An unexpected catalyst

One of my strong beliefs is that our lives are made up of a series of changes brought about by ‘catalysts’—people, events, experiences. An unexpected one has completely hijacked my imagination: the world of Japanese manga and anime.

Okay, so I’ve discovered YET ANOTHER new interest. More money to spend, more space taken up in an already cluttered house, more time and energy devoted to the pursuit of something new.

Who cares! I LOVE MANGA!

I got wind of a “Shounen-ai” series called “Gravitation” when I was in Washington, so I bought a couple volumes with a Borders gift card. I couldn’t put them down! I had to make two more trips during the week until I’d bought all the currently-released 5 volumes—plus the 7 volumes of another series “Fake”, and the two released volumes of “Eerie Queerie” for good measure. I can’t believe that I got so hooked so fast!

Like most Americans, the whole genre—big-eyed kids, transforming robots, characters who routinely changed shape, form, and sanity from one frame to the next—just seemed too bizarre. I remember “Speed Racer” and “Kimba the White Lion” when I was a kid, but somewhere I’d lost the enthusiasm. It just appeared too goofy for the “adult” me.

WOW, was I wrong! The stories are sometimes really cool and once you understand a little bit about how the artwork “works” (), then it makes a while lot of sense. Even barring any deeper meanings, it’s a lot of fun! Believe it or not, the “Eerie Queerie” manga is my absolute FAVORITE so far, despite the really lame title. The story is so wonderful and surprisingly deep—I was actually moved to tears on three separate occasions as the story unfolded, and that was just in the first volume. (If you’re remotely interested in manga and want to take my advice, RUN out and buy EQ…)

Then came my first Anime purchase: the volume 1 DVD of the “Gravitation” TV series. OMG!!!! I’m so totally in love with the characters, the music, the story—everything! I can’t believe I’ve got to wait until AUGUST for the next DVD. It also came along at a pretty good time for other reasons—I’ve sorta been “turning Japanese” for the last few months as it is. But now this has clinched it: I’m going to study Japanese this fall in school both for personal and career development reasons. I’m already eating vast quantities of Japanese food, and have even resorted to preparing Japanese-style meals at home. YIKES!

But back to the “catalyst” thread. This is just another case in my life where something unexpected has produced a sea-change in the way I look at and interact with the world. In my advancing age, it gets harder and harder to take advantage of those moments and they don’t seem to come around as often, since I’ve been jaded by my 41 years on the planet to one degree or another. It also gets harder, because I now look back—sometimes with a degree of emotional pain—and say things like “Damn—why couldn’t I have figured this out x years ago?”

But still, it’s such great fun when things like this happen. I just thank my parents most of all, and my teachers through the years for somehow instilling in me the driving need to learn and experience new things. I try to maintain a sense of wonder and excitement with everything and it’s always so much fun when it pays off. Thank you Mom & Dad!

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