The Curious Case of Anime Fans

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So lately I’ve been thinking about my blog, and all the manga/anime fans in the community. That’s when I started realizing that I had some deep questions to get out of my head, so I’m thinking that every Sunday I’ll post a “The Curious Case of….”  a topic. This way I can do something other than reviews, and hopefully we can get a good conversation going in the comment section XD

This week’s topic: Anime Fans

When I started to get into anime around middle school (about 11 years ago {holy shit this makes me feel old}) anime was still growing in popularity and there wasn’t many fans of anime where I lived. Luckily, most of my friends I had back then did like anime, and we’d always had a great time talking and debating our favorite shows.  Sadly, as you grow older you start to change, and my friends now don’t like anime as much as I do. They watch one  or two series that the Western audience tends to pick up in popularity (Kill la Kill, Attack on Titan) but they don’t go out of their way to find new anime like I do.

To fix this lonely hole in my heart I turned my attention to YouTube. I had no idea that people reviewed, talked about, and discussed anime and manga on there. I immediately subscribed to numerous YouTubers and was content for a while. But then that hole came back, and I could feel that sad void that I couldn’t express my love for something, so I did the one thing you shouldn’t do on YouTube, I looked at the comments. And while you can find comment sections that are mostly good, nice, and respectful, the ones I was looking at had fans debating angrily and starting word wars with each other, the far opposite of being respectful.

This horrified me, and I deluded myself into thinking it was just because of YouTube, but no. I’ve noticed over the years that, primarily on the Internet, anime fans can be extremely mean to each other.  Don’t get me wrong, there are nice people out there, and there are small communities that you can find to have a decent discussion, but the popular places, and usually the first few places you go for anime and manga discussions, are like this. They’re filled with who would win, my anime is better than yours, you like Naruto therefore you should die. So many unnecessary hate being flung around, and what makes me really peeved about this is that the anime and manga community is small. All around the world it’s in the minority, and all we’re doing is shitting on each other?

It took me a while to accept this. The majority of anime fans are all alike, you can see it in any place that talks about anime. There are anime fans who have an open mind, accepts that everyone has an opinion, but the sad truth is they don’t speak up as much as, what is what I like to call, “the average anime fan.”

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The average anime fan, to me, is the loudest, proudest, and meanest creature in this community. The majority of these people are usually in their teens, maybe under 17, only watch Shonen, and disregard any other anime. Sadly, the anime they rave and love are usually ‘okay’ series. The most popular one right now is Fairy Tail. I’ve watched a bit of it, and didn’t like it. I’ve read a small chunk of the manga, and liked the beginning of it, but didn’t like it after a bit. Now, if people say it’s their favorite series of all time, then good for them. I respect your opinion, I may ask why, but I do everything I can so that I’m not belittling fans. Why? Because I know what it feels like to have something that means so much to you. Fairy Tail means so much to so many people, and some times it’s what brings them happiness in their sad times. Who am I to take that away? At the end of the day anime is entertainment, not life, and if it helps somebody, and improves their confidence or something else, who am I to bad mouth it? However, a lot of people have the same mind set as me, they recognize that as a story, Fairy Tail isn’t that strong. It uses the same beats each arc, has friendship powerups that may draw you out of the story, but when people are trying to say their thoughts on what they think is bad, it just doesn’t come out totally right.

I believe the biggest problem is the fact that Anime Fans don’t know how to communicate with each other. Sometimes it’s because the average anime fan has only experienced Shonen, and sometimes they don’t know that there are better, more mature stories out there. Maybe they only have time for one long running anime, since basically all long running anime is Shonen. There are so many factors to place, but when it comes time to expressing our thoughts, conversations tend to turn into screaming matches.

For a while I just thought the reason behind this was that most anime fans are immature, but then something that happened recently made me think differently. Barnes & Nobles have expanded their manga section, and have stated the reason why was that they noticed an increase of manga sales lately. Just the other week I thought the anime and manga presence in America was minimal to none, but then I remembered Attack on Titan. Did you know the first volume of Attack on Titan has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for over 100 weeks? It’s still on it every week, but I don’t think anything has ever lasted that long on the list. Attack on Titan has changed America, I’ve been hearing so many stories of people starting to get into anime because of Attack on Titan. Then I thought of Sword Art Online, Kill la Kill, and even Death Note. All of these titles has had an effect on America, and each one brings in a bigger wave of, for lack of a better term, noobs.

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In recent months I’ve been looking on Crunchyroll forums and participating in conversations, something I never would have done before, and noticed that a lot of the popular series had kids 17 and under discussing them. It was at this point that it finally clicked.

