#9: Zayed A

Age: 20

Location: Chicago, Illinois

When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. There are actually two points of discovering anime for me.

First one is when I decided to pick up Durarara!! on a whim after watching a couple of episodes back in the day. Decided to follow it weekly and was really REALLY into it. I was so used to the feel of Naruto that I wasn’t expecting DRRR!! to be so….modernized. It was refreshing, to say the least. And fun, too!

But after that, I just fell off the anime map. I became slower and slower with Naruto until I stopped trying to keep up. This lasted about 2-3 years.
Then, in late March 2013, I was browsing a certain board for a certain show on a certain website, and then I came across this little GIF right here:

I don’t know, I guess looking at this made me feel a bit warm inside? Haha.

Anyway, I quickly showed this to my friend who was more experienced in anime than I was, and I was told that the name of the show is Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Pretty much immediately after, I marathoned the entire thing on Crunchyroll. Literally. All of it. Didn’t even read the synopsis or have any prior knowledge of the show outside of a name and that one GIF. It took me to some wild places, lemme tell ya. Also hilariously, the GIF wasn’t even in the series proper. It’s from the OP for the first two films.

Anyway, that’s what really got me back into anime. A couple weeks later, I kept seeing posts about Attack on Titan on that same board (even though anime has its own board lol) and I thought, hey this looks popular, so I pick that up too, and catch up on the entire thing in mid-August.

In that same timeframe, I also ended up

  1. Re-watching DRRR!!
  2. Watching all of K-ON!
  3. Watching Nichijou

I ended up enjoying those three things much more than AoT. I believe it’s what caught me in that niche of just watching cute girls doing cute things as my preferred genre, haha.

Was the forum you mentioned 4chan? You guessed it. /a/ was the main platform for my re-entry. It’s where pretty much all of my anime discussion would take place. I stopped going there sometime after, though. I think it was in early 2015.

What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? I don’t know, really. It just… felt different from whatever else I watched. That’s all I can remember, I’m afraid. At least for 2010.

But in 2013, the appeal was how cute it could be. No exaggeration. I mean, I watched Madoka Magica on flimsy cute GIF pretenses.

What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? Back in 2010? I think I was watching the most popular anime, Durarara!!. I’m legitimately not sure though. I wasn’t paying attention.

In 2013, it was during late March, so I think it was JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as it was closing up its first season. Very, very quickly after, however, attention shifted to Attack on Titan.

What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention to the anime community at the time. I was just focused on doing my own thing. To an extent, I still am. I never expected the community to be this big, though.

What was online anime fandom like at the time? I’m going off of what I’ve seen on /a/, but I feel like I can apply this to most places. The fandom as a whole seemed a bit less… abrasive, in a way? Like, it was easier to have gentle discussions about anime back in 2013. Now everything just feels so much more fast-paced and discussions become more aggressive and to the point to compensate.

How did you connect with other fans? Before I had my Twitter account, I had two thing: /a/ and IRC. I was in a certain IRC channel on the Rizon server, very small, only like 11 people max. But they were mostly warm to me.

You got into anime at a time when it was starting to get very established. Did you run into any “gatekeeping” or were you made to feel welcome? Back in 2010? Not really. I mostly kept to myself as I watched Durarara, so yeah I didn’t really run into anything. In 2013? It was mostly the same. It was a bit easy for me to ease into the fandom, actually!

What was the first anime-related purchase you made, and how much did it cost? I was at a bookstore in downtown Chicago back when I was going to university there. I had this one friend that would always talk about how good the manga Evergreen is, so I thought I’d humor them by purchasing the first volume right there—along with the first volumes for Prison School and Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto!

Since then, I’ve purchased and read through the other three volumes of Evergreen, but never made it past the first volume for Prison School or Sakamoto. I’ve also purchased many, many more volumes of manga since then! My manga interests have also taken an interesting skew towards yuri, finding myself buying every single volume of Citrus, and several other volumes of yuri manga. Kinda curious as to how that happened.

What’s the biggest contrast between anime fandom when you got into it and now? This is a tough one. I think we’ll go back to what I mentioned when I was talking about online fandom, about how everything’s so fast-paced now. Back then, discussions were noticeably slower. Kinda more lax. It sort of made me feel welcome there, in a way. Had I tried going into it now? I probably wouldn’t get into fandom nearly as much. It gets really frantic at times and I’m not sure how I would take it if I didn’t get into anime until now. I mean, I still like where I am, but I kinda wish people would just slow down, y’know? They’re just cartoons, people!

Zayed can be reached on Twitter

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