It finally fucking happened.
I’ve spent the bulk of 34 years on this Earth resisting it.
Fighting tooth and nail against siren’s song of anime, ignoring the over the top action sequences that should have naturally appealed to my comic book loving, video game playing sensibilities.
Instead of giving in I instead found any and all negatives and poured my energy into them.
“I can’t stand anime voice acting!” I’d say, “English dubs are poorly acted and something grates on my nerves when I hear the Japanese emoting noises (particularly the anime gasp, as it seems to be something I’ve never heard in Japanese media outside of anime and annoys the piss out of me to this day. See the clip below, I only made it about 15 seconds in before I had to pause it.)
“How could I jump into Dragon Ball Z now!?” I asked incredulously, “It’s like a million episodes long, full of filler and I’m not about to go to the mall or special order boxsets to see it all.” Probably a fair point since my youth occurred in the internet’s infancy and streaming services or even Amazon Prime were not even a dream at that point.
“Ew dude, I don’t want to watch those skeeze-ball ball cartoons with the gross tentacle stuff and boobs with comically absurd physics.” What can I say teenage Shad was very guilty of kink shaming. Tentacle porn still isn’t my think but who am I to judge, right?
Basically I’d find any reason I could to avoid the stuff. I built up iron reinforced stone walls around myself and with the exception of Akira (which is a damn fine film, period!) I avoided letting any sort of anime into my heart and mind. A buddy of mine has seemingly made it his life’s mission to crack open those walls, always telling about what new anime he found and why I’d enjoy it, forcing me to watch clips from Bleach or some other shows whenever he has me in the position of a captive audience. Through it all my resolve has remained rock solid and I’ve never let any of it get through.
Don’t get me wrong its nothing against Japanese culture, I’ve always loved martial arts and action films and to a lesser extent Japanese video games (not just games made in Japan but games with that specific feel such as JRPGs).
I’ve also never had a problem with animation in general. As an a adult and eventually as parent I’ve enjoyed many a great animated film or show, both on my own, with friends and later on with my children but anime was just one bridge I wouldn’t cross.
And then in last 18 months or so my youngest daughter really and I mean REALLY got into anime.
Eventually this led to her convincing me to sit down and watch some of her favorites, particularly dark stuff like Attack on Titan and Death Note. Setting aside my initial parental worries that my tween daughter enjoys such dark stuff, I tried to fight against what I was seeing but have to admit at the time I enjoyed what we watched more than not.
In the months that followed, those lifelong walls started to crack in ways that I didn’t notice at first.
Shortly before the poorly received live action version of Ghost in the Shell I decided to watch the original anime and found myself absolutely loving it. Since then I’ve probably watched it a half dozen times, enjoying it much the same way I’ve always enjoyed Akira.
Then Nier: Automata sunk it’s hooks into me and I was crazy about it. While a video game it was very, very, very anime in nature and while I had a number of problems with its designs I gleefully played the game through the 5 main endings and placed it as #2 on my top ten games of 2017.
Netflix released their painfully short Castlevania series, done in what some call a “western anime” style and I drank it up greedily. The show was amazing and I’m dying for the follow up this summer.
That was followed last month with Yakuza 0 which completely and totally sucked me in, more or less taking up every moment of my video gaming in January and motivating me to pick up the remake of the first game as well as bumping Yakuza 6 and the remake of the second game nearly to the top of my most anticipated games list for this year. Its a very Japanese game and while telling a dramatic story has many comedic moments that I’ve come to recognize as the sort of stuff anime has in spades.
Each of those cracked the walls more and more, setting the stage for the final blows to fall.
Dragon Ball FighterZ came out a few weeks ago and despite having never seen the show and not being a fan of the fighting game genre I have found myself incredibly drawn to the game. I find myself regularly watching videos about the game, especially when the guys at Giant Bomb have produced content with the game.
My meticulously built walls were now full of holes and I found myself very curious about the Dragon Ball Z the show. I found out about the new version of the show that cuts down all the filler that made me nervous about getting into the show before and searched it out on Amazon. Plus the modern convenience of Amazon meant I could start at the very beginning instead of jumping in halfway through the show (well sort of the beginning, I didn’t know that Z was a sequel series to an earlier show).
I’m now 13 episodes in and am loving most of it. There are things that bug me, largely because they are never explained (animal people, floating cats that talk, characters suddenly appearing in an episode with no explanation) but that is largely a byproduct of watching a condensed, re-edited show that strips out filler.
I also spent a few hours this weekend playing a free trial of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 but had to stop after a few hours because it was starting to get into spoiler territory for the show.
That’s when I knew it had finally happened.
The walls that stood for more than 30 years are now down completely. I’m rematching episodes of DBZ Kai two or three times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’m listening to a weekly podcast about DBZ Kai produced by others who just got into the show too. I’m also actively searching out good stuff to watch, adding shows and movies to my various streaming watch lists and adding stuff to my Amazon wish lists for future purchasing.
This is a dark new world we’re entering here.
But it sure looks like it’s going to be damn entertaining.