Quite a pairing of words. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Can such a thing even exist? Well, I guess I would consider myself to be one, though I can’t say that this hasn’t been a recent struggle for me. There’s a lot of areas that I’ve been working on remedying as of late due to personal convictions I’ve been having.
Before I go into too much detail, I’ll give a little background. As a Filipino, you’re pretty much raised as a Catholic. You get used to the typical routines and rituals associated with the Catholic church. I attended Saturday school and learned about doing communion and confession and such. When I was a young teenager, I was introduced to what I suppose would technically be called a “non-denominational” church (as in, not belonging to a denomination such as baptist, protestant, etc). Simply put, they teach from the source. Just some local church here in my hometown and not one of those mega-churches you see out and about with branches and whatnot. To make a long story short, I drifted away from it sometime around college age, and I came back after losing my job, failing at academics, and suffering a broken marriage. I didn’t mean to throw all that in your face like that, but just letting you know where I’m coming from. Don’t worry, I’m over it. I’m not here to start a pity party, preach to you, or debate religious doctrine. Just felt it would be good to share some of where I come from.
During the days of my youth, it was quite easy to obtain the things that you wanted and were able to digitally. Yes, downloading MP3’s was alive and well even in the days of dial-up. This became even easier as broadband became available to the masses at affordable prices. I will admit that I partook in illegally downloading music, movies, games, programs, etc. It was fast, easy, and hassle free. I pretty much did it without really thinking twice about it. I remember trying to limit myself in that I would purchase the artists or programs that I really loved or wanted to support, but freely downloaded the rest (in retrospect, I still question what made me feel Windows ME was worthy of my support >_>). Needless to say, that left a lot of things open as fair game. What I did was obviously illegal, and I’ve since begun to rid myself of these things. I pretty much dug through all my old hard drives and burned CDs and DVDs and started to trash everything that I didn’t own.
This has been a bit hard letting go. Not the deletion of what I didn’t own, but rather eliminating the habit of going through the motions to obtain what I want, be it a music album or a TV show. It’s something you really take for granted because finding what you want in this day and age is so simple. You just fire up your favorite search engine and find the information you need within a matter of seconds. Instead of going to the library, they have a smattering of eBooks available on many library websites. If you want music, instead of going to the store and picking up the CD, you can just go through iTunes, Amazon, or whoever else and download what you want. If you want to watch a movie or TV show, you can search in YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, or the On Demand section from your average TV provider. Of course there’s illegal ways to obtain all these as well.
We live in a society of instant gratification. We can pretty much get what we want when we want it. It’s coming to the point where we really don’t need to leave the house for too much. Communication with others is pretty much instantaneous now that almost everyone has a cell phone or mobile device. Why send a letter when you can text or e-mail and they’ll get the message as soon as they check their device for it. Groceries can be delivered nowadays. Working from home has even become an option, depending on your job of course. Why bother leaving the house? The children of this generation are growing up in this type of society, which in combination with decreasing attention spans has some significant negative consequences. I do IT work at a middle/high school and I was speaking to one of my colleagues about this recently. In his opinion, kids really don’t have a mindset to work for the things they want. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for people to get a job or mow lawns to get some extra cash. It seems that if a kid can’t get what they want right now, or if they have to work for it, they wont even bother. They loathe putting in any more effort than necessary and they also seem to get bored so easily. I’m afraid that I’m even seeing this in my own children. But I digress…
Back to being a Christian and otaku, there are some conflicting matters at hand, now that I’ve done the research (Of Otakus and Fansubs, Legality of Fansubs). The subject of fansubbing isn’t as gray an area as I thought it was, mainly due to fact that they’re distributing copyrighted works. By downloading such a file, technically you are bypassing the need to purchase the “product.” Interestingly enough, Japan itself hasn’t really pursued fansub groups according to the various articles I’ve read. Most fansub groups also have followed somewhat of a code of ethics with regards to subbing. Groups will often cease a fansub project if it becomes licensed locally, whether via simulcasting/streaming like Crunchyroll or Viz, or through standard media distribution (DVD/BD) like FUNimation, NIS America, etc.
