As we saw in part 1 of this article, being a member of the j-community in Greece has had its ups and downs for the past few years. Yet, how are things now that the hype of the late 00s has calmed?
a. How we are
When it comes down to the choices available, it seems that things have greatly improved compared to the first and final years of the previous decade. Nowadays access to the huge amount of information on the Internet is easier than ever, many shops have a good variety of anime/manga on their stores and there is a respectable number of titles translated in Greek. Even though prices are not on a very competitive level for times of economic crisis such as the one we live in, they are not much worse than they were before.
The community has more than enough parties to enjoy itself. Almost each part is performed by a different group, so there are many choices for those who care to search what suits them best. My good friends, Akai Panda, give everything they’ve got to organize great events, Le Ciel (the new name of the group Orde Le Ciel Collective) keep on having their performances and have their dedicated fans, etc. There are, of course, countless more people contributing in their own, special ways.
At the same time, the trend of K-pop has made its presence strongly felt in Athens, bringing together even more people who wish to share experiences and have fun together. K-fans are almost an entirely separate community now, but the two worlds are in touch with one another. This is going to be one very interesting union.
b. The bonds that matter
Yet, from my point of view, not all developments were exactly positive. Much of the initial enthusiasm has been lost, not solely as a result of time’s passage, but also due to the changes that have occurred in the community.
I have come to notice that, now that the numbers of this community have increased, many of the subjects that once seemed interesting, very often feel like replays of older discussions. It is neither easy to pay equal attention to all the smart people and their opinions nor can one simply keep on meeting new faces and friends all the time. It is too exhausting for most human beings and I doubt I could handle that situation, if there were not some special things that make me enjoy myself, even though there have been so many changes ever since my first day as an otaku.
The answer is simpler than one might think. When, as it happens in my case, one has come to connect the happenings of this community with past and future friends, every new party or meeting feels like going out for coffee, like a regular event that makes ones’ day much better. It is a common ritual for people who met by chance but are still connected due to their choices. The dynamism and the pulse of explosiveness that used to take over my mind seem to have been replaced by the calmness of familiarity. It now feels less like an adventure and more like “home.”
Sure, people come, go and come again. Not everything is rosy. The wave I was part of has become a minority and for some people we -well, a part of us- may seem like old men and women mumbling about every little thing. Yet, there is still our love for anime and manga and we keep on passionately talking about and sharing it with others. The way I see it, there are people in the Otaku community who have become more than just somebodies with a common interest; they are the family I have chosen. They, who came to this scene to grow as persons and have fun, are the most precious gift I have earned for being part of this community. Lets keep on having fun together, all you wonderful Otaku of Greece!
p.s.This post is dedicated to Katan, Kon, Megi, Alexiel, Fotis, Gina, Keru, Eva, Stelina, Eleanna and all the other people who have been with me on this journey. You are special people with hearts of gold.