This post is a lot more on the personal side than I’m normally comfortable with on Otaku Lounge, and usually there’d also be the customary question to the readers at the end. However, having being inspired for the first time to write directly about this topic, I thought I’d forgo the question this time and instead invite people to make a post of their own on what blogging, or more specifically blogging about anime, means to them.
Like no doubt thousands of other anime fans, I’ve loved the medium since I was a kid watching dubbed episodes of Sailor Moon on TV before school. Of course, back I had no idea what anime was, much less that I myself was watching it. I was instinctively attracted to shows like Pokemon, Cardcaptors, and Samurai Pizza Cats and could see that they were all similar in some way, but was unable to really place how until some years later, with the shocking discovery of things like cable TV, internet that didn’t stop working whenever someone picked up the phone, and the exact same cartoons only with (gasp!) Japanese character names. My world had suddenly become much, much larger.
For some time after that, I was content to fangirl alone. Sure, every now and again I’d hear someone mention some anime title at school in passing, and my normally shy self would dive headfirst into a follow-up conversation. Problem was, it would quickly become obvious that most people just didn’t care about the subject anywhere near as much as I did, and my general enthusiasm no doubt scared those same people away just as quickly. Not that this particularly bothered me – as long as I could simply watch anime then I was happy, and talking to other people about it was fun but ultimately not all that high up on my to-do list.
And then came university, which grouped me with a bunch of geeks.
I don’t mean to imply that everyone there was an anime geek – far from it. In fact, I had never even regarded myself as a geek as such before that, mostly because I didn’t really have anything or anyone to compare the degree of my interest against; as far as anime went, my internet habits had been limited to watching poor-quality episode streams and crappy music videos, so I hadn’t had any kind of direct contact to speak of with other fans. But unlike at high school, I felt that everyone who attended university genuinely wanted to be there, and to make the most of their experiences – in part by wearing their passions on their sleeves. It was suddenly not only acceptable but even expected that you were going to be geeky about something, be it anime or ultimate frisbee. It was, in effect, my first time looking outwards and not just inwards, and my first time feeling truly at home.
I didn’t really miss academia by the time I finished up, seven years down the track. What I did miss was that specific sense of belonging, even if I hadn’t quite recognised it as such while I’d been there. And anime, which had steadily become more and more a part of my life, was forced to take a back seat for a while as I, along with many of my friends, were faced with more immediate concerns like attempting to get an honest-to-god full-time job, whether or not to move overseas, and how best to pay off what felt like an obscenely large student loan.
By the time the dust had settled and I had become accustomed to my new life, I found myself once again wanting to establish some sense of community for myself. I was perfectly content with my social life outside of the internet, but it wasn’t the same as having somewhere I could talk candidly about my interests without having to justify them first – and after a long period of being able to be totally open and even having lengthy discussions about them, going back to only passively watching anime no longer seemed enough. I felt the need to somehow express myself again, and more importantly, to be part of a collective – however loosely defined (or dysfunctional).
The rather intimidating concept of writing for a public audience took some getting used to and plenty of trial and error – I had never previously been acquainted with WordPress, or attempted to craft articles designed to appeal to anyone other than myself or some kind of academic board. I guess I must have done something right along the way though, because here I am almost two years later, still blogging about anime and with a few hundred people subscribed to my blog. I don’t fool myself into thinking for a second that even half of that number read everything I post, and certainly nowhere near that many people comment with any regularity, but I feel like I’ve more or less achieved what I initially set out to do and continue to aim towards still – namely, to be an active part of something larger than myself.
Blogging is about a lot of things for me, some more important than others: a steady give and take of ideas and opinions; sharing my own thoughts with a bunch of people who for some reason actually seem to care about what I might have to say; the personal satisfaction I get out of writing in general. But most of all, blogging, and blogging on anime in particular, is about gaining a certain kind of unquestioning acceptance, and about having a tangible engagement with a community that shares similar passions.
Blogging is a means of belonging.