Chapter 4:

Trey the ex otaku

An American Otaku

Trey’s room was simple and clean. It showcased his personality through various objects that adorned the walls, shelves and laid across his bed, or at least that’s what it seemed. If you were to pay close attention, you couldn’t help but to find the layer of generic semblance to all of it. The teamless sport jerseys, the bargain store books, the colors all exuded a character archetype, one he was perhaps hoping to be and at the center of all of it sat Trey on his bed clutching a box that he slowly began to open.

“I remember wanting this.” His voice filled with somber nostalgia, “Code of Heart, A4 with her long green hair and white bikini. I was so upset when I found out how long it was going to be before it actually released but I was still determined to get it. A4 was cold but hid a sweet sensitive side, tough and strong but needed to, to overcome her past and kind but only to you, she was my waifu…” Trey takes a deep breath, “But she’s not real, none of it is.”

He puts her back into her box, closes it and puts it under his bed. Completely exhausted he lies down and stares up at the familiar ceiling.

“What was it, two years ago when I bought her right?” He asked himself, “That seemed so long ago and so much has changed, was I really even the same person.”

As Trey thought, his eyes got heavier until he eventually drifted to sleep.

**Two years ago**

A 15 year old Trey, sporting a buzz cut, distressed jeans and a blue t-shirt gets home. He looks at the time noticing that it was eight.

“Hm, time really does go by quickly huh.” After his class ended, Trey ended up walking around town, hanging out at a park and stopping by some stores and a fast food place. It didn’t seem like much happened for it to be this late but it was.

Noticing no one else was home he decided to raid the kitchen for some food, his parking lot feast of american made tacos didn’t quite keep his stomach full. Nothing much in the fridge but he was fine with just a bag of chips and soda. With snacks in hand and a blanket he grabs off a couch, he drops down in front of the tv and turns it on to view what has become his favorite channel. As soon as he gets to his favorite channel, out booms the sound of a high energy announcer, talking in a deep voice.

“Welcome to the Super SciFi Japanimation block!”

“Oh yeah! This is the good stuff!” Trey exclaims while watching a ninja appear on screen, slash his victims in two leaving trails of blood, only coming to stop as a half dressed woman appears to try to seduce him.

Trey’s evening is filled with ultra violence, drama and snacks but it starts to come to a close as it gets later and his programs end. Not quite ready to call it a day, he flicks through the channels hoping to see something else catch his attention. He stops at a sitcom that he heard talked about a lot at school. It was about a bunch of roommates living out their lives in what was supposed to be a hilarious way. The girls aspired to be the women and the boys wanted to be as cool as the guys in the show but Trey couldn’t stand it.

“I hate this garbage.” Trey thinks to himself. “I don’t know when or how but somewhere along the line, my interest and who I am diverted from the so-called “norm”. I would say I’m the type of person that marches to the beat of his own drummer if I wasn’t someone who hated generic, generalizing idioms. Well with that said, I’m the type of person who marches to the beat of his own drummer. I’m always super serious and have a natural mean face…well that’s what I’m told.”

Thinking of how people see him, he takes a minute to contrast it with who he actually is by recalling himself alone in his room earlier this week with a big smile, his hands the side of the top of his head, flapping them up and down as if they were ears while singing in Swedish.

Trey cleans up after himself and starts to continue his thought, “Why am I so different? That’s a good question. You see, from my perspective, everyone around my age when they were younger learned their way of life from sitcoms and junk from tv and movies, so they hold those stupid ideas close to them or else they be judged abnormal and burnt at a cross or something. You know, crap like you’re supposed to do it at prom, get wasted at high school parties, go to college and get wasted and…get wasted some more? I don’t know, it all seems so exhausting having a scripted life.”

As if addressing a jury of his greatest critic, himself he continues to speak his mind, “I know some people probably think I’m one of those contrarian bastards who finds self worth by devaluing others but I assure you that is not the truth. Frankly I couldn’t give two shits about what anyone in the world does. Someone once posted something somewhere that said, “Hatred isn’t the opposite of love but apathy is.” Is it really though, is it really? I’m pretty sure the person who said that was some egomaniac who burned down his ex-girlfriend's house and thought he was being terribly poetic about it.”

“Of course having zero things in common with people meant having zero friends, well real friends that is, not acquaintances or randoms you kill time with by having meaningless conversations. I’m ok with this though, with this type of life, or at least I was.”

Trey now in his bedroom picks up some of his manga, unlike the anime he was watching, these were all ‘slice of life’ manga, stories about high school romances, small town boys meeting city girls who they apparently met before, festivals and fireworks.

“It’s not that I’m lonely or anything, nor do I feel peer pressure to get a girlfriend. No, no, no, this change is brought on by my fandom! That’s right, I shall enter the world of social interaction purely because of my love of anime. Aquariums! Ferris Wheels! Matsuri's Festivals! Cherry blossom viewings! Going to the beach and smashing watermelons! Catching goldfish with paper paddles. Bike rides through the small town during the sunset.”

Trey stands up and raises his fist in the air as a single manly tear drips down one eye, “I, I will get a girlfriend!” Then he falls back down in his bed and slowly drifts off to sleep.


