We all enjoy anime to some degree or another, and some people are very open about it. They visit Anime Expos, cosplay, and proudly associate themselves with it without the fear of detest from others. Others, not so much. Where I live and go to school, anime is a foreign interest. Not too many people are familiar with it and frankly, it isn’t something that’s brought up as an everyday conversation piece. In fact, outside of my e-friends that I’ve gained since I first got on the internet, I only know two people out of a few decent size groups of friends that I’ve ever spoken to about anime. Even with those people, anime has never been brought up no more than a hand full of times. And If people do know what “anime” is, finding out that you’re into anime will make them get a bad impression of you because anime has a negative connotation. People think anime fans are socially awkward, nerdy, and someone they wouldn’t want to affiliate with. And as an Asian American male, I’m already associated with it by default! This may just be my own narrow experience, but I’m sure there are some people out there who can agree and relate.
So why is it that some people, me included, are closet anime fans? I’m sort of out I guess (I’ll explain in a bit), but I’ve never casually brought it up in a conversation with my friends or strangers unless I was specifically asked, or if they brought it up first. Even then, my apparent knowledge of anime is just what I know about the mainstream series and I brush it off. I guess you could say that I’m insecure with myself, or fear the rejection of not being “socially normal” or being too different, but can you really blame me? In this society, as a 22 year old nearing 23, I can’t be talking about why AonE stopped subbing Naruto, or if why everyone is learning bankai when it’s something rare and only developed after hundreds of years of training when I go to bars or clubs! It simply doesn’t work to get the girls’ attentions. If there are people who can prove me wrong, then please teach me your secrets. I’m more proud to have concealed my anime interest rather than to have expressed it openly.
But I am not a complete loser, as some of you may be judging by what you’ve read so far. I do have a significant other. And I do share my anime interest with her, but it took a while to come out with it. It took nearly eight months to build up the courage, comfort level and closeness to even let her know that before I met her, I used to spend a chunk of my free time reading manga about a guy who fights demons with a ridiculously large sword, and watching anime about high school teens who are involved in a secret international mech war. Exposing this side of me would totally derail things when we started the relationship, she had the impression that I was the atypical, opposite-of-the-stereotyped Asian American male. My room definitely has zero evidence of my liking of anime. I have no wall scrolls, figurines, DVDs, manga, or anything like that even hint the existence of it in my life. Before I told her about being an anime fan, I used to be the guy who quickly tries to exit out of the web browser because I would be browsing the GotWoot forums when my girlfriend would open the door to my room. Ugh, it was as if I was trying not to get caught masturbating by my parents. It’s embarrassing but funny at the same time.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that interest in anime, at least in my environment and amongst the groups of people I know, isn’t very socially acceptable because it isn’t a norm. But I’ve been comfortable with hiding it, and my girlfriend accepts my interest in anime as just a part of who I am. There are a lot of things people hide and this is just one of mine. I think I subconsciously don’t share my interest a lot more now because I’ve lost the burning passion I once had for anime. I don’t spend hours dedicating myself to the newest Naruto release by DB (faggots), or checking for raws and spoiler pics for the latest chapter. Nowadays, I only browse the forums to post in non-anime related, off-topic forums, but I do catch up with anime occasionally and read some Shounen-Jump manga here and there. I don’t know if I will ever completely lose interest in anime and abandon it altogether, but I do know that if and when that day comes, my secrets will die with me…
I simply choose to not reveal myself as an anime geek. My social reputation is overwhelmingly more important than this. Is that so wrong?