Evolution and Maturing of My Otakudom

It’s been almost 2 years now since I made a post about how I felt like I was too new to anime. I was surprised at the time about how my top 10 list was constantly changing as I watched new shows, and how there seemed to be an infinity of shows I hadn’t seen yet. Now, almost two years later, I feel like I’ve progressed far from a newbie into a seasoned otaku.

Two years ago, I was overwhelmed by the scope of anime as a whole. I knew that there were an infinite number of things I hadn’t seen and that even if I didn’t have to watch every single great anime, I at least needed to learn a lot of things about the world of anime. And now, simply put, I feel like I have.

You can’t really name an anime that I haven’t heard of unless you have been watching anime for over 20 years, and then you’re on a level far beyond me, as I’m not even 20 years old yet. I know all about the creators of anime and manga, who they are, what they’ve done, what they are memorable for, I know what shows had what influences over the history of anime, what shows everyone needs to see for whatever reason, and in most cases I’ve watched at least a bit of it. I have a massive collection of DVDs, manga, figures, posters, hugpillows, and anything else an otaku would generally want. Generally, all of the things you would associate with a major otaku, you’d associate with me.

For some easy perspective, and part of what influenced this post, look at this image that was posted on /a/ last night.

This is a list of 120 shows that are usually deemed to be worth watching by /a/. Not everything on here is amazing, and there is some greet stuff missing (where the fuck is Cobra, Rose of Versailles, etc.) but point being, this is a list. Now, I won’t pretend that I’ve finished most of these shows, but there are only exactly 5 shows on this list that I haven’t seen a single episode of (incidentally, Fantastic Children, Seto no Hanayome, Kaze no Stigma, Druaga, and IGPX, the first 4 of which I’ve considered watching numerous times but was always turned off for various reasons.) No matter how you look at it, that’s a great track record.

So what, did I make this post just to brag? Not exactly. I think it’s more that I want to really profess how one can really move forward through otakudom. There is a real change of perspective on one’s fandom when they get to be about the point I am. It’s kind of like ‘okay, I have my anime PhD, now I can go work as an anime doctor.’

But don’t get me wrong, I don’t think i have quite a PhD – I think that’s a little higher up. I think that’s somewhere in the realm of the guys at the anime old timer’s panel, or someone like, perhaps, Daryl Surat. But I think I’m on my way there. I definitely feel like there are many points in your fandom where you feel you’ve achieved the next ‘degree’ of fandom.

And of course it’s not like you have to pursue the PhD to be a good anime fan. I think most fans would probably go for an associates or bachelor’s and then move into a field of fandom such as blogging as sort of their career as a result of said degree. I don’t mean to sound noninclusive or anything, but I think the people with the higher degrees will be the ones running con panels and working with the industry.

This post sounds about as pretentious as this image

This post sounds about as pretentious as this image

Two years ago I was, perhaps, an anime freshman. I was a little overwhelmed, but I was burning with youthful enthusiasm to chase a higher level of fandom. I did a lot of studying (both literally and thinking of anime watching as a figurative study) and, once more not to brag, I moved through the degrees pretty quickly thanks to all the studying while others were out partying (having lives, hehehe).

Now I’m in the middle of advanced studies. And it shows – the way I consume anime culture is pretty radically different from how it used to be. In the early days, I was trying to consume as much anime as fast as possible. As time passed, I started learning about the history of anime, different peoples thoughts on it, the current and past cultures surrounding it, and I started learning about and watching influential or important shows. Now, I know all about the culture and history, and I’ve gotten to where it’s less about learning the broad knowledge that builds the base of otakudom, and more about specific studies. Perhaps taking a course in Shinboism, or a course in Evangelion studies, etc. And thusly, once I’ve found my niche in the higher degrees of anime fandoms, I’ll be like ‘that guy who knows that thing that no one else does’ just as would be the case for any scientist who’s made a name for himself or an otaku who is well known, and I’ll be the guy running ‘that panel’ every year or the guy with ‘the blog about that’.

This half-bragging post doesn’t really have so much a point about the greater otaku community as it does about my own otakudom, but consider it like a piece of gonzo journalism as I’ve chronicled my progress as an otaku over 2 years.

24 thoughts on “Evolution and Maturing of My Otakudom

  1. I don’t think consumption = progress, but it is something fun to measure and have milestones of whatever your purposes are. And I know calling /a/ stupid is pointless, but W Gundam is on the list while no non-OVA UC is on it? Please. And while we’re on the subject of that list, no UC Gundam and no other Macross show, and no Giant Robo, while Vandread is there. /a/ is just trolling /m/

    Dropping Crest of the Stars is like vomiting up a fine steak dinner.

