I have a lot of friends here in Barcelona, very good friends. Some are Spanish, some are Japanese and many of them are from different countries all over the world. And sometimes people ask me this typical question that I don’t really like (hey, did you just think I have many things which I don’t like, didn’t you? But you too right?) : “Do you watch anime?”, “Have you watched the final episode of Naruto?” or “Do you know this song from that anime?”
My answer is always like: “Nah…unfortunately I don’t really watch it”, “I’ve never watched nor read Naruto in my life, sorry” or “I’ve never heard of it, what’s that?” Then people react in different way. Some people are like “Ah ok, never mind”, Some are like “Really? I can’t believe that you haven’t even heard of them!” or some others kindly tell me “What did you just say!!?? YOU SHOULD WATCH IT!!!!”
Alright, to be honest, I’m just not interested in anime and manga very much. (I am so sorry for disappointing some of you.) Personally, I’m more interested in music and subculture from English speaking countries because of my interest and my family environment since when I was a child. For example, I was listening to Back Street Boys so much when I was little because my parents had their album in their drawer and I encountered it, and also my cousin always copied her Avril Lavigne’s CD to MD and gave it to me. (Fucking Mini Disc, what a memories! Is anyone still using it? Actually I’m still using it when I listen to music in my house haha!) So, I don’t mean I love or hate anime and manga, I am not just very familiar with them. That’s it, period.
…Well, I do watch anime and read manga a little bit, but things that I watch and read are not popular at all outside of Japan. (For your information, the only anime I watch is “Sazae-san“, and it is the most watched TV program in Japan. But I’ve never encountered any foreigner who knows this anime. I guess because its story is about a daily life of an ordinary Japanese family and it is difficult to understand if you don’t know much about culture, background, jokes and boring daily life in Japan. It is not about love, fantasy nor adventure thing. It’s like Japanese “Full House” in anime version.) Also, not all Japanese people are crazy about anime and manga. Some people are yes, but not everyone watch or read them, like not every Spanish goes see flamenco or bullfighting. I clearly remember that one of my Spanish friend’s mom did “uh-oh” face when I asked her to cook paella. (Shocking facts time! Spanish people don’t eat paella everyday, don’t dance flamenco and even bullfighting is prohibited in Barcelona! Surprised? Great!!!)
Although I am so glad that many people all around the world love Japanese culture. I feel so happy for that. No one feels bad about foreigners respect and like his/her own culture. The thing I feel weird is that when some people strongly recommend me their favorite Japanese thing. I do know that Japanese culture (both traditional culture and subculture) is awesome and great, because I AM Japanese. And also I understand that they truly love it. But for me, anime and manga are not something that fascinate me the most. I think it is same thing that if I force my Spanish friends to listen to Enrique Iglesias or Pitbull. (Don’t worry guys, I don’t like Pitbull anyway.)
I remember one thing. When I was in high school, I went to Australia with my Japanese friends and stayed with an Australian host family there. One day, we were in their car and my host family asked us to connect our iPod to a car audio and play some music. In that time my iPod was full of music like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. I was enjoying “my cool music taste,” but my host family didn’t seem to be interested so much. I think it was because they can listen to that kind of music from radio everyday. However, when they changed my iPod to my friend’s one… BOOOM. They were so excited because she had a lot of Japanese pop music in her iPod. (That was the only moment that I regretted having listened to Back Street Boys too much when I was 11 years old.)
Since then I learned that sometimes people are strongly interested in things which they don’t know much about, or which their culture doesn’t have. It’s great, because it can make your eyes open to the new world. That’s why we learn other language and culture. That’s why we are attracted by a life in other country and travel abroad. And that’s why my Spanish friends are crazy about anime and they are professional cosplayers.
Conclusion: Love what you love my friends, I don’t fucking care about your taste anyway.