Hello, world! I really debated writing this article because for the longest time I tried to hide my Otaku personality from friends and family. Reason for that is because, like most otakus or anime fans there is a bit of a stigma/stereotype: that people who watch anime are freaks, weirdos, shut-ins, etc who stay in their rooms all day, eating junk food and don't have a social life at all.
Listen to me very closely: THAT ISN'T THE CASE FOR EVERY OTAKUS!! STOP PUTTING ALL OF US IN THAT SAME CATEGORY!.
This is why so many of us have to hide our love of the anime because people have so many negative feelings about it that makes us feel ashamed.
It wasn't until late high school and early college three years ago that I stop caring about other people's opinion of me and their judgment on what I like. Anime makes me so happy and has even saved my life a few times. Being an Otaku is a part of who I am and I don't want to feel like a freak for loving it. So now at 20 years old, I happily embrace who I am and ready to share my love of anime. Maybe writing this article will help other fellow anime fans/ otakus will feel more comfortable and proud of being fans of anime.
The first anime I ever watched was Pokémon when I was seven. I was in love with it! Ash was my favorite character and Pikachu was the cutest Pokémon in the world. I wanted to go on a Pokémon journey and be a trainer so badly when I was younger. To this day, I still know the Pokémon theme song (The original!) by heart and I have almost every Pokémon game for the Nintendo Ds.
I looked up to Ash so much because he never gave up. I wanted to grow up and go for my dreams no matter how big they were just because an anime character made me feel this way. He was my role model growing, that may sound weird, but watching Ash on his journey made me feel that I could do anything as long as I believed and worked hard. Even when Ash didn't win every battle or every league, he didn't give up. I decided I wasn't going to either, thanks to Ash Ketchum, my childhood hero.
When I started middle school, I didn't watch that much anime only because my parents thought that some of them were a bit too graphic so Pokémon was the main one I watched until I got into high school. However, when I turn eleven, I learn about an anime called Sailor Moon and that was my everything. I love everything about Sailor Moon! My favorite character of all time is Usagi! She is my spirit animal because we are so alike. Like her, I was a huge crybaby growing up. I was horrible academically (mostly C's in middle school and that didn't really get better in high school). I was and still am a very clumsy, ditzy person and addicted to sweets.
I can remember spending hours watching episodes of Sailor Moon instead of doing my homework.
This was probably the first sign that I was showing my inner Otaku but I didn't notice it at the time. I was pretty good at balancing watching anime and doing schoolwork enough to pass everything in middle school. It wasn't until I got into high school, that things changed.
At thirteen, I was completely into anime. I spent most of the summer before high school watching anime. I wouldn't call myself an Otaku just yet, but I was a really big anime fan. I started to get Sailor moon shirts and tees, even wearing them in public.
Then I enter high school, everything went to hell so fast. I was horribly bullied in my freshman year, one of the reasons was because of my love of anime. People called me a freak, a weirdo, etc. The name calling, verbal and mental abuse was awful. My whole freshman year I had no friends and spent almost every day crying. I lost who I was and felt ashamed of loving anime. So I gave it up. I didn't watch it anymore or show that I loved it. The thing that made me so happy as a child, I now wanted nothing to do with it.
It destroyed my self-esteem to the point that I was depressed all the time, I hated myself and who I was as a person. That whole year was so hard because I felt so alone that I didn't belong anywhere. No one knew that I was going through this as I keep it a secret, even from my mom and dad. The bullying and the loneliness were just getting to me, and I was at my breaking point.
Then one day, while on my computer I was stumped across an anime called "Naruto". I was alone and no one could make fun of me at home so I thought I would watch one more anime for old times sake. The main character Naruto Uzumaki was shunned because he had a demon inside him, but he didn't let that keep him down. He was so determined to be a ninja and to be Hokage (this means he wanted to be the leader or head of the village).
I swear I never cried so much for an anime because I could relate to Naruto so much. He had literally a demon in him and was shunned by the entire village!! No one would come near him and to make matters worse he was an orphan! No parents. No friends. No support system just himself. Yet he still continues to live life. He didn't care what people thought about him or that people hated him. He was so determined to prove everyone wrong and to be the best him he could be.
There is this one quote from Naruto that I remember and I have it on my wall in my bedroom:
This quote is very close to my heart because it speaks the truth and it made me believe in myself. Watching Naruto really change my life. It brought me out of my depression and gave me a fire to keep living. If Naruto could keep fighting, then why can't I? I shouldn't let people's words make me feel worthless. Life is full of pain and I shouldn't have let that consume me or make me be ashamed of the things I love. This anime show is more than just a show, I inspire me to never give up, to keep fighting and keep my head up. I am here for a reason and I will never give up, not ever again! I was inspired to get stronger and its thanks to Naruto that I have that fire and fighting spirit!
