At times I wonder why I do the things I do. I look around at my apartment, and I have festooned it with anime posters, wall scrolls, and figures. I purchased additional shelving to hold the anime DVD and Blu-Ray discs I have purchased. I bought display cases for the figures. Why?
The flippant answers come readily. “Why not?” “It occupies the time between now and when I die.” “They won’t let me mount the severed heads of mine enemies upon the wall.” Real answers come harder. Like: “because I need to be reminded that humanity can create beauty as well as hellish muck.”
Also because anime characters are the closest I get to caring about anything.
Now let me get one thing out of the way: yes, I care about my immediate family members. But other than that… hell, define “caring”. My closest friend died last year, and it’s scary to me how quickly I just… kept going. I could regale you with the explanations from my childhood about precisely why I don’t get too terribly attached to people, but that would be even more boring than this is, so just accept it as fact and we’ll continue.
So, did I not care about my friend? Well, yes. Of course I did. I’m sorry he’s gone.
But I care about anime characters too.
Please remember, ye Mythical Readers: I told you I was mad.
There are different kinds and degrees of caring. For instance: I own the DVDs for Firefly, the one-season science fiction show. I watched it, and enjoyed it. I got the movie sequel, Serenity, and watched that. Enjoyed it. And I expect that in a few years, I’ll pull them out and watch them again.
Do I care about Firefly? Well, yes, I did spend money to acquire it. So there’s a certain base level of ‘caring’ in there somewhere, I suppose. But, I don’t have posters of the Firefly characters on the walls of my abode. I own not a single prop from the show. I own no brown coats. So, I’m not a “fan”, I guess.
I am an anime fan. I express that via purchase not only of the discs the shows themselves are on, but the associated posters, scrolls, figures, and miscellaneous merchandise. You know, the usual ways a fan is a fan. I’m not unusual. In that particular regard, at least.
But… why? Why do I acquire these things? It doesn’t make any objective sense; my K-On Musical Box limited edition release poster is not going to enhance either my survival or my reproductive success (indeed, it seems far more likely to reduce the odds of both). But I sure am glad I have it. Why?
Well, part of it is that seeing the merch around my home reminds me of the show, and the characters in the show, and the ones I like and the feelings that watching it produced within me, so it’s like a dose of feeling when I see them, I guess.
But I have a few anime-style posters up, that were simply created as illustrations, not as shows with that character in them. So it can’t all be just feeling-recollection. I also, apparently, enjoy that style of art. Which is true.
Now part of the acquisition urge is simply the urge to acquire, period. I have been raised in a very materialistic culture, and I sure didn’t escape the effects of that. Insomnia, a credit card, and an internet connection are a financially terrible combination. Also, I recall that as a child I loved to get mail that was addressed to me. It’s like being sent mail or packages proves that I actually do exist.
But there are other thing I could acquire. I have stopped collecting stamps, which I used to do. I could take that up again. I won’t, though. Those don’t interest me anymore.
So why anime…. well, what is anime, to me?
It’s a story, yes. But it’s a story in a different way than a totally textual book is. In an anime, I can see the characters. I don’t have to just use my imagination.
This might be more of an important point than I have realized at first. Do you, oh Mythical Reader, “see” the characters in a book that you’re reading, in your mind? I don’t. No, really, I don’t. I can read the description of a character, but I don’t create a mental image of the character’s face, their stance, or other characteristics. I’m not that visually oriented. Hence, when I read the Hobbit, for example, I didn’t have much of an idea what Bilbo looked like (except from the cover, perhaps; I forget what edition I read when I was young). I read the book before seeing any movies made from the book, so while reading the book, I did not create a visual reference in my head.
With Harry Potter books (yes, I read them), I saw the first movie before I began to read the books. So visual references had been stuck in my wee little mind beforehand. So when reading, I “saw” Harry as Daniel Radcliffe, Hermione as Emma Watson, etc. Not that it seemed to matter much.
But with anime, there are visual references, because the story IS visual. Anime has a visual style, an esthetic, if you want to get all artsy-fartsy about it. And that is indeed one of the reasons that I have anime figures and posters and scrolls on my walls.
Because all those figures and posters and scrolls are of anime girls and women. All of them. Oh, there’s a couple of them with male characters in there as well, but I assure you, the females are the focus. For me.
So I’m just a perv, right? Well maybe. Depends on what you define as a perv. And I am mad, so my power of self-reflection can only go so far. We do not see ourselves as others see us.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that others see us more clearly than we see ourselves. They have their own stained glasses that they peer almost blindly through.
But back to the main trail of thought (if this stream of consciousness pile of effusion can be called ‘thought’) — all of the anime stuff I have on my walls is of anime females.
But — and here I know I am straining even a Mythical Reader’s willingness to believe in what I say — I don’t think of them in a sexual way.
I mean, half of them are little girls (or vampires or long-lived angels or ghosts or something that at least looks like little girls). Are there pervs in anime fandom who are there for the depictions of little girls? Well, I can’t say there isn’t. I just know I’m not one of them.
I just think they’re beautiful.
Not cute, although some are that as well. But all, all, are beautiful. To me anyway.
Now, part of that is just the fact that I am a human male, and human males (well, the straight ones anyway) are hardwired to be attracted to human females. So yes, there is going to be parts of my wee little brain that at minimum notice the human female form.
But… I don’t like actual humans all that much. Even the females. Ok, especially the females.
I don’t want to be around them. I did when I was young, of course, and hadn’t yet had it made perfectly clear to me that the human race in general, but the female half in particular, had little to no use for me, and would be just as happy if I had never been. Now, though, I really don’t like being around people at all. Particularly not around children, who annoy the hell out of me.
So why do I have anime females on my walls? Maybe because anime females don’t hate my guts. Like real females do. Like the actresses in Firefly, or in TV shows; sure they are portraying fictional characters, but the humans themselves, unlike anime characters, are real.
But then that makes me wonder… what is ‘real’, anyway?
I’ll save that for a future boring entry that no one will ever read.