Saturday, August 11, 2012

Diary of an Anime Lived: Hyouka and Not Being Special

A little while ago, one of my lovely commenters brought up the topic of the viewer's "emotional relation to a show." Now, I've never actually put much value into the idea of "relatability." I've lived a remarkably sheltered life (much like a mountain hermit), so the fact is I simply can't relate with a lot of events in anime. Since I'm still able to enjoy the medium immensely in spite of this, I don't think relatability matters too much. A few weeks ago, though, there was a case of me really "getting" an anime episode due to relatability, and it tied in with a post I've wanted to make for a while, but have never been able to. I was originally going to call it "Relatability Talks" in honor of my commenter, but then I realized that it's literally the exactly same thing as very similar to Digibro's Diary of an Anime Lived project, so I figured, why the heck not?

[Note: This post contains not a ton of Hyouka and a rather large amount of a personal account told with cringe-worthy detail, so consider yourself forewarned]

     Jumping right in, the anime I "got" was Hyouka, specifically episodes 10 and 11. In 10, Irisu tells Hotarou straight up, "You are special." But then disaster strikes in 11 as Hotarou gets the mystery he was trying to solve "wrong," thus proving himself not special. This whole thing confused a lot of people. There was lots of "WTF?!" in my Twitter timeline, and not many seemed to understand (at least at first) why Hotarou got so upset. I found it all very natural, to the point I was a little underwhelmed after hearing everyone's surprise about it. Upon thinking about, I realized the reason I found it so natural is because it pretty closely mirrored my own life not too long ago. I've been where Hotarou was before (or at least in a place similar to it), and I know what it feels like.

Yeah, I'm familiar with this.
     The beginning of April was a very...troubled time for me. For one, my life outside of my blog was at the most stressful it had been, well, ever. I was just sort of thrust into college after highschool with no real idea of what my career would be. I was able to continue my indecisiveness up to that semester by just taking general courses pretty much required for every degree. But, I knew for the Spring semester I had to make a choice so I knew what courses to take in the Fall. I just sort of picked a major, almost arbitrarily. I decided on my career in the space of a few hours, and said to myself, "All right. You got this." But then, in April, I started to look into the field I had chosen some more, and a sense of terror built. I began to realize just how much was involved in the work I was going to be doing, how talented and adaptable I'd have to be, and how brutal the economy was going to be to me. I kept that fear under control, but I could feel it clawing at me to get out and take over.

     There were other, more immediate issues as well. Scholastic requirements already required of me were starting to increase greatly in pressure, and I also had my blog to keep up with. I was struggling to get out a review I had been planning for weeks, I was dealing with "recent blogger = no commenters" syndrome, and, most of all, I was starting to branch out to other aniblogs in full. I think that was what did it, specifically finding and reading 2D-Teleidoscope.

     2DT's blog has always been a bit of a bittersweet thing for me (I'll probably make a post on it sometime), but never more so than that it was that first time I read it. My life and blog issues had already gotten me quite stressed and depressed, but that experience was the straw that broke my proverbial back. I felt immense joy - and a sense of discovery usually reserved for those "special" anime shows - as I read the blog. I knew I was seeing something really special, something amazing, and that was the "sweet" part. But at the same time, I knew I was seeing something really special, something I couldn't hope to do. Over the course of two hours late one evening, as I read nearly every post on the blog, I saw what special was. In doing so, I fully (and quite consciously) realized that it wasn't me, and it never would be. I was not special. And I didn't know how to deal with it.

     So, much like Hotarou, the first thing I did was become angry. I spent a few hours that night just typing out rants about things I disliked, anything, using the blog as a springboard. I can't say I was fuming or lashing out at people or even getting worked up to the extent that Hotarou was. Heck, my siblings have given me a number of different titles (ranging from "robot" to "sociopath") for being outwardly quite emotionless. But inside, I was quite fired up, and it says a lot about the feeling that it elicited such an intense emotional response from me. That's probably why I could understand Hotarou's anger so well. The initial reaction for both of us was the same. I felt my ire rising, and though I knew I was really angry at myself, I felt the need to blame others for it, to lash out, to turn the focus away from myself, if only for a moment. Hotarou did that with Irisu, and I did it with society as a whole (the target of my still unpublished rant). But after the initial anger, all that was left was a feeling of self-loathing and emptiness.

I think Hotarou felt it too.
     What followed were some of the most despair-filled weeks of my life. My face spent hours glued to my carpet. I felt listless, and the more time I spent depressed, the more acute my depression got. The worse my depression got, the more blown out of proportion things became. I started to feel utterly worthless, as if there was no point to my life anymore. No, I wasn't suicidal or anything - I don't automatically think a worthless existence is one that should end - but I was seriously questioning what I was doing with my life. I contemplated dropping out of college, amongst other things, and I pretty much lost all faith in myself. The blogosphere actually continued to be a catalyst. The more posts I read, the more I felt like I had to be special, just to validate my existence on the net. I gave up on even trying to update my blog and made a hiatus post. It's actually quite likely that I would have just given up blogging completely, if not for feeling the need to promote Snippettee in the Aniblog Tourney and add to the Queen's Blade posts.

