As you may know, I am just new here at AOIA. I have only started to become active in the internet last October. I started with a humble blog and started replying to blog posts using my handle name, afkeroge (now @fkeroge). During this short period, I have seen quite a few websites and blogs about anime and net culture. I have seen episodic anime blogs, fanblogs, imageboards, Sankaku Complex and many other sites and had changing opinions about what I saw back then.
I thought of writing this article when I saw some people confessing at a certain site that they can’t get to enjoy their hobbies openly because of possible criticism, and most of these people claim to be from America.
I’ll share with you my own story. About a few months before I became active in the blogosphere, I always thought that anime and visual novels were the best things ever created by the hands of men. I was an outgoing otaku who would spread the word about the last anime series he last watched among his friends, even though only a few really cared back then. I would fanboy over the Negi x Nodoka pairing and tell my classmates and roommates how great they were together, even though they don’t really know much about Negima. I have tried and failed many times to learn Japanese, even taking amateur Nihongo classes, just because I loved everything about the Land of the Rising Sun. I would watch three year-old Japan Video Topics on local TV even though I have seen them ten times before. I would use random Japanese words in my daily conversation just so I would seem knowledgeable about the language, even though I was not. I would do Japanese karaoke back then (I still listen to them now, but not as frequent as I did back then). Point is, I was really obsessed about anime and good ol’ Japan.
If I was in America, or any other country that shuns otaku, I might have been bullied and/or ignored my whole high school life. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it seems that a minority of people in America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, have problems expressing their love for eastern modern visual culture, and those who do express their interest often become outcasts. Based on what I’ve seen, many Americans tend to not like people who obsess over things that are not part of their culture, like anime, and the hate is slowly spreading in other countries as well. I have heard stories of people getting depressed and locking themselves in their rooms when word came out that they like anime or manga. And the worst part of it is, most of them are not even close to being as extreme as I was back in my high school years. I lived through a rather normal high school life, had many friends and people I didn’t get along with, but I was NEVER, EVER criticized for being an anime fan and obsessing over Japan.
Though I really shouldn’t be speaking highly about myself, I don’t think I’m a bad guy, not back then, not now. And if someone like me isn’t a bad guy, then those people who got cast out by society because they like anime and manga as a hobby are most certainly not, either. Some argue that the ones who are usually addicted to anime and manga are often perverts, nerds and social rejects, especially if the person in question is a guy. But the question is, are they really?
There are may criminals in this small world we live in, and I’m sure that not even 1% of them are regular anime watchers. I mean, we all know about Tsutomu Miyazaki, the one often blamed for giving otakus the bad reputation they had in the 90’s due to him murdering four very young girls and defiling their bodies. But is he the only criminal who has done this kind of thing? Are otakus the only kind of people capable of commiting these atrocities? No. What I’m trying to say is that not all people who watch anime are bad, not the regular viewers, not the die-hard fans, not the weeaboos; and there are people who are far worse, if we go by moral standards.
Let’s take the Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris case back in 1979. I doubt these guys have even watched anime. They were convicted for the kidnapping, torture, rape and murder of five women. And even today, they are still in jail, with one sentenced to life imprisonment and the other still in death row, as of 2008. These are pretty despicable people, if we go by moral standards. But somehow, otakus get all the hate for things that the are not even doing. Most otakus and weeaboos are nice, even if they are quite weird and annoying at times. In fact, they are quite worthy of praise for standing up for what they like.
Let’s face it. People are not hostile to otaku because they are addicted to anime or manga. They are bullied, taunted and ignored because they are different, as with almost any other case of extreme bullying. People judge others because of what they do and their interests. People hate those who do not follow the social norm. They hate people who prefer 2D over 3D. they think they’re creepy and crazy. The same goes for fans of other kinds of fiction, like American comic books. Extreme fans are often cast away by society. WHY!? Really, I just want someone to give me a straight, reasonable answer. Here in the Philippines, we don’t really hold anything against people who do what they like, as long as it’s not bad. As one saying goes: “Kanya-kanya tayo ng trip. Walang basagan, pre.” (“We all have our obsessions. To each his own, buddy.”). Why can’t people just do this?
As real life references, I have quite a few friends who are really addicted to Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail. I also have friends who like the less mainstream stuff. But what they have in common is that they are all good people. Some of them are lolicons, some of them like the cute 2D girls and guys, some are certified fujoshi, some like yuri like me, and some of them just like anime in general, all besides my friends who don’t even touch anime. They can be weird at times (like me), but they are pretty much like any other person, hyping up the things that he/she likes, be it anime, Justin Bieber or Twilight.
I wont stand by the “haters gonna hate” reasoning. It’s stupid, in my opinion. It goes below any rational thinking. I feel that it’s a sign of giving up on searching for understanding, and I hate that. No offense to the other people.
Now, dear Reader, now that you’ve gone through this article, what do you think about otaku now? If you have anything to say, anything at all, be it insults directed at me or comments about otaku, feel free to leave comments. I won’t censor anything; save for ad hominem arguments directed at Valence, Anima, Carillus or other users. I will try with everything I have to convince people to have respect for every human being. I once acted like a hater and spouted useless insults towards extreme anime fans, but I take all of those back. Call me a hypocrite, but I just want people to not go through the same mistakes as I did back then.