Every anime that has made a wave in America has been Shonen, and not only that but average Shonen at best. I’m sorry if some of you disagree, but as a story Shonen are constantly plagued. Shonen always has a teen main character, and lots of new anime fans are coming from the teen demographic, which makes sense. When I was growing up my family had no idea what anime was, and it was a little difficult to try and teach them, but now if I mention anime my cousin would say that she has heard of it and was always interested in what it is. More and more teens are finding out about anime, and I think that is fantastic, because that means there will be a generation that, in maybe a decade from now, will start putting anime on the map in America.

However, I also think this is the problem. As everyone knows the younger you are, the more into technology you are. I rarely see kids playing outside these days. At most they’re playing inside if not on the computer, and with this comes a whole new social experience that teens, and younger, are more comfortable with. This makes me bring up two points.

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The first is how they act. Now, I’ve heard a lot of horror (or what I consider horror) stories of what kids do to each other on the Internet. Cyber bullying hasn’t been so prominent as it is now. It’s actually scary how smart kids are about computers, to the point that if they wanted to they could ruin you. But with the internet, and comment sections, we get trolls, anonymous people who feel comfortable in saying whatever they want. The internet has never been the kindest of places, and while I think (hope) it’s getting better, I believe that teens are more likely to write their emotions, than take a deep breath and think with their brain.

The second point is the fact that they’re teens. What’s hot now is Fairy Tail, Naruto, One Piece, SAO, and once upon a time Bleach. What do these all have in common? They all have a teen protagonist that is relatable, the stories are all fantastical that nobody in the west would come up with it, the characters are likable (debatable) enough so that you feel invested with each series. With all the new people discovering anime, it’s no wonder why they all gravitate to those shows. The older anime crowd may not like them, they may recognize that the story telling isn’t that strong, but for the new fans Shonen is all they know. It’s the only thing that is recognized State side, the only thing that has broken the wall, and even in Japan Shonen dominates any other demographic.

So, my theory is we have two generations of anime fans trying to communicate. The older and more experienced ones, and the younger fresher ones. With the fact that the younger ones are probably more prone to wear their emotions on their shirt (or in this case comments) it’s no wonder that there seems to be a lost in translation when we try to communicate in a discussion. Now, I’m not saying it’s all younger people’s fault, it’s everyone’s fault. The fact is we haven’t broke equal ground yet, so that we’re not offending, pissing someone off, or trashing one each other. Sometimes it’s a miscommunication, other times people like saying a series is trash.

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Either way, there is hope for Anime Fans. As it stands now I only like some. A lot of the time I see people who only watch one series and proclaim its gloriousness to the world, other times I meet people who are open to new ideas and are interested in expanding their anime tastes. But I can imagine a world where our small community grows, like it’s doing now, and if we don’t clean up our act we’ll just have even more people calling what someone likes trash. If we begin to respect each other’s tastes, and are able to communicate in a non-childish manner, I think the community would improve greatly.

*Edit: The reason I focus solely on the United States is because that is where I’m from, and what I know and have observed, and therefore did not feel comfortable to speaking about other countries anime state. If you are from another country I am would be very pleased if you expressed what you noticed compared to here :D*

Whew! That was a lot, if you stuck around and read the whole thing I grant you 100,000 exp , which means you’re all 5 levels higher yay! But I do want to thank all of you who have read this, and if you agree, disagree, or just want to put in your own opinion then by all means leave a comment. I would love to know everyone’s thoughts on this topic, and if you want to leave a hateful comment (which would be ironic) then by all means I’ll still love ya.

So until next time 😛

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24 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Anime Fans

  1. lynlynsays

    I found this pretty interesting to read.

    I wrote many articles for my site and others about anime, and I don’t really read the comments, except on my personal blog because I am aware that no matter what you think or say, someone will always critique you or have a different opinion from your’s. I don’t let those comments phase me or change my opinions or the way I write.

    It is true that it is easy and you can get away with saying mean comments on the Internet because you can’t see the other person’s face. Sadly, it is also true that the more time you spend on the internet, the more introverted you become, and it may have a negative influence on you because you will have trouble communicating with people in person.

    Anyways, once again, great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I was worried that this would polarize people and I went off topic at some point, but I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. If you liked this type of post I’ll be doing “discussion” topics on sundays, although as I type this I think I said this at the beginning of the post so oops. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that’s why it took me so long to start my own blog about anime I had a couple friends who were casuals with anime an never branched out and would make jokes when I wanted to watch like chobits * preface I’m a dude lol

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  3. Interesting theory you have there, especially your point about the struggle between the younger and the older anime fans in communicating. I agree that there are a lot of fans who are close-minded and think that the series they they like are the most awesome. Fortunately, I’ve had a more pleasant experience in that I encounter more fans that are more open-minded.

