The Prodigal Otaku
Hello, my name is Claire and I used to be an otaku.
I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it, being the currently successful, functioning member of society that I am. Goodness knows how I managed to complete a degree and then find myself working in an outlet for a chain of high street video rental stores with such a deep dark secret weighing on my mind, how I became the roaring success story that I am. Sometimes in the night it gives me shivers just remembering – is it horror? Is it withdrawal? I don’t like to think about it.
The story of my addiction is one that I have rarely told, but today I share it with you in the hopes that you will not suffer the same fate I did, and perhaps to find some peace of my own in this harsh world. Staying on the wagon hasn’t been easy, oh no. But I’ve stayed strong, so far.
I started with the easy stuff, nothing hardcore. You know, your Pokemon, Digimon that sort of thing. I dabbled a bit in Monster Rancher but nothing really came of it. I stayed happy with that for a while, although the subculture that came with it slowly started to pressurise me towards the harder stuff. It wasn’t long before I was on Cardcaptors – all dubs of course, I was young and foolish, what did I know? – and from there I was using Sailor Moon to prove I was cool, that I knew what I was talking about, to prove how hard I was to the ‘in crowd’. Then it was just one magical girl anime after the other – Oh! My Goddess, Rayearth, Pretear, I couldn’t stop. At one point I was even watching Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z dubbed in Portuguese because I couldn’t get anything else. Until someone threw me a lifeline in the form of Gundam Wing.
A lifeline, you say. Surely Gundam Wing is just a road into an even seedier part of this animated underworld? Friends, it wasn’t. Gundam Wing gave me all that I needed and more. It was hard to get hold of, so I never had too much, the fandom didn’t tend towards crossovers so I was never pushed towards anything harder, and at the same time I got to know Outlaw Star. Between them, I began to ease off of the other stuff, I began to get clean. Evangelion didn’t do it for me, or Patlabor. I was safe, for a while, with just the occasional relapse. Tenchi Muyo nearly brought the whole thing tumbling down until I discovered it was a fluke, and that I really didn’t like Harem anime all that much. I will admit to crumbling and directing myself towards Fruits Basket, but that was a once-in-a-while thing, with friends. I was a social Furuba reader, that was all.
Seeing other otaku at University helped me to sort my life out. I redirected my life along the safe path of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, only watching anime recreationally, with a group of people around me to make sure I didn’t slip back into old habits.
Then came Princess Tutu.
I’m mostly better now, I can control myself around anime. I don’t crave it like I once did. And I’m wiser – I tend to steer clear of the dubs unless they are Studio Ghibli, or an old anime I can’t bear to lose the American VAs for. But I can cope with that.
Take inspiration from my story, your case is not a hopeless one. You too can kick the anime habit. You too can become a functioning member of society, lauded by your friends and family for your normality.
But, perhaps, life might be a little bit more fun when it’s filled with insane bright colours, music and very very short skirts. And who doesn’t like an explosion now and again?
The prodigal otaku returns.