COEUR D’ALENE, ID — Melvin Richardson, a 24-year-old literature student, nods quietly while eating lunch with his friends on the North Idaho University campus. His friends are engaged in a heated discussion about their thoughts on Kizumonogatari, the latest addition to the intellectual property made famous by Studio Shaft. Despite his friends being obsessive fans of the franchise, Richardson has never seen any of the anime or read any of the light novel. For the past six years, Melvin has been living a lie.
“I think it was the winter of 2009 when they first started mentioning the show,” Richardson tells Anime Maru. “I gave the first few episodes a watch but it really wasn’t my thing… there was too much talking and the animation seemed really weird. I’m not really into anime that much anyway.”
When asked why he would engage in such a charade, he told us that he was determined to fit in, and it was actually quite easy keep the act up. “Once they start, it’s almost like they’re talking to themselves. Monogatari fans will just keep going on if they think you’re listening to them.”
Richardson mentions that he has picked up a few key phrases and some very basic details about the show over the years. “Watch this,” he says before turning back to his friends in mid-discussion. “Hey guys, who else thought the animation in Kizu looked really detailed and Shinbou-esque? I really enjoyed that classic style.”
As his friends erupted in enthusiastic agreement and began a spirited debate, Richardson quietly told us that he had no idea what “Shinbou-esque” is supposed to mean nor who Shinbou was, but describing the animation that way always seemed to work.
Abruptly, one of Richardson’s friends asked him for his opinion of the “Nadeko Medusa”.
“I think it’s a great allegory that builds off the first season. It draws a really cool parallel to the other arcs. Also Hitagi is great,” Richardson nonchalantly states as his friends respond with nods of approval.
“I can always tell when the show is airing again because they’ll start talking more and more about it. I don’t mind if it keeps going longer, otherwise we’d just sit there in awkward silence like before.”
Richardson confides with us that he will probably never watch the anime. “Once I have an informed opinion, I’ll realize that my friends are wrong about everything,” he says. “That’s what happened with my last group of friends when I decided to actually watch Full Metal Alchemist.”