This is the first of my posts I’m doing in collaboration with Crimson over on Read at Night for Mental Health Month.
I have talked about living with Autism multiple times but only once in depth, back in September for an OWLS Tour called Autism, Self Care and Other Issues. Even then I was terrified to post it as I was scared that I was opening myself up to hateful comments as I have received in the past.
Thankfully, the exact opposite happened. I was flooded with kind words and support. It honestly moved me to tears. It’s thanks to the support I was shown that day that I am more confident about discussing Mental Health.
I decided that the first one should be about autism and the anime community.
Before we go any further, yes I know that this topic has been done before. Heck, I have even made a short documentary-style film for a college project on it.
In fact, here it is. Hope you like it!
Still, there is more to talk about. Namely, I kinda wanted to talk about my personal experience in the anime community as an Autistic person.
I’ve been pretty active in the anime community for a while now, I guess you could say I joined back in my first year of Secondary School.
Overall the community is a rather accepting place. I have heard some horror stories here and there but I guess I’m just lucky as I haven’t had any bad encounters at least online. I haven’t even had any as a female gamer. All the negative stuff that has happened to me for liking anime and games have come from those outside the community funnily enough.
From my experience, folks in this community don’t really judge anyone outside of your taste in anime. Even then the worst I have dealt with were eye rolls and mild teasing, followed by recommendations.
Most of my friends are either causal anime fans or really into it. Some of my friends are ones I befriended thanks to our mutual interest in anime. I find that anime fans tend to be really friendly once they know you are one of them.
Not to mention there are anime fans like the awesome folk in OWLS, I wouldn’t have been able to meet them if it wasn’t for anime in the first place.
There are jokes and memes in the community about Autistic people, most notably the Autistic Screech and Autism Intensifies memes but honestly, I like those. My best friend Shiloh, who is also Autistic, and I share those with each other and have cracked jokes about our conditions for years.
I understand that some people find those offensive and I can understand why. I just have a pretty dark sense of humour, blame Shiloh for that. While you are at it, you can blame/thank her for me becoming an anime fan in the first place.
Back when I was new to anime and manga the first thing that stood out to me was the stories, or rather how anime told stories. They tend to take a lot more time setting up the world and characters than cartoons do, or at least the ones I watched.
This gives you a lot of time to really come to know and love these characters, so once the story gets going you care about what happens to them. If done right this makes the anime an engaging watch with high stakes.
I know that there aren’t really any anime with confirmed autistic characters and that is a shame, but there are several that do share at least common traits with the condition. One such character can be found in the first manga I read and first anime I watched, Death Note.
I’m talking of course about L.
Yes, I do personally like to think that L is Autistic as I had pals who were like him and I see a bit of myself in him. I am just as blunt and a bit disconnected with others like him. Reading a story with someone I saw being in the same boat as I was a big deal to me when I first picked up Death Note when I was around 12.
He is still one of my all-time favourite anime characters to this day.
I would go so far as to say that being a part of this community has really helped me. Since joining the community I have learned to open up a bit more, both on and offline and find it a bit easier to talk to people.
Once I start talking about anime, I sometimes struggle to stop. Thankfully most anime fans tend to be understanding and some even rant back at me.
I once read that when Autistic people find an interest that can really help them, I agree wholeheartedly and think that is probably why so many find their way into this community.
Hooray for anime!