I am insanely depressed right now.
It is 3 am and I am watching anime Kimi ni Todoke.
Where was my Kazehaya? Where was my Yoshida? My Yano? My Takahashi? Or just even a Shino?
I must have missed them, 40+ years ago. Or perhaps people like this don’t really exist. That’s more like it. Nobody saves people like me. I am lucky, I struggled thru to a better place. Nothing nearly as good or as quick as this. Decades later and I’ still treading water, just no as stormy.
I am drunk, married, retired and have two adult children. Why am I crying?
I’m sober now.
Kimi ni Todoke is an anime about a girl named Sawako. At the start, as she enters high school, she is a textbook case of high functioning autism. She is gloomy, lacks any awareness of social cues, even mistaking derision and fear as positive reactions. Rumors about her crazy eyes and general frightfulness circulate. It has been going on for so long she thinks that this is what life is supposed to be, isolation, being the butt of cruel jokes and bizarre rumors. Despite this, she is very bright in academics.
Describes me perfectly as a child. Between the Asperger’s, the ADD and the depression, it was no surprise I was shunned, bullied and teased. Yet I could blow the whole grade away in academics – when I felt like it.
She meets a boy, Kazehaya, the hottest guy in the class who takes an interest in her. Thru him she makes friends with a couple of girls (Yoshida and Yano) who happen to be misfits themselves. One has a rep of being a delinquent and beating up people. The other has a rep as being the class slut. Neither rep. is particularly accurate but both have some basis in reality. These two girls wear their reputations like badges of honor. They have a kind of sisterhood between them and nothing gets them down.
At this point, I’m starting to feel sad. A popular kid wouldn’t have touched me with a ten-foot pole and if he/she did, it would be to hit me. And the misfits? Misfits like those two WERE the popular kids.
Things happen. Sawako pushes her new friends away because she is worried that by associating with her their lives would get messed up. Naturally, she can’t tell them. She is so wracked by insecurity and so lacking in communication skills she can barely get “ohayō” out, let alone express a complex and deep feeling. Complications happen but Kazehaya never gives up on her and Yoshida and Yano come to her rescue.
The story goes on with her learning to socialize, making more friends and getting ever closer to Kazehaya who is now a full-on romantic interest.
At this point, all that bitterness and pain I experienced up thru high school come bubbling up. Once again my new Detroit Tigers hat is getting knocked into the mud or my lunchbox is being drop-kicked. The bully is setting behind me pinching me, hitting me and yanking on my ears. He has the tactical advantage as the minute I turn to confront him, I’m the one in trouble. My locker has been stacked or my gym clothes were stolen yet again. And of course, the adults didn’t believe me. Obviously, I was just trying to avoid gym class. Gym teacher berating me, telling me I was worthless because I was clumsy. Other sad stories. For every one remembered, there are two forgotten.
At least Sawako’s parents weren’t part of the problem. I wish I had a dollar for every time mom told me I was stupid and would never amount to anything. Not surprising I didn’t mourn when she died.
The pain of childhood is never forgotten. In the clear light of day, you can look at it, learn from it and resolve never to be a hurtful person. It has been a long time since a bully dared to pick on me (about 42 years, IIRC) and the last couple ended up on the floor. I learned my social skills after high school. I never did learn the skills of self-promotion and that has crippled my ability to climb the corporate ladder. I managed to land jobs that paid well enough to keep me somewhere in the lower middle class. Since I am not a materialist, it was enough. Now I am retired and searching for an interesting future.
Everyone who has clinical depression knows that late at night is when the monsters come out. Defenses sag and old demons are born anew. Liquor only makes it worse. I must remember to never watch romance anime in the wee hours of the morning after a glass of rum.
Here is something to think about: Why are autistic people drawn to anime?