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WO's February Top 10: Interesting Things - Part 1

Yet another list, it seems as if lately my life is being reduced to lists, lists of groceries, lists of books that I have yet to read, anime that is literally piling up on the shelves, and lists of shows that I am in bad need of watching.

If one were to look close, it would seem like all I have time to do lately is make lists. Maybe I should make a list of all the lists I've made.

Anyway, as if to rub salt in the proverbial wound; I've realized that I totally forgotten to create a list for January, and since February is upon us, I thought I would consider that lack of last month's list a break from making lists. At least it seems right when I work it out in my head.

I've really been stumped as to what topic I should use for this top 10, since really, it isn't anything annoying, or confusing, and yet has to be another state of mind about the otaku phenomenon. So I randomly chose Interesting Things.

When it comes right down to it, aside from randy kids that just want to see something naked in a cartoon, and want to argue the power levels of Goku & Co., in faux makeshift versus battles, there are a lot of things about the world of anime and manga that really still do not cease to fascinate me.

I think one of the things that I find interesting about the fandom is the devotion that fans show toward their likes, and their dislikes.

10. A Truly Devoted Fan

Sometimes we are talking with a buddy, or an acquaintance and there comes a moment when we speak out either for or against a particular anime or manga, or even a specific character, and it's as if we've opened a gigantic can of whoop-ass on ourselves that we might not ever be able to close. Most surprisingly is that this high level of devotion, isn't just resounding from the newer fans, it's often most strongest from the veteran fans of the fandom.

A lot of times, it doesn't even have to be a show or manga, or character, it can be something like the stance for or against illegal downloads, or industry subs, or the quality of a specific distributor's releases, or most annoying; the quality of dubs from a specific studio.

The best thing about a market, is dedicated fans; and anime and manga certainly have no shortage in that respect. Despite the angry and hostile knee-jerk reactions from some of them, they are truly the back-bone and saviors of our fandom.

For some of us, after a while, anime and manga becomes more of a way of life than an actual hobby or past-time. It's the stage in our development as a fan that takes us beyond merely catching the latest episode of Dragon Ball Kai on the Cartoon Network, or watching a few episodes of Bebop at a friends house over the weekend.

It's the stage where we portion off a fraction of our weekly or monthly income to future purchases of anime and manga, when we painstakingly scour the release schedules of industry distributors like, Section 23, and FUNimation, in marking off the new releases that are up-coming and ripe for our collections; and this leads me to...

09. The Price We Pay

This almost obsessive attitude of spending isn't anything new to us that have been in the fandom for any length of time. Back in the early days of the movement, we actually seemed to spend a lot more money on anime, with very little "bang for our buck".

Now we have more episodes per disc, which make up a new standard of releasing shows 13 episodes at a time, if they are 26 episode series' or the whole thing if just 12 or 13. Granted we've had to sacrifice some additional content, like multiple episode commentary, and behinds the scenes footage, making of documentaries, and even insert art booklets. But we've saved a bundle on the cost of what we used to spend.

Even our manga has begun to get slightly cheaper, or rather we are starting to see more content; can't really say that it's any cheaper. But the fact remains that some of us have taken our lust for anime and manga to the level that now that we are getting more content, we should spend more money.

Before, we would spend 30 dollars for a single DVD of anime with four episodes, sometimes less, now we spend 39.98 for 13 episodes, on two DVDs. My how the times have changed. It still pisses me off when newbies cry their eyes out because they say it's so expensive. Well, all I can do is pretty much shake my head and groan a little on the inside, and forever wonder at their greed.

It isn't that greed is a bad thing, when it comes to anime or manga. Sometimes it can prevent us from loaning out that DVD of Cutie Honey or Devil Lady to one of our friends that is guaranteed to never return in the same condition we lent it to them in. Think of it like this. There used to be those stickers on VHS tapes that said "Be Kind Rewind", as a reminder for people that rented the tapes to have the courtesy of winding the tape back to its starting position, or else it would fall to the employee of the video store to do it. And if there were a crap load of tapes that weren't rewound, then it took forever.

Well, it's more or less like giving your friend a tape, and getting it back, not rewound, covered in some unknown goo-like substance that might or might not be peanut butter, a definite odor, and with the original case missing.

Greed in the life of an anime and manga nerd can often be beneficial to some of us. But it is also a very fine line between obsession, and just pure greediness, when we sometimes don't seem to know when to stop buying.

08. When The Walls Start Closing In...

So, we have a lot of stuff that we buy, but how often do we buy, how much planning goes into the next purchase?