  2. I dropped Crest of the Stars halfway through the first episode. It was boring. And yeah, the list could do with work, but generally it entails shows that everyone on /a/ actually pretty much agrees on.

    • Well, you know how I feel with boring stuff (i.e., I usually like the stuff that everyone else calls that), but only half of the first episode? You don’t even get to see the start of the relationship that drives the show and is one of the more intriguing ones in anime. :P

  3. As much as I hate to admit this, I think ghostlightning is right. Just because someone watches a ton of shows, it doesn’t necessarily make them an “expert” on anime. If it anything, it just means they have a helluva lot of time on their hands to watch cartoons. But if what you claim in this post is true, then I agree that you’ve made a lot of progress from being a “noob.” It’s great to see you focus on a lot of stuff outside of the shows themselves. Good job! I’ve been following this Japanese cartoon stuff for 10 years now, but I doubt I have anywhere near the amount of knowledge as you do. =(

  4. Watching more gives you a growth both of perspective on the range of what anime can show you as well as showing you exactly what all of the outside crap means in effect, so I’d say it is progress. But I’d expect most people to be glad they agreed with ghostlightning, since he’ usually right :p

  5. The idea of milestones is pretty appealing in itself. Like graduating high school or getting your PhD, it’s a moment to reflect on where you’ve been and ponder on where you’re headed. Sadly, life outside of school isn’t so structured as to set up milestones in neat orderly years, so we have to make them ourselves. As for myself and my little anime hobby, I’m quickly coming up on 300 complete series on MAL, so I’ve given thought to what the big #300 will be. RahXephon? Eureka Seven? I’ve got both of them waiting on my hard drive. I’ve also given thought to timing my completion of Legend of the Galactic Heroes to be the big milestone, which seems fitting in a very special way.

    And yeah, cutting out halfway through the first episode of CotS is more like spitting out the glass of water before the steak is even served. Please, for the love of all that is good and pure and cherished, the series deserves another try!

  6. @Kaidan: Eureka Seven is a great choice. As for CotS it’s not that I don’t intend to ever watch it, but I initially was like ‘yeah, I don’t think this is for me’. I don’t really do space politics.

    @ak: lol, you are somehow a fundamentally ironic anime fan…..

  7. Wow I envy you as there’s still ALOT of shows I haven’t seen yet despite being a fan for over 10 years (I’m just now making my way through Bebop for the first time). I do think there is another side to the culture though that few get to experience that I’ve had the pleasure of um….experiencing lol, and thats being a creator as well as a fan. Up until just this year I wanted to draw comics ( or manga if you perfer). I spent so much time trying to improve my drawing and storytelling skills that I really didnt have to time to read or watch the anime and manga that inspired me in the first place. I was all set to go to college for sequential art this fall but things didnt go through as I planned and I’ve had to give up on that dream for now but I feel that’s helped me “mature” as fan in a way that watching alot of shows couldnt do.


    More like love story of awesomeness with one of the most lovely anime characters evar (Jinto is no slouch either).

    Bakemonogatari has edgy dialogue especially considering Senjougahara’s rants, but CotS has less of being ‘edgy’ but has even more awesome and fulfilling exchanges.

  9. I’d say to be a real “expert” you’d need to be able to discuss more than just things like plots and relative aesthetic value of shows. If you can pick this up from just watching shows, great, and if not, hopefully it would have made you curious enough to try to seek out that information yourself. I think about something like the Cahiers du Cinema writers in the 50s, who obviously didn’t have the internet and easy reference databases and crap, but were still able to piece together filmographies, auteur characteristics, etc. based on the sheer volume of films that they watched.

    • Haha, yeah, I kind of learned in a micture of those ways – I had already seen a good amount of anime before I looked back and went, ‘holy shit, I think these shows were done by the same guy’ and now I’m at a point where I see something and am so conviced that a certain person was involved that I start hunting for their name in the credts (a perfect example is Hiroyuki Imaishi whose style is nigh unmistakable.) Anyone seen that trailer for the new Wolverine anime? I’d bet my right nut Yoshiaki Kawajiri is involved with that thing…..

  10. I think consumption is important, but it’s more about:
    1. having the correct frame of mind when you watch stuff
    2. actively watch the stuff
    3. digest it

    if you do that you are progressing with more you watch.

    it’s difficult in some ways because many modern anime is contemporaneous to a degree; they have an expiration date. it’s like a stray sentence that loses significance once you get out of context too much. that said, a lot of us do need to watch more anime!

