Anime fans come from all walks of life and in all shapes and sizes. Some are students, some are scientists, some are doctors, some are artists, and some are even well-known musicians! Crunchyroll All-Stars is a series of interviews highlighting elite professionals who harbor a passion both for their art and for anime.
Today's profile is on John Collins, a power forward who currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks. Collins has been into anime since elementary school and continues to use anime as a way to bond with his fellow teammates. We spoke with Collins about getting inspiration from Rock Lee's training, the “secret” anime fans that he meets every day, and more!
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When did you become an anime fan? Was there a specific moment that affected you or changed the way you felt about something?
I was first introduced to this world at the lunch tables in elementary school. My friends talked about the show Naruto a ton, and we discussed it constantly at school, so the show quickly became my favorite. I have so many fond memories of playing on the jungle gym and pretending I was a ninja while I was living in Washington. Even now, when I watch old reruns of the show, I'm reminded of those memories that made me fall in love with anime.
Are there any ways you engage with your favorite anime series or characters aside from watching them?
Over the years, I ’ve built a collection of Naruto clothing and figurines. I love this stuff! It includes some Dragon Ball Z items too.
Have you ever bonded with someone else over anime?
I ’ve definitely bonded with my teammates over our love for anime. We always have something to discuss about the storylines and character development.
What ’s your favorite anime series of all time?
Naruto — I ’ve always loved that each episode has a deeper message behind it. The messages are nuanced adult themes broken down into kid narratives. I ’m also really drawn to the variety of characters.
Who ’s your favorite anime character of all time, and why?
My favorite character is Kakashi because he ’s like a sensei. He ’s the coolest character and he wears a mask, which I feel is so relevant right now.
Who would you rank as the top anime hero ever, and why?
Naruto or Goku.
Who would you rank as the top anime villain ever?
Frieza — His character has transcended into hip hop culture despite his villainous ways
Have you ever taken any elements or learnings from anime and implemented them into your daily life?
Rock Lee has no special abilities, yet he ’s still just so powerful because he works so much harder than them. It gives me inspiration to keep working at my craft.
It feels like more and more athletes are showcasing their love for anime — what ’s anime fandom like in NBA culture? And what do you think it is about anime that attracts athletes?
I believe the fandom is a bit underground, but there are still a bunch of secret fans. It's not as mainstream as guys' other interests. Athletes are attracted to it because we're always traveling and it promotes us watching things together. Plus, the combination of animation and a foreign culture is really cool to learn about.
What would your message be to someone who recently discovered anime and was thinking about getting into it?
I would tell them to give it a fair chance. It can be a little weird to get into at first. Once you find the right first show that fits your interests, you ’ll be hooked!
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