For many, it’s a person. It happened during their later years of elementary or their early years of high school. But for mine, it happened exactly fifteen years ago. I was five years old. And I fell in love, my first love in fact, was (or still is) anime.
I remember the moments so clearly when I was growing up in the Philippines. Watching Sailor Moon in tagalog dub every morning, that was also the time when I told my grandma that I wanted to meet the Sailor squad but she right-out rejected me and said they’re only in Japan. That began my promise of “One day, I’m going to go there!”, a fifteen-year-old dream to set foot in the land of the rising sun that finally came true last May.
There was a famous store across where I lived and I would beg my grandmother to buy me the Sailor Moon candy lipstick and I’d cut the packaging out because there were pictures of them there. Those became my make-shift Sailor dolls. I remember my older cousin cosplaying Sakura Kinomoto with a makeshift wand and a makeshift dress. My first “One True Pairing” (OTP) blossomed when Sasuke left Konoha and Sakura tried to stop him. “You’re annoying” became so much sweeter. And my aunt buying me Slam Dunk text cards and arguing with my brother on who gets to keep which.
And then I went back to Hong Kong. I cried and cried and cried because I wasn’t able to watch Flame of Recca anymore. This was when the internet was just in its early stages and the only way to watch anime was through the TV. I got my first computer during early 2000s and all I did was use paint then. Lucky for me, the Hong Kong local channel showed one anime, Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne. But back then, I didn’t know the title nor did I understood what the language because it was all in Cantonese dub. Only when I learned how to use the computer did I discover the name. The phase of my anime scrap-booking started.
I searched and searched pictures of my first love. A girl that loves fictional characters in a fictional universe, you know you could never be loved back. So I poured my heart out, printing pictures and making scrap-books about them. Placing a make-shift poster in the room that I shared with my brother, memorizing and remembering (to this day) the lyrics of Nanka Shiawase (What Happiness).
And then I grew up.
Maybe the pain of not being noticed, not being loved back and not even being able to touch your first love took a toll on me and I sort-of gave up. I still watched it and I still had little glimmers of hope inside me. I wanted to grow up so I could be the same age as Ryoma Echizen from Prince of Tennis. I saved up my allowance so I could buy those shoes with wheels so I could learn how to ride them just like Ikki Itsuki from Air Gear. I still rewatched Cardcaptor Sakura over and over again. But as I grew up, I also started to realize the difference between reality and fantasy. I had my first love taken away because I had to grow up.
But it’s never the same. Even as I try to move on and try to forget, deep inside me, I know I couldn’t. And I didn’t.
Team 7 grew up. Flame of Recca ended. And new waves of anime came in. One day, I just heard it. Nanka Shiawase playing on a small sushi restaurant somewhere in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong. And it just clicked. It felt like my first love was running back to me. Everything was in slow motion and I could feel the flutter in my heart, the redness of my cheeks and the memories came in a rush. Right then, I knew.
Love is truly sweeter the second time around.
After a three year hiatus, we’re now in a happy relationship. Stronger and more in love. We shared laughs together, kilig moments together and cried together. My love has grown because I started to approach it in a critical way, I now write reviews in my blog. I guess over the years, we have fallen and gotten back up together. I know it’s fantasy but that doesn’t mean I can’t put what I learned from it to real life.
Anime motivates me to self-learn Japanese even if my I already have a struggle with my mediocre Cantonese. It’s a pillow that I hug at night when I need to cry because of a bad day. And it’s something that makes me laugh and smile. Of course, it’s still sad that I can never marry a fictional concept. But this very fictional concept shaped my reality. I owe it a lot. Maybe it’s an obsession, some may call it that. But I call it my first love.
- Jianne Soriano