O Japan…

At Senpai the mood has been bleak to say the least…  you know why.

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When I was younger, and just getting into anime, Japan seemed like heaven on Earth. I know I’m not the only one to have felt this way, the tendency to put Japan on a pedestal is quite common among young American fans. But then it seemed to be true – EVERYTHING I liked seemed better in Japan back then. I was so innocent and firmly believed that any piece of animation from the Land of the Rising Sun was automatically better than anything made in the west.
This sentiment also included gaming, cars, cultural traditions, and even pro wrestling.

Although for wrestling, could you really blame me? In the mid 90s these two men were at their height:

Let’s compare 90s legends… One of these men is REAL AMERICAN, the other is Japanese. Both have considerable egos, both have been in trouble with the law, and both have held numerous titles around the world. However one is a walking joke, and the other still always spoken about with utmost respect. One holds the business in very high regard, and is credited for having an insanely high threshold for pain (even wrestled with a cracked skull a few times!). The other believes he made the business, and recently made newz for saying “Who cares how many fake titles you win?” Er that and for flashing his orange junk in front of his own daughter.

And martial arts too. I mean jeeze, compare the average karate blackbelt in America and Japan:

Ok ok I know now I’m being silly. I admit, Grandmaster Mas Oyama was much more than your average blackbelt, and would easily destroy Daniel-san. Nothing against wax-on, wax-off, but Mas Oyama is a martial arts icon and legend for a reason. However, I will say this… it is pretty ordinary in America to see teens (if not younger!) with backbelts, no?

Now let’s compare mid 90s gaming hardware…

Hehe alright alright, I’m sorry, I’m ranting again, back on topic…

In middle and high school I would spend most of my classtime daydreaming what it would be like to live in Japan. In my crazy-hormone mind I believed that, although I was hardly Mr. Poplularity in my lame American school, in Japan I would practically be the Fonz! Stupid Americans don’t understand me, but the Japanese, ah, they’d undoubtedly understand me and my fascination with the geeky side of their culture, everything from galge to dakimakura.

That or they’d snicker and affectionately dub me “otaku”

Of course I’ve smartened up over the years and realize that Japan is not utopia. Admittedly, it is pretty expensive and crowded. Also, I have calmed down in my fanboyishness and can admit that Dragon Ball Z is not quite on the same level of epicness as say Ben Hur, Patton, Godfather, or Lord of the Rings. I know my Middle School self would want to kill me for saying it, but it is a classic anime that’s meant primarily for kids, nothing more than that but definitely nothing less.

The point of all of this? Well, I’ve known for some time that Japan is not perfect. In fact, recently it has had more than its share of crises including terrorism and economic problems. Its history too is riddled with conflict, however if it’s one thing that has remained constant about Japan amidst the chaos is that it is incredibly resilient and capable of rebuilding itself better than it was.

The recent earthquake and nuclear catastrophe was a sobering reminder that Japan is not the heaven that I sometimes (despite losing my otaku-like innocence years ago) like to think it was.

Japan, and all of those who have been affected by this tragedy are in my prayers… and I hope this ends soon and the nation can rebuild itself stronger and better than before.

– Mike

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