I hardly ever watch anime anymore. I would even go as far to say that I don’t watch anime anymore. In fact, except for a fairly recent rewatch of Death Note (my favorite anime), which was intended to show a friend who doesn’t like anime how good it can be, I haven’t seen any type of anime in well over a year. Because of this anime hiatus I have not visited this site since last year, and only remembered it existed because of an email. It has been interesting coming back after so much time has passed, because my bio and other content seem to be from a different, long-forgotten life. That statement seems somewhat dramatic, I know, but that is the best way that I can describe my feelings right now, since so much has happened in my life over the past couple of years. I can tell from my profile that I didn’t mean for my absence to be so permanent, but life had other plans. I feel that I would be doing a disservice to anyone who stumbles upon my profile to simply vanish with no reason, so I guess instead of this statement being a biography, it will state my background in anime and the progression of reasons that eventually caused me to leave Anime-Planet and the anime community altogether.
My decision to no longer watch anime was not a conscious one, rather a gradual process stemming from various life decisions and goals. I did not wake up one day and say “You know what? I hate anime and all it stands for, so I will no longer watch it.” Rather, I believe that some very important decisions I have made in the past few years led me to no longer view anime the way I once did.
I understood anime as a concept since elementary school, I am of the Pokémon generation after all, but my parents had never allowed me to play or watch Pokémon, Yu-gi-oh, or any of those shows and games targeted at children. Consequently, I never delved into the genre until I was reintroduced to it in high school. During that time I had a few friends from Boy Scouts who really enjoyed it and my curiosity, as well as my lack of interest in American television, made me want to watch it as well. I am glad that I made that decision, because through anime I been able to experience and see things that I otherwise would not have been able to, both on screen and in the real world. When I started watching anime I was living in Aransas Pass, Texas, a small town on the Gulf coast. That area’s social climate, as well as the fact that I was homeschooled, did not provide many opportunities for me to interact with other anime fans besides my immediate friends, so I was somewhat oblivious to the more social aspects of the community, such as card games and cosplay. However, in my last year living in Texas and freshman year of college I was able to go to Realmscon, a small convention in Corpus Christi, Texas, about thirty minutes from where I lived. There I was able to be around anime fans that I didn’t know, shop for anime merchandise, and, most importantly, have my picture taken with Vic Mignogna. I would be lying if I said that that wasn’t one of the most fun days I’ve ever had. This experience further cemented my love of anime, and I started watching it more than ever.
A few months after the convention my family and I moved to Washington State due to my dad’s job transfer. Due to some logistic technicalities, my college in Texas being on the semester system and the college in Washington being on the quarter system, I had to take a few months off school. During this time I watched more anime than ever, and I have it to thank as one of the main reasons I was able to get through those few months. Trying to establish myself in a totally foreign place was disconcerting, especially since I was not nearly as extraverted back then as I am now. I had no idea where anything was in my new town and had no friends except for a couple (brothers) from Texas whose family moved around the same time that mine did, in addition to having no school work to distract me. Needless to say, homesickness was an major issue. Anime was able to help me during that time, and I watched it whenever I could. Thankfully, and coincidentally, the two friends I had in Washington were the friends who introduced me to anime back in Texas, so I went to their house almost every day to watch it with them, then would bring back DVDs to watch at home. These friends also introduced me to Anime-Planet, and I was on this site multiple times a day browsing through anime and determining what I should watch next. During these months I watched dozens of shows and movies, relieved that I was able to hold onto something familiar from my previous life in Texas.
After those first few months I was able to finally start back up in college. I had already decided to become an electrical engineer while living in Texas, so I continued my pre-engineering studies in Washington. I was happy to finally have some classes to occupy my time, but since I was not quick to make friends I still spent most of my time watching anime. But as time went on I was able to meet people in my classes and create a new friend base. These new college friends made me start to enjoy living in Washington. Through them I was able to learn and experience many things that I hadn’t before as a sheltered homeschool kid. I spent over a year at that community college until graduating in the summer of 2013.
