Saturday, November 19, 2011

Manga, Addictions, and a nice Cold Shower

"Hello, my name is Chris, and I have an addiction."

Now that the formalities are out of the way, I can let the healing start.

So, I have an addiction.  To what?  Manga.  I am addicted to manga.

For those of you who have absolutely no clue what manga is, well, the simplest way to describe it is to classify it as Japanese comic books.  There are several different manga series available (actually, there are tens of thousands of different series out there), and they are featured in both print and online form.  I typically read the online forms because they come out weekly, I know where they will come out at, and most importantly, they are free.

Some of many series which I read weekly consist of Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Gamaran, Bakuman, Fairy Tail, Hunter x Hunter, Hajime no Ippo, and The Breaker: New Waves.  The ones which don't come out so frequently which I read include Orange Marmalade, Kurogane, 1/2 Prince, and many others when they come out--but since they don't come out frequently, I forget what they are until I see the new issues.

You know, after listing all the different manga which I read, it seems that I would probably spend an inordinate amount of time reading them.  You'd be right if you thought that.  I spend on average about an hour a day reading manga.  But there are days where I have spent upwards of 12 hours reading manga.  Straight.  Without stopping (unless it is to grab some snacks or go to the bathroom).  And it doesn't even have to be new manga.  There are days where I will re-read manga series which I have already re-read several times.  I think I have re-read One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Orange Marmalada, 1/2 Prince, Bakuman, and several other short series at least 3 times (and that's a lot, considering that One Piece and Naruto have over 500 issues each!).

Why do I think I have an addiction to manga?  Well, that's a simple one to discuss: I read manga all the time, and when I'm not reading manga, I'm thinking back to the issues where there was a good cliffhanger and wondering what will happen next and how the previous episodes tie in with what's occurring with the issues now.  I guess I could compare that to daytime soap operas--they keep you on the edge of your seat expecting you to come back tomorrow to find out the resolution.

Well, that's what manga does with me.  And they do an excellent job at it.  I keep coming back, wanting more. I spend an inordinate amount of time reading and thinking about manga.  I crave it.  I sometimes will find myself waiting for Wednesday to come, because that's when the online manga are finally translated and posted.  I sometimes spend 5 to 6 hours on Mondays and Tuesdays checking to see if they've unlocked the forum where people can post spoilers for the next issue.  It's like a drug where I need my weekly fix.

It's a good thing that reading it online is free, because I know I'd have a much harder time if my only option was to go and buy it.  It is difficult for me many times to wait for the next issue, and even harder when the author or magazine has Golden Week, is sick, celebrates holidays, or anything else which delays the release of my manga.  It's pretty tough.

This has become a big distraction to me, because I have so many things I want to do (I've only posted about 10 business ideas here, but I have at least 50 more to put up!).  I'm not wisely using my time.

Why do I read so much manga?  I would assume that it's because I have so much stress put on me that I need to get away mentally from everything here.  I want to explore the oceans with Luffy and see his awesome rubberman fights (in One Piece); I want to experience the thrill of accompanying Naruto in learning how to control the kyubi and bring the great hidden nations together (in Naruto); I want to see whether or not Ashirogi Muto can finally beat their rival and produce an anime (in Bakuman).

I want to be somewhere other than where I am.

Does this mean that I dislike my family, friends, surroundings, and situation?  Not usually, but sometimes they can grate on my nerves.  Because of the amount of stress which is placed on myself (work stress, school stress, family stress, financial stress, holiday stress, friend stress, etc), I sometimes feel that I need an escape from reality.  I need to go some place where I can live a free life, one where my daily stresses are a world away.

I do understand that I spend more time than I probably should, but I also understand that I must take some time every day for myself to make sure that I'm taken care of.  If I don't, I will most likely have a mental breakdown, and nothing will be done.

I guess I do need some escape, but maybe not manga--or at least I should cut down on the amount of time I spend with it.

So, what should I do about it?  The easiest thing to say is that I'll go cold-turkey.  I've tried that a few times, but it doesn't last long.  I can go a few weeks, but then I get the hankering for manga.  I then, in a moment of weakness, fall back into manga, but it usually gets worse for a while.  I'll read several more hours of random manga just to make up for the time I spent away from it.  And that, in turn usually makes it so I need to read more than before as well, so instead of initially spending an hour reading, I'll now spend about an hour and a half reading.

And the worst part of it is that I feel horribly guilty for falling back into it.  And I don't like to share it with others (which is why I'm writing this--it's cathartic!).  And since I want to quit, the whole process repeats itself, and I fall deeper into guilt and depression.

So, I think what I should do is ration myself and slowly wean myself from reading so much.  Although that will take a lot more time in quitting, it will most likely be the most successful method.  That will take self-control and hard work, but that's what I need to do.

Wish me good luck, and hopefully this time I'll be successful.

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