I was the typical 90’s kid who grew up in a small provincial town. There wasn’t much to do so people my age just study, then go home right after. It was a boring childhood for most of us—but not for me.
I was different. I was not really into this world, I tell you.
It was in Grade 4 when I discovered afternoon anime. My classmates would reenact last night’s episode of Lupin III or Dragon Ball Z. They even had tattoos with the Suzaku 7 marks from Fushigi Yuugi, and the rest of the class would watch them make a fool out of themselves. As for me, I got curious.
Every afternoon I would sneak into the home of my grandparents. The age-old big box television will teleport me to the world of Eugene, Alfred, Dennis and Vincent as they save Michaela from the pearl thief syndicate in Ghost Fighter. I did this every day and got reprimands — until they just hid the key to the other house so I couldn’t watch.
When I reached high school, I still watched a few anime episodes, but my parents told me that it was not for big girls like me. There were times I needed to finish my assignments first before I could watch TV. There were times I had to get high scores in my quizzes to serve as a “pass” to turn on the TV. My dad even smashed the remote in front of me just so I stop watching.
Those were very dark times, I tell you.
So much resistance from my parents. But I convinced my parents that my fandom would not get in the way of my grades. But just when they allowed me, our TV suddenly turned static and went black and white. It was my first heartbreak.
While waiting for our new TV, I started fashioning anime scrap books. From posters to texts to pogs to stickers, I had six anime scrap books all in all.
But I stopped crafting them after high school. My college life in Manila was difficult. My grades then were just so-so. I thought I was not as bright as my city-bred classmates, and my day to day was a matter of survival. I was living with our relatives back then, but I think they mistook me for a maid, so I ran away and told my parents I would rather work than return to my relatives. But I was empty handed and needed to start from something.
I went home and looked at my vast collection of anime magazines. I painfully asked my best friends to accompany me around town to sell my collection at a very low price. After a day of peddling, we collected P800, decent enough to pay for a bed space.
My classmate introduced me to Argie who would eventually introduce me to the Anime Guild Philippines or AGP, an organization that caters to artists whose main interest is anime.
AGP opened several opportunities for me. We organized conventions and animation projects. I got most of my skills in administration from immersing myself here. I did not graduate with a laude, but I was more than prepared to enter the real world, thanks to AGP.
My fandom did not end when I started working. I bought anime DVDs and did binge watching at night after a hard day’s work. When I decided to have my “serious” master’s degree, my thesis focused on anime and the gratifications Filipino fans get from it.
It has been 21 years since I became an anime fan. This does not really come with age or status. I am way behind my teenage years, but being an anime fan does not make one childish, instead it can provide a childlike disposition.
National Anime Day. I did not know there is such a day. Growing up, being a fan was already an everyday struggle. I think it is just appropriate to remember the times that a fan gets to fight for her passion.
Not everyone gets it. Not everyone can deal with it, yet it is solely up to you if you give up being one. As a fan, that DNA would not be erased. Hold on to it. That is your birthright.
Didn’t I tell you? I was not of this world.
[Entry 297, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Thea Javier — Pamu-chan — is a Communication Arts professor at the De La Salle – College of St. Benilde Antipolo Campus who teaches theories and communication research. Her research interests include fan studies, culture and young adult literature. She has written books on Oral Communication and Creative Writing. Her hobbies include reading manga scanlations, watching anime in YouTube and being lost in her YA novels. Her YouTube channel contains her videos of her lecture and anything anime. She plans on pursuing a feminist reading of fan fiction in her upcoming PhD dissertation proposal in UP Diliman.