This blog post was originally written as part of a series for The Welders. It was posted to their blog on July 25, 2017.
I am 28 years old. I graduated from high school ten years ago, graduated from undergraduate six years ago, and graduated from graduate school four years ago. When I was 11 back in 2000, I had a love for all things anime and Japanese. It was the thing to be into for me and my group of friends. We weren’t the most popular kids in school. No, we were the kids who were spending our weekends at the mall buying model Gundams, figuring out how to convince our parents to make us Sailor Scout costumes, finding new music genres in J-Pop and J-Rock, and reading and writing fan fiction on the internet back when you had to label things “lemon” to indicate explicit content.
As it happens over time, my interest in anime and all things Japanese started to wane. It had started a little earlier than high school with the Harry Potter craze, but that just ran alongside my love of anime. No, this switch in interest was much more radical. It could have been that when I moved into high school, the people in the anime crowd weren’t the kind of people I could connect with. It could have been that I was exposed to a new interest, musical theater, with some new friends that took hold and slipped into the spot in my heart once filled by anime. It could have been that I was just too busy in high school to watch anything anymore. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure it was a combination of all three. I didn’t notice at first because musical theater had taken anime’s place and I was still being a fan in the same way. I was creating cosplays and writing fan fiction. It just wasn’t about anime anymore, it was about musicals…in particular RENT.
College came about and musical theater managed to hang on for a bit, but to be honest, college was the one point in time where I didn’t see myself as a fangirl. I didn’t love anything enough to write fan fiction, and I didn’t want to make cosplays. There were some brief love affairs you could call them with certain movies, Repo! The Genetic Opera, for instance, but nothing that captured my attention the way other things had previously.
And then came grad school, which threw me back into being a fangirl full force. BBC’s Sherlock was relatively new and I hadn’t felt the need to obsess over something as much as I did that show in a long time. So, I jumped and threw myself into it with every fiber of my being. It led me a down a rabbit hole that found me falling in love with Doctor Who, Supernatural, and James Bond.
But as happens time to time, fandoms take a turn and you find yourself distancing yourself to avoid the oncoming drama. And then you trip and fall face first into a new one. For me in it was K-Dramas and K-Pop. The fandoms felt a little different, but at the same time, they felt very much the same. And they led me back to anime.
You see, I hadn’t expected to wake up one morning and find one of the K-Pop bands I listen to releasing songs in Japanese. But, they did and it brought back memories of being 13 and discovering “new” (new to me anyway) bands. And all it takes is one friend’s recommendation on a new anime to watch, and suddenly your 13-year-old self is jumping up and down and has never been happier. Past you is giving you a thumbs up, while current you is trying to figure out how this happened.
So here I am. 28 years old and immersing myself in anime again…along with the all of the other fandoms that I’ve found along the way…because you never really lose them like I thought you did. The parts of me that shaped my fangirl tendencies didn’t disappear, and to be honest, they probably don’t for anyone really. They just manage to transform themselves and re-emerge at just the right moment…and for me, that moment is now.