I’ve been binge-watching on the pretext of being sick. I committed a grave crime, that of, clicking on a TV series on Netflix and that was the end of my sanity. Episode after episode I became increasingly obsessed, with practically no breaks. There is an election happening in my state right now, and my Dad had to pry the remote from my fingers manually almost to make room to watch the news. My priorities are messed up. It’s very important that I find out whether Jian Chen and Chen Xiaoxi finally profess their love to each other or will Li Wei forever disrupt their epic romance?
Yes, I am obsessed and I am proud of it. TV series are the death of me. Anime, Live action dramas, Korean dramas, Chinese dramas, and Manga are my life. Yes, I am one of that lot, I am that person who’ll give you multiple reasons as to why Anime is intelligent, amazing, evolved and mature and can never be called a ‘Cartoon’. I love all these dramas, especially the romantic-comedies. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dark stuff like Death Note, Cowboy Bebop, Another, and many more. But, yes, I have a soft spot for things like Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket and the like. Not only anime, I love TV series with real actors and real-life setups.
Today I found ‘A Love So Beautiful‘ and what a find it is. This web series that is 24 episodes long is now my new alternate universe. I can’t stop. It’s been so long since I sat down and watched a series at such length. I finished 13 episodes, and I have so many more to go. The love story is the classic, girl who’s at the bottom of the food chain likes boy, boy is too good to be true, brooding and won’t admit he likes girl but will get jealous. Girl pines, another girl likes the same boy, another boy likes the main girl, and the pair just ends up in constant angst because girl keeps stalking boy and boy keeps pushing her away. It’s not something that hasn’t been done before.
But, when you begin watching something like this after a year’s gap I can’t tell you how liberating it feels. I can feel myself get angry every time the two have a misunderstanding. I am as invested in this story as the two actors playing their roles. I feel like I am a part of the series and I am the friend they don’t know they have. The reason why I watch this stuff is that somewhere I relate to the girl in every series, in terms of personality. You know the ending, they will get together even if it doesn’t seem like it. I know in reality they wouldn’t because life is unfair that way. But that’s the thing, these shows are aspirational, at least somewhere two people are getting what they wish for even if it’s fiction.
I loved La La Land because it tells you what really happens. But don’t pretend like you didn’t want it the other way round. Even if the ending is amazing, somewhere inside you were rooting for them. This series is built on the same foundation as most romantic dramas, but the process feels fresh every time, the chemistry feels real every time. You live the story with those characters. Yes, they speak in Chinese, geographically and culturally things are very different, but I think love, especially unrequited love, and tough love stay the same regardless of culture and geography. That’s why I relate. As somebody who is going through depression, binge-watching is an exercise to get me out of a slump.
I get to live in an alternate reality. My Dad tried watching a couple of episodes with me, my parents are cool like that. He told me that if he reads the subtitles he can’t watch the actors and if he watches the actors he can’t read the subtitles. I have been doing this since I was thirteen, watching Japanese television and Korean television. Reading subtitles comes naturally to me. My Dad kept asking me to repeat what they said. I prefer subtitles to English dubbing, because dubbing ruins the series, either the voice doesn’t match with the face or the voices overdo the emotions. With subtitles, you at least hear the emotion in their voices, it feels more authentic.
I used to find comfort in these series and fanfiction as a teenager because I didn’t have friends and I always wanted my life to be better than what it was. Now I know, that the reason why I made into adulthood was thanks to all this. If not, the depression would have taken me out much earlier. I have never told anyone this, my insomniac phase ended when I watched my first anime series, the summer of eighth grade. That was the first night of sleep I had in a year. So it’s a huge part of my life that I am thankful for. I underplay it, I kept it under the radar and I got massively teased for it just because it was considered uncool. Kids are horrible judges of what is cool and uncool.
If it weren’t for anime, I would have never withstood the bullying at school. I’d have transferred because things were that bad. But, I knew when I got home, I could write my own fanfiction, watch my anime and read all the books I possibly could. Now when I watch Chen Xiaoxi dealing with similar backlash, I am rooting for her. Again, a series has come to my rescue at a time when my depression sounded the alarm. I am going to finish the series by tomorrow and my parents can say that it’s childish, but I am actually just ensuring I at least make it to thirty.