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Dances With Unicorns

My hobbies include Bicycling, Digital art, Exercise walking, Japanese visual arts, Minnesota history, Model Railroading, Photography, Passenger train advocate, and Writing nonfiction and fiction.

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FAN GIRL MOM, by Megan (James Patrick Buchanan) · 3:00pm June 27th

Japanophilia is an interest in, or love of, Japan and all things Japanese. (Its opposite is Japanophobia.) One who has such an interest or love is a Japanophile.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanophile

My first name is Megan. I’m an adult daughter of a mother who loves Anime (Japanese animation) and Manga (Japanese graphic novels). Why do I write about this subject? By and large, most Anime and Manga fans are children and young adults, while their parents wonder why their children love Japanese cartoons and comic books. But, for some reason still unknown to me, the reverse is true in my family where it is my mother who loves Anime and Manga, while I - her adult child - am left to wonder about her strange hobbies.

I dislike bringing my friends over to my mother’s home. We spend our time in my mother’s ordinary appearing living room. I’m grateful that my mother keeps her ever growing collection of Anime posters, Anime PVC action figures, Anime costumes, Anime this, and Anime that in her bedroom.

However, within a few minutes of my friends and me walking into my Mom’s living room and sitting down, my friends will find my mother’s collection of Anime and Manga. Her collection is hard to miss, as it fills an entire bookshelf.

And then, my friends automatically assume that I own these. I blame American culture that they just assume that just because I’m a young person that I would have an interest in Anime. It would never occur to my friends that an adult my mother’s age would have an interest in Japanese popular culture.

My friends inspect my mother’s collection and then debate among themselves which titles that they like the best. After a few minutes, one of them will say to me something like, “Megan, can I borrow your InuYasha DVDs and perhaps your Chobits graphic novels?”

Me, “That’s my mother’s collection, so you’ll have to ask her if you want to borrow those.”

Friends, “Megan, your mother collects Anime and Manga? I didn’t know you have such a totally cool mom!”

Me, “Yes,” I somehow manage to say, “totally cool.”

Friends, “I mean, my parents don’t understand my interest in Anime at all. They just don’t get just how cool Anime shows are. I hate it when my mom and dad tell me that I’m too old to be watching cartoons.”

Me with a sigh, “I completely . . . agree.”

Friends, “I see that you agree with me that Anime is the best entertainment on Earth. Thank you.”

Me, “No, I mean that I agree with your parents.”

Friends, “Huh?” they ask me.

Me, “My dear (friend’s name), you are in high school (or in college or working full time) and now you’re too old to be interested in cartoons for children.”

Friends, “Anime is not cartoons” they say in a surprised voice. “Anime has complex characters, great plots, eye-popping visual images, and heart pounding music. If you would watch the best of Anime, such as ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ you would see that Anime is definitely not cartoons!”

I attempt to explain to them in my most adult voice, “To my eyes, they still look like cartoons.”

In a quick reply, my friends will then start describing, in painful detail I might add, their favorite Anime series. As most of my friends happen to be young women, they tend to like shows such as To Heart, or InuYasha, or The Twelve Kingdoms. They describe to me who wrote the story, which animation studio made it, which voice actors were in it, and so on. If the show has an English dubbed version, they will describe the English voice cast, translation errors, and so on.

If my friends are in bright, bubbly moods they will suggest that sometime we should have an Anime slumber party, our very own, one night Anime convention. They want to watch their favorite Anime shows while dressed up as their favorite Anime characters, while eating Japanese food, and even have my Mom’s living room lit up only with Christmas tree lights.

Once, one of my friends suggested that we spend some vacation time attending the nearest Anime convention. I’d be spending three days watching my friends binge-watch the newest series on big screens, attend convention panels to talk about their favorite series, and spend way too much of their money at the dealers room.

Will you guys grow up and get a life?

Returning to my original question, why am I telling you this role reversal saga to you may wonder? I would like to tell you what it is like to be an adult child of an Anime and Manga fan. How can I do that, you may wonder? After several years of living in confusion about my mother’s strange hobbies, I’ve decided to interview my mother. I want to see for myself what’s so darn addictive about watching and collecting Anime, about reading and collecting Manga - some of these are the size of telephone books, and about wearing and collecting Anime costumes. How did an American adult woman get introduced to and hooked on Japanese pop culture? What makes Anime and graphic novels so appealing to her mind? What surprises my Mom the most about Anime and Manga?

Well, I suppose that together we will find these answers while I interview her. My second part of this letter is my one-to-one chat with my Japanophile mother.

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