After that post concerning my visit to my university’s J-pop culture club, I’ve been thinking about what made me so unsettled with the club. Probably because I had such high expectations for it. I mean, it’s a college. I’m expecting mature people, handling things in a professional manner, something to make newcomers feel proud to finally be an adult. And yet, there I was, sitting in a room with a bunch of people that are all at least a year older than me, watching Buso Renkin (an anime generally aimed at adolescents, considering the story line) with the original Japanese audio instead of just the English dub. This is the first time I’ve ever said something so incredibly offensive, but I felt like I was sitting in a room full of weeaboos.
If you haven’t seen the term “weeaboo” even once somewhere on the internet, lemme explain. The term is (a very offensive) slang word used for people, specifically Caucasians (whites), who have an extremely unhealthy obsession with all things Japanese. This is beyond just watching anime, reading manga, playing Japanese video games, or having a mere admiration for their culture. These people have no other love, unless it’s Japanese.
Back on topic, my short hour in the room left a heavy impression on me. The first thing I noticed was that the projector to the computer was on a Youtube channel depicting an anime parody. Two guys were playing a GameBoy Advance SP (FYI, was released in early 2003) and a Nintendo DS. I quickly asked what was going on, which was summed up as wasting time until the club president comes in. I had no problems, so I plopped down at the nearest chair, and went back into my writings.
In comes the president, and next thing I know, boom! Buso Renkin, JP audio, utter confusion on my part. I didn’t waste time on asking why are we watching in the Japanese audio when we can simply watch in the English dub out of convenience. The guy I asked answered with this (paraphrase):“We’re watching in Japanese audio because we are accepting what’s different from our culture.”
That’s what he said. Then I also realized that in the end, the club didn’t have a single, meaningful goal, short-term or long-term. That’s right. There were no hopes of… I dunno, holding an anime film festival, or trying to land a trip to a Comic Con, or even a desire for an interview with, I dunno, a staff member of Funimation or Studio GAINAX. Here’s how I reacted to all of this:
That is just disgraceful. No desire, no motivation, no goals. Sure, who doesn’t want to have fun? But hedonism isn’t a way of life. The moment my classes began, I learned this the hard way. Even if I had the time, there’s no way I’d sit in a room with a bunch of people to simply watch some stupid anime with no goals in mind, because I have better things to do. And in response to the guy’s answer as to why don’t we just turn on the English audio, here’s the flaw in that logic: if I didn’t accept what’s different from our culture, I wouldn’t be fucking watching anime, reading manga, or playing Japanese video games in the first place. Fuck, I wouldn’t have an interest in my family’s (South) Vietnamese origins, let alone Japanese culture. I listen to Japanese music, even if I don’t understand it, and every time I try singing it, I absolutely suck and give up five seconds in, but still enjoy the mood. I’ve read Japanese light novels, like Haruhi and Kino, because it’s a different writing style. I am a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, and to me, Norio Wakamoto is the Japanese embodiment of what it means to be a badass motherfucker. And yet with all of that, I still draw a bright red line between an admiration, and an obsession.
I admire Japan. I think their music makes a better casual mood when Western music tends to lean more towards the dance floor mood that I just don’t dig, considering I don’t dance.
Their willingness to always try a new thing in their stories will always catch me off-guard one way or another.
The fact that they manage to somehow drop an anvil on society in their media is something to admire. But even I have plenty of things that I don’t like. I do not like the way the Fandom works over there. Anyone who has an unhealthy obsession with a purely fictional animated character needs help, pronto.
I do not like the hyper-sexualization of anime and manga characters. They are animated. The Birth of Venus is one thing, but Nami from One Piece is a completely different story.
For the fuck of god (if there is one), I could go on all day about what I found so wrong with the J-pop culture club’s Japanophilia, and how I felt like a complete idiot for being interested. I wanted to learn, and by learn, I mean figure out the dos and don’ts of their way of the media, and how we can learn to apply it to our own; not assimilate into something I simply like with a bunch of other people can’t come to terms with the difference between liking something and obsessing over it. Yeah, Japan is still using animation, and yet their short and sweet series are capable of packing more punch than the last hundred fucking episodes of Days of Our Lives. But you know what? So does The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Vin Diesel is a Dungeons & Dragons fan, for crying out loud, and did you see him bring that over to XXX or Chronicles of Riddick?
This isn’t because I was a born and raised an American. Hell, if I could, I’d give nationality the middle finger because it’s just another way to stereotype people. The reason why I suddenly decided to drop this anvil is because sometimes, when making a point, there is no fair way to express it, and so the only way to hit home is to be honest, biases and all. There has to be a clear point made in these situations: one nation’s form of media is not any better than the other. Learning about another culture does not mean converting to it. And living a life without any kind of hope or goal is worse than knowing that nothing lies at the end, and when you hear a nihilist saying that, you take his word for it.