In The Beginning...
Let me start by giving you some background. In the beginning of my anime fandom, I had no kind of community whatsoever. In fact, my introduction to anime was ultimately through my brother and (at the beginning) me mocking it. (This is a lengthy story in and of itself, so I won't recount it here.) Basically, I've never really had any friends or acquaintances with which to discuss anime before. I attempted to form a connection of that kind with one of my cousins, who has professed to enjoying anime, but he was significantly less interested in the medium than I, so that possibility was cut short. Unfortunately, nothing in my immediate area helped fill the gap, either. I live in a small village that's essentially in the back country, so there's no place we'd have any kinds of anime events. And since I have a family who is less than supportive of my hobby (and I don't have a license/car), I've never really had the option of going to conventions elsewhere. Skip to November 2011. I had kept my many opinions to myself all this time, short of rating a few shows on internet watch sites. Then I found Otakuness by chance while searching for the Winter anime lineup. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my opinions matched theirs', and I thought, "Hey, this anime blogging thing seems kind of cool." One thing led to another, and I finally stopped lurking in December and commented on the blog. A very short time after, I started my own, and I finally had an outlet to discuss anime with others.
|Alone, no more|
Yes, my interactions with an anime community of any kind were (and still are) quite "young" at this point. I didn't even join forums, MAL, or anything like that, so blogging was my very first foray into sharing my anime fandom (Ayame allowed me to write about it even though it's online and not "local/national"). And at first, even the aforementioned interactions were quite limited. I commented on Otakuness some, looked at a couple other blogs and dismissed them from my attention for some forgotten reason, and went on with my life. I was content; I finally had a place in which I could share my opinions (my blog), and well as a place I could discuss anime with others (Otakuness). But then, something happened. First Saranaufogus, then the rest of the Otakuness team went on hiatus. I was in panic. Who would I discuss anime with? Sure, I was posting reviews on my blog, but there were no comments, so my only interaction with other fans was through other blogs (in this case Otakuness). I went into withdrawal, and on the verge of death (metaphorically speaking) decided to check out some of the sites on Otakuness' blogroll. Eventually, I found Ace, TsurugiArashix, Marth, Snippettee, Ephemeral Dreamer, Sabishii Miruku, and Ayame. These seven bloggers were the ones who made me an "actual" anime blogger. Before I had been doing the work, but lacked the spirit, the real purpose of blogging. I had been throwing my opinions at the walls and pretending I was content with that. These bloggers made me realize there was so much more to blogging than that. They made me realize the social aspects of blogging, the community that it had to offer. And not just in the sense Otakuness had. To use an analogy, when I first started, I was looking for interaction with people in one room. But thanks to these seven, I started looking in the whole building, even the whole city for interactions. They collectively integrated me into the blogging community (in various ways, as I pointed out in one of my posts), and I've been here since.
|There were some awkward hellos along the way, but we somehow managed.|
Anyway, that's how I was introduced to this place. And I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with it so far. One thing that an online community has to offer over traditional ones is the free expression of ideas. Whether it's a deep analysis of small element present throughout a series, or just someone's rant about how much they liked/hated an episode, it's all fair game here (though some might decry the latter as poor blogging). If you have an idea and you can make a full post out of it, you can share it. And furthermore, you can expect a much greater attention span from your audience. Imagine me trying to tell you this story, or much worse yet, my 5,000 word write up on the improper use of style in Borderlands, in a face to face discussion. I wouldn't even get a tenth of the way done before getting (rightfully) interrupted and going off on a new tangent. When you're sharing ideas with other people in "real life," it usually results in the free flow of ideas; wherever the conversation takes people, that's where they go. Online, however, if I have an idea that takes a long time to explain, I can still express that idea. This is because my readers won't be expecting a conversation, but rather an exchange of ideas. And that's what I consider the coolest thing about the online (ani-)blogging community.