Series are often times unavailable in our region outside of importing, nor will they have subtitles in our language even if we were to import it, nor will they normally play on our devices (if picking up a DVD with region coding). However, I don’t think I would have known about many of these series if it weren’t for fansubs. I can’t really watch (new) anime via any other way besides the usual distribution outlets. I wouldn’t mind watching it raw via Japanese TV, but my understanding of the Japanese language isn’t really there yet, though I’m starting to learn. I can’t find a cable provider that offers Japanese channels here outside of TVJapan who’s programming isn’t exactly what I’m after. If TBS, NHK, MBS, etc, had offerings here through the local cable channels, I’d be all over it. I did find some paid services for internet streaming of Japanese TV with recording options, so I might consider something like that when my language skills increase. I also did find a site that streams fansubbed episodes which eliminates the whole downloading issue I guess. If I really like the series, at least I’ll be able to actually view it before I decide to purchase, just like I would normally do with any show or movie.
As a Christian, I am charged not only to obey the laws of God, but also the laws of the land. I’ve since moved to streaming and stopped downloading and archiving episodes. By downloading, I was avoiding the need to purchase since I could simply watch it as often as I pleased. I’ve started to delete the episodes I have stored on my HDD’s little by little, only keeping them long enough to take note of what is worthy of obtaining legitimately and to extract the subs for the series that weren’t localized. It’s a lot to go through, mind you… probably close to 2TB or more. I’ve also made my first few anime purchases. The first series I’m going to own completely is actually going to be Kimi ni Todoke of all things. Yep, I’m that much a fan of the series. It was one of the few I actually did a review post on my blog. My next target is probably going to be the pair of Macross F movies. I was considering Fate Zero, but that $350 price tag seems absolutely ridiculous to me for what you get. I suppose I should pickup K-ON as well. For shows that get localized, I think that most companies do a pretty good job with the translations nowadays, not like the old days where they seemed to force curse words every other line LOL.
Obtaining Japanese music legally is both difficult and expensive. Amazon and iTunes have been increasing their library a bit in this area, but they definitely don’t have everything I’m looking for. I just purchased about 4 albums (I think 2 are double CDs), and it pretty much cost me $140-150 after shipping. Yikes. Not exactly how I want to be spending my money, but I felt the need to “legalize” my music library as well. If you’re curious what my first picks were, I got (Angel Beats) Girls Dead Monster – Keep the Beats, Macross Frontier Vocal Collection Nyan Tama, Project DIVA – Extend Complete Collection, and Macross Frontier Itsuwari no Utahime Mini Album: Universal Bunny. Next picks probably will be one or two of the Gintama Best albums, the Macross F Sayonara no Tsubasa album, one or more of the Macross Plus soundtracks, and of course, how can I forget about K-On?
So yes, there is such a thing as a Christian who is also an otaku. I’m not sure if there are many others out there. I can identify one in my circle of friends and that’s about it. I’ll tell you right now that it definitely is not easy being one. The little income I do make is already hurting enough ever since I made these adjustments in my life. I suppose it’ll be a matter of budgeting out how much I can spend each month and making sure that I’m not making it an idol in my life. As for the subject matter and content of anime, in MOST cases it isn’t much different from what you would find in television here. The only difference is it’s in animated form. I suppose I could see that it maybe a struggle for someone immature. The main struggle for me I guess has been how much of a time sink it can be. Needless to say, I don’t let the otaku side rule my life of course and I think my “return” has actually enabled me to free myself from this “bond” quite a bit, along with video games. Aside from gaming and art, this was pretty much the only other material thing I had joy in when I was going through hard times. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. I know I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be, but I have peace and a far greater joy than I could ever have in the things of this world.
Next post? I’m probably going to talk about May’n, whose concert I will most likely be attending this June. The only debate I’m having is whether or not to go for VIP, cuz my daughter wants to go too. So until then.