Recently, through a chain of personal events that I’m not necessarily proud of but aren’t even close to the worst thing anyone’s done this year, I moved to California to go to school. While I’m not the biggest fan of my current living situation, with terrible internet, being allergic to everything, and living in an area where you need to drive at least twenty minutes to get anywhere, one tiny upside was that I was able to see ufotable’s much awaited adaptation of Fate/stay night‘s “Heaven’s Feel” route. The film was great and I’ll likely stand by my immediate reaction of it being the best thing ufotable has done either until I rewatch the fifth Kara no Kyoukai movie or see the second film in what’s going to be a trilogy around Heaven’s Feel (whichever comes first), but I don’t want to talk about that. Instead, I want to talk about how it was to take my grandfather to see it with me.
About a week before the theatrical release of Heaven’s Feel in the United States, I purchased two tickets to see a movie that those who saw the Japanese release praised as not only the best thing ufotable has done but the best Fate installment to date. One for myself, and one for my grandfather. He was going to be taking me to the theatre to see the film, so I felt obligated to invite him and he showed a small amount of interest in whatever strange Japanese film I was going to go see was so the extra $15 to bring him with me wasn’t money I had a problem parting with. Waiting for the movie he stood out as the one who both wasn’t playing Fate/Grand Order and didn’t even know what a gacha game was let alone what the specific game was, and after what was simultaneously a phenomenal film and likely the worst place for anyone to start to experience the franchise, I was incredibly interested in his opinions of it.
My grandfather fit the profile of a stereotypical Christian grandparent with aged and unchanging opinions who likes crime show reruns and western movies, but for some reason or another he had a surprisingly large willingness to listen to other opinions and at least experience new and different things even if they wont have any impact on his own opinions and interests — this being the main reason I even considered bringing him along. Theoretically, there was a small chance he would at the very least have a good time watching the action scenes, and due to me being pretty open about my interest in anime to my family I doubted him seeing an anime film from beginning to end was going to change his opinion of me.
So, once the movie ended and while we walked back to his car to go get lunch, I was surprised to hear he not only liked it but hear that he was able to follow along with the plot and be interested enough to ask me questions about parts of the plot that were never explained due to the film skipping a majority of the exposition it expected the audience to know. I fully doubt he’ll look more into Fate at all, but at least for a moment he was genuinely interested in Fate/stay night and wanted to know more about what he just experienced.
In a way, that brief period reminded me of when my little cousin watched a few episodes of Shugo Chara back when I watched it and despite knowing nothing about anime and having no interest in it, she genuinely enjoyed what she watched and asked questions to understand better. Of course, the difference between Shugo Chara and Fate/stay night is gargantuan in almost every way, but the moments were very similar. When I first started getting into anime as something I’d watch regularly, the trademark Facebook anime memes about your family just not getting it and everyone judging you were a pretty prevalent constant in my interactions with other anime fans. While I’ve grown out of that mindset and have pretty much accepted I’m just deeply invested in a very niche hobby, I still think it’s interesting how far a question can go as a gesture, intentional or not.
Explaining to my grandpa who Saber was and what the Holy Grail War was meant a surprising amount to me because I didn’t expect any deeply rooted interest, or even a temporary interest. It filled me the same feeling that I get whenever I get to talk about Touhou Project lore with someone for hours, or the feeling I get when I meet someone starting to get interested in Vocaloid or utaite music. When someone expresses interest in a niche hobby, it means a lot to that person. It becomes a feeling of “I get to talk about this one thing I know a lot about” even if you aren’t an expert, and getting to just talk about a thing you like and have someone else listen is amazing.
There’s something different about talking to within the same community who’s already well adjusted in comparison to talking to someone that knows nothing or close to nothing about the topic at hand. As someone who has a (what’s supposed to be, at least) weekly series on this blog where I just talk about my opinions and sometimes just get to roll around in my love for something, it almost feels like I shouldn’t need people to be interested in my niche hobbies, of which anime is one, to get this experience. Every week I can talk to a decent sized audience and try to express an opinion to them on a way that doesn’t feel like shoving it down their throat and that’s just an amazing thing to me. However, there’s this level of expectancy that everyone reading this is more or less on the same page.
Everyone reading this is expected to know what the words “simulcasting,” “mangaka,” and “seiyuu” mean. Odds are, if you’re a regular reader for this blog you enjoy if not at least partake in watching currently airing shows because of the seasonal reviews that happen here. Odds are, if you’re a regular reader of my posts here you’ve become familiar with my opinions and my writing style and how I like to talk about and present things; you’ve likely grown accustomed to my vocabulary and how I structure my posts. A large majority of people who are going to end up reading this post are on a similar wavelengths and can understand the same general points without an in-depth explanation on each one.
So what does this have to do with Fate/stay night and what does this have to do with me watching it with my grandfather? After watching the first Heaven’s Feel movie, I got to, for a moment, invite someone into something I like a lot. I’m not an expert on Fate, I’ve never read the Fate/stay night light novel and my only experience with any of the series outside of the anime was the Fate/Apocrypha light novel. Fate isn’t my favourite series and it doesn’t mean a particularly huge amount of anything to me. In fact, I know at least a handful of people who are millions of times more well equipped to explain Fate, so much so that I usually go to them when I want to understand something about the franchise better. I just like Fate.
However, within the anime community, most people know what Fate is, and all of the people curious enough to care have already invested a decent amount of time into experiencing the series while people who wouldn’t touch the series with a six metre pole more than likely really don’t want to talk about the series. Additionally, I’m one of those who hasn’t sold their soul to Type-Moon yet (mostly because Touhou has it currently and Vocaloid has an IOU for it) so I can’t really express how much I just enjoy Fate without being doomed to eventually hitting the point where I can’t relate. But getting to talk about what I understand about the series, getting to introduce this crazy convoluted world and plot to someone who I didn’t even expect to be even slightly invested in it.
There was something that put me in a state of near-awe, out of pure excitement. Getting to watch the Pokémon Video Game Championship 2017 finals with him a week later and explaining to him what’s happening and getting to relive amazing moments with someone that’s never seen them before, getting to talk about something I like and getting to introduce someone, even if that someone is my grandfather who will inevitably revert to his old preferences, to a niche hobby goes a tremendously long way.
Something amazing about those moments is being on the other side. Letting my little brother introduce me to a new game I’ve never played before and getting to hear the excitement in his voice is so magical. I love hearing people get excited and I love hearing about what other people enjoy. Millions if not billions of niche hobbies have spawned as of the past few years alone, and getting to share those niche hobbies with someone — or getting a niche hobby shared with you — is easily one of the best experiences those niches can offer.
Decided to post something more wholesome to share a bit of that good happy holiday mood around and put off what was going to be this week’s topic for a later date. Thank you very much for reading this week’s post! If you want to share your thoughts on the topic please feel free to in the comments; I read each one and I always love hearing outside perspectives in relation to what I talk about. If you’re interested in what I do whenever I’m not writing for this blog feel free to follow me on Twitter, and I will see you all next week.