A while back, I joined Twitter on the advice of one of my peers. The platform took my community interaction to the next level. On Twitter, I'm able to talk about pretty much everything, no matter how short. I don't need to make a post about it. In other words, Twitter granted me the power of conversation. Before, I had only been able to communicate in a method closer to email than to instant messages – comments. I'd comment on someone's post topic, and maybe they'd reply back. On Twitter, I could have a spontaneous, arguably easier to initiate communication with another anime fan about anime (and furthermore, it could be about anything, not just a post topic). And as someone who to this day has no "real life" acquaintances (that is, no one I've physically seen) with which to discuss anime, that's been a pretty amazing experience. I could finally converse with people about anime, and they'd treat it with the same amount of understanding and seriousness that I did. In this way, Twitter provides what blogging lacks; conversation. While focusing more on the exchange of ideas instead of the flow is one of the blogosphere's greatest advantages, conversation (the flow of ideas) also has its good points, as I outlined above. Because of Twitter, then, one can have the best of both worlds in the online community. Basically, Twitter streamlined my interactions with others. Before I used it, I had to comment on others' posts to have any kind of presence in the blogosphere. On Twitter, though, I can just be there, shooting off a random thought about the show I'm watching, and my existence will be known. It's pretty cool.
And that brings us to the current pinnacle of my anime social life: watching Queen's Blade Rebellion with others over Skype. In a Twitter conversation, Draggle and Snippettee
roped me into
begged me *cough*
to watch the show with them over Skype (actually, I cornered myself
into watching it in that conversation). It was the most nervous I had
been since my first day at college. Sure, I said Twitter allowed "conversations," but they didn't have the same impact as an
actual voice-to-voice discussion. It felt like a first date. And
furthermore, I was unlucky enough to get told about it for two hours
beforehand, so I had that whole time to worry about all the ways it
go wrong and I would permanently embarrass myself (I'm that kind of
I eventually just kind of shut down and went on screensaver mode, let my adrenaline/nervous energy take over, and the next thing I knew, I had downloaded Skype, loaded up the episodes, and had sent Draggle my Skype name. I found a place that converted GMT to EST and checked it about once every three minutes to make sure that I had the time right and didn't actually have another agonizing hour to wait, or worse had overshot the correct time and was even then making everyone wait for me, surely impatiently and angrily. When I had about fifteen minutes to go, I locked my door to prevent any untimely intrusions from my prying brother, opened a window to cool my now overheating body, and tensely held my eyes rapt to my computer screen. The clock finally struck ten (so to speak – I only have digital clocks in my room), and a few seconds later I heard a ringing sound coming from my computer. I picked up the call almost immediately, so as to not freak out, stop myself from picking up, and/or go into denial, and then I heard Draggle's voice. It was too surreal for me. Here I was, sitting in my room with two episodes of what was arguably anime porn (what the heck, I have it in my search terms anyways) on my computer, freaking out like a 10 year-old and nervous as all ****, talking with my VOICE about anime with another anime fan for the first time. He was lord knows however far away from me and I had no idea what he looked like (other than the face of his avatar – which depicts a starfish that is decidedly not Patrick), but I was talking to him, dangit! I was talking to him! Snippettee, Inushinde, Redball, Emperor J, and Foshiizzel joined, and we started after saying hello. Throughout the whole thing I was talking and making jokes and (at myself) yelling, "SHUT THE **** UP BEFORE YOU SAY SOMETHING UNFORGIVABLY STUPID! WHAT IF THEY GET OFFENDED?! WHAT IF THEY-" and so forth. Fortunately, everybody put up with my over-talkative self, and I like to think we bonded some over the
mind-numbingly painful stupidity genius
symbolism of Queen's Blade. As an added bonus, I somehow stopped my head from
|Didn't shoot myself, either.|
That was my first "real" interaction with the anime community, and at this point stands as the most communication and interaction I've had with another anime fan before (or in this case, 6 other fans). This experience, as I said, is the current pinnacle of my social anime fandom, and I think it shall remain so for a long time. After all, what could be a more social anime activity than actually watching anime with other people? I guess the bigger point of this is that my online community has provided much more socially for me than any "real" one I've encountered. Anyway, there's my contribution to the The Beautiful World's project. Be sure to check out the other participants and their posts! (Ayame has them linked on the project page.)
P.S. On a side note, the subsequent watches were considerably less anxiety filled.