I’ve always wanted to enjoy anime. I used to love cartoons when I was younger and I found manga fascinating when I saw my friend reading it and comic books were wonderful, but as I got older I felt I couldn’t enjoy any of those for different reasons. Cartoons were too childish for what I wanted, but the anime I was exposed to had scenes that made me uncomfortable – even more so if someone saw what I was watching. Manga had the same issue and comic books I had no experience with. So I stuck to reading my novels and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I avoided watching anime at all.
I got older. I studied for my GCSEs, got my A-Levels, went to university. Along the way I was exposed to my first Studio Ghibli story, Princess Mononoke. I enjoyed it, but it was a little too dark for something that I could watch regularly, so I put it to one side again. In 2011, DC launched a reboot and I decided it was a good time to jump into comics and remove the stigma I associated with them. I didn’t always want to read novels and I was already “breaking the rules” by studying Game Development at university. I collected more than a few, trying different series and giving them a few issues to grab me. The ones that didn’t I stopped buying until eventually I stopped buying them all. Batgirl was the one that held my interest for the longest but I wasn’t a fan of how she was being portrayed. She had survived something and yet she didn’t have any self belief and constantly had people saving her. Maybe it got better but I invested as much as I could waiting for her to develop; she never did during the time I read her story line.
Eventually I moved onto The Walking Dead comics, after becoming invested in the TV series, and read some Marvel comics. I’d finally found ones that I enjoyed, and I still do. I wanted something lighter, though, and my eyes strayed to manga. I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to try. After some friend recommendations, and a bit of internet research, I invested while at Forbidden Planet in 2015. I went for Fullmetal Alchemist – a friend recommendation, Blue Exorcist and Rosario+Vampire – internet recommendations. I’d wanted to pick up Fruits Basket, another friend recommendation, but unfortunately they didn’t have any.
I found something enlightening in Fullmetal Alchemist, not every manga has awkward scenes. Blue Exorcist had a few odd moments, and Rosario+Vampire showed what you were getting from the start but I realised something about the manga I enjoy – I don’t mind fan-service shots when I know that’s what I’m getting. It’s when they creep into story lines and I don’t expect them that it bothers me. I still stayed away from anime but as I read more and more manga over the last two years I found myself wanting to watch anime too but I didn’t want to take the risk at just finding more and more anime that made me uncomfortable.
A website started up that I’ve mentioned before, Anime Feminist, a site I found from Kotaku and kept an eye on. I read a few articles and found myself returning time and time again. They did reviews on the first episodes of seasons on Crunchyroll and some of them sounded very appealing, but I was wary. A friend offered me a trial of Crunchyroll and I started watching some in October. I began with a recommendation from Anime Feminist, Poco’s Udon World. I watched the first episode of that, tried an episode of Trickster and also Attack on Titan. I’d finally found anime that I enjoyed and other places for inspiration and thoughtful articles too.
In truth, I owe Anime Feminist my start into anime and my friends my permament introduction to manga. I have a new things to enjoy and places to share that enjoyment too. If anyone reading this has ever wanted to watch anime or read manga and has been put off by the up-skirt imagery that can first come to mind, then I hope my posts here – and the ones at AF – can help you find things you can enjoy too. My current starting recommendations would be Poco’s Udon World & Yuri!!! on Ice for anime and, without a doubt, Fruits Basket for manga.