I discovered a love for anime before I discovered manga. In the 90s, I was a kid; I had no desire to read books, and instead watched a lot of TV (back then, TV was good; it had substance). “Sailor Moon” was the first anime I saw, and I quickly became obsessed with this group of pretty girls that lived normal lives by day and saved the world by night. Man, it was everything a little girl needed in her childhood. I collected dolls, watched all the movies, and made it known that I wanted anything Sailor Moon for my birthday and Christmas up until I was, like, 10 and discovered how nice money was.
When I found out that my favorite TV show was based on a comic, I pretty much died and went to Heaven. From then on, I would go straight to the manga section in Barnes and Noble every time my dad took me with him. I hoarded all the volumes of Sailor Moon I could get my hands on, but boy, those were the days of dial-up Internet so it wasn’t worth using. I had to discover on my own how backwards the Japanese were from the American ways I was used to all on my own; you couldn’t Google that shit.
Over the years, I started to get into more mangas and animes, though I wasn’t nearly as hardcore into it as people, but I appreciated it.
When I was in high school, probably a junior (circa. 2010-11), I stumbled upon one I had never heard of or seen before. It was called “Fairy Tail”.
By the time I found it, the author (Hiro Mashima) had already created over 100 chapters! I had a lot of catching up to do.
But it was easy.
Like with any novel, I immersed myself into this fictional world. I watch characters come to life; we would go on adventures, stop bad guys from wreaking havoc and saving the day without much fanfare, and create friendships and strengthen our bonds along the way. I was with them through it all. I watched them grow, and I grew with them.
Getting older means you have more responsibilities. I did not have all this free time to be reading manga all day. At one point, I stopped reading this story for a year. But I kept coming back, because I would remember what sort of emotions this story stirred within me.
It’s been 7 years, and 540+ chapters later, the story is about to end. My heart feels like it’s breaking to pieces at the thought, but at the same time, it feels so full because I got to go on an amazing journey with incredible (fictional) people.
And even if they are fictional, who cares?
I learned something from them as I was growing.
I learned how to find strength in myself, and I learned the value of friendship and family. I learned that my past does not dictate my future, and the sky is the limit with anything I do.
Still, it hurts. I can’t believe I’m about to say goodbye to the characters I have spent so much of my life with.
The last time I felt this conflicted was when Sailor Moon ended, same with Harry Potter… and pretty much anything that had over 100 chapters, two books, and a whole season (which is… a lot, now that I think about it…).
My point is that good stories are hard to come by, but man do they leave a fucking impression when you find them.
It’s been real, Fairy Tail. Thanks for being there for me for so long.