I got a Totoro shawl today. Or, at least, I think it’s a shawl. Upon closer inspection, this is the kind of thing you’d expect from a cosplay shop rather than something of more, uh, official quality. The buttons are snap-on plastic, the knit work is questionable, and clearly it’s an attempt to make a rectangular cloth look as acceptable for a headpiece as possible. I wouldn’t say that whoever made this didn’t succeed. It’s not like I regret having it. I’m just saying, well, I’ve never worn anything like this before.
But I do enjoy wearing it. Can’t you tell?
Anyways, this is a gift to me by my mom, who grew up watching a few Miyazaki movies and thus understands the appeal of having Totoro and Totoro accessories. She knows that I go to anime conventions, that I was president of the anime club for a short time, that I collect anime related things, and that I watch anime as a hobby. I wouldn’t say that this is the best thing to happen in my life, though. My relationship between me, anime, and my mom has been skin-deep at best, slightly embarrassing at worst, because of the way she approaches any TV show, movie, basically anything related to watching media.
I’m very critical when watching anime. It helps me practice my reasoning skills and conversing with people about anime criticism helps inform me whether I actually understand what I’m talking about. So what I care about, when watching anime, is whether the emotional payoff I feel the media went for was deserved. So I’m okay with sad endings, ambiguous endings, or just straight up bad endings, just as long as it makes enough sense narratively. In essence, I’m a complete snob. My mom has simpler tastes. She only cares about 2 things: if it keeps her attention, and if there’s a happy ending.
Take, for example, our opinions on Rogue One. We both agreed that the movie was not amazing, entertaining at best. Mom thinks this way because everyone died in the end and that it was far too violent compared to the main franchise. I think it wasn’t the greatest movie because it was clear that with the setup and payoff they were going for (explaining the fatal Death Star flaw and ending just as A New Hope begins) they had to rush a ton of important stuff to get there, which sacrifices the quality of the actual story taking place. But that’s not to say that I am completely at odds with her about movies and tv shows. I thought the movie was enjoyable, and a lot of the references were cute and I understood them, and my mom thought the same.
One day, I want to sit down with my mom and watch a really good anime movie to introduce her to what animation can do to enhance storytelling, and how you can expand beyond the Hollywood mold to make a good movie, but I don’t know the best way to do it. Most of it just comes down to her being disinterested in what I’m watching, and by the same token me being disinterested in what she watches.
Maybe all it takes to bridge that gap is a simple discussion, a plan, and a movie night. Perhaps I may do that sometime. I wouldn’t mind my mom understanding a bit more how I grew up with this stuff.