Over the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot more interested in anime. It all started back in 2018 with Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, my gateway drug to all things anime so to speak, and then my interest hit its peak when I started watching My Hero Academia.
I fell way down the rabbit hole with My Hero Academia (MHA) – I have drunk the Kool-Aid and licked the cup clean. I love all the music in the show and listen to at least one MHA-related song almost daily. I have bought all the manga books available (in English) and am reading through them as they come out. I started collecting items like MHA T-shirts and socks, and Funko pop Izuku Midorias… I went to my first My Hero Academia convention this year and dressed up with my husband. And of course, to top it all off… I got my first tattoo earlier this year, which was My Hero Academia-related: Plus Ultra!
It is not an overstatement to stay that I am a bit obsessed. Otaku much?
I know that I’m pretty extra about My Hero, but I don’t care. I love it. I love how it inspires me, and who it makes me want to be each day. I love being true to myself.
One thing I love even more has been others’ willingness to accept me despite my obsession. It’s one thing to secretly love something that others might think is lame. It’s another thing for people to know you are crazy about something, and embrace it with you.
I will admit, I have some great friends. I have been gifted many My Hero memorabilia items from people simply because they know how much I love the show. I’ve received a Deku pez dispenser, a MHA tote bag, a “That’s not very plus ultra of you” patch, MHA Monopoly, and more. My friends know it’s my thing, and that it’s a part of me – and they accept it. They accept me.
I recently began watching a different anime: Sword Art Online. Wow – I had no idea so many people would have so many feelings about this show. I told a few other anime fans I was watching this show, and they were like, “it’s garbage.” I had just started the show, so I kept waiting for it to get lame. I kept waiting for the point to where I would go, “oh, okay, yeah this is dumb.” But it never came.
Granted, there were some weird things in the show (for example, someone having a crush on their first cousin) but nothing that I found to be a dealbreaker for me. And I’m sure that critically there are some aspects of the show that were not as well done as they could have been. But you know what? I still like the show. I’m currently on season 3. I was told that season 2 was where it would get “weird.” Season 2 was actually one of my favorite story arcs.
So, what does this mean? I initially had some guilt about enjoying Sword Art Online. Literally a guilty pleasure, I suppose. I finally had to get over it and embrace it – which was actually more about embracing myself. Why was I so ashamed to like something others thought was stupid?
Better question: why are we so antagonistic to people who like different things than us?
I’m not talking about bigger things here like your views on politics or religion – I’m talking about anime shows, movies, music… harmless things that people like to enjoy. Why do we make ultimatums with people about what they like for leisure? We make fun of what other people like, and believe others should only like what we like. We make it about a person’s worth. “Only an idiot would like _______.”
If you want to see examples of what I’m talking about, just go to any MHA fan page and say who you ship together – then wait for the backlash of comments start trickling in. Apparently the MHA fandom shippers have gotten so crazy, that they have contacted the author, Kohei Horikoshi, and incessantly harassed him to make their ships canon.
What does it matter if my ship is canon or not? What does it harm me, if a person likes a t.v. show and I don’t? Again, I’m not talking about stances on climate change or nuclear weapons, I’m talking about harmless hobbies and leisure activities – things that literally make no difference one way or the other.
I have a friend who is obsessed with Star Wars. (Let’s be real – who doesn’t have a friend who loves Star Wars?) He is so into it, that he says he loves the Star Wars Holiday Special… the original one made in 1978. I watched it recently just to give it a shot. I thought it was awful. But I can still accept and appreciate my friend, and if he wants to enjoy the Star Wars Holiday Special, more power to him!
I have another friend who loved anything Hilary Duff as a kid. Lizzie McGuire was her jam. I think I was a bit too old for Lizzie McGuire when it came out – so I have no nostalgic feelings related to Hilary Duff. But you know what, good for my friend for staying true to herself and liking it! Even now as an adult, whenever the topic of Hilary Duff comes up, she gets this look in her eyes and you can tell it still has a special place in her heart.
It’s easy to make fun of people who aren’t like us. In fact, it may be a natural instinct. While it seems harmless to make fun of someone for their silly hobbies or interests, I wonder how much more loved and accepted people would feel if we changed our behavior.
I saw a tweet a while ago that told a story about a woman with a huge mug collection, and how her boyfriend built her a custom-made shelf for all her mugs. Maybe you’ve seen this story? It juxtaposes this kind act by her boyfriend with how her ex-husband used to view the mugs – by describing how mad he used to get every time she came home with a new mug.
It’s silly that a person would get so worked up over mugs, right?
I wish I could say I’ve never seen that side of myself before – the side that gets mad when my spouse brings home another “coffee mug” – but I can honestly relate. My husband has many likes and hobbies, and I haven’t always been fully supportive of those interests over the years. What would it look like for me to embrace him fully? Embrace him so much that I’d be willing to build him his own shelf of mugs… or more likely, his own display of retro video game systems. How much would he feel loved and accepted by me if I did that?
That’s the kind of person I want to be. That’s the kind of love I want to pour into others I meet.
Let’s challenge one another to love people. Let’s challenge ourselves to tell someone we are proud of them for being true to themselves and liking a hobby or t.v. show. Let’s be excited when our friend finds a new “mug” and wants to talk about it for 20 minutes.
Let’s accept people totally, and let others like “stupid” things.