The summer semester's nearly over. I have only a week and a half of class, and despite it being two months later, it finally happened; My Japanese class mentioned anime. And boy, is it amusing to talk to these people about it. Or not.
I took the class for a few simple reasons. I haven't actively or formally studied the language in what seems like three or four years now, and it's the only Japanese class available in the summer. "Why not?", right? Yea, why not? I'm not the only unique snowflake with that situation going on, since there's quite a few other students that have gone through one year or so of the class, and can perform at a similar level. They get Ii-adjective conjugations and Na-adjectives, Te-form, Tai-form, root-forms, and even know some Kanji. It's always nice to work with these people, simply because the shit gets done, and there's no questions asked. We talk about the language, the courses that are available, future plans, life stuff, job stuff, family stuff, car stuff, music stuff, everything really. But, not anime. Amusingly enough, it's always the novice students who bring it up, and I don't necessarily blame them, either.
Growing up, Japan seemed so cool. It was the place where a lot of the shit I liked came from. Swords, samurai, airsoft guns, Miyazaki films, games, and so on. What's not to like about the place, right? They have panty-selling vending machines, dude. Why, it's so simple to jump in and try and learn the language, right!? HELL, I MAY AS WELL JUST PICK UP AND MOVE THERE, BECAUSE IT'S SO AMAZING AND GLORIOUS, AND GODDAMN DO I LOVE MY ANIME AND MANGA.
I think a few of us can relate- to some extent -to these sentiments. I'd say it's the top #1 reason as to why people ever bother to check out how the language works. I mean, sure, there's business reasons, cultural reasons, and just downright own personal reasons. Languages are cool. I wanna learn me some Russian eventually, 'cause it's so cool and странный-looking. But Japanese has that extra pull factor, with all its pop-cultural hypeness. And while that's OK, and all . . . It's always weird when it's brought up in the classroom.
I dunno. Maybe it's because sometimes, anime has this notoriety for being what it is. Maybe it's because the students who are the most "otaku" or whatever of the bunch are the first to drop out (Least that's what I've noticed in classes. There's a girl who showed up to class with a Naruto headband on, and then for a "show and tell" presentation, she brought in a clay portrait of Naruto . . . She hasn't shown up in the past three days. And that also happened a lot in my high school classes, too). Maybe it's even because my first Japanese teacher was a bit of a dick. But like . . . There will be a time when a Japanese class discusses anime, and that time- From what I've experienced -will ALWAYS be awkward.
"Yea, man. I've heard Japanese is hard"
"Yea, that's what everyone says."
"Mhmm . ."
"So . . . ever taken the class before?"
*Class continues like this for a while"
*Someone mentions Attack On Titan*
"Awh man, I love that show!"
"Watched the whole thing!"
"Awesome! So, what'd you guys think of the new SAO? Or how 'bout last season's stuff?"
". . ."
"Well . . . It's this show about blah blah blah blah, and you should watch it"
"Hmm . . OK"
So, thus, I have concluded that anime is the birds and the bees of Japanese class. It's that ONE thing that EVERYBODY knows, but nobody wants to be the first to start~ For better, or worse. And it's certainly amusing when someone brings it up. Those quotes up there? Yea, stuff like that happens all the time. In this case, a girl I know confessed to liking AoT and having watched a little SAO, and was trying to get her seemingly-uninterested-but-entertaining-her-because-it's-polite neighbor into watching it. I . . . wasn't sure whether to butt in or not, at that point, really. I mean, I have a Crunchyroll subscription, right? I'd offer a more productive conversational potential, right? I mean, it's not like I don't get weird looks already. I wear bandshirts to class all the time, and headbang in public while quietly growling lyrics, after all. But, like . . the classroom is a whole different environment than a convention. To fanboy, or not to fanboy, right?
It's endearing how the more casual viewers perceive things, I guess. I mean, I'm not the most grizzled anime veteran by no means, like, at all. But . . . Explaining what an OVA is, and getting the person to understand, and then further expose them to the mechanics and customs and values of the anime community shouldn't be complicated, embarrassing to some extent, and just downright cringeworthy, you know? Yes, there's weird shit out there. Yes, the title image does a decent job of portraying what it feels like to be seen as an "otaku" (Why are we using that term, again?) Yes, people misunderstand it more often than not. And yes, all those images that pop up on simple searches relating to anime don't really help our case, as viewers and supporters trying to defend and justify our medium, I guess. But like, geez . . .