Anime and Life....
Being a 50+ adult and hanging out on Gaia probably labels me as being more than a little odd to many Gaians, and this journal entry is likely to do little to dispel that apprehension.
But what the heck.
First off, the reason I come to Gaia is purely entertainment and escapism.
I'm not a fan of broadcast television, and to be honest, by the time the work day is done and whatever needs to be accomplished around the house has been completed, I haven't got a huge amount of energy left for reading books, so something as light as Gaia fits the bill perfectly.
Add to that, the fact that I'm big on some things that might be considered a bit below my age range, and being able to interact with people young enough to be actively engaged in those pass-times keeps me current and informed. Basically, you youngsters are a veritable fountain of information when it comes to Anime, music and what's going on with the demographic that shapes so much of our culture these days.
Anyways, to the subject at hand....
With the "death" of Heralds of Chaos, I've been sort of shambling around Gaia for a while now, looking for my new "home-base" on the site, and seem to have found it in the Anime, Manga and Comics forum. Being what I consider a "geek for all seasons" (I've been a fan of comics, cartoons, sci-fi and fantasy my entire life), it's more than a little surprising that I didn't end up there years ago, but I guess Gaia had enough "shinies" that I was kept occupied without having to explore too broadly.
The discovery of the A/M/C lead to the discovery of an immense amount of anime that I never knew existed and has lead me to investigate, purchase, and watch several series, with more sitting on the shelf waiting their turn.
The first series which caught my attention in the A/M/C was Clannad, as it seemed to be the one which drew the most emphatic of responses, with almost everyone who commented on it, saying it was one of the best, and most moving things they'd ever seen.
Unfortunately, being a neophyte to the current world of Anime, I was unaware of the full extent of the series, and watched the movie first. Then, having been very effected by the movie, I compounded my mistake by going on and watching After Story next, in hopes that it might have a different resolution than the "condensed" and abridged version that the movie presented.
All I can say about After Story is "wow".
This is not your mother's TV Anime.
All I'd been introduced to in the way of serialized television Anime previously was shows like Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor Moon on the one end, and Bleach, Naruto and Death Note on the other.
While the last three were certainly more "mature" than the first three, and had a certain emotional clout, they did nothing to prepare me for the emotional roller coaster that was After Story, and I think I can honestly say that it was one of the most impactful things I have ever seen.
By the time I was done, I was emotionally spent, and sank into depression for at least several days. Even now, over a week later, all it takes is a flashback to one of the more poignant scenes or one of the songs coming into my head, to unbalance me all over again.
And that got me thinking.... What is it about this story that would cause it to have such a profound effect on me?
Sure, it's a tragic story, but I've watched and lived through my share of those before, and, after drying my eyes, blowing my nose and a good night's sleep, I've been right as rain again.
But After Story was different, and after much soul-searching, I think I've latched onto something that might explain it.
As much as After Story is a romantic comedy with a tragic ending, it's about more than that.
It's about relationships, and deep, abiding friendships that last a lifetime and persevere through all that life throws at us.
You can't go through a single episode of After Story without being presented with a situation where one person isn't being supported by someone else.
It's also about loss, regret and hope, and every one of those elements ties directly back to the central theme of just how important it is to have people in your life to care about and who care about you.
And just how fragile and fleeting those relationships can be.
Now at the risk of going all "emo" on this entry, let me just say that I've never been one to actively pursue and maintain friendships, whether it be on line or in real life.
My upbringing was one of cool reserve, and lasting friendships were just something that never happened, and while I was always, sometimes painfully aware of that "void" in my life, there was always some distraction or rationalization that allowed the pattern of behaviour to continue, to the point where now, in my fifties, I can honestly say that my wife and I are about all each other has to draw upon.
Now don't get me wrong. having someone you love, and who loves you back is a pretty wonderful thing, and I'm extremely grateful for that, but being presented with a series like Clannad, where the characters have so many close friends, and experience so much with them, tends to throw a bit of a harsh spotlight on one's own life, and emphasize just how much they might have missed out on by not having made people more important.
When you get to the stage in life at which I have arrived, the realization that there is only so much time left in which to wring as much out of your remaining years can be pretty daunting.
So what's the point of all this?
Why am I writing this rather "exposing" journal entry on a "kid's" site?
Well, it's partly for me of course, as a means by which to hopefully clarify my thoughts and maybe act as a cudgel to knock me out of a destructive pattern that has been ingrained for a lifetime.
But it's also intended to hopefully encourage some of the younger people who might read it, to look at their own lives and relationships.
From the perspective of a teenager, life is long and there's always time to do the things that you intend to get around to, but never seem to.
The advent of the internet, with it's myriad distractions and endless parade of interesting sights, sounds and people, is an amazing thing.
But it can also be a trap, and lead to the false impression that we are really living our lives while we stare at our computer screens.
I'm not going to say that friends made on the internet can't be real friends, because I know differently. But that being said, unless you can actually touch that friend, unless you can actually see them laughing and hug them when they're hurting, it's not a complete friendship, and there is very likely to come a point in your life where a hug emoticon simply won't cut it.
This isn't directed at everyone, needless to say. But if you're spending more time with your online friends from other parts of the world than you are with friends from your neighbourhood; if you're spending more time at the keyboard than your are walking, talking and living with the people around you, you're setting yourself up to one day look back at your life and regret the time that you won't be able to get back, no matter how desperately you might wish you could.
There are no glowing orbs in real life.
There is no "re-set" button.
When a day is gone, it's gone forever, and no amount of wishing or regret will ever bring it back.
So get out there and make it count.
Get out into the real world and make as many friends as you can, and nurture and cherish those friendships, because when all is said and done, it's the people in our lives that make our lives worth living.
And do it now, because trust me, you're going to be surprised at how the pace of time increases as you get older, and you don't have to be having fun for time to fly.
Now get off my lawn.