I am one of those nerds that came out later in life. Growing up, I was not hip to nerd culture, but I thought the things I was into at the time were the norm. Being an anime fan growing up in the Bronx, I was somewhat of an outlier. This made me feel like I belonged to an exclusive group of individuals. I was the only one I knew at my school, and the only one on my block, that was into Japanese animation. However, that exclusivity didn’t last long. I had to share anime with all of my friends, and soon everyone else got hooked as well.
My first introduction to anime was Akira. But my reaction to it might not be what you’d expect.
Around 1987 or ’88, I was in junior high and in a funny stasis where my nerd creativity was beginning to grow out of my bookishness (I routinely wrote awful Dungeons and Dragons-type short stories) but before I collided head first into confronting issues like race, violence, and poverty that was all around my world and in my school (I had no idea that my misplacements in advanced math and ESL had to do with my race). Add this to adolescent hormones and — well, to keep it short, it was rough on many different levels.
For whatever reason, one of our shop class teachers wheeled a TV and VCR into class one day and decided to show us a movie called Warriors of the Wind. Some of my friends were absolutely crazy about it. I thought it was cool, but honestly, I didn’t get it.
Last weekend, Studio Ghibli announced that it’s founder, award-winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, was retiring from making movies. For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time Miyazaki has “retired” (he’s like the Jay-Z of the animation game), but there definitely seems to be an air of finality to this announcement. If The Wind Rises ends up being his final film, it will be the cap to a long, illustrious, and brilliant career.
After the jump, several of The Nerds of Color reflect on what Miyazaki’s movies have meant to them.