Tofu's Journey Into The AniBlogSphere
Inspired by Star’s post ‘The Aniblogger’ by StarChiavelli, I’ve decided to start a project concerning about our own individual journeys – discovering the very thing that has brought us together: anime, manga and everything in between. If there’s anyone who’ve written something similar, please let me know because as of my own knowledge, I haven’t come across anyone who’ve implemented such a personal idea. I know that this is all briefly mentioned in all of our about pages about how we got in and etc, but I wanted to start such a project where we can truly express our story in-depth. Everyone has a tale to tell no matter how ordinary you are. Hell, I’m as ordinary as they come but I share this with you today – my story; my life and how through the discovery of the aniblogsphere has changed who I used to be into someone I know acknowledged as ‘myself’.
The Start Of My Journey
Ever since I was small, I’d turn on the television to watch whatever new episodes Cheese TV had of Pokemon, Digimon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh, Crash Gears, Beyblade, Duel Masters, Card Captor or Sailor Moon. Like other children at my age, we indulged ourselves into the cartoon world until the program was canceled. I was bawling my eyes out so much that what I loved watching was taken away from me. Luckily the new program that took over continued airing shows like Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon. I enjoyed a somewhat enjoyable childhood during my primary school years playing Yu-Gi-Oh, Beyblades, Crash Gears, Pokemon or whatever the new trend was. There were fights, there were arguments, but after the transition from primary school into secondary school (the schooling years before you go into University), my life changed dramatically.
All those childish dreams and joyful times were brushed aside like they never existed. Before I knew it, I substituted creative writing for essays and tv for textbooks. I had lost what I loved most without batting an eyelid about it. Growing up always following what my parents wished, I unknowingly allowed others to shape myself and in turn, shape my persona into a common folk. Looking back at it now, I despised being the sheep I was during my first 2-3 years of secondary school though during those 3 years, I was brainwashed into thinking it was just a normality of life everyone goes through. Although I found entertainment from watching shows like Simpsons, Power Rangers and - embarrassingly enough – playing with toys alongside my two little brothers. For a short moment in my life I had forgotten about Japanese Animation. My memory of this event is way too blurry to interpret but I know it happened because during that time, I had feelings of being artificial, like I was no longer a person but that all soon changed. Through stumbling across a site named ZOMG Anime (which has unfortunately closed down), I rediscovered all the shows I once loved dearly as a kid. I practically considered it a haven as it brought back those memories of joyful times; allowing me to see what I had become through parental expectations and society conformity. ZOMG Anime was the start of my escapism.
Experiencing shows I’ve never even heard of from their Top 100 list, I scanned through the list countless times to see what shows ranked high above the rest and their vote count. In turn, I was able to indulge into shows like Clannad, Toradora, Code Geass, Naruto, Bleach and many others. I was astonished about the world beyond mainstream anime and loved everything I experienced – whether they were bad, good, funny, sad – each series had a story to tell, a moral to to interpret, a life lesson to be learned. In due time, I discovered K-On. The funny thing about my discovery of K-On is that in my earlier stages of hunting for new anime, I had actually stumbled across K-On in the pass but brushed it off after reading the synopsis. I soon came back to it and said “Oh what the hell, might as well give it a try” and so I did. I’m sure the most of you know that I’m a huge K-On/Mio Akiyama/Hikasa Yoko fan in the present time so you can definitely imagine how I had felt while watching it. Although I was sad to see it end, K-On became the catalyst to my discovery of the aniblogsphere and in turn, the discovery of my true self.
