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Should I Continue Watching Anime?

There’s a “rule” that whenever you see a question in a headline, the answer is “no”.  It’s not quite so simple in this case.

The question maybe should be posited a little broader:  Should I continue studying anything about Japan, including Japanese?

I’ve asked this before, but the reasons for my question are different now.

My recent foray into the world of “Love Live”, and my subsequent flaming withdrawal from said world, made me think.  Oh yes, you might say, that never happens, Gaijin!  You never think about anything!

Sarcastic so-and-sos, the lot of you.

Anyway, I was thinking abut whether this is even healthy for me.

There’s no denying that Japan and Japanese have greatly enriched my life.  I’ve learned a lot from my studies, and anime has taught me a lot of things about being human that I simply could not find from any other source.  For this I’ll always be grateful.  But as I’ve gotten more into the topic, I’ve begun to understand that it’s dangerous.  It’s a trap, as Admiral Ackbar famously said.  It’s a trap because it’s very easy to start living in that fantasy world – the one that has little to no bearing on reality.  I’m not just talking about the fantasy world of anime, I’m talking about the fantasy world of Japan.

But Gaijin, you might protest, Japan is a real country! It’s not a fantasy world!  You’re the one with the problem!

All true.

But the thing about the way a lot of westerners see Japan, is that it is a fantasy world.  This is precisely where weeaboo and (western) otaku come from!  There’s something about Japan that resonates with people like me, but it has little to do with what Japan is, and everything to do with how we see Japan.

And that takes away from reality where we are.

I live in a moderate sized town (around 100,000 people, a little smaller than Numazu) in central Texas.  I don’t go out except to get groceries and medicine.  I mean, I seriously don’t.  Going to the mall – which is right across from the grocery store – is an outing for me.  I know little about my town, and I don’t really care to know anything about my town.  To me, it’s a place with a grocery store, a drugstore, a mall, and the occasional other place I need to go.  It’s not a place with people

I’m not shut-in, I’m not the American version of hikikomori.  I can and do go out when I need to.  I just don’t want to or need to.

On the one hand, I’m perfectly fine with this, but there’s this part of me that recognizes exactly how unhealthy this is.  My heart is in Japan, my mind is in Japan, but they’re in a Japan of my own making.  Even if I were to go to Japan, it’d be the same.  I’d go to the konbini and different tourist sites, but…  at the end of the day, my interaction with people would be pretty much the same, just in Japanese.

Read:  nonexistent.

Japan is just a convenient foil to excuse my complete lack of interest in where I live now.  And that’s really all it is – a foil.  A place of my own imagination, built on top of an actual people and culture which I claim to love, but know for sure that if I went there my heart would turn somewhere else.  It’d take a while, but that would happen once the novelty wears off.  That’s just how this works.  Anything to avoid the reality that I’m currently faced with.

So, the question at hand:  Should I continue to watch anime?  Should I continue to study Japanese?  Should I continue to learn about Japan?

I think the answer is yes.  Yes, but.  And the but:  perhaps I need to start being a little more active in my community first.

Not because I want to.  I don’t want to.  I hate the thought.  It doesn’t terrify me, but, rather, it disgusts me.

But this is my reality.  It’s where I live.  I’m a Texan (and you natives can fuck off with your “you’re not a Texan” bullshit).  I’m a central Texan.  I’m an American.  I’m not Japanese.  I’m not going to find in Japan what I’m missing here.  If I’m not finding it here, I’m sure as heck not going to find it there.

Well, you might say…  why don’t you join an anime community in your town?

Hah, no.  No.  No way, never, no how.  I want absolutely nothing to do with western Otaku.  Because for as much as I just told you that my thoughts on anime and Japan aren’t really healthy, at least I’m self-aware about it.  I’ve met very few others who are.  No, I’ll take this a different direction.

And here’s another installment of “no one reads this blog so I can say anything I want and it doesn’t matter”.

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