When you're depressed, the silence is thick and omnipresent. You could buy a pair of rubber waders and fucking slog through the silence of depression. And it was on one of those very quiet nights that my roommate asked me if I'd ever watched a show called One Piece, which I knew two things about: 1) It was an anime, and 2) Yes please, anything that will distract me from this. Now, for those that have never heard of it, One Piece is a show about a dude who has the power to stretch his limbs, and he uses that power to better punch people. And I kind of fell in love with it immediately.
More important than the plot was the fact that One Piece, along with its themes of standing up for yourself and against those who would prey on the helpless, is based around the idea that there are no useless people. You might be surrounded by people who are remarkably strong in comparison to you, but you have things to contribute as well. Basically, it was Everything Daniel Needs To Hear Right Now, And Some Japanese Pop Music: The Show.
There were around 300-plus episodes to watch by the time I started, so there was no chance of me ever going back to the well and finding out that the One Piece had all dried up. And that was important because for the first time since I started college, I felt like I had a place that I could go to whenever the aloneness began to crush me and all of the noises around me turned into that horrifying anthem that starts playing whenever Sonic the Hedgehog begins to drown.
You often hear other people describe their loved ones as "their rocks," but for a certain span of time, One Piece was my rock. It's a goofy adventure show about a supernatural pirate crew, and I can honestly say that it might be the reason that I'm around to talk about it right now. It gave me something to cling to when my entire being felt invalidated. And this would happen again once more in my life.
But before we get into that, here's another punch for good measure.