After my freshman year, I was diagnosed with Major depression disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I transfer schools and was pretty much starting over again. Thanks to Naruto and family support, I started to work on myself and getting stronger.
My sophomore and junior year of high school, I was still watching anime but I did it in secret after everything I went through my freshman year, I wasn't going to let anyone know I was into anime. The girls at my school weren't into anime, they were into the "normal" things teenager girls were into like boys, makeup, shopping, and etc. So I felt even more self-conscious about my love for anime not only because I was a teenager but also because I was a girl as well. It was always categorized as a boy thing, only boys watch anime. So I didn't make many friends during those years because I was shy but also I felt like no one would accept my love of anime. I think I only had really had five friends at that time but I never told them I was into anime.
On the outside, I was the shy, meek girl in class but then when I got home, I went into complete anime mode. Where I could watch anime freely. During this time my list of anime grew more as I continue to watch Naruto but also: Inuyasha, Dragon Ball Z, One piece, Clannad, Clannad After Story, and more.
As soon as got home, I would go watch an episode or three of anime. It would make my day every day! Watching anime gave so much confidence while in high school, and made me feel like I could do anything. I started to become more social in school by doing theater which never in a million years I would do but I felt inspired to be on stage after watching Uta prince same. I loved theater so much, it really got me out of my shell.
It wasn't until the junior year that I started to show my anime self in front of other people. There was an anime club at my high school and I decided I should take my first big step in showing people my true self. Anime club was the best! It was so nice to be around people who loved anime just as much as I did! It was a huge relief that I didn't have to pretend or hide. It was the best feeling ever! I open myself up to these people about my love of anime and it felt really good to not feel like an outcast.
By my senior year of high school, I have completely embraced being an otaku. I had anime all over my notebooks for school, I made friends with people who fully accepted me being an otaku and were even fellow otakus as well. When I went out with friends or out in public, I had clothes on about anime. I started collecting anime plushies, keychains, backpacks, and etc.
Finally, here I am, a 20 year old in college. I fully accept and embrace me being an otaku. I don't hide it at all, I show it off for the world to see. I go to classes with anime backpacks, I wear anime clothes, my entire room is covered with anime posters, I have anime plushies and keychains, my notebooks have designs of anime, and I have never been happier! I can't believe back in high school I was willing to give all this up.
I watch anime almost every day, and I read way too much manga. I even have shelves dedicated to mangas. I have so many songs and playlists of just anime openings and endings. I may not know Japanese or what they are saying but they make me feel so empowered and uplifted when I have had a bad day or stressed out about classes. I have to join anime clubs and become friends with many fellow otakus but I also have friends who don't like anime. I don't hide being an otaku from them but they don't really understand why I love it so much they just see it as silly cartoons. That is fine, we all have our preference and things we love. As long as they don't judge or disrespect what I like then there is no issue.
Yes, there are times especially now that I am in my 20's people see me and judge me. Saying "I need to grow up" or "that there is something wrong with me". I don't care what the haters think because anime makes me so happy! I'm not giving that up just because it is weird or childish, which it is not by the way. I learn way more from anime characters than anywhere else even school. We all have a way of dealing with the stress and issues in life: some people drink, some party. I watch anime.
It helps so much with my depression and my anxiety because the characters are so relatable and are able to deal with their problems, it inspires me to deal with mine too. It has inspired me so much that I am learning Japanese mainly so I don't have to read the subtitles all the time when watching anime but the other reason is so I can go to my dream place which is Japan! An otaku's heaven!
Sometimes I do worry about being an otaku and how that will work with dating but I try to stay positive. Who knows the person I marry maybe be an otaku too but if he is not then he is just going to have to get used to it.
I don't think I will ever stop being an otaku ever. It is such a big part of my life, it is apart of who I am and nothing will ever change that. I will forever be the otaku who gets excited about a new anime and emotional when it ends or favorite character dies. Who will spend tons of money on anime merchandise and be inspired by anime characters. I will watch anime till the day I die and hopefully fulfill my dream of going to Japan. My kids will probably grow up watching anime.
So to end this article, I just want to say: If you are an anime fan or an otaku just like me, don't be ashamed be proud of it because we are such an awesome community!
I AM FEMALE
I AM AN ADULT
I AM A COLLEGE STUDENT
I AM AN OTAKU
I LOVE ANIME
AND I AM PROUD!!!!!