My earliest memory of anime was when I was maybe eight or nine years old hanging out with my cousin in his bedroom. Naruto was playing on his TV, and I remember having never heard of the show. Because he’s older than me and it was his room, he got to pick the show. The fight scenes filled with fog, masked people and ninja stars scared the literal life out of me. Since then, I believed that anime as a whole was a weird creepy genre watched by weird creepy people. It didn’t help that all the people in school that I disliked the most also ran leaning forward with arms flailing behind them, like the way characters in Naruto run.
One day, I was scrolling through Netflix trying to find a show to watch and I came across every season of Naruto. Of course, I had to watch it (as a joke) and see if it was as terrifying as I remembered it to be. The goal was to watch it until I found the one episode that made me scared of masked people to this day. But what I found instead was a heartfelt and well-written (mostly) show about a kid trying to beat the odds and be accepted for who he was. Of course the show is flawed (because the writer obviously spent about half as long developing complex and interesting female characters and made them constantly fight over boys, so half the characters were useless), but when every character was being utilized to their full ability, the plot thickened and things got really interesting, I forgot I was watching a show in Japanese. I was just reading the subtitles and watching and liking the show for what it was.
Since then I’ve been unashamed about the fact that I really like anime of all genres. People love to be disgusted with it, but the disgust always seems hollow to me. They never seem to actually dislike anime, but more the idea of it and the culture around it. I’ve never heard anyone tell me a reason they don’t like it besides, “the people that watch it are weird so it itself must also be weird”or “from what I’ve heard, it just seems corny.” I find that to be really fascinating.
I’ve found the same phenomenon to be present with a whole lot of things. Who actually cares whether someone pours the milk before the cereal? Both ways get you cereal in milk. Who really gives a crap whether someone has an Android phone versus an iPhone? Both get your information stolen and sold to make a quick buck off ads. And I’ve only heard a couple real reasons that IB is bad. Most of the time I just run into the usual, “it costs extra!” As if everything on this earth doesn’t cost money in some way, shape or form. We don’t live in a capitalist country that charges mothers money to hold their own babies skin to skin when they’re first born in hospitals, for crying out loud. Socialism? No one in America knows why they’re not supposed to like it. They just hear the word “socialism” associated with “evil China” and “evil Russians” and know it must be bad. There are so many things that people just decide are bad because someone else told them to. I exhibited this same behavior myself with being against sororities, but I realized my feelings of disdain for them came from movies with mean sorority girls that charge you extra money to call you fat and make you feel bad about yourself. I had to ask myself, “Where are your critical thinking skills?!”
I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and we as a human collective should be able to like what we like without being judged (as long as what you like isn’t harming someone else). But I think that we have a real mob-mentality when it comes to a whole lot of things. No one even knows why they don’t like things anymore. They just know they don’t like them. So, when someone brings up something that you “don’t like”, try it and really examine where your feelings are coming from. Did you form your own opinion? Are you being judgmental? Or are you just a sheep? Baa.