Like many other weebs out there, I watched anime long before I knew what anime was. When I was a kid, on TV I watched interesting-looking cartoons that I now know are dubbed anime. I saw Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters, Megaman NT warrior, and the best anime ever made... Spider Riders. Also I did play the Yu-Gi-Oh card game with a friend in elementary school. I wasn't good at the game, but I had fun. As I started spending more time on the internet in the late-2000s I sort of started knowing what anime was, but I never really tried getting into it, I just knew these were Japanese cartoons. But that does not mean I didn't consume any Japanese media at all. One thing I did discover in the late-2000s was Manga.
A classmate of mine back in grade 7 brought Death Note to school, and I was kind of fascinated. What is with these interesting-looking comic books that are read backwards? So I borrowed Death Note from my city library (yes, my city library did have Manga), and I read I think only the first few volumes. After that I watched the Death Note anime to the end on free video hosting sites, not sure which ones, maybe YouTube? After that I read Love Hina, which I chose sort of randomly off the shelf in the Manga section of my local library branch. I borrowed the first half of the series from the library, and the rest I read online on some random free Manga site. I read some other manga, but I forget what they were.
Also in the late-2000s I watched the entire Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters series on free video hosting sites, which would be the first of two times I binged the whole show. Now, during this time, everything I consumed was in English, the anime I watched was only dubbed. I did try once to watch a show subbed just to see what it was like, and I did not like it, the voices were too damn squeaky. At that point I thought I'd never get into subbed anime. Uhh, that changed later.
So when I was in middle school, and the freshman year of high school, I made a few friends, and with a few of these friends I'd play some Yu-Gi-Oh with my super basic card collection. I think through this, and talking about other stuff, we discovered our mutual interest in Japanese media. But for two of my high school friends, I was a filthy casual who needed to see the light. I totally remember this one moment: one day the three of us were eating and chatting in a Boston Pizza during our 2011/2012 winter break, and one of my friends was super nerding out about Sword Art Online, while the other was like "yeah the show is cool." And somehow the conversation got around to me mentioning that I only watched anime dubbed and I thought it was better. Man, like, my two friends did not have it. They told me about how Japanese voice actors are way better, and English dubs suck, and I was like "OK". Eventually I came over to the house of one of those friends with the other friend, and we sat down to watch SAO, the first subbed anime I watched completely. I actually enjoyed it, the premise was cool, the action was exciting and all that. During other visits I watched Lucky Star, Acchi Kocchi, and GJ Club, which were the next few subbed anime I watched completely. I guess I got used to the squeaky anime voices pretty quickly.
Before I move on to the next part I'd just like to talk about these two friends of mine. Back in the early-2010s I got both of them into MLP:FiM in a funny way. One of them was completely opposed to MLP because it was a "girls show" or whatever, but the other one was more open-minded I guess. However the friend who was opposed to watching MLP respected the open-minded friend's opinions, so I got him to watch the show first, and he did enjoy it. That I relayed to the opposed friend, and he also ended up watching the show and also enjoying it.
The friend I mentioned who was nerding out about Sword Art Online was super hardcore into SAO. He not only loved the anime, but he also read the light novels... in two languages. He was Chinese and also could read in Chinese, which was an advantage for him, because Chinese translations of the SAO light novels came out quicker than English translations. Even though he knew what happened, he read the story in English too, because he just loved the series that much. Just wanted to share these interesting side stories, now back to me.
Now, I would have definitely continued casually enjoying Japanese media and watching anime after my friends got me into it, but two things ended up making me hardcore and worthy of the title "weeb": Vocaloid & 4chan. I got into 4chan when /mlp/ was made, and later I ended up visiting a bunch of other boards, and everywhere there were anime reaction pics. A lot of the anime I ended up watching I watched because I saw a cute character in a reation pic. I also ended up on /a/, which got me into shows like Hitsugi no Chaika, and Aikatsu. I later got into New Game because anons on /g/ spammed pictures & webms of it back when it came out. These days I don't go on 4chan much because it stopped being fun, but it definitely played a huge role in making me a weeb.
Okay, next: Vocaloid. Somehow through randomly browsing YouTube in 2012 back when the algorithm was recommending random stuff and didn't try to keep you on the site 24/7, I stumbled upon this video. I thought the face tracking in the video was cool, but I didn't know who the characters were, and thought they were random 3D models. So I showed the video to a few of my high school friends, and one of them was like "oh, that's Hatsune Miku!" And I was like "whomst?" When I later came back to my computer at home I looked up who Hatsune Miku was. Probably the first Miku video I saw was Miku singing World is Mine at a live concert. The video looked like this one, but it later got taken down. It took me a few hours to wrap my head around how the whole vocaloid thing works, but when I figured it out and started listening to more songs I absolutely fell in love. I never played Project Diva, but I did watch a ton of the music videos that the games had. Later I would also find out about a lot of other vocaloids and other vocalsynth characters out there. Of course my two irl weeb friends were also pretty interested in vocaloid, which was great.
So from 2012 to the present I spent a lot of time consuming weeb content. One of the things I love doing is collecting Anime and Vocaloid fanart. Currently my anime screencaps & fanart folder has about 4700 files, and my vocaloid fanart folder has about 6800 files. I've bought a few anime figures, art books, posters, and wall scrolls. But I want to get rid of a lot of it because I think I have too much anime merch even though I own very little compared to ultrahardcore weebs. Though I still love weeb stuff today, I'm not as hardcore as I used to be, I kind of feel like I've grown out of it a tiny bit. For example, I used to love mindless slice-of-life anime, but these days I tolerate them very little, I need a little bit of story and multi-dimensional characters to actually enjoy a show.
I'm definitely interested in Japan in general, with all of its ups and downs. I intend to learn Japanese and visit Japan one day, though I'm not sure if I'd like to live there. It seems kind of a pain in the butt to deal with the bureaucracy and being a gaijin. Though if someone handed me an okay job and a residence permit to live in Japan, I'd definitely take it. I have a bunch of light novels and manga I want to read in Japanese specifically, because reading English translations of them sounds boring. And I'd also love to reread and rewatch some of the manga and anime I've seen before to maybe get a better understanding of what exactly was said.
Thanks for reading! How did you become a weeb?