Losing One's Way - A Journey To Cynicism and Back

Mike Ferreira (Editor) — May 4th,2009
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Hello. My name is Mike, and I'm an anime fan. I've been in and out of the subculture since first laying eyes on Galaxy Express 999 in '89, and a devoted follower since I bought my first tape (Ranma 1/2: Like Water For Ranma, if anybody's curious) in 1997. One thing led to another, which led to where I am now: reporting the dailies on a small website, with a spunky crew that's grown into one small, dysfunctional family.

But, as anyone knows, too much of a good thing can ruin the whole. After a while, everything just seemed to bleed together, and upcoming stuff just didn't excite me like it used to. The pile of discs didn't stop growing, but about 15 months ago, I just stopped trying to take it down. I realized that I was just going through the motions. Nothing really stood out, and fandom seemed like a waste, as I trolled news pages and unearthed an increasing number of grim stories, a growing amount of squabbling between fans and industry alike, and a general malaise that was setting in as one of the net's most popular sources of illegal anime streams gained legitimacy, partnerships dissolved, and one of America's largest anime news sources was purchased and consigned to obscurity. Eventually, I gave up hope, and left most of the work to Tsukasa. I just couldn't take it anymore.

This all boiled down to a final point in December, when I realized that, in all my years of partaking in the hobby, I just wasn't ready to give up yet. I issued myself a challenge, in the form of a New Year's resolution. The terms of the challenge: I would force myself to sit down and watch 13 episodes of, well... anything a month (which roughly translates to 325 minutes, 5 and a half hours), or an episode every other day - this would be reported on either my personal blog or the staff message boards. Now is the second half - something that not even my coworkers have read before today: if, by any circumstance, I couldn't find the joy again, if I for some reason I just didn't see any fun in the hobby, I would just drop everything. I would donate my collection to friends, family, and the local library, and I would vacate my post as news editor leaving the duties to the next in line. It's grim, but I would have no right to call myself a "fan" if I just couldn't enjoy what I was doing.

Twenty-eight days later, I have logged my 50th episode watched in 2009, with little signs of stopping. When I started this, I felt I was being delusional, that even trying was too much. However, I've found a new excitement for the hobby as a whole, and a ton of things to get excited over. On top of that, I've managed to gather a few friends every week for a regular "ani-mu night."* It's turned the experience from a singular, somewhat lonely experience to one that I can enjoy with most everyone.

I have no doubt that every anime fan, and certainly every editor, goes through the same phase I have. It's not an enviable position, nor is it one a fan can really avoid. To those who are entering the "burned out" phase, I would just like to say to not give up - take a week, even a month to get away from the fanboy wars, the piracy woes, and the doom & gloom that have hit the industry like a ton of bricks. It may not be an ideal solution for everybody, but sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Anime is a pastime that we have all shared among friends, chatted about on forums, and even celebrated openly at conventions. It's a culture that few wish to leave completely, though many do either by choice or circumstance. However, like a good book, a quality title can bring a viewer into new worlds, and new experiences. While too much of a good thing can be harmful, it would be downright foolish to deny oneself completely.