Vancouver, WA ⁠—

In the library of Mountain View High School, it was revealed that every teenage boy in the local Japanese Appreciation Club developed an interest in anime for equally sad reasons.

Reminiscing about the time he first discovered Japanese animation, 17-year-old senior Jack Ryan said, “Oh man, for me, it was Saturday morning cartoons. I’d get up super early because I was so excited. I loved watching the married couple Hinata and Naruto, who had such a solid relationship, perfect for drowning out the sounds of my mom physically abusing my dad. As I got older, I’d watch it all the time on my laptop while hiding in the closet.”

“I first discovered anime when I was learning about Japan,” chimed in 18-year-old Ross Peacock. “I went through a phase where I was obsessed with Japan. I loved how safe and harmonious its culture was. I used to fantasize about moving there, especially after my best friend died in the school shooting. The first show I really loved was Gin no Saji. It was a great escape to an alternate reality where students respected each other and worked together as a team.”

“I got into anime when I realized I was way smarter than everyone else,” said 17-year-old Cody White. “Other people might look at a female anime character and laugh at her extremely impractical and sexualized outfits, but I, an intellectual, would see the great statement it was making, especially when taken into context with the original mangaka’s depiction, encapsulating a kind of majesty their feeble brains couldn’t comprehend. Once I realized how much better I was than everyone else, I was able to dive headfirst into the world of anime, to comfort me in lieu of friends, support, or any love whatsoever.”

Shifting in his seat, brown-haired 16-year-old Jayden Quinn said, “For me, it was watching Naruto at my dad’s house every second weekend. Sometimes Dad would even sit down and watch with me for a couple of minutes. They were the best times of my life. I miss him.”