Photo From: 5 Centimeters per second.
It was the 1980’s, a time of great change in music, movies, and media. You see, up to that point, this small art style coming out of Japan was starting to make headway with western audiences. An older generation appreciating the art from the 50’s and 60’s huddled together at small expos and cons to collect as much of this foreign delicacy as they could. What they didn’t know is that a few short years this would all change, and change quickly.
The first change came fast, a new popular show called Sailor moon came out with a roar, bringing young girls flocking for more from animators across the sea. It was such a hit that the transition period between the old and the new felt more like a crash than a movement. Gradually as the 90’s pressed on Americans were introduced to a variety of styles, artists, genres, and stories never seen on home TVs. These pieces of Anime as is was called presented new ideas and spun the idea of exactly what show could be like. Shows that weren’t afraid to tell a story where the hero dies at the end, where the send-off is bittersweet, and you’re forced to think about yourself and the world around you a little bit differently. Masters of their craft illuminate the halls of an art form that continues to shift and changes with each passing year. New stories are being told, new artforms being discovered, and new people finding this glorious cacophony of beautiful minutes shared across millions around the world.
Why am I telling you all this?
I discovered Anime a little over 12 years ago. One night, sitting quietly in a room watching a marathon of a show I have never seen before got me hooked. A show about a soul reaper and a boy with the power to see the dead. It was easy enough to pick up, even read, and that’s saying something from a boy who never read. It consumed me and held me it’s magical embrace, so when the opportunity arose I went to my first convention and I hadn’t looked back since. It has a staple of my early July, more regular than my schooling and in some way connects me to the craft I grew to love.
This year demarks my tenth year of going to Anime Expo, and something is different this time. Year after year, as I’ve gotten older a little less comes with me each time enter those grand halls.
Sometimes it’s friends, I’ve seen my fair share move forward and on from the con.
Sometimes it shows, I’ll feel a little more out of touch with what people are excited about.
Recently it’s been the focus, what everyone seems to want and buy there doesn’t interest me as much anymore. It could be from the familiarity from many years attending but it all feels repetitive, distant.
It’s a combination of all these things that makes going back a little bit harder each year. This by no means is it a bad convention. It’s a great convention, with some growing pains but people still get excited about all the new and wonderful things they are experiencing. It’s just me, I’m changing, and my relationship to the fandom is different now. Like an old man coming back to a schoolyard years after he graduated, it’s more reminiscent of times past than times present. Things have changed, people have changed, places have changed as they should. It has to adapt to the people it’s still serving, long after we make use of it. But is it my time to graduate, to move forward onto something new? It’s this conflict that weighs heavy in my heart. When I leave, it may not be forever, but if I ever return it will be different, for different reasons and a different me.
This fight with my personal obsolescence hits me because this con is part of me, my childhood and adolescence. Giving it up means part of me has changed, that young kid inside though always with me is pushing me forward beyond him. He’s telling me to let go and find my next adventure. Let go and choose a new path beyond, whatever it may be. Live life with these memories as wings on my back, not as a tether around my neck.
It’s hard to give up and put away these things. Truthfully, I will always read manga, and watch anime as its part of who I am now. But I have to pursue my next adventure.
Thank you Anime Expo, for all that you are. You helped introduce me to the heroes who showed me how to give it all I got, no matter the odds.