Anime Today: When People Unexpectedly Enrich Your Life

Confession time: I am kind of an obsessive maniac. Moderation is not a word in my dictionary, or at least not one I make use of very often. Because of this, when I was younger I spent far too much time playing video games in marathon sessions or reading novels late into the night. On the flippity-flop (please remind me to start using this word from now on), today it is part of what makes me a high academic achiever in the university world.

Stopping at this point sounds well and fine, having described a relatively carefree and fun childhood and promises for a future career, but nobody is without his or her quirks. The problem with this obsessive mindset is, if you hadn’t guessed, the resulting neuroticism that accompanies it. While I may be completing my academics beyond the point of mediocrity, being the leader of numerous group projects and so forth, I end up holing myself in my room for hours, chugging away at papers after papers and studying for exam after exam.

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I swear this image is (kind of) relevant!

This often has a toll on my leisure habits and social life, which makes it no surprise that the my senior year has marked the least amount of leisure time and purely interest-driven anime viewing since I first became a fan of Japanese media and culture.

And it’s in situations like these that I’m often reminded of how wonderful it is to be forced into social situations I might not otherwise choose myself.

It’s no secret that humans are inherently social creatures. From the scientific perspective, psychologists and biologists agree. Even from the purely biblical perspective, the Genesis account of the creation story, taken for its symbolic importance regardless of literal truth, states, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18, The Message), and much of the New Testament is devoted to empowering the Church, which is effectively a social body of believers in Christ.

As the obsessive maniac that I am, once I become absorbed in a lengthy project, I am no longer alive to the world. While this is sustainable for short periods of time, I can say from experience that the need to interact with others doesn’t disappear in these times; it is merely hidden temporarily. So while living in a small room of three guys for three quarters of the year was never my ideal housing situation, I’ve discovered it to be an enormous growing experience.

Enter my roommate.

As I’ve been building stress, no doubt boring ulcers into my stomach, over my mountain of senior projects, papers, and exams, I’ve often forgotten how to have mindless, bond-building fun. So when my roommate, one day, recommended we watch an episode of a strange-looking anime called Himouto! Umaru-chan, I was a bit skeptical. If you’ve ever checked out our Beneath the Tangles season reviews, you know that Kaze and I have an affinity for underrating anime (though I think perhaps my ratings have been rising slowly across the meta). Needless to say, I was similarly prepared to be grossly underwhelmed.

However, against my better judgment, I relented and we watched the first episode together. And what would you know…

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Ironically, the main character of the show is obsessed with walling herself off from the rest of the world in games, manga, and anime.

It wasn’t very good.

Yet, something about the experience of a friend having shared something with me and then having consumed it together inspired something not quite tangible in the experience. Two days later I asked if we could watch episode two.

And then episode three.

And four.

And five.

I slowly found myself enjoying this show I thought was beneath me more and more with each and every episode until we finally caught up and have now been watching each episode as it airs. For whatever the reason, Himouto! Umaru-chan made the leap from “social obligation” to “happily anticipated weekly event.” As a biased human being, I cannot say for sure if the show improved over the season, if extended exposure subjected me to a minor case of Stockholm Syndrome, or if my subconscious simply enjoys spending time with my roommate (probably a mixture of the three, and perhaps more), but one thing is certain:

This wonderful time of my week, where I can reset, recharge, and then slip back into serious, academic mode, was all thanks to interactions my rooming situation has forced upon me. But not only has it served as a fun event to look forward to, it has also reminded me of the value of human relationships.

If you claim yourself to be an introvert or an extravert, it doesn’t really matter. Everyone needs someone (why do you think Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway created Wilson?). Whether or not you are the roommate offering to spend time, or the friend kindly accepting the offer, maybe you should give it a bit more of your attention.

7 thoughts on “Anime Today: When People Unexpectedly Enrich Your Life

  1. My mom phrases it as “people who need people to show they don’t need people.”

    It’s amazing what sitting in the same room, maybe doing different things, definitely nothing that needs their interaction, but at any moment you can just say something and they’ll respond…. amazing what it does for your mood.

    1. Well said! I know several years ago, when I first moved away from home, my parents told me more or less the same thing. Even though I often spent much of my time in my room, it still felt weird knowing that I was too far away to even be able to interact casually.

  2. God blessed us with wonderful people! After moving across an ocean, I spend my summer alone watching anime and writing and really enjoying it. But God brought some beautiful people in my life unexpectedly, to show me that fellowship is just as import as alone time! He knows what we need!

  3. If you ask me, Umaru-chan has most certainly improved over the season from a somewhat weak first episode. The show has moved away from the “how can Umaru make her brother’s life a living hell and get away with it” feel of the first episode by adding in supporting characters for her to interact in various ways, and the dynamic between Umaru and her brother has evolved into something more than just “older sibling puts up with annoying younger sibling” to show how they really do care about each other. It’s nowhere near a favorite of this season but it’s definitely become an enjoyable part of every week for me.

    That said, I completely get how watching an anime with someone else can enrich the experience, as I can personally attest to with the times I’ve watched something with my brother or one of my friends.

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