediums. There was a time where I could confidently say that I liked anime because it represented some specific thing that I enjoyed. However, at this time, if you asked me what I looked for in anime – what specific thing was my reason for consuming Japanese cartoons, I’d probably be at a total loss. The best explanation I have is: I’m an otaku.
This answer, of course, will not satisfy most, if any. It’s might just make you ask ‘why are you an otaku, then?’ since it sounds like the same question. But I couldn’t offer a better explanation if I tried. As was stated in Genshiken, ‘once you’re an otaku, there’s no going back to normal,’ which means that at the point that you are an otaku, there is nothing else. There are some people in my experience who got largely into anime only to, at some point, for any number of reasons, get out of it. The difference between regular big fans and otaku is staying power. Anime can leave your life if it doesn’t define it, but for otaku, your life IS anime – after all, the word is defined as ‘obsession.’
I’ve gotten far beyond defining my anime preferences as they’ve expanded too damn much. I’ve got End of Evangelion, Manabi Straight, Lain, and Lucky Star in my top 10 and none of those shows are anything alike. The only kind of person who likes all of these shows is the kind who’s really obsessed.
Consider this – I am very pretentious about music. I mostly listen to obscure bands, mostly in metal genres. and yet, I also listen to a bunch of cheesy Japanese pop songs thanks to anime. Funeral, meanwhile, has the exact same musical taste as me in most areas, but he can’t stand the cutesy Japanese pop music. The difference is simply that, as an otaku, I am somehow wired to like anime music. No matter how you look at it, your average Opeth fan probably doesn’t sing along to Tsurupettan.
And I know that some of you reading this are otaku (thinking ‘so what’s the big deal?’) and some of you aren’t (thinking, ‘wow, his taste is odd.’) Some of you are like me, who aren’t sure WHY they’re willing to shell out $100 for a Black Rock Shooter figure, they just are. And some of you are more normal fellows who wouldn’t be caught dead with pornographic doujins in their room.
Otaku may have preferences, but they don’t have boundaries. When an otaku dislikes a show, it’s for a very specific, personal or emotional reason. It’s not because the show was from X genre or is X years old, it’s either because the show had technical flaws or something personal like a character you couldn’t stand or some plot twist that pissed you off. And for a lot of otaku, disliking a show isn’t even a condemnation of that show. When I made a list of the shows that I dislike, a lot of them were shows I actually want to rewatch and have elements I love. Being an otaku has made it difficult to truly dislike an anime unless it is fundamentally or technically atrocious.
The reason I bring this up is that last night I wanted to watch something that could potentially enter my favorites list, and OmegaDogma on Twitter asked me ‘what elements are you looking for?’ I realized then that I have no idea what I look for in a show. certain shows just have that thing all their own that reaches out to me it seems. So I ended up getting back to Toradora again, which has long had a place in my favorites reserved for reasons I can define, but not tell you why they are so important to me.