Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad (The Turning Point of my Life)

If I were to build a top five favourite anime list, in preference of my favourite anime, you would see Beck Mongolian Chop Squad on that list. Beck was probably the first anime I watched to have actually taken something from it. I was in the sixth grade at the time when I first watched Beck on television. It was an awkward time in my life as I had turned eleven and just hit puberty and had moved to a new city which I would learn to refer to as my hometown, London. But before I was in London, I was in Scarborough and most of my friends were Chinese, South Asian, or Black. The stereotype of what a Toronto youth is, was what I could have became if I had stayed in Scarborough. London, at least the area I lived in, was very white. I remember knowing every East Asian kid at my elementary school, that’s how white it was, and I’m sure the white students knew of each one of us by name as well. I was very much an outsider. My cultural background in which I was raised made it a little more difficult for me to relate with my white classmates. I remember hearing their idea of Chinese food and thinking “What? Manchu Wok is Chinese food? Wait? Chinese food is different from other food? I thought it was just all called food” but I digress. Around this time though there was another East Asian person at our school. Actually he was a teacher. Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee was our math teacher, occasional gym teacher, but most importantly my music teacher. When I was in Scarborough I hated music class, but with Mr. Lee I loved music, and I honestly believe that Mr. Lee was probably my first real life role model.

With my new interest in music, I started watching Much Music, the Canadian music television channel, the channel where I first watched Beck. Beck was different than all the other battle anime I’ve watched. It had an actual drawn out plot that progressed through the development of characters. It wasn’t over the top or flashy, it was humble and oftentimes quiet, despite the rock music. Beck inspired me to play music and that was the turning point in my life. Getting into music allowed me to become better friends with my classmates, and for once in my life, I was noticeably good at something and that gave me confidence. I remember that there was a point in my life where I was excited to wake up. Meaning that I woke up an hour early by mistake once and didn’t go back to bed, I was just so happy to be alive. And I’m sad to say that it’s been quite awhile since I’ve had that feeling.

An underlying theme in Beck is how a person can develop their identity and self-worth through love. Not just romantic love (which works as well), but love for a craft. Those who create, need to be able to express themselves in a way in which their identities can be represented, and Beck is just that. It’s focused on five individuals who have expressed their identities through their music. As the band developed their sound and improved, so did the characters within the band. The theme truly resonates with youths. Before I had watched Beck, I was without any hobby. I didn’t enjoy sports, I enjoyed staying in, and all I did was read manga and watch anime. Life was bland but that was all I knew because I didn’t have any passions. However, developing my passion for music allowed me to have more opportunities. It allowed me to meet new people, perform in front of others, and it taught me what adrenaline was. The feeling of having your craft on showcase to others is such a rush. Whether it’s in the arts or in athletics, it is one of the best feelings in the world. Music lead me to playing football, which lead me to playing rugby, which lead me to all the great opportunities I have in life, involving the development of my identity.

When you’re young, so much is uncertain. You don’t know what you like, what you don’t like, what it means to like. You don’t know what the future holds. You’re so full of questions that you never knew you had, but having something or someone to lift your spirit helps you realize just how grand your life can be. I hope to one day be excited to live again, in seeing how grand this life can be.

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