It all started when my uncle gave me old comics and read the weekly Sunday newspaper comics. My obsession with picture books never really waned. For me, images could tell a story on paper as well as words. So after reading and re-reading old classics like Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes, I dipped my toes into the DC and Marvel scene. I started on a path that I could never unknowingly come back from.
I remember my first interaction while holding a manga. It was a black and white comic. But read… backwards? And Japanese? Kids reading manga and watching anime weren’t very cool. They smelled bad and greasy and always thought they were the smartest in the room. So these stories couldn’t be so good. Right?
I was wrong. Years later, my best friend introduced me to her favorite anime at the time. An animated sports program? It sounded ridiculous, but I tried. After being used to dark and gritty TV shows, comics, and novels, I was rolling my eyes at the positivity that emanated from this anime. This redhead was so positive and optimistic about being the best volleyball player on the court even though he never officially played on a team. Haikyuu was the first anime I ever watched. Reluctantly, I decided my best friend was right. This anime was really good. Then came COVID-19.
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COVID-19 has given many people, children and adults, a lot of free time. The live television production has been cancelled. This is how animation experienced its great boom in the 21st century. Technology has allowed creators to work from home.
With new anime content pumped and promoted and live entertainment cut short, COVID-19 has coincidentally paved the way for a new generation of anime. Replacing first generation anime, such as Bleach, Naruto and One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, Demon Slayer and My Hero Academia. For new generation watchers, the three old anime are what started their journey. The fanbases exploded. Tiktoks are created, art is created, and the word about these shows is growing exponentially.
Maybe it’s because I live in an echo chamber and surround myself with people who like the same things I do, but I feel like consuming what used to be considered weird and geek is now the norm. While the standard passerby may not watch anime, they are certainly aware of its existence and may be able to talk about a few popular titles.
The same could be said for other media, such as video games and western animation. While COVID-19 has been a negative experience for everyone, many of us have found community without the barrier of strangling societal norms. I feel like quarantine has opened up so many opportunities for people to discover their interests or try something they may not have liked just because they had time to do it .
I’m proud of the growing nerd culture and I’m so happy to have been able to meet so many new and interesting people. Although it’s a cliché thing to say on such an unimportant topic, trying new things is fun and, for me, it opened up a whole new world of people to meet and things to do. I found a social life because I had no social life. Funny, right?