The most commonly asked question: why are you studying Japanese? The most common way of answering it: because I like anime. It has become predictable. So predictable that whenever you see the question asked to a foreigner on Japanese TV, the Japanese person asking the question gives the typical “of course” reaction.
Anime is one of the most widely spread forms of Japanese culture across the world. And that’s a good thing. It gives an easily accessible way for the world to experience Japanese entertainment. There are many other things Japan gives to the world in the form of science, medicine, technology, cuisine, etc., but you don’t usually study a foreign language for those specific reasons.
Anime is a gateway. Every person that studies originally with anime as their reason evolves to enjoying other parts of the culture. The anime answer is heard most often from beginner or intermediate learners.
Regardless of what the answer actually means, I think it’s too broad. It’s putting all the people that study Japanese and say anime into the same category. This mistakenly shows that they share similar beliefs, ideas, and motivation. Nothing could be further from the truth. People like anime for different reasons. If someone asked what you like to listen to, you wouldn’t just say “music.” You’d go into genres and sub-genres, then specific artists, and songs.
There is a parallel to Japanese people that love trains.
Did you know Japanese people like trains? Of course you did. Japan has the coolest trains in the world. So you would think there would be a “train fan” category.
Train fan? No no no. There are no train fans. There are categories of train fans.
For example, you are:
乗り鉄: Someone who loves riding trains
撮り鉄: Someone who loves taking pictures of trains
模型鉄: Someone who loves train models
音鉄: Someone who loves the sounds of trains
Think that’s all? There’s is also:
廃線鉄: Someone who loves visiting abandoned train tracks
歴史鉄: Someone who loves researching train history
描き鉄: Someone who loves drawing pictures of trains
降り鉄: Someone who loves getting off at various stations and walking around the train station area (*Note: this one is me)
Check out all 36 types here.
Just like passion for trains, there is variety around the anime reason for why people study. What they do with anime, how it influences them, how it influences their Japanese. This goes beyond genres like horror, romance, or sci-fi. There are anime cosplayers, anime collectors, anime figure collectors, anime voice actor lovers, anime story lovers, anime music lovers, etc.
There’s more to you just liking anime. So the next time you give your anime answer to a Japanese person, try expanding on that.
What’s your anime reason?
If one of your reasons for studying Japanese involves anime, what is your deeper anime reason?
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