If there is one anime that I have been most looking forward to this season, it is absolutely the newest season of Mushi-shi. And I can say confidently that my unrealistically high expectations for the season have been… met, actually. Possibly even exceeded, even!
It is rare to find an anime that is beautifully animated, intelligently written, and also has little to no inappropriate content (the only other anime that I can immediately think of that fit these criteria are the likes of Now and Then, Here and There, Haibane Renmei, and Nichijou, though I’m sure there are many others). All of this together is what has made it possible to share Mushi-shi with my father, one decidedly uninterested in anime and the like as well as a former pastor. However, it didn’t take long to get him hooked.
Now, I should make mention that my parents (who I see on university breaks) and older brothers (who I keep in touch with but don’t often see) are all quite familiar with my Japan mania… and quite okay with it (something I have been blessed with as I am familiar with quite a number of others who have family that is not so accepting). However, there is a difference between allowing or even passively supporting something, and actually participating in it. With that said, actually convincing a family member to watch an anime is always a great triumph for me (I managed to convince one of my brothers to watch Steins;Gate and Nichijou, and my mother to watch Usagi Drop).
Watching the first season of Mushi-shi with my dad was one of the greatest experiences I have had in my anime-consuming career, so I was ecstatic (as was he) to have the opportunity to watch a brand new season with him. While it has been a great bonding experience and an opportunity for him to learn a bit more about what makes me tick (one huge motivation to sharing anime interests with family), I discovered that my sharing was not just a one-sided chance for my family to understand more about me.
The experience is mutually beneficial.
What do I mean by this? Well, there’s always the satisfactory feeling of knowing that someone you are close to (such as I am with my parents) approves of something you adore, and that is important, but it also gives you the chance to learn more from that person. What I have discovered over the past half dozen episodes of Mushi-shi is that my father has shed more light on meanings, inspirations, and other facets of deeper anime writing than I could have possibly discovered myself.* I, the (self-proclaimed) otaku, was party to the views of a non-watcher**.
Thus, I have, over the past weeks, come to the conclusion that the anime world that I have hoarded to myself the past few years, truly is something worth sharing with those you love. Whether those people are your blood-related family, like mine, your spiritual church “family,” or even close friends that might as well be related, there is something special in sharing your passions.
*In particular, the differences in eastern and Western thinking, and how Mushi-shi actually reflects much of Western thinking rather than eastern, for better or worse, in many cases. I was originally planning to write my article on this topic, but felt horribly uneducated in that department and more inspired to share a shorter piece on the experience I was able to have with my father in this discussion.
**Oh those “non-watchers”… Is that even a term?