It isn't so bad — if we can measure bad in this instance — that we have shelves and shelves of anime and manga, and J-pop stuff. No, what's bad is when we plot and scheme sometimes months in advance checking release schedules for that next volume or box-set; and then as if that isn't enough, we've taken to expanding rooms in our home to accommodate the eccentricities of our habit. A habit that knows little limitation.

No longer do we have room on the family DVD center to store them, we've already taken all our hard-bound books off the shelves and stored them in the attic for space for our manga, that in the beginning just started out as a couple of volumes of One Piece, but now threaten to be Eiffel towers of comics stacked on their side in the corners sides and middle of our dwelling.

I've seen images of fan's rooms, and let me tell you, logic, and spacial occupancy and volume are thrown right out the effing window as soon as we become crazed. Heck, crazed is the only word I know to describe it.

And still it never ends; making us, sadly so singularly driven to collect, that we have more un-opened, and un-read, and un-watched stuff than most average fans have in their standard collections alone.

In the life of your average otaku, obsessed or not, drowning in DVDs BDs, manga or not; there is this overwheling compulsion to want to do two things.

Go to a convention, and embark on a pilgrimage to see the otaku holy-land.

I'm speaking of course of anime conventions, and Japan. Fans are almost instinctively born with this desire, and yet, this urge to go to conventions, and gather at Akihabara is something that once activated within them never goes away.

7. The Living Wallflowers

There is something inherent about us otaku fans of anime and manga; when you think about it, we have a natural tendency to shy away from nearly all forms of public exposure, we drift into the background of almost any social setting, and if like a many of us are -- male -- we have nothing but awkward words and behavior, especially around the opposite sex.

So the very fact that we become obsessed with wanting to strike out and head for the far off lands of the realms of the otaku kingdom is a perplexity of enormous sums.

But never the less it happens to all of us, we get the urge to go to Japan, an ISLAND of all place teeming with people, crowded and sultry, close and fritening.

Thousands of hundreds of people, all just waiting to watch every move they make, every item they put their grubby hands on, and no doubt whispering about them when they have their backs turned. For a group of people that don't like drawing attention to themselves, and who like to more or less remain in obscurity, this sudden craving to go to Japan is contrary to all that their basic instincts are trying to tell them. As for conventions, well it's basically the same thing; just huge crowds, and lots of people. But being amidst a bunch of like minded otaku isn't really that much of an improvement, and it doesn't take that much to overcome.

It isn't hard to imagine a few fans that have overcome their basic fears and are willing to bite the bullet and face crowds and throngs, but then there are those that take their hiding into all new levels of extreme; and unless you've seen them lurking around the local anime retailer, or coffee shop, then you probably won't understand what it is that I am talking about here.

What I'm talking about, is the fan that hides away from almost any and everyone, and only comes out of their cave to buy food, or supplies, and of course any anime that they think that they can find on the shelves, to keep them from having to go to the trouble of waiting on the UPS man to bring it to them.

6. One N.E.E.T. Fan!

Of course when I say N.E.E.T., I Sure am not talking about "neat", which anyone that has been in the know or at least around the block a few times in the anime fandom will recognize as a really bad thing.

A neet is of course A Person NOT EMPLOYED or EDUCATION or TRAINING. A person that spends all their time frightened of social interaction and hidden away in their apartment, house, or best friend's dwelling.

On rare occaision this person will venture out, risking death or some other type of profundit demise as they are only seeming pressed to add more to their collection.

Most true NEETs are not really otaku, and most otaku are not really NEETs; but on occasion when their genetics converge, and you end up with a NEETO, then you have the makings of madness.

The makings of a fan that quits his/her job to devote their hours to anime; and refuses to bathe, refuses to do outside chores, refuses to find work, go to school... and just watches hours and hours of anime, and reads manga, and loses themselves in the fantasy of this other world.

To Be Continued

Comments

  1. 09. The Price We Pay

    Oh man, I remember collecting anime on VHS tapes back in the day. One 50 min. episode per disc! Now, when people harp on about 'silly prices', I just want to slap them. Hard.

    But is it solely greed that fuels purchases, though? At the risk of sounding like some crotchety old fart, younger people these days just do not seem to be able to exercise self restraint. They see something, and they have to have it RIGHT NOW, even if it means scanlations/fansubs.

    And now that I have a PSP, import stuff like Project Diva 2nd is sucking cash from my account like nobody's business. But importing is always pricey, and hey, there are some real gems that are never gonna see the light of day in the West.

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