    I’m not old, but I’m not in my teens anymore. I now know that the anime world is vast and diverse, and that there is virtually an anime title out there that’ll suit your taste, if you just take the time to look.

    Anyway, great post. Very interesting. Keep on watching anime and blogging. Cheers!

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  4. Yeah, I think I wrote a paragraph similar to this in another post, about how people on Youtube tend to be extremely harsh on each other. Debates turn into ‘shouting matches’ within a few comments as the elitists jump into the fray. For some reason I feel like blogging attracts a much more mature audience which is why I like it here, because everyone is so much more civil to each other, which is a breath of fresh air.

    I’ve said before on my blog that the internet and also the anime community has a lot of people who want an escape from everyday life, which is a much less happy place for them, and they go to the internet to vent their negative emotions, which is where trolls come in. Funnily enough, most teens are unhappy a lot of the time because of the emotional rollercoaster that is PUBERTY.

    Unfortunately, it’s difficult to maintain a ‘mature’ atmosphere and set an example of how to act to the more aggressive users, simply because it is hard to set an example and deal with harsh, mean comments and trolls all at once when these people don’t truly understand why it is much more enjoyable to just have a conversation about something rather than have an argument, or they simply aren’t interested.

    Interesting post! Keep up the topical posts like these – they are always fun to read and think about.

    Like

  5. Rocco B

    A very good read. And I agree with you. Especially on the older vs younger generation gap. However I will say this, it isn’t just shounen shows, slice of life, high school and to certain extent rom-com, are also the main culprits. As they foster and reinforce certain attitudes towards how certain characters should look. For example take Haruyuki Arita from accel world. Being the brain child from the same author who created SAO. You’d expect that Haru & accel world would have been accepted and be a popular series like SAO. You’d be wrong in thinking that. The most compliant that Haru got was…the way he looked. If he didn’t look like Kirito, or any other characters from a high school anime. They get the shaft.

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  6. srogers1

    I think part of the reason that comments are so often filled with insults is that in order to have a discussion about a preference, you have to be able to identify what it is you like about it. Otherwise, the emotion is a primary, and there is nothing else too say for it except, “I like it”, and nothing else to say to critics except, “you suck’.

    But getting beyond the feelings to the reasons behind them is not easy. It’s a skill that has to be learned.

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  7. With your rather insightful commentary on this theoretical divide between different sections of anime fans; be it experience, age, taste or personality; I think I can safely identify myself as being an ‘indifferent onlooker’, the always curious void in the middle, that the Internet always filters out: I sit in the distance, observing the different instances of harmony and chaos through curious eyes, always wanting to understand the thought processes of all the camps. Needless to say, I often fail, but from my viewpoint on the spectacle, the clear divisions of ‘NARUTO BEST ANIME EVER’, ‘FAIRY TAIL SUCKS’ and ‘the curious story beats of Hyouka very much optimizes the visually poetic personality, that ascends many Kyoto Animation productions above the competition: it is a well craft series that strongly preaches finding beauty within the mundane’, pretty much showcases how fan reactions mix with emotional control and the diverse ability to put meaning behind words: all three examples I used above can be considered fan bias, but try to guess which one conveyed their point across in the most clear and concise manner.

    After I started blogging, I began interacting more often with the fandom and sharing my own unique brand of thoughts. I don’t see this as a simple issue of age difference, as I still find more conservative 80s Star Wars fans battling out with more progressive film goers and fans, all using similarly vulgar language: adults can act like idiots too, under the emotional amplifier that is the Internet (Anime example: 80s anime advocates who seem to hate everything 2000s). However, if I pull myself away from the more immediate front page dimensions of the Internet, and into the more diverse spaces of blogs, analytical journals and articles, I find myself right at home: I am mostly a rational thinker who acknowledges the importance of emotional input when talking about entertainment, without getting lost in that cesspool of fan elitism. And I still haven’t cracked the 20 year age bracket, yet. My point: choose your platforms when you want to interact with fan communities, there’s no point using 3 word slogans against a detailed analytical post, and there is certainly little return of investment in trying to argue a concise argument with someone who refuses to venture beyond the articial fanboy bubble.

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    1. That is true, it is hard to have good conversations with fans unless you’re in a particular field, i.e. blogging. Actually, because I’ve really only seen screaming matches and “No you’re stupid because you just don’t get it” arguements were the reasons I tried out blogging, and to my happy surprise I’ve met a lot of people who love anime on here,and actually have intellectual comments that are neither extreme, nor gibberish. In my book, that’s a win.