Saturday morning.

After getting dressed, Trey hops on his bicycle and rides off to the mall.

“I was invited to a group meetup this afternoon but turned them down. I’ll just play it cool and act like I happened to be in the area after finishing up my prior obligations.”

With that thought in mind and his desire to change his current situation, Trey begins pedaling harder as if his destination would lead him to a new, more fulfilling life.

When he arrives at the mall, he chains his bike outfront and enters casually while brushing any dust and dirt off his clothes that may have accumulated during the ride.

As he enters the mall, he notices someone from his school in the courtyard among the tables and plants at the center of the mall.

“Hm.” Trey thinks, “I guess they already are meeting up.”

He quickly looks around and decides to avoid them and sneaks into a nearby shoe store and begins to walk around. Every couple of seconds he would peer out to see what they were doing. A few other people show up and join the others sitting down.

Looking between a stack of shoes Trey says out loud, “Oh, so he invited Cecilia and others more huh.”

Catching the attention of an employee, she walks over to him and makes a weak smile, “Can I help you, sir?”

“No.” Trey responds directly and without hesitation.


“Jeez, how many people did he invite?” Trey stands up and puts his hands into his pockets and begins to walk out of the store towards them.

The group of students now at a total of 5, was all gathered together talking and laughing. At the center of the group was one person, the one Trey initially saw, he had blonde hair, slim jeans and a basketball jersey on. He sat amongst the others confident and proud as if he was the leader.

As Trey walks within eyesight of him, he turns towards him, “Hey Trey, is that you?”

Trey nonchalantly responds, “Oh, Nick? What's up? I just finished my plans early and decided to head to the mall. Didn’t think you guys were still going to be here.”

Nick looks behind Trey and then back at him, “Shoe shopping? Get anything good?”

“Nah, nothing looking too hot in there.”

“Well, if you have nothing else to do, we are all about to head over to the food court to get something to eat, you down?”

Trey quickly looks at the crowd and then responds, “Sure I have time.”

“Come on guys, let's get some pizza.” and with that said, Nick stands up and starts to walk towards the food court as the others follow.

“Ah ‘Nick’s Pizza’, I own this place you know.” Nick jokes and the others laugh.

“What toppings do you want?”

“Lots of Meat!”

“Yeah you would want lots of meat.”

“Ha ha ha ha.”

As the discussion of what they want to order starts, Cecilia, a short tan skinned, dark haired Filipina girl, excuses herself, “I’m ok with anything, I’ll be back.”

She walks over to the tables and begins shuffling through her items. Trey notices this and decides to walk back to the tables as well.

“Yo!” Trey says.

She responds back with a smile.

“So, do you hang out with Nick and his group often?”

“Yeah, I know them from way back. I don’t see you too often though.”

“Yeah, ha…ha..ha” Trey stalls with an insincere laugh, “I’m usually busy.”

“Busy guy huh? What keeps you so busy?”

Trey pauses, he can’t decide how to approach the answer but just decides to blurt out his answer.

“I like to read manga.”

Cecilia makes an odd expression and doesn’t say anything.

Trying to cover up the awkward silence Trey says, “...It’s nothing, nevermind. What do you like to do?”

Cecilia thinks for a second and then says, “I love traveling with my family and going on trips. Oh and I love..”

She continues on but Trey stops hearing her. It was the same answers as other girls he talked to, travel this, music that, watching this, blah blah blah.

The rest of the group shows up and interrupts their conversation.

“Anywhere you want to go Trey? …Trey?” Nick says.

Trey, being caught off guard, slowly turns and looks at Nick, “Where do I want to go?”

He thinks, where does he really want to go, what would actually make him happy. Do you guys want to watch anime, listen to jpop or something?

Trey turns to Nick, “...Sorry, something came up. I have to go. I’ll catch you later though.”

Nick's eyes widened in shock, being caught off guard. “Oh, ok sure. Catch you later man.”

Trey gets on his bicycle and starts pedaling as fast as he can, the wind blowing against his face and the shocks of the bike being put to work as he rides on the uneven surfaces.

“What’s this feeling? I can’t shake it. It feels as if I’m missing something or lost it.”

He can’t help but to think of Cecilia, “If I had something in common with her…If I had something in common with them.”

Trey arrives at his home, gets off his bicycle and sits on his porch. Taking deep breaths he says out loud, “Was it I who was wrong?”

With a look of resignation in his eyes Trey makes his way to his room, “It’s not over for me though right? No matter what, I can start over…from zero.”

Trey finds a box and starts to pack up all the things in his room related to anime, tapes it shut and puts it in the corner of his room.

“It’s better this way.”


**Present day**

Trey packs his bookbag, tosses on a shirt with the number double zero displayed on it and heads out the door to walk to school. It’s a bit early but he didn’t mind, he preferred the cool and quiet mornings over a crowd.

As he arrives at the school entrance he comes to a complete stop as he sees someone standing in front, possibly waiting for him.

“Why are you here?” Trey says as he realizes it is Isabel.

“Here, I have something for you.” She sticks out her hand to reveal a manga in it. “This is for you.”

Trey takes a step back being completely caught off guard and Isabel takes a step closer.