I haven’t posted here for about a year now – almost exactly a year, actually.  Has it been that long?  It doesn’t seem that long, and it almost seems longer.  I came very close to just deleting this entirely, and I’m probably going to go through shortly and hide many posts that I’m not proud of.  Some I’ll keep though.  I did move a lot of content over to hiddenjapanese.com (and I need to add more), and I have a few projects I’m working on.

So, what happened to me?  Well, long story short, I moved to another town a few tens of miles north, started another life (sort of), and have been spending the last year trying to come to grips with a lot of things I won’t talk about here.  But I think I’ve made some progress.  Not enough – never enough – but some.

My Japanese learning has slowed to a crawl, but it hasn’t stopped.  I’m still learning, slowly.  I’m haven’t forgotten a huge amount, and I’m putting some effort into it.

One of the biggest things I’ve done recently in my journey all things Japanese is, that I’ve started watching anime.  Believe it or not, I’d never watched anime before.  It just wasn’t really something that interested me.  But over the past year, I’ve come to realize that my approach to Japan and Japanese was all wrong.

I’ve posted here before on my tendency to be “majime”, to take things far too seriously.  And I did the same with Japanese.  One reason I didn’t really want to watch anime is that I didn’t want to identify myself as a “weeb”, you know, someone who treated Japan like some sort of exostic escape that only exists for my entertainment.  But at some point over the past year (and I think this is because of some interactions with Japanese people on Twitter (now X – don’t look for me, my account is deactivated as of the time of this writing, I’ll tell that story later)) I realized that it just doesn’t really matter.  Japanese people produce anime to entertain, and there’s nothing wrong with using it for its intended purpose.

They like to escape as much as everyone else.  Right?

So I started watching anime.  I deliberately didn’t look for big-boob floppy chest cute girl anime, I looked for anime that had some meaning, and, well…  it didn’t disappoint.  Not at all.  Not even a little.  In fact, I think anime has changed my life.

The very first anime I watched was “Bocchi the Rock”.  It was amazing.  It was well animated, it dealt with an issue I have dealt with personally, and it was actually somewhat inspiring – if Bocchi can do it, so can I?

Then I moved on to “Akebi’s Sailor Uniform”.  It was also really, really good.  While it’s very true that it seems to be a little fanservicey (all the feet are difficult to ignore, though I don’t think they’re really what people think theyare), it’s just an amazingly beautifully animated anime in a world that you just kind of want to wrap yourself in.  There are no enemies there.  No bullying, no evil, just fun, friends, and love.  I watched it, and it was one of those animes (like books I used to read) where I didn’t want to watch anything else that night because I didn’t want to ruin the mood.

And then I watched “Onimai”.

Some people will say it’s awful, that one is awful for watching it, etc., but it’s not like that.  In fact, I loved how they took all of the things that that kind of story could go off the rails with, immediately derailed all of it, and turned it into a rather heartwarming story.  It made me think.  I’ll talk about what about elsewhere.  It doesn’t contain a political message, just… a rather heartwarming one.

And then… I watched “Sound! Euphonium”.

That one wrecked me.

After I watched it, I was destroyed for a little while.  This one was loss for me.  Everything it was, I had lost at some point in my life, and it hit me so hard I can barely describe how.  I’ll talk about that elsewhere.

And lastly, I watched “March Comes in like a Lion”.  This one didn’t so much wreck me, but it told me something really important about myself.  Something I hadn’t realized before, and since I finished watching it last night, I’m still thinking about and processing it.

I’ve dabbled in a few others that are much more “light entertainment” and didn’t really like them as much.  These were amazing, they were deep, they made me think, and they helped me process through things I hadn’t been able to before.

Even if I stop watching anime right now, I’ll be forever changed by it.  And… forever grateful, too.

I’ve changed a lot in the past year.  I’m not sure this blog can or should take that direction.  I’m not even actually sure it should continue to exist, though I haven’t made that decision yet.  But no matter what, it’s not going to sit here as a testament to what is.  Time to move on, one way or other.  That’s the biggest thing, so far, that all these animes have taught me.  Grieve, mourn, cry, but don’t stop moving on.

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