As an avid reader and book- lover, I was faced with the problem of my dwindling book supply. Unfortunately, my mom wouldn’t let me replenish my supply because of my poor taste in books (I rarely read challenging books and instead opted for trending fiction series and “comfortable” books). During this dilemma, I chanced upon manga, also known as Japanese comics. My friends at my new school introduced me to several sites (which, now that I think about it, should really be illegal) that gave me free access to thousands of mangas. That was the day I became a faithful citizen of the glittering world of Japanese manga and anime. That was also the day that, to this day, I regret most.

My first manga left me intrigued. My friends then sent me 3- page long lists of mangas they recommended. I read them all. My friends sent me more. I read them, too. By my 30th- ish manga series, I was hopelessly hooked. That marked the beginning of my descent down the road of unproductivity.

As I became more and more exposed to the ridiculously attractive world of manga, I developed an almost insatiable desire for lengthy daily reads. If a day went by without at least twenty chapters read, I would grow impatient and feel a clawing sense of insecurity in my heart. I was enamored with these 2- D characters and the world they lived in, so much that I almost became one with them. My days were lengthened and my nights were cut short so that I could read as much manga as possible. My computer became my new best friend. My grammar and writing skills deteriorated dramatically from constantly reading bad scanlation translations. School suddenly seemed dull and unreal. Even my dreams were centered around characters from my favorite mangas.

I was addicted.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of my addiction was that I honestly didn’t care for anything else (even school) except for manga. As a result, my memories of 7th grade are nothing more than a black haze.

The summer before my freshman year in high school, I did some self- reflection and was horrified to find that the source of my growing petulance and plummeting grades was manga (oh, sweet and seemingly harmless manga…!). So, with a sinking heart, I grimly resolved to cut ties with manga. After a painful year of blocking manga sites on my computer and testing the limits of my will power (my school counselor helped me immensely), I somehow managed to throw manga out of my life.

Today, the #1 advice I give to my juniors is this: don’t ever touch manga. Avoid it like the plague, because it really is a plague. It’s sinfully addicting and makes you lose focus on your life.

If you’re currently in the situation I was in when in 7th grade and are still not convinced, then I want you to consider this: twenty years from now, where do you want to be, and who do you want to be? In Japan, “otakus” are people with an obsession for manga and anime. Otakus are also at the bottom of the social class pyramid in Japanese society. I’m very sorry to have to phrase it this way, but Japanese people demean otakus as unsociable, useless scum. Is this the identity you want in twenty years?

For those with the misfortune of being addicted to manga: you have to stop now. You cannot keep it off “until tomorrow.” For the lucky ones who have not even touched manga yet: congratulations, you’ve saved yourselves a world of pain. Keep it up and remember: do not touch manga under any circumstance.

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