We all had this dream...
And it came from the same place, Anime. Over time, over generations, it took different shapes. It came from so many different sources, all of whom reshaped and redefined it, but still we all knew what it was, and we all gathered to it… praising, worshiping, defending, reveling in its splendor.
So what is it now? Do we still know? Many of us have had our feelings of affection jaded over time. We tried to make our own, and it failed to return us to the spark, that moment we first knew we loved… anime.
From this point we start hunting for the origin of our desire to create anime and we begin to see… We start to watch the generations change. Anime now is not what i remember as anime then. So then what is anime? --- and with that crumbles the image of myself i built around anime, one of the Otaku, the eternally entranced anime fan.
And when i couldn't define my life by anime i was lost. My career goals, my friends, my hobbies, my desires for life accomplishments… all confused.
'I make an anime with my best friends, guided by my heroes in the field!' Screams my inner child. But the adult me sees the the true depth of how impossible that is.
I am not alone in that realization.
And in my darker moments i watch so many of my talented and hopeful contemporaries drop from this changing field. We go it alone in this endeavor to be the very best at something that can not be defined, with so little to guide us, so little promise of success, and no structure. We wish to become Mangaka, we wish to make anime, but how? The people who try can not keep up with the top, they lose their sense of the dream, they lose hope that they ever could.
I can freely admit, I am this thing. Anime in my soul, Mangaka in my dreams. But what success i have garnished remains a shadow compared with the visions in my dreams. I'm depressed by the reality of now…
But i am (not) alone.
And i have (not) given up. I write journals on my tactics to see my dream realized, i study my heroes techniques, i compose drafts of images and stories to see if they could fly, I talk to others who see the dream and we discuss it, I design projects, I question and plan around the financial logistics of pursuing my dreams, I learn the skills i know i need- even the ones that disinterest me (marketing/ IP law/ Business management/ Project Management… ect.)
It's not enough.
Despite all that, i need more things. Time. Help. Wisdom. Guidance. Patience. I define and redefine and study the nature of my goal again and again. It is humungous. It is gigantic. And it just keeps getting bigger.
So more than anything i realize what i need is faith. Faith in my love for this thing that warmed my childhood and taught me so much. Faith in my ability to decipher what shapes my goals as an anime media maker, and make those things a reality.
"I want to publish anime works of quality,
and to be recognized and rewarded for that quality."
Do you want that too?
There are no easy answers there. There really is just that much to do- Learning to publish, to draw, to attract an audience, finding success and security. There are no easy answers because each of our realities are far too transient. So i can offer you nothing to sooth the uncertainty of that most amazing and strange life path, that of a practicing artist. You just have to prepare yourself to keep failing, and you have to honor the little successes where you can.
But i will say this, remember the spark that started it. Remember why you love anime… or anything else for that matter. Find the moment in your heart, and remember that we came here to honor it. Because in truth that's what keeps us trying to be mangaka, and all the other desires just get tangled in its wake.
Somewhere in me there is still a little girl watching Ranma half, Project A-ko, and Cutey Honey with her big brother. There are hot summer days with in here with a best friend and a lot of cats spent drawing our favorite characters.
In here is a teenager on long lunch breaks with a Sorcerer Hunters manga in one hand and a soda in the other. A girl who spends her evenings dodging homework by playing Xenogears and Guilty Gear.
There is a fully rational adult getting lost reading Parasite, and King of Thorns until 3 am online. There is late nights on the couch watching the adventures of Gene Starwind and Van Flanelle with her lover. There is more than a decade of homage RP's to the worlds i so desperately wished to be a part of…
In there somewhere is what anime is.
In there is what i keep trying to bring out into the world. I haven't forgotten, even if i do get muddled along the way. I love anime with all my heart, it binds the moments of my life and sprinkles it with just a touch of pleasantly bright and colorful insanity. I drag myself back into the hunting grounds and hunt down that spark, trying to make it happen again. And again. And again.
If the spark anime set off in me could meet yours… If the kindle of those moments i lived could touch yours, would something catch fire? Do those things ring clear with what anime is in your heart? I hope so.
Today, as many days before, and many days to come, i looked at what made me try to be a mangaka. I looked at why i never feel like any effort i put out feels like it matters for long. I looked at the deep sense of desire that runs through me to create, well … anime. I realized through that myself "i am not alone in this journey to celebrate this art style." There are a lot of people sharing this journey towards Anime, whatever that might mean to them, however they might wish to do it.
The artists who want to make it, eastern and western.
The critics who hunt down and promote it.
The enthusiast who celebrate it together.
We're all going back to that spark, and bringing others in to share it with.
I'll keep doing just that if i can, and i hope you will too.