Club Scene: Back to the Begining
No matter how long you've been an anime fan, there's always more.
Last month, I went over how to write a constitution for your club. It covered a lot of technical information about running a club, such as when to hold meetings and elections. Hopefully, all of the technical information was a help, because there will be none of that in this column. There are still a lot of things that I'm just learning about anime clubs that I'd like to share with you, but for the final Club Scene column, I want to go back and address the basic desire behind running an anime club.
What was the first anime you saw? And I mean really saw, not just watched on TV without knowing what it was or where it came from. As a kid, I never cared that most of my favorite shows, such as Sailor Moon, Pokemon and Digimon were anime. They were just things that I watched because I liked them, and because I wanted to put off doing my homework. I wasn't an anime fan, but I liked it.
In junior high school, a friend who was in fact an anime fan showed me a VHS tape of Sailor Moon Stars in Japanese, no subtitles. Something in my mind just clicked for me right there. What I was watching seemed so different from any other animation that I had ever seen before. The story, from what I could make out of it, was extremely bizarre (it was the season with the magical transvestites), but it was engrossing and entertaining.
Very few anime have given me the same feeling that I got while watching that (probably bootleg) tape. One of the highest compliments that I can give a series is that when I watch it, it feels like I'm watching anime for the first time again. Many of my favorite series, such as Read or Die OVA, Hare+Guu, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Violinist of Hamlin are all very different in terms of genre, animation quality and other factors, but they all manage to inspire within me the same feeling of awe that I felt then, and what I still feel now for the medium of anime.
That's not to say that I don't like series that require previous knowledge about anime and manga, such as Genshiken. There are plenty of series that are more low-key and which play more to the longtime fan than the attention-grabbing series that tend to lure in new fans. When you just begin to start liking anime, it takes awhile to get used to some of the stranger plots, to the themes that are seen as taboo in North America, and yes, even to the big eyes. It's interesting to think that some of my current favorite series are probably ones that I would have stayed far away from back in junior high school.
Being a newbie at something, no matter what it is, is one of the best feelings in the world. Anime in particular is a lot of fun when you're just getting into it. Suddenly, there's so much to discover, so many series to watch, and so much manga to read. Sometimes I think back to when I could count my manga collection on one hand, and it makes me wonder if my current collection, which has bookcases creaking from the weight, is any better than the few volumes that I started out with? Sure, I have more, but I also have less time to read them, whereas I used to re-read the few manga that I owned again and again. Also, I had picked those few original graphic novels with care, and each purchase was a major event. Nowadays, I end up buying things on whims with little personal investment.
When I watch anime, I'm so used to viewing it with a critical eye and with the knowledge of many other anime series in the back of my head that I overlook a show's good points at times. I have a lot more prejudice when watching an anime series than someone who's only seen a handful of shows before.
That's why I try to take a balanced approach when it comes to anime and manga, using both the experience and knowledge that I've gained as a longtime anime and manga fan, while keeping the enthusiasm of a newbie.
Of course, not all of the aspects of being a newbie are good. Oftentimes, their enthusiasm will exceed their knowledge. Some people get impatient easily with newbies, but remember, you are one yourself. For every anime you watch, there will always be a dozen shows that you haven't seen. Even if you've read five times your body weight in manga, there are new series being translated everyday. The proportion of what you have seen will always be infinitesimally small when compared to what you haven't. You will never be able to see every series out there, if only because of the sheer amount that there is.
To me, that's a comforting rather than daunting statement. I like knowing that there always will be new things to discover, and that anime will keep on surprising me.
Anime fandom itself is ever changing. With the emergence of OEL manga and other new developments, the anime scene is very different from a few years ago. It's a great time to be an anime fan, whether you're a newbie or longtime fan. If you have enjoyed anime and manga for a long time, however, try to remember why you liked it in the first place and keep the enthusiasm that you felt back then alive.