One Year Later: How I Manage in the Pandemic

Daniel Franchetti, Editor

The global pandemic that started in full swing over a year ago continues to permeate people’s lives. I can attest that I had thought that this crisis would have blown over because of a hot summer or have lessened in restrictions by the new year. Instead, mandates remain, and the world fluctuates between feeling safe and having to retreat into preventive measures. During this time, many people have found new hobbies to pass the time. For me, a year ago on April 10, 2020, nearly a month after school closed its physical doors, I came to a realization. I like drawing.

Spring is notorious for being the season for English papers. Like any fine, upstanding student, I procrastinated as long as humanly possible. Not only did I use the available methods of procrastination that I was used to, but I also explored new ones. One of which was drawing characters from shows. I am not part of any art academies nor have I had any real practice in drawing at all. But somehow, I became fascinated with drawing and it consumed me for some time during April and beyond. The extent of the drawing was limited to using an online image and drawing what I saw merely by sight. Ever since then I have drawn on a near-regular rate of about one or two drawings a month.

I had previously sketched in the margins of notebooks, but I had never found myself dedicating pages of a notebook for the craft. These drawings were by no means great nor would I nor do I really consider it “art” as it is not original in nature. The quality of them was rather low and crude at first. They lacked any depth, shadowing, and color that would really give them the extra “thing” that set them apart as drawings. But in spite of the quality of the product, I found that I created quality work I was proud of and I found the experience of drawing to be relaxing in the stressful times of the pandemic.

It would be best to say the subjects of these drawings were not the usual cartoon characters but were anime characters if you could not tell from the illustration. In my experiences of people becoming aware of my passion for anime, there were usual responses: utter hate, utter joy, or utter neutrality, indifference, or ignorance.

The reason I believe that it is not highly regarded is that it is still relatively new in terms of being in mainstream media. It has not established itself in the culture to be widely accepted and is a form of change to the traditional entertainment formula that people would naturally be against. “Anime” is just the shortened form of animation and technically any animation can be categorized as anime. Anime generally just refers to a style that originated in Japan. Interestingly, it was influenced by Western animation in its style as it followed that of Fleischer Studios of the 1930s, famous for animating Popeye. Specifically, one can see the influence in how the eyes are drawn. Because it is a genre on par with animation, it has no dedicated demographic and instead has genres below it that can have demographic. Anime is not all aimed at a specific age just as animations like how one would not say Mickey Mouse and South Park are meant for the same demographic. This misconception of the categorization may also be a reason why people do not tolerate anime as it can either be associated with children’s shows or the other extreme. I would also be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the more obvious and concerning part of anime, the “exaggeration” in certain series.

This article is not about my drawings for an ego boost, but it is the gateway for me to a new category of articles. Openly admitting to having a relation to anime is and will always be such a dangerous topic for me. I have alienated a person to the extent where that person did not want to speak to me again after hearing that I watched anime. Since then, I had to attempt to hide that especially since there is such a negative connotation to the word. But I eventually decided that if I was going to own something like that and have a stigma like that, I may as well go big or go home. I went big and I think that is a big step in the correct direction in acceptance and awareness which I believe manifested in openly drawing some. I know other students who have also begun taking up this craft as well who are not as open about it.

What I have drawn for this article is a fully colored and shaded version of my first drawing a year ago of Koyomi Araragi from the Monogatari series. While I had not watched the series at that point, I would go on to draw other characters from it such as Hitagi Senjougahara and Hanekawa Tsubasa. The reason I drew him was that he was not the most visually dazzling character, it was easy to draw and hard to botch up when I first started. The images on the left are drawings from April 10, 2020, and the image on the right is the drawing from April 10, 2021. I had originally drawn several variations of the character to begin to understand drawing more and the profile of him in the top left of the center page was what I was replicating. This was my first colored drawing, and it will not be my last as I intend to produce colored drawings from now on.