Student Suffering from Coronavirus Finds Comfort in Anime
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Student Suffering from Coronavirus Finds Comfort in Anime

By Elizabeth Gibson for The J-Pop Exchange

For three weeks, Tiger Ye -- not his real name -- suffered from the effects of COVID-19. The coronavirus patient at ground zero for the outbreak was able to find moments of solace and comfort in one of his favorite pastimes -- anime.

Ye goes to a language school in Wuhan where he studies Japanese, and had recently gone to stay at his parent’s home for the semester break. The school, his dormitory, and his parent’s home are all within a five-kilometer radius of the Wuhan seafood market (where the virus is believed to have originated).

The 21-year-old man living in Wuhan began feeling ill January 21. He initially complained of muscle soreness and body aches, and then discovered he had a mild fever. In an interview with The Guardian, he said that’s when his parents took him to the hospital. After getting a CT scan and being prescribed some medication, he was asked to self-isolate in his bedroom at his parent’s house.

Then Ye’s symptoms got worse. He started coughing and having terrible body aches; then his fever shot up. “It felt like having been to hell and back,” he said. “Those were some of the worst days in my life.”

After another trip to the hospital that finally resulted in him getting a COVID-19 test (as the tests had been saved for the most critical patients), he discovered he did indeed have coronavirus. The local government quarantined him in a hotel that had been turned into a makeshift hospital. Police stood guard outside to prevent anyone from leaving or entering.

Being sick and scared, it was then he realized he needed some “spiritual support.” And he had something in mind: his favorite anime, The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls. Watching anime, he said, gave him hope and encouraged him to get better.

“Seeing their normal, happy lives, I thought I may have to say goodbye to this life forever,” he said. “But watching the show, the heroine had troubles in the first half, but she finally made it and succeeded in her career.”

In 2018, Ye had attended a solo performance of Ayaka Ohashi, who voices the character Uzuki Shimamura in The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls. Ohashi has also worked on other anime series, including Eureka Seven: AO, and Magia Record, and she is also a singer. After the Ohashi concert in 2018, Ye decided he wanted to make a career out of managing voice actors.

"I thought, ‘I must make it if I want to see her next concert alive,’” he said. “This really encouraged me and gave me some relief, along with the medicine. I dreamed twice that week that I met her."

He had originally planned to watch Ohashi in concert again in February, but with the lockdown he feared everything would be cancelled.

Of course, Ye was correct: many concerts and other events in Japan and around the globe have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Ohashi was also supposed to appear at the Inaugural Japanese Pop Culture Festival Anime Frontier in Fort Worth, Texas in May, but that event has been postponed until 2021. Many Comic Cons and other anime-friendly conventions around the country have also been cancelled or postponed.

Ye was finally allowed to return home five days later, ending a painful, anxiety-ridden saga that began more than three weeks before. He‘s thankful he survived, and salutes the doctors and nurses who put their own lives at risk to help him and many others.

Although the virus continues to spread around the world, Ye is one of the many reported cases from Wuhan who has recovered from the virus. Hopefully now he can rest easy and watch his favorite anime at home.

More by Elizabeth Gibson:

Netflix’s Bilingual Crime-Noir Thriller Giri/Haji Fuses Cultures

Live Action Anime: Skip Them or Stream Them?