Well, here’s another post that I’m rather nervous about, since it will be my first true personal post opening up to the Internet. What I’m going to talk about is something personal and vastly different that you guys most likely have not seen or even encountered around the anime-blogging community or the Internet: deafness. If you’ve visited my “About Me” page, then you’ll have learned by now that I have severe-to-profound loss of hearing (Think of a train whistle or an airplane engine. That’s the quietest possible sound that I can hear very softly without my hearing aids.) and that I attend Gallaudet University, the world’s first and only university for the deaf. But that’s irrelevant now; I want to talk to you of how my disability helped me to discover anime.
The quote above says it all about my history with deafness. Way before my true anime fandom began in around 2005, I barely watched much television shows. I couldn’t even relate to what was happening on TV with my new friends in my elementary school, having just been transferred from my previous school. My previous school had a class entirely for deaf students; there were only 6-7 of us out of 200 students in that school. In my new elementary school, I was the only one deaf student out of 500 students. Then, going into middle school, I was still the only deaf student in the school, this time out of 700 students. At that time, more and more people were starting to get into reality TV shows and pop or rap music. To try to connect with my friends, I decided to get onto the bandwagon. The result: I got extremely bored with the reality TV shows quickly enough, and I just couldn’t relate to the lyrics of the most popular songs, which merely sounded like thudding or muffled noise to me with my outdated hearing aids. So, disillusioned by the lack of connection to my friends and their lack of awareness for deafness, I took to the books. I read many kinds of books, non-fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, adventure, etc.
Then my cousin introduced me to the manga, Ranma 1/2, when I was visiting family in Taiwan. I got real hooked into this manga, since the art and graphic style appealed to me visually (deaf people, by nature, are much more receptive visually). I started searching for and reading more manga, but soon ran to a dead-end and there, I discovered anime. The local library and bookstores didn’t have much manga, but while searching through the library, I came across an anime VHS which was Ranma 1/2 subbed. I had been searching for the manga, but it was a surprise for me to see that it was animated. I rented it and watched it immediately. It got me thirsting for more of its kind. Going back to the library, I rented Tenchi Muyo!, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cardcaptor Sakura, Macross Frontier, Gundam, and whatever subbed anime I could get my hands on (at least that’s what I barely remember). They were all subtitled old style (yellow simple text), so I voraciously viewed all these shows without fear of being unable to understand the dialogues.
Finally, in 2005, I experienced my true anime fandom. It was when I first saw an episode of Seto no Hanayome, subbed by Ayako, on Youtube while surfing the Internet. This mermaid comedy got me searching for more, and I then found more fansubs for a variety of anime series, one of which I watched next immediately, Nagasarete Airantou, also subbed by Ayako. The next show I viewed would spark a KyoAni fandom in me, Kanon (2006), subbed by the relatively famous fansubs, Static-Subs & Eclipse. From there on, it all started to gain momentum with more new subbed anime series appearing to me and many nights of marathoning many series, culminating into what you see before yourself today. Of course, along the way I picked up the latest hearing aids, which improved the quality of my hearing, thus allowing me to listen to music more clearly (songs have been hit or miss with me though) and actually start listening to the seiyuus of the anime series (I still don’t care if a series has bad voicing or music; I’ll still watch it provided that there’s subtitles). After getting into the pace of watching still only subbed anime and reading manga, I finally decided to begin my own anime blog, Ephemeral Dreams, to be able to connect to all other anime bloggers and fans alike.
So, that’s my history in a nutshell. Feel free to ask me any questions about my deafness. I don’t mind it at all and it would help to raise awareness for deaf people. You can also always ask me questions any time on my FormSpring account as well anonymously if you’re sensitive about this particular topic.
And as a parting thanks and gift for taking the time to read my entry, here’s another favorite quote of mine pertaining to this post somewhat and I hope you’ll take this to heart as I did:
Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
– Mark Twain
This post is part of Nopy’s “My History with Anime” project, so check out this link for more ani-bloggers’ histories!