My memories of the good old times with anime, and my rediscovery of its wonders at 23, are firmly separated by my discovery of simulcasts. Now I’ve been tuning in virtually live for almost a year, I can feel that the memories I’m making are set apart from the series I’ve loved in the past because of the different pacing – having them for a few weeks, then seeing them replaced with new creations. The way I’ll reminisce on them will be different to the nostalgia I feel for NANA. And I get the feeling that, with the option to watch the next part right away, I might not have given certain series second chances to win me over. The oldies can always be found somewhere on the net, but with the new ones, being among the first to get to know the world and characters is a fleeting opportunity.
I realised this while watching DanMachi. Though the RPG world and Bell and Hestia’s partnership sparked an interest, it didn’t have me flailing and fangirling from the start. Still, I decided to watch the next episode, and then the one after that, to seize the limited chance I had. Each one shifted my outsider’s opinion of harem anime just a little, and taught me that a demographic doesn’t hold any sway over their potential for beauty and sincerity.
For me, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? reached even greater lengths than its title. It became about finding your role in the world and forgetting your self-doubt. Hestia became an inspiration, because she has no self-doubt. She, the mother goddess, had no familia until Bell found her, so she was going to be true to her spirit and hold onto him with all she had. She had belief to spare for Bell, the new player fearful that his potential couldn’t carry him far in this dangerous world, and she’d love him and wait for him to return from all of his adventures. I treasured the pedestal it gave to this kind of strength, because I hadn’t seen it honoured in quite the same way anywhere else.
Sound! Euphonium, on the other hand, captured me from the very beginning, and only got better. It reminded me of friendships that will stay with me for life, and brought back the competitive excitement I thrived on when I sang with a choir in my school years. The depth of the love between Kumiko and Reina, the individual strength and trust they develop together, brings forward memories of the intense joy, heartbreak and complications that comes with a friendship like theirs. And it’s one of my favourite examples of loves that transcend romance in anime; that space preserving love’s pure bliss.
This show seemed to open the floodgates for fictional friendships providing a connection to precious memories. Ushio and Tora threads love and support across reincarnations and realms, offering an unlikely link to the long-distance bonds we nurture through the web. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is full of the overexcited romance of letting someone unexpected into your life, your world and its secrets. And School-Live! celebrated the sanctuary of friendship, giving me a surprise – one of my most moving since my return to anime. Suddenly its constant use as a source of power and strength has clicked with me, after all these years.
Simulcasts certainly made 2015 a year of new experiences. Now, I think the thrill of watching new episodes as they aired in Japan, and where it happened to fall in our lives, had a hand in my partner and I starting this little blog. But I often wonder how it would change my experiences of my old favourites, if I could’ve seen them with that space for the last cliff-hanger to breathe. I’m sure the nostalgia wouldn’t quite be the same. Certain moments, perhaps unexpected ones, would be crystallised from being savoured while they were new, altered from being turned over in my mind, buried and unearthed in a different space of memory. The times surrounding them might have been different, and in the end I might not have found myself writing this blog right now.
All that is strange to think about, but at the same time, tracing my path to this point has made me appreciate the anime I love in a whole different way. And if you’re still here reading after all my waffling, thanks, I appreciate that too. Here’s hoping I can keep on waffling about anime on this blog for a long time to come.