The more of anime culture that I consume, the lower my standards get – that’s how it looks from an outside perspective, but more accurately, the more that I consume, the more things I find to appreciate about everything I see. Not just anime, but music, too – I used to be pretty picky about what genres I would watch or listen to, and now I can safely say that there is no genre that I am incapable of enjoying on a case-by-case basis. I’ve found myself liking more and more shows that I wouldn’t have before and willing to listen to music that I couldn’t formerly tolerate. It is not always easy to branch into a genre you were previously uninterested in, but always rewarding – however, I have found that the hardest thing to get into is something more personal.
That is, anime and music that I formerly claimed to hate. Or if not hate, then whose fans I formerly looked down upon. I have striven to remove all of my elitism, but I’d be lying if I said i was done doing so, nor if I said that I didn’t used to be really, really elitist. I mean, hey, everyone wants to have at least someone to look down on, to instill a feeling that they are at least superior to that guy, but I can hardly kid myself like that. No one has ever told me that I had good taste, and no one ever will. There are genres of music and anime fandom (yes, genre of fandom) that I looked down on in the past, and far harder than merely breaking into a genre that I was formerly uninterested in is breaking into one that I formerly looked down on.
I’ve had to make two ‘public apologies’ in the past – once when I watched Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and loved it to death (now in my Top 20) which I had ignorantly made fun of before; but I had to make the biggest one when I read and loved the hell out of Bleach, which I had associated with ‘Narutardom’ before and bashed along with it’s fans. I can’t help but feel that it’s only a matter of time before I find myself apologizing to Naruto fans at some point, but that should still be a few years off.
These are some of the big ones, but there are small ones, too. Shows that I never really hated or anything, but whose (usually popularity) jaded me to them. Sometimes it’s a show that I really liked (Lucky Star, K-On!) that I started to doubt or mentally relinquish just because of how I saw the series talked about, though I would always make a point to rewatch them so that I could remember that I loved those shows for a reason. I need to do it badly with Code Geass, a show that I loved when I watched it in 2008, but has become so much of a circus since then that it’s hard to feel connected to. I have made a point to keep myself from saying something stupid about it before reminding myself that I love it.
Switching over to music, I spent my early teens making fun of ‘screamo’ music and ‘hardcore’ a lot until I discovered Fall of Troy, Circle Takes the Square, and The Sound of Animals Fighting, who all rocked my world. I still don’t like most ‘core’ bands, but then I also don’t like most death metal and black metal – doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of great bands from those genres. Yesterday, I was blown away when I found out that the song I had fallen in love with from that Hiroyuki Imaishi AMV was by Maximum the Hormone, and that this was the same band who had performed the Death Note opening and ending themes. You mean ‘NINGEN NINGEN FUCKER?!’ You mean that music that I had associated with ‘lol Japanese hardcore?’ (it’s actually numetal, not that it’s any less of an embarrassing genre to tell someone you’re a fan of.) How much beating on this song and it’s fans had I done? Associating it with the mall-goths who make up so much of the US Death Note fanbase and propogate the arrival of visual-kei bands at so many cons? Sure, that’s the audience, but does that mean that they have shit taste and all of the bands they like suck? Just because some of the people I met were annoying?
I feel bad about it. I feel terrible that I probably said at least some kind of horrible insult once about people who liked the Death Note op and ed, and now I’ve got them along with 2 Maximum the Hormone albums in my playlist and I love it. Hell, I’ve probably insulted fans of Death Note itself as well. Even though I was into it before it was cool, and I never sold the 8 volumes of the manga I own. It wasn’t because I thought that the anime was bad that I dropped it, but because the manga had spoiled me recently to all of the shocking scenes that it spent so much time on. I think I’d probably like Death Note if I sat down and finished it. It might not be one of my favorites or anything – I still think it probably stretches out a little longer than it needs to from the 10 volumes that I read, but not so much that I would totally hate the series.
One of these days, I plan to rewatch the first season of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, because while I don’t think it will enter my top 20 like Nanoha A’s did or anything, I know that I will not hate it this time. I talked so much shit about Nanoha for about a year after I watched it that I even made some fans of the series totally rage at me, and yet I will probably end up being a fan of it. If that happens, I will write an apology a block long to the whole fanbase. I am tearing down all of my barriers, and I will do it by acknowledging the mistakes of my youth.