    • Agreed with your three points. There’s quite a difference between how and why I watch anime now than 10 or even 3 years ago. There isn’t some figurative corner I turned per say, but as I grew up, the anime I watched and my attitude towards the medium gradually grew up with me. Compared to say, video games, something I was passionate about when I was younger, but feel as a medium hasn’t really offered anything new to me in some 12 years.

      But why do you think anime now is “contemporaneous”? And how so more than older shows? I’d really like to know what examples you have in mind.

    • I’m with you on the three points which is the sort of ‘where I’ve arrived’ that I’m getting at, but I will say that while I agree that there’s a bit of an expiration date on things, it’s not entirely difficult to do the research and put yourself back into the perspective of the anime’s airing, as the ‘impact of evangelion’ panel does an absolutely superb job of.

  11. I’m not so sure I’d consider myself as actually having the anime PhD so much as alleging that I do. I mean, you said of that 120 shows in that collage, you hadn’t seen a single episode of 5 things on there, right? Well, I haven’t seen a single episode of *71* things on that. Still, to use Hajime no Ippo inspirational speech logic, while I agree that “not everyone who watches a ton of anime is thus an anime expert,” I also agree that “every anime expert is someone who watched a ton of anime.” The real question at hand, of course, is “what did you watch?”

    I try to just watch things that are exceptional, for better or for worse. A fine way to find out whether something is exceptional or not is to simply see whether or not people still give a crap about the show after a few years. Unfortunately, that means you’ll never be able to hang with the crowd who are watching all this stuff as each new episode gets posted, but whatever. The signal to noise ratio among that circuit is entirely too high, and they weren’t all talking up Air Master, Golgo 13, Michiko and Hatchin, et al when they were airing like they should have been doing anyway, so NUTS TO THEM.

    21stcenturydigitalboy, you dropped 12 Kingdoms but completed Lucky Star?! I’LL CUT YOU.

    • If it makes you feel any worse, Lucky Star is one of my top 10 favorite anime EVER :p I actually have a decent post about why I dropped 12 Kingdoms here: http://fuzakenna.com/2008/05/23/it-builds-character-or-depth-vs-chemistry-and-the-tournament-of-themes-pt-1/ as I try and cut some of it’s value down :p

      And once again as I replied to omo, I think you can put yourself into the frame of mind. Myself, I don’t read what anyone says about shows while their airing anyway because they are almost always wrong about everything…..

    • I think we’ve established that list is full of crap and other exceedingly niche titles already. Particularly it’s heavily skewed towards anime made this decade, and where ghostllightning notices a lack of mech, I don’t see any Ghibli movies, or any feature films at all. Lists like those demonstrate the futility of making universal suggestions lists without having any descriptions or endorsements. Any of us are just as well off picking series from any torrent site by coin flip, dart tossing, or whatever other method you deem random enough.

      If I needed a list, I’d much rather like one that split shows into 5 or 6 sub-groups, bound together by similar styles, themes, generation, or genre, kinda like otou-san’s list at his blog, though his is very short.

      • For the last fucking time, it’s a list of shows that /a/ agrees on. Also, I wouldn’t have put movies on the list anyway, and no one ever said it was definitive, it’s just ‘if you really need something to watch, here’s a fuckload of suggestions, now shut up.’

  12. It’s cool when watching anime for a while starts making you recognize more things like how things tie together, or how a certain animator animates a scene, or a director’s style, or a seiyuu’s range when you probably wouldn’t be caring about those things when starting off. Just whether or not you like the stuff or not. I think when you start finding out more about anime than you expect or just in the process of trying to find out more, you can continue enjoying anime for years to come.

    And I’ve see at least one episode of 100 of the titles here. However if you notice my MAL, I only list shows where I’ve seen more than one episode most of the time. :P

  13. “As time passed, I started learning about the history of anime, different peoples thoughts on it, the current and past cultures surrounding it, and I started learning about and watching influential or important shows.”

    If a recent Twitter conversation between Michael Pinto and animealmanac is any indication, you’ve at least got far more maturity in your otakuism than animealmanac. While older works may not hold a great deal of interest to the modern fan they help to understand how the medium of either anime or manga got to where it is today. That isn’t to say you have to *like* any of the old stuff or even find it to be well made. But to know of it and be able to use it as a tool in examining contemporary work is important.

    • I don’t know anything about animealmanac, but what you say is very correct. and even then, you really should be able to find some old shows you like. I’m not a big fan of older stuff, but I love me some Space Adventure Cobra and Rose of Versailles. If you don’t try older shows, you’re just….. missing out.

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