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Or, ďAn Angry Anime Fan And His View On The FandomĒ

By: Andrew Forrester


††††††††††† I want to get one thing out of the way, first and foremost. This essay, in no way, is representative of all otaku; I honestly believe there are some decent anime fans out there. I know quite a few of them personally. But for those it does apply to, you know who you are.

††††††††††† Now that my little disclaimer is out of the way, we can get to the heart of the matter.

††††††††††† Animeís popularity has grown exponentially over the last ten years. Titles such as Voltron, Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon are now household names and are known by people who donít even know what anime is. An explosion of anime companies has emerged in America, bringing with it a wave of fandom. Anime websites are everywhere on the net, and the number grows everyday. For most, this can only mean itís a good age to be an anime fan.

††††††††††† Well, I am not happy. And let me tell you why.

††††††††††† My problem isnít hentai. Itís not the English dub of Sailor Moon. Itís not Carl Macek or Apollo Smile or Central Park Media. My problem lies much closer to the heart of what makes anime what it is. And thatís the fans.

††††††††††† You know what I mean. These obsessed, eccentric fans who post thousands of posts on rec.arts.anime about Dragon Ball Z being the best thing since sliced bread or these people who role-play Sailor Moon parts in IRC. These fans that say phrases like, ďNani?Ē or ďBaka?Ē trying to pass off as a Japanese animated character. These fans that dislike certain voice actors/actresses, so they feel compelled to create fan clubs devoted to their destruction or shout until their throats turn raw to make their voice heard. These people are single-handedly Ė or should I say ďgroup-handedlyĒ Ė making a mockery out of a beautiful art form. Their immature, foolish attitude is turning anime fandom into a farce.

††††††††††† I will not stand by idly anymore and watch the intellectual downfall of my hobby. You may think Iím an asshole for saying what I am going to say, but if I donít say it now I am going to go absolutely ballistic.

††††††††††† I attend an anime club. Or should I say I used to. Why did I stop? Because no one there would take anything seriously. I brought Patlabor 2, and they panned it. ďToo complex. Too boring. I fell asleep. Too little action. Too little comedy. Give me Slayers or Kodomo no Omocha.Ē I showed Neon Genesis Evangelion. For the most part, it was appreciated. Yet a few fans didnít like it because it was a deep, philosophical show or because it was an incredible examination on the human psyche.

No, they liked it because, ďAsuka was funny.Ē

††††††††††† I have a feeling these people missed the point.

††††††††††† I went to the local Suncoast to pick up Perfect Blue (which, by the way, is an excellent film). While reading the back of the box and window-shopping other titles, I noticed two other otaku nearby get into a heated debate about whether Dirty Pair Flash does the original series justice. One took the side that it was a humorous, 90ís update to an exquisite 80ís anime, while the other said it was a terrible mockery. The only problem is that they started shouting in the store, saying phrases in Japanese and basically causing a huge scene. People walking nearby gave odd looks at the duo. After their fire died down, they took an anime cassette to the counter; along the way they were singing Cruel Angelís Thesis. Needless to say, it earned them more odd looks.

††††††††††† Is this truly the type of people we want to represent anime fans?

††††††††††† I attended Dragon*Con last year, and I am also attending it this year. The second day of the gala I was sitting at a small restaurant, eating a burger and listening in on the surrounding conversations. Being a fan of Apollo Smileís work, my attention was immediately turned to a group of anime fans when I heard the name uttered. They were discussing ways they could plot her downfall. ďMake an anti-Apollo website! Letís boo at her during her concert! Letís buy Battle Arena Toshinden and bring it up to her, show it to her face and say that she sucked as Tracy!Ē

††††††††††† Didnít these people have anything better to do?

††††††††††† Probably not. And thatís a scary thought.

††††††††††† I love a little comedy every now and then in my anime. I love having examinations on what makes anime great. I love having a discussion on any seiyuu, whether I like them or not. What I donít like are these foolish actions done by a majority of fans. To quote a friend of mine, ď85% of all anime fans really embarrass the hell out of the other 15%.Ē

††††††††††† Animeís popularity is only going to grow from here on out, and as it does itís going to be scrutinized more and more. The fans will be included in this. Do we really want people seeing this? Arenít we afraid that some people wonít take it seriously based on the imprudent actions of these fans? I know a girl who actually meows like a catgirl. A CATGIRL! She is embarrassing herself and everyone associating with her. And she doesnít just do it while watching anime. Sheíll do it while walking the mall or during the middle of a movie. Jesus Christ! Doesnít she realize how foolish she looks?

††††††††††† You are not catgirls. You are not in a 50-ton Gundam. You are not Shinji Ikari or Lina Inverse or Goku or Tamahome. The sooner you realize that, the better off you will be. Cosplaying as an anime character at a convention is one thing, but please Ė for the love of God Ė do not act like that in public. Anime fandom does not need a mob of fans with identity problems.

††††††††††† The subtitled/dubbed debate will not die anytime soon, and I am not expecting it to. But come on Ė be a little more mature about it. You donít need to turn a petty debate into World War XII.

††††††††††† If you are so compelled to hate someone for what they do in the anime universe, whether it is translation, distribution or voice acting, go ahead. But donít make a huge deal out of it. Anime, in the end, is only a hobby.

††††††††††† And, at its core, that is this essayís message. Anime Ė itís just a hobby. A wonderful hobby. An enjoyable hobby. But just a hobby. And should be treated as such. I have never seen an avid movie fan get into a shouting match in a video store about whether The Matrix was better in letterbox or pan-and-scan. I donít see too many of my friends saying, ďEh?Ē just to sound like theyíve come from Canada. So why do some otaku do this?

††††††††††† I wish I could answer that. I donít have all the answers, and even if I did it wouldnít matter to me because chances are no one will listen to me anyway. Otaku have a nasty tendency to think that his or her way of thinking is right, and anyone who goes against it is wrong. You say you want this-and-that. You want your anime more ďauthenticĒ. Yet when the wheels get into motion, you suddenly donít want it anymore. Make up your minds. Say what you want. Or shut up. But when you want change and it starts, you have no one to blame but yourselves.

††††††††††† Am I being hypocritical? Maybe. Maybe Iím making a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe Iím just making a big scene. But at least Iím not embarrassing myself or other anime fans. If you hate me for my views, go ahead. If you agree with me, go ahead. Either way, I wonít lose any sleep at night.

††††††††††† I invite you all to email me and tell me what you think. I will try to reply to as many as I can. You can reach me at TheFanboy@myself.com.

††††††††††† And now, I bid you all adieu. My friends and I are going to watch Wings of Honneamise now. And thank God for these friends Ė at least they donít act foolish and can hold an intelligent conversation.