The Courage In Committing

Weeaboos are commonly spotted at anime conventions and other Japan-themed gatherings AP PHOTO

Weeaboos are commonly spotted at anime conventions and other Japan-themed gatherings AP PHOTO

One peaceful week-night, a friend of mine tweeted a link to a YouTube video. The video was called “Cringe Weeaboo Defends Man on Train with Katana.”

You can already tell this story goes somewhere very strange.

A single man was getting accosted by a group of men on the train when a man named “Kairo Seijuro” leapt to his defense with an actual katana. “I had a five-stage plan,” he boasted to the reporter, in dead seriousness, before he demonstrated how he would have eviscerated his opponent, had it come to that. He carries his sword everywhere, of course.

I thought I was going to die of secondhand embarrassment watching the clip.

The “weeaboo” is a phenomenon well known to those with an interest in Japanese culture, particularly anime. Simply (and politely) put, a weeaboo is someone who takes said interest about four steps too far, into the realm of uncomfortable obsession. Some of the symptoms are using Japanese incorrectly or randomly in daily conversation (like ending all your sentences with “desu,”grammar be damned), believing that anime is a definitive representation of Japanese culture, and proclaiming that Japanese culture is superior to all others. Also, the person typically is not of Japanese descent.

It’s a pretty derogatory term. If someone calls you a weeaboo, that’s bad.

When the weeaboo begins shouting, “Kawaii desu ne!” or proudly showing off their cat-eared hoodie or talking loudly about the kind of hentai they watched last night, it triggers a sense of distaste for some. “Why are they doing that?” people may think. “Why do they have to be so weird?”

The weeaboo is the ultimate embodiment of what we discussed last week: the complete uncoolness of commitment. Nobody is more committed to what they love than the weeaboo. And, indeed, nobody is more reviled.

Our cultural instinct is always to blend in. For all that we celebrate diversity and what makes us different, mankind’s safest place is lost in the crowd, just one face among many, accepted for who we are — or, at least, who we appear to be. We all want to be legitimatized, to quietly live our lives without attracting untoward attention.

In this sense, the weeaboo is brave. Unwilling to bow to the norms of the masses, the weeaboo strikes out their own path to loving what they love, the way they love it, as much as they want to love it, public opinion be damned.

Sure, Kairo Seijuro looked dumb as hell leaping into that fight with his sword. But he was the only one willing to step in.

We laugh at him — but we are not as brave as him, either.