Mridula Nadamuni, the passive Japanese culture enthusiast

December 2, 2008 — by Melody Zhang

Mention the term “anime” to anyone and that person will most likely either run away or hysterically squeal and obsess over the latest episode of Soul Eater. Senior Mridula Nadamuni, however, calmly yet enthusiastically tell you that while anime is fun, manga and doramas (Japanese live action dramas) are better.

Nadamuni first became interested in Japanese media in middle school with the discovery of Japanese graphic novels. Her hobby slowed to a stop for a few years, but recently she has begun delving into the world of manga again and has also picked up watching doramas. In a culture where anime dominates, Nadamuni prefers to indulge in manga and doramas.

“I don’t watch anime that much because I don’t like the squeaky voices and the pictures that don’t really match,” said Nadamuni. “I like the doramas because they’re pretty funny. I like to read manga because the art is nice and it’s different.”

Compared to American movies, she feels that Japanese media is much more original. But in addition to the more intricate plotlines, she really enjoys the flashy martial arts side of the stories.

“Outside of ‘Bourne Identity’ and awesome action movies, American [media] doesn’t really have anything. A lot of American movies have become always the same old thing, but now with Japanese dramas it’s all different,” said Nadamuni.

She is considering attending FanimeCon for the first time next year. One of the largest anime conventions in North America, FanimeCon is always crawling with “cosplayers” who love dressing up like their favorite characters as an indispensable part of convention culture. But being a more passive fan that she is, Nadamuni is still unsure if she would be willing to take part in cosplaying.

“I think it’s interesting in that it’s like Halloween outside of Halloween,” she said. “It’s a fun thing, but I’m not sure I would walk around in a cosplay or tell anyone that I had cosplayed.”

An enthusiastic student, Nadamuni loves learning about other languages and cultures. Although she would like to learn any new language, she hopes to someday be able to watch doramas without subtitles. Japanese cuisine is another aspect of the culture she has not been able to fully enjoy.

“Japanese food is mostly fish and I’m a vegetarian,” said Nadamuni. “But there’s this vegetarian Japanese restaurant in San Francisco and it’s rather good apparently. I really want to go try it out sometime.”

Despite being a little wary of cosplaying, Nadamuni feels confident about supporting the often-scorned pastime of indulging in Japanese culture. And even though Nadamuni is only a mild enthusiast of the Japanese arts, she is willing to confront any who look down at the hobby—not merely because she loves it but because she finds it wrong that people don’t understand it and consequently dismiss it as stupid.

“I really like [Japanese media],” she said, “and I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. If other people want to make it an issue, that’s their problem.”

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