Discovering The Aniblogsphere
It all started from wanting to download K-On albums after I cried like a bitch during the ending. I accidentally stumbled across Metanorn, found out that the link wasn’t working properly and consulted Kyokai through mail. I remember reading up on Metanorn‘s rules and one of them had a negative relation to the inquiry of music. So what did I do? I asked anyways. If Kyo had chosen to ignore the mail or sent me a negative reply like “didn’t you read the rules about music? Don’t ask this again” I would’ve walked away from Metanorn. If I had done that, I wouldn’t be here writing to you guys because Metanorn was my first steps into the aniblogsphere. In reality, Kyo had kindly enough to have replied to me and fixed the link. I was quite touched by her generosity to fix a link for one person that only just discovered Metanorn so I decided to surf around the site. I believe that this was during the time, Kyokai had announced her first gen writers (Flags, Hato, Overcooled, Hoshi and Ryuuko) so I indulged in different reviews, lurking around and using Metanorn’s awesome seasonal chart as a gateway to new anime.
Believe it or not, I didn’t know there was such a thing as seasonal anime because all I’ve been watching were completed series. Everyone on that site wrote with profession because half of the time, I didn’t understand what they were talking about. Voice actors? Studios? Producers? What the hell were they? I just watched anime because I enjoyed it, yet I still found myself loving this writer-reader relationship I always see in the comments section. I felt that I also wanted to voice my own ideals on anime and join the lovely and kind community I had admired. Sooner or later, I indulged everyday in Metanorn discussions, anime episodes and the like. What my friends considered as a simple format of reviews that consisted of writers and readers, I considered it to be a community that shared my passion in anime and accepted me for who I really was. Through the ups and downs I’ve experienced from my initial discovery of the aniblogsphere in 2009 to 2011, I had realized that anime was more than just a hobby. It’s become a part of what defines me today and shaped me into a person I can proudly call ‘me’.
How The Aniblogsphere changed my life
From a life filled with parental expectations, school and conformity to society, anime can be considered my form of escapism (and maybe even your own) although I no longer define it as such today. Along with the discovery of Metanorn and various other anime blog sites (and countless more through the Aniblog Tournament) I’ve indulged into the vast world of Japanese animation, visual novels, light novels, manga and much more. Each of these experiences – whether they be bad or good – has fueled me with passion and admiration. I admire the characters struggles through whatever it may be and also admire the work and effort put into creating said anime, manga, visual novels and etc.
Although throughout my path of change, the most influential series I’ve seen is K-On. It had became my inspiration to play the bass guitar and in turn, allowed me to fall in love with music more than I had ever thought I would. Yeah it might be quite impossible to hear but only a little while back, I wasn’t much of a music person. What I mean is that I hardly listened to music and didn’t have much interest in music but putting that aside, I fell in love with their lifestyle. Things I’ve never done that I wish to do continued to pile higher and higher on my bucket list. Although what I saw isn’t the real world, it still told me one important thing – treasure every minute, every second and have as much fun as you can being who you want to be and striving to do the things you love. Although I know K-On is hated amongst many, it sits in a very special place in my heart as it has helped change my life for the better.
In a way I wanted to emphasize the fact that those various lessons we learn from whatever the fandom piques our interests with shapes us one way or another; whether that be the things we do, the friends we make, the changes in our personality or even the things we love that we would never have imagined liking at all in the past. The Aniblogsphere with its countless amounts of people who share the same passion about anime, manga and everything in between is a community I feel accepted in and in turn has given me the strength to voice my own ideals and views on what I love. Just being able to interact with the readers and fellow bloggers alike has given me so much happiness and joy that I really do consider everyone a dear friend of mine (I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true) so I want to say thank you to you guys! Without you all, I wouldn’t be here… without you all… I wouldn’t know what I’d have done with my life so please accept my thanks. You guys really do mean a lot to me. ^^
So I got a bit carried away babbling about my life (again). It turned out to be much more personal than I thought it would be but I’m definitely not shying away. On the contrary, it’d be awesome to hear all of your own stories about how you stumbled across the fandom and the aniblogsphere and how that had influenced your life in whatever way it did (doesn’t always have to be something major like mine). Like I mentioned, I want to make this a project so for those who are interested to take a jab at writing up their own journey’s, link it back to my post here and I’ll edit this post to include a list of participants down below. Of course, for those who don’t have anywhere to post it, why not comment? I’d love to hear what you readers have to say!