It is during this period from moving to Washington to finishing community college that I watched a vast majority of the anime on my list, and also when I was the most active on this site. But looking back, I believe that the last few months of this period is the also the point when my interest in anime started to wane, even though I was not aware of it at the time. My friends from Texas had quite literally hundreds of anime TV shows and movies, and I made the decision that I would watch every single item they owned, whether I liked it or not, just because I could. This foolish decision caused me to watch many shows and movies that I would have otherwise avoided, and I started viewing anime as a chore and not something I enjoyed. This was a stupid, stupid choice, and I wish I had never made it, for it turned my favorite pastime (and yes, escape) into something I had to do simply because I didn’t want to go back on my commitment. But that’s just the type of person I am: stubbornly supporting any decision I make, whether it be good or bad, because I don’t want to be seen as a coward. So I watched show after show and movie after movie, liking some but disliking or feeling neutral towards most, all the while becoming increasingly sick of the very thing that had helped me stay sane only a short time before. After a while I decided that enough was enough and that I should severely curtail my level of anime consumption, or else I might end up hating it before too long. But around the same time I made that decision, a more important reason to stop watching high levels of anime presented itself: time, or more specifically, the lack thereof.
The autumn after graduating from community college I began attending the University of Washington (UW) to complete my Bachelor’s Degree. When I started at UW I lived about a two hour commute from Seattle, so between school and commuting I only had time to watch anime on the weekends. I still watched it though, just not nearly with the same amount of frequency. My schoolwork came first, and it was getting more difficult now that I was in my engineering major, and I slept more often because I was so exhausted, so I unconsciously started making the decision to not watch as much anime and play as many video games.
Another reason for slowing my anime consumption was due to a resurging interest in American television and movies. I had always liked live-action movies, but I mainly saw them as a mindless distraction and nothing else, mainly because I only watched action-packed, mindlessly violent movies. But during my first quarter at UW my lab partner (an electrical engineering student interested in working in the film industry) introduced me to the concept of movies as an art form: viewing the directing style, editing, lighting, and cinematography as equally, if not more, important factors of a movie’s value than just story and acting alone. This new-found perspective made me see live-action movies in a different light: that some could be profound and amazing experiences, and not just forgettable, explosion-heavy summer blockbusters. Through my friend I starting watching movies because of who directed them, not because of who was in them, leading me to discover my favorite directors and movies of today: David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network), Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, Pi), Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Prestige), and Danny Boyle (Trainspotters, Slumdog Millionaire). As time went on I found myself watching and enjoying more and more American movies, while at the same time watching less and less anime.
This now leads me to present day. I now live in Seattle and am a senior in college, and my free time is much more precious than it ever has been before. Electrical engineering is not the easiest degree to earn, and this year has proven that fact so far. My junior year I was working with electrical theory: idealized circuits of little to no real-world application that are useful as teaching tools. Now, as a senior, I am being thrust into the real world, where nothing is ideal or perfect. This new perspective makes lab experiments take longer than ever, forces the use of simulations and coded programs to check the math in homework, and requires a deeper level of knowledge in the subject than previously needed. In addition to classes, I am also a teacher’s assistant (TA) for a junior-level class and conducting independent undergraduate research under a faculty member. I also spend my free time researching and applying to engineering companies in my area of interest (closed-loop control, optical sensing, and machine learning of Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles), as well as applying to graduate school. Suffice to say, I do not have that much free time, and when I do it’s usually for no more than six hours at most. During this time I find it much more fun and rewarding to hang out and have fun with my friends or go work out at the gym, rather than sit at home and watch TV, whether it be anime or American shows. For this reason I have also given up playing video games, as I cannot afford to become invested in a something that takes many multiples of hours to complete, because once I start a game I want to play it whenever I can. (I like games that have deep, intriguing stories and gameplay, like RPGs and adventure games like Uncharted and Bioshock, rather than sports or shooter games).
And that is my story and reasoning for my departure from anime, but to be clear, I still enjoy and appreciate it. My decision to stop watching anime has nothing to do with a hatred for the art form or for its fan base, but mainly because I am getting older, and with increasing age comes increasing responsibilities. You cannot do everything you want to do, there simply isn’t enough time in the day. You have to make a conscious decision as to what is important for you and you alone. I chose to focus on my academic career and am steadfastly trying to become the best engineer I can be. Because of this goal I have decided to take on more responsibilities above my regular coursework, such as my research and job as a TA. Consequently, I had to decide what I had to give up, and I chose anime, TV shows and movies in general, pleasure reading, and video games. And this decision may not be permanent. After I graduate I may rethink my priorities and find that I do have some time for the activities I currently don’t partake in. When this time comes I may start watching anime again and become somewhat active on this site once again, but until that day I bid you farewell.