Through anime, I made a new friend tonight. By trade, you could say, I am a “professional hobnobber”, and tonight my hobnob job took me back to my old haunts from grad school—the same place I first acquired a taste for anime. While rubbing shoulders with influential people and at least one foreign dignitary, I fell into conversation over dinner with a political science student. We’ll call him Jessie.
Jessie, it turned out, had studied for a time in Japan. He fascinated me with his descriptions of his experience of the culture and how it changed him.
“All I know about Japanese culture,” I admitted jealously, “are what I know from anime and manga.”
Jessie’s face brightened visibly. You ever heard someone say “his face was glowing”? Apparently that can happen literally. Everyone else at the table sort of faded into the wallpaper.
“I love anime and manga!” he breathed.
“Oh? What are your favorite series?”
“Madoka Magica. It’s got an interesting take on Western philosophy.” (Now I have to watch it.) “And Neon Genesis Evangelion and Samurai Champloo for the art and music.”
“When I was a student here,” I told him, “I was a member of the anime club. Is that still around?”
“After you graduated, it was absorbed into the Japanese club. And I’m the Japanese club president. In fact, after dinner I’m heading off to our weekly meeting!”
I gave him my card and left with a promise that he would keep in touch and add me to the club mailing list. Somehow, I felt that a circle had been closed—but not simply coming to an end, for with a new friendship comes a new birth.