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  8. neighborhoodotaku

    I definitely see the same trends among anime fans that you described in your article. Being a high school senior, I was initially sucked into the shonen trap when I first started watching anime and was also pulled into Fairy Tail like most younger people. Now I’ve at least seen some better shows like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and I see the otaku community from a fresh perspective. Only if fans could just get along with each other.. 😦

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  9. I would theorize that this doesn’t just apply to “anime fans” but “fans” in general. Being young is a valid point and being behind a computer is another. Parents typically keep a close eye on kids, but when they’re online, unless they have parental controls on, they’re basically being unwatched. How’s a parent to know a kid is going on Youtube and telling someone that if they like Naruto they’d may as well kill themselves? It’s the lack of any consequence from both the parent and the person the comment is directed to that I feel is most to blame here. It’s easy to talk big through text. Again, it’s of no consequence to them, unless they have a guilty conscience. I’m not sure how far into the reaches of the internet you’ve traveled, but anime fans are likely not the most “toxic” community around.

    Interesting post, dude.

    Like

  10. In the case of America, fans might have grown. But most of the other countries are almost blind to anime. According to me, the biggest challenge for an anime fan is lack of friends who know anime. i have been an anime fan since around 5 years old and till now i have seen only two people in my whole school, talk about anime. One was my best friend and now she is over anime since we stopped being best friends with me. when other people talk about popular stuff like movies and pop songs i am totally ignored. they say that i am watching cartoons and i am immature. it doesn’t really bother me though……but it feels suffocating when we don’t have someone to talk about anime. a few years ago, nobody knew about anime.That suffocation leads us in search of anime communities in the internet and as you have stated, it is full of hate. being an anime fan is really tough job. but the good thing is that my cousin who was not interested in anime suddenly got very interested when he got into college. i can see an increasing trend of popularity for anime in the past years even in a country like India where i live.
    The funny thing is that since i am crazy about japanese animations my classmates gave me the nickname ‘Japan’ and every time they see me, they say they hate japan.
    I am a 15 year old fan, but i don’t think teens are that aggressive. if some are,it is because thoughts and aggression are more in a teen’s mind. the brave thing to do is to avoid those mean people. there are sensible teen fans around. i am sure that most of these angry people would gain a mature insight at the end of their teenage. nowadays people don’t know how to behave, it is seen in almost all fields. it is not something that is confined only to anime.
    your statement that shounen is popular is absolutely true. people always tend to go for the best and the famous. but there are many fans who appreciate other genres too. it all depends on the perspective of view of the person. most shounen stories are apocalyptic, take the case of movies, always the ones with an apocalyptic theme gets the popularity. truth be said, i am a huge fan of shounen too. but i equally love the other genres.
    The best thing to do is stop worrying about these things and why don’t we enter the blissful world of anime and enjoy it. I may be very young to say it, but still it is my opinion.
    Sorry for making you read all these stupidity………….
    Hope that our anime community turns into a place of peace and serenity with millions and millions of expanding fans!

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  11. Pingback: Best Posts Round-Up of the 1st Ever Fujinsei Blog Carnival | Fujinsei

  12. I can only speak for the Netherlands in a way as the only Anime shown here are the all round Anime like the Pokemon, Digimon, Dragonball (for while), battlebeads, Yu-Gi-oh. Well you get the picture. All game and cardgame related.anime. And the Imazuma eleven. Just to name a view. (DS anyone)
    These anime all played on channels made for kids. So it is only natural that they grow up likeing only that type of anime. ANd all are linked to game consoles.
    It is only recently with the Crunchyroll and Netflix, that more can be looked at but as these cost money parents are more likely to say no. (youtube is an option but what doesn’t know won’t look for it either.)

    I be honest being a 40 year old fan of anime (talk about old right). I grew up with Macross or Robotech. Battleship Yamato and Tekkaman. That be 30 years ago. And always stuck with me. And made me fall in love with it

    When it comes to shows the most shown are to capture the young. t is only when one gets older we are willing to look beyond the horizon. Things is once we do a new world opens up.
    In the end we like what we like. and watch what we watch. and all the bragging, I will leave that to the youngsters. But sure enough use less hurtful language.

    Great post.

    A lot changed over the years like how mums are hotter these days to in Anime How hips have slimmed and fattened again. And how breasts have become more prominent. Yup we all seen the fan episodes.

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  13. This is a good read, I’ve never gone on forums but I’ve seen the stereotype that surrounds anime fans and it’s something that I’ve always wondered about. I agree with your explanation and I think it can be applied to a lot negative connotations about anime, like why people think it’s only for children. I think with time, the gap will close as the landscape is changing.

    Like

  14. Wow very impressive post on the community and I agree with the experienced fans vs teens fans, it will always be an endless cycle and this just not just talking about anime fans but this cycle happens for all fandoms, of harry potter, marvel etc. For all those who wish to troll over others, there are people who will respect your opinion and not be an arse. so where there is a troll there is a trooper. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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