Prologue: A Brief History of (my) Time

Why Japan? Why now?

I actually don’t think I’ve been directly asked these questions since I started mentioning my plans to go abroad to those around me. But someone less familiar with my life and circumstances would certainly wonder. So, friends, family, acquaintances, and internet denizens, allow me to start this blog in earnest by answering them.

Now, I’d wager a certain percentage of you probably just thought to yourself: “Why Japan? Obviously just because this guy is a huuuge weeb.” You’re correct, so let’s move on.

Just kidding.

Well, I am a huge weeb.

But optimistically that doesn’t quite cover it.

Since approximately my sophomore year of college, I’ve wanted to spend time abroad. A bit of a cliché, but I’ve earnestly wanted to expand my worldview by spending time living in a foreign culture. (Since then, I’ve found reason to perhaps never come back but that’s a topic for another time.)

So then, why Japan specifically? It’s true that anime was the entry point. I loved Naruto growing up but after Shippūden descended to toilet tier I gave up. In early 2016, about 9-10 months after graduating college, I decided to watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood after seeing my friend Ben watching it while I was staying at his apartment. Safe to say, I was hooked. Next, I watched Re:Zero and Your Lie in April and by the time I was through I had started falling in love with the genre and furthermore with animation generally. As my myAnimeList (edit 04/15: I use AniList now because it’s vastly superior) grew longer, I found inspiration to reverse a prior decision to essentially give up on life, which I had done during the year after graduation due to issues involving no less than employment, relationships, mental health, lifestyle, and physical isolation. The following series inspired me to pick myself up and move forward the most (descending order by rough contribution amount):

  • Fairy Tail (yeah, I know)
  • Your Lie in April
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Hibike! Euphonium

Thusly motivated, I initially planned to quit my soul-draining white collar job (another cliché I’m afraid) to go back to school for my Ph. D.. Long story short, I did indeed quit but the doctoral direction just kinda felt wrong. And so I started casting about for other potential adventures to embark on.

This coincided with a growing interest in Japanese language, culture, and history that had developed from consuming so much anime. At AnimeBoston 2017, I came across the JET booth, which advertised a program to teach English in Japan. An idea was thus planted in my mind and swiftly grew. Around August, I had decided.

Now, the question regarding timing remains, though a perceptive reader may have already picked up a hint above. To invoke a common anime trope, in the two years following college it felt that my time had stopped, and this is my attempt to get it flowing again. I feel urgency to stop wasting my life in a rut and thus I embark upon my new path at the earliest opportunity.

I’m optimistic since preparations have already helped me feel much better. But that’s the topic for the next post~

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