A Founder’s Thoughts with D.J. Lewis: My Experience As An Anime Fan

From the time we’re kids to the time we become full-grown adults, we’ve all become fans of something in our lives. For many it could be professional sports or wrestling, but for a particular amount of people, it was anime. I’ve always had this saying when I was growing up; ‘Everybody, knows somebody who likes anime!’ It could be your sibling, your best friend, or second cousin twice removed, but it actuality it’s kinda true. What started as a niche medium back in the 80’s and 90’s has now grown into a culture that I’ve come to know and love. Everyone’s experience as an anime fan is different, so I’d thought I’d share my own…

Yours Truly at Thy Geekdom Con 2017 with a DRV3 cosplayer

Man, where do I begin? I’d say sometime in the Summer of 1997 (I was about 8 years old at the time) where school was out and I was in front of the TV watching many of my favorite cartoons. I was pretty much your average eight-year-old doing what kids my age at the time do, until I discovered something that would change the way I’d look at cartoons for the rest of my adolescence. Around this time I discovered a programming block called Toonami, and on it was one of the first anime titles I’ve ever watched; Tenchi Universe. Oh yeah, my first anime title was one of the OG Harem titles back in the day. At first I didn’t know what was going on, but as I continued to watch I became more enthroned.

It was something different compared to all of the other cartoons I watched (Scooby-Doo, Dexter, Etc.) because of the colorful scenes, the artstyle, and everything else. I had a feeling that this show wasn’t produced in America as it didn’t have that goofy Western style I’ve grown accustomed to. By the time I was in 7th grade everyone was talking about a new anime title that was picking up in popularity; Naruto. YouTube wasn’t even created around 2002, so the only way everyone in my school found out was from Cartoon Network promos. (Plus MySpace, cuz’ Twitter and Facebook didn’t come out until a couple years later.) Pretty soon Toonami picked it up and after my DBZ phase, I jumped into the world of Naruto – three seasons later! XP

As the years went by I consumed anime title after anime title, and even though I was now considered an anime fan, I never joined any of the clubs in middle or high school (although my high school only had one club). Ah, the irony…

Around May of 2008 (my senior year of high school) I found out about a place called an anime convention; which is a place where anime clubs from all over the state and region gather and have the time of their nerdy lives! I had a Summer job at the time, so I took the money from my paycheck and went downtown to Baltimore City, MD where I went to my first anime convention; Otakon. Let me tell ya; it felt like I died and went to Nerd Heaven! This utopia of nerds made me feel like I was home; home to other people who liked anime as much as I did. That feeling stayed with me that entire year, and was the reason I kept going back to that convention every year up until it’s grand finale in 2016; the year I started D&A Anime Blog with my friend A. Goldman!

My experience as an anime fan has been pretty cool. Yeah there were moments where it was hard to make friends while growing up because many of them didn’t know what anime was, or made fun of me for it. However since its rise into popularity, I’ve found myself having friends to go to cons with as well as an awesome blog where I get to talk about all of my favorite shows. I though being a geek was terrible; due to it being cast as the bottom of the barrel of social hierarchy in middle and high school. As I got older the level of acceptance for anime and manga grew to astronomical levels (and still is to this day).

Sure, we have our disagreements of who’s best girl, which anime is top tier, and if we prefer dubs over subs; but overall my experience with the anime community has been nothing short of awesome! Hopefully younger generations will get to experience the world of anime as I did – if that haven’t already! XP

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