I mentioned in my final post on Usagi Drop that one of the strengths of narrative is the ability to give a greater understanding to lives and situations that differ from our own. That, in my humble opinion, is one of the best things about reading fiction, or watching movies, the thing that can elevate it beyond wasting time on mindless entertainment. And one of the best parts about anime and manga’s willingness to tackle unfamiliar ground, to cover strange and obscure concepts no other media will touch, is that they provide windows into experiences we are unlikely to ever have ourselves.
Throughout years of watching anime and reading manga, I’ve gotten to see through the eyes of countless unique and novel characters: an up and coming baseball player (and conductor), a socially-inept young man gradually becoming acquainted with the lifestyle of the hardcore otaku, or a misanthropic high school student who enacts revenge on people who have wronged him by masturbating on their belongings (yes, it really exists). It hasn’t always been pretty, and I’ve been solidly grossed-out on many occasions (especially that last one), but I’ve had the chance to experience so many interesting perspectives and ideas that I otherwise would have never been exposed to.
I’ve always tried to seek out and befriend people different from me, so I could have a better understanding of why they think the way they do, and anime (and fiction in general) has provided me with another avenue for those impulses. And, while most of the medium focuses on escapism—every sports or art show centers around a protagonist who is exceptional, and stands out from everybody else, and even main characters down on their luck nearly always have some hidden potential or power within them—there have always been enough shows not focused on heroism, or focused on heroism in novel or interesting ways to keep me watching.
I sought this stuff out specifically because it was novel, and weird, and presented me with situations and ideas that were utterly foreign to me. At first, that was okay, because it was new, and that novelty counted for a lot even if I wasn’t too enthusiastic about all the conventions that kept popping up even when they didn’t make sense, or the fixation on contrived situations that might be sexually titillating to adolescent males, but seem pointless to anyone who said goodbye to puberty years ago.
But it’s not just the strange and familiar that drew me to anime and manga: there’s the rare show that says something meaningful to you, something that acts as a mirror for one’s own life. Shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion have such enduring popularity in part because they resonate so strongly with at least a few of the people that watched them.
Those kinds of shows are rare, but it’s the hope of finding them that keeps me coming back, season after season. I started this site with the hopes that I’d find a few of those gems, and was lucky enough to find, in Tatami Galaxy, one in my very first season. I never wrote about FLCL or Honey and Clover, two other shows that really affected me, but they nonetheless crept into two of the three shows I tended to write about: the weird mind screws and the affecting, realistic dramas.
Sadly, both of them are vastly outnumbered in shows airing by the third category: trashy, exploitative shows aimed at peddling character-related merchandise at the hardcore otaku. I ended up writing way more than I ever thought I could, but I’ve said my piece about them, and am left with nothing constructive to add.
There will always be good anime airing. It will always be outweighed by mindless garbage, but that’s the way of things. These last few years have seen even more shows than before that are unique, touching, or special, and that trend will hopefully continue.
But I won’t be writing about them. I’ve enjoyed writing here for the past year and a half, but now it’s time to move on. I have plenty of things I want to work on, and not enough time to spend on all of them.
I hate it when sites just abruptly die without any warning, though, going into a perpetual suspended animation, waiting patiently for someone who is never going to return to revive them. There must be thousands of such pages on this very site, and millions more scattered throughout the Internet.
If you care about something enough to keep up at it, though, you ought to care enough to say goodbye, to bring some closure to the process. And to thank the people who have come along for the ride.
To Claire—thank you for reading me write about a subject you could care less about for over a year, and pouring so much of yourself into your posts on Wandering Son.
To 3HM—thank you for caring for the site even when I didn’t, for making sure I posted with any regularity, and for letting me write about the shows I cared about the most. I wouldn’t have lasted a year without you. Also, thank you for watching and writing about every new show to air this season, even if I think you’re a little insane for doing it.
To everyone who has read this site—thank you. It’s strange and humbling to know that people all around the world have read what I’ve had to say about anime. We’ve worked really hard in an attempt to write meaningfully about a medium that often doesn’t deserve it; I think we succeeded, and I hope you agree.