Hello all, I’m back! If you didn’t notice I was gone, don’t worry about it!
For September we have a brand-new OWLS prompt:
- 9th Monthly Deadline: September 1, 2019
- 9th Monthly Topic: “Lover”
When it comes to romantic relationships, what do we look for in a partner? What core values do we seek when it comes to building a healthy and loving relationship? For this topic, we will be discussing some of our favorite couples in pop culture and what they have taught us about love and relationships, the good and the bad.
- School Days
- My Love Story
Natsume doesn’t have that much romance in it. There is some and certainly plenty of wonderful displays of love, but traditional romance is fairly light. Which may be part of the appeal for me. Unfortunately, I already used up one of the most obvious examples of romantic love in my February OWLS post, so I decided to stretch it a bit this month.
Instead of looking for examples of the theme within the anime, I’m going to look around it. More specifically, I’m going to talk about me and those who love Natsume.
This is also a subject I’ve explored at length, but I usually keep the posts very personal. Talking about my individual experience with Natsume. This time, I want to talk about other people’s.
I went to have dinner with an old friend at the beginning of the month. She made us onigiri! They were delicious. Here are a few pictures of them. Part of me hates to admit that I take pictures of my food but look at those things. They’re works of art!
She’s one of my very few real-life friends that still actively enjoys and watches anime, so we strayed onto the subject eventually. She’s currently making her way through GinTama and is having a great time with it. I was surprised to find out Natsume was among her favourites. I hadn’t realized she had watched the show. She hadn’t last time we spoke. We talked about it a bit and the conversation moved on.
It wasn’t a big thing. We didn’t rave about characters or parse over our favourite scenes. We didn’t talk about personal impact. But in my head, my fondness for my friend was justified anew. Not that it needed to be justified. Did you see those onigiri!?! She is wonderful and I would still love her if she had hated Natsume. I would have had some follow up questions maybe….
What I’m getting at is that this has generally been my experience with Fans of Natsume. They tend to be a quiet bunch. An introverted and calm fandom that represents the series well. It seems these are stories that one takes in and carries around in their hearts without the need to debate or discuss or impose.
But there’s a kinship there. I will admit, it’s more than probable that all of this is in my head. But to me, there’s an unspoken connection whenever I find out someone enjoys the show. I’ve assumed all sorts of similarities between people that can appreciate that type of story. I’ve assigned qualities to them (only qualities, I’m extremely biased in this regard, there’s no point in pretending otherwise). I’ve unilaterally decided that they are sensitive, patient and possibly a little reserved.
I’ve also decided that they are my people. A friend of Natsume’s is a friend of mine. My odd love for this show, has extended to everyone that can share it with me. We don’t have to talk much and we don’t have to be very showy in our appreciation, but as long as we both like Natsume, we have a bond!
Let me take back that probably. I know this is all in my head. There are probably fans of Natsume’s Book of Friends that I would not get along with at all. Maybe even people who worked on it. However, to this day, I have never met any. And that is a very unique experience for me.
Pretty much all of my favourite shows have some unpleasant elements in their fandoms. Some of them have questionable elements in their production as well. More than once I have had the very disappointing experience of eagerly wanting to discuss a favourite show with other fans only to be dismissed or even mocked if my views didn’t align perfectly. Other times, I have had people insult my tastes because I liked a particular show they didn’t.
This happens all the time in the anime community. It’s probably happening to dozens of people at this very second. But it has never happened to me with Natsume. People who don’t care about the show never have any issue with me loving it and people who do are usually soft and welcoming in their fandom. Making a cozy spot for anyone who wants to join. Allowing all interpretations and preferences to co-exist peacefully.
Of course, none of this is romantic love. But it is part of what makes us lovers. An acceptance and even embrace of those people who also love the object of our affection. A willingness to put aside the need to prove ourselves as more worthy or better fans. A simple happiness in seeing something we love grow and be appreciated. This is what being a lover of Natsume had meant to me and I hope I can bring that same serenity in all my fandoms. I have to work on it a bit. I get worked up over silly things sometimes. However just the fact that I want to work on it is a good start in my opinion.
I’m not sure I nailed the topic. It’s a little slippery in my own brain. I hope you enjoyed some of it, nevertheless.
For a firmer grasp on the theme – make sure you go read Flow’s take on Kara no Shoujo and up next I can’t wait to read Scott discussing lovers in Princess Tutu.
Also, thank you so much to Scott for all his wonderful help and encouragement.