Dad Learning Anime: Parenting Blind in Anime Fandom

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By Michael

When I was growing up, to say I could be labeled as the black sheep of the family could have been a debatable understatement. While I still played baseball, football, swam and ran track, I also had interests that went beyond the understanding of my parents and extended family.

Comics, Sci-Fi, B Horror films; that was my game. Jim Lee’s X-Men #1, staying up to watch Star Trek TNG on Fox 56, the original Halloween, Highlander, and Star Wars. These were my loves and things that no one around me truly understood.

And frankly; nothing against them, but none of them tried.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not throwing anyone under the bus. I’m not throwing shade at anyone. I understand. I just had interests in areas they didn’t have any understanding, interest, or concept of. While I don’t blame anyone, I won’t deny that at times, it caused me to feel isolated. Isolated in my excitement. Isolated in my interpretations of things. Isolated in things that gave me joy. That’s probably why I still enjoy watching things alone. Why I’ll sneak off to the movie theater along in the middle of the day.  That I’ll flip over and check Twitter or Facebook during commercial breaks or breaks in the action of something if I’m watching it live. Even my girlfriend pointed out the other day how I watch things and how she can tell I’m not accustomed to watching things with someone. (The upcoming final season of Game of Thrones will be interesting, watching it live with another person in the room, but more on that later)

The isolation I felt growing up, and the wide range of interests I have, I felt would lead me to be a parent that wouldn’t leave my children to feel isolated in their interests. That I could share in things. Pass on things I’ve learned or known, and just have a mutual enjoyment of things. Until recently, I’ve felt like I’ve been rather successful in my goals. However, leave it to my loving daughter to throw a small wrench into that.

As I type this, and you’re reading this, my daughter is knee-deep in a surge of interest into something I have zero knowledge about anime.

Naruto, My Superhero Academia, and who knows what else. Anytime I have her, I’m hearing something new about it, or being shown drawings she’s drawn based off certain characters. It’s an area I’m unfamiliar with. It’s a position I’ve not been to this point, but nowhere I stand. In a sea of unknowingness, and of fear of unwanted tentacles and adult content.

Don’t misunderstand; when she talks about these things, my eyes don’t glaze over as she talks. It’s not like that at all. I listen to her, I do my best to interact, and to support her, but I still feel as clueless as I feel my parents probably felt at times when I’d talk about wanting a model of the Enterprise or why we needed to go two cities away on a Wednesday.

I do my best though. I at least know of the shows and characters she likes. I’ve tried doing research on which animes are best or appropriate for pre-teen girls. I’m trying to do my homework as I go, so I CAN have an understanding and try to avoid her ever feeling like she’s completely isolated in her interests and loves, because as things go; I don’t feel like this is a phase. I feel like she’s found her niche, and I’m going to do my best to keep up with her, but for now, this Dad is flying about as blind as he’s ever been when it comes to fandom.

Navigating the waters with a pre-teen that has pop culture interests out of my realm, challenge me not only as a father but as a geek! So an occasional post related to anime may pop up here at times as I navigate this new and unknown beyond.  At the same time, if anyone has suggestions for a show to check out or anything like that, do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

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