     What happened next was a bit anti-climactic, much like it was with Hyouka. For me, I just sort of...continued living. I got back into blogging with a little project I had wanted to make for a while, and I decided that I'd try to change my approach, since I realized that I'd never be special in the ways I wanted to be. I promised myself that I'd be okay with just being "average," and I've been fighting an uphill battle on mud against my natural (and unfulfillable) desires ever since. I can't tell you how many times I've slipped back into and out of depression. My mood for the Summer must look like a cosine graph, what with the way my hopes of being special came back (coming soon: Diary of a Pre-Calculus Chapter Lived). But Hyouka got me thinking about something. The "solution," whether for Hotarou or for me, doesn't seem to exist. People don't just suddenly become special, and there are some standards that you simply can't (or won't) ever live up to. Life just "goes on," both for him and for me. What if that is the solution, though? What if just being yourself is enough to be special? Perhaps I'm being a bit romantic, or perhaps Hotarou is still the limbo of depression that I was. But I feel that it's certainly safe to say that Hotarou is special, just perhaps not on his own terms.

     If we look at it that way, then maybe the idea of being special just by being ourselves isn't so farfetched after all. With Hotarou, it's obvious enough; he's essentially a teenage Sherlock Holmes (even if he denies it). And for me? Who knows. It's those little things that lift me out of depression up to the positive amplitude of my graph. A professor from Cuba calling me a "grammar expert." People commenting on my blog. Seeing the tab I have Twitter's "Connect" feature open in light up. Perhaps those things make me "special" in my own way...Well, at the very least, it's a nice idea, isn't it?


  1. I'd say everyone is 'special' in some sort of way. Perhaps unique is a better way of putting it, because no matter how hard you try, even with seven billion (or have we passed eight?) people on the planet, you will /never/ find someone exactly like you, or exactly like anyone else.

    Everyone, given enough time and effort, will carve out their own niche in the fields they work or hobby in and that niche is unique to that person.

    1. Here's one way to look at it: Everybody is special, because "special" is a very contextual term. Everyone has different standards and perceptions of "special." For example, through the bits and pieces of their lives I've gleaned, through their sites or Twitter or whatever, I consider most of the aniblogosphere special. And not just in a "everyone has their own talents~" kind of way, I mean I think a ton of you people are absolute ****ing geniuses. And, for my personal definition of "special," that's true. Going by what I know about them, however, I think it's okay to say that they don't particularly think of themselves that way. That'd be because they aren't special in *their* own definition of just what "special" is.

      Going by that, then, the key to being "special" is just morphing your own definition of special to match who you are. But...that's harder said than done. For me personally, I'd like to think that I don't *have* to be special, and that I can just be someone who's maybe "above average" in certain areas. I don't know, I'm sure I'll figure it out.

      Thanks for commenting and weighing in!

  2. I think that every blogger that has an average IQ can see that some others have done things that (s)he can't do or never will be able to. Every blogger has thought "wow this is the bestest of the best blog and the blogger is a BOSS." And then proceded to self-pity due to pessimism and the break-down of 'harsh reality'... I've been there. I believe most people have been in various aspects of their lives.

    Talking about me, I can say that not only I had this crisis with my blogging a year ago, but throughout my life I saw what I considered my talents to be deemed as nothing incredible. Singing and drawing were such cases, not to mention school achievement. When I was used to be no.1, getting the 2nd place all of a sudden helps you grow up and realize that no matter what you do there'll always exist someone better than you. Once you face this fact and that you can't do much about it but keep trying to improve and be the best of yourself. It may not be what you look up, too, but it's you. And the one you look up to can probably not do things you do or hasn't experienced beautiful things you have. So it's ok. When the compliments and comments start coming in, little by little you'll forget the bitterness of life.

  3. Thanks for sharing - what a wonderful (if melancholy) addition to the Diary of an Anime Lived series! If it means anything, I think you're a terrific blogger!

  4. I can relate to this post a lot! You've pretty much summed up many emotions I also felt a couple years ago.

    Not much to say, but I just wanted you to know that this resonated a lot with me. Thanks for publishing it.

    1. Oh no. Someone's gone back to Sato circa 2012. I'm doomed. :D

      I'm happy to hear you were able to get something out of it, though! This was my first attempt to sort some things in my life out, and it was one of the most shaky, as well. I've never liked it very much, but if someone else found some use for it, I guess that's good enough for me.