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.
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.