Anime, Japan, and the Japanese Language
During my second year of university I got to know some people on my course (in fact became really good friends with them). I went over to one of their rooms (in halls) one day one of them mentioned something called "anime" (pronounced an-ni-may). I'd never heard this word before, so I asked. They said that no one could be told exactly what anime is, because western preconceptions get in the way - but that it was a form of animation specifically from Japan. After a short discussion I categorised it is "uninteresting" - but considered perhaps trying it in an attempt to find more common interests between me and them.
They dragged me along to the meetings of Reading University Anime Society (RAS). On a monday the society shows 7 episodes from different series - each series is usually continued the next monday. I sat un amused towards the back of the room - almost embarrassed to be there.
What was I watching this childish rubbish for? I did not particularly enjoy it but had to admit the animation was certainly better than the western cartoons from my youth.
About a week later they suggested I go along to RAS on a Wednesday where a "really superb anime film" was being shown called "Whisper of the Heart" by a very well know Studio called "Ghibli". I went with a negative attitude expecting a crappy romance film (aka "chick flick"). It was, and I still was not particularly drawn by anime.
Skip forward 6 months - and I was at a Lan party. It was getting late one night and the broadband net connection went down. What to do? Well someone suggested we watched some anime. I objected, but was overruled by others there. The guy who had made the suggestion had lots of series on his PC and said that people could copy them - to which I bawked: who would want to copy crappy anime? He put on an episode of "The Slayers".
For the first time in a *very* long time I found myself laughing at something in a film/cartoon. After a few episodes we all switched to Excel Saga, again I was cracking up with laughter. After my protestations I got the usually friendly ribbing when I reached over to my PC to start copying his anime collection.
Since that time I have attended the anime society almost religiously. I have expanded my collection (although I really need to buy more anime, but it is so hideously expensive in the UK). As my interest in Anime grew so did my interest in Japan, and the Japanese way of life. I find it most intriguing because it is just so different to western life.
About midway through my last year of university I started teaching myself Japanese, however once I started full time employment I started to have difficulty finding the time to continue this - however I still retain a large interest in the language and culture.