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The Problem With Anime Fans

December 30, 2000

I'm officially sick of anime fandom.

Now, now, we here at THEM aren't going to quit watching anime. Not now, not ever. Our club has members who have been watching anime since they were small children, myself included. Considering all of us (except Jacob) are at least in our 20s, if not our 30s, that's a long time, and a lot of anime.

Back in the day, when you went to an anime club, you were genuinely happy to be with people who shared such an obscure hobby. Now, THEM is still that way - often, our condo is packed with people coming together to watch Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, or Rurouni Kenshin, or Akazukin Chacha, or Nadia, and it's a lot of fun, no matter what everyone likes.

But that seems to be the exception these days, and not the rule.

Go to any message board, or even our own mailbag, and you'll see fans who thoroughly resent the fact that people don't like precisely what they like. They flame endlessly, and whenever someone so much as points out they disagree, they take it personally and lash. I don't post on any boards (or maintain any) for precisely that reason. I don't have the time, or patience, to deal with stubborn morons.

So what if I don't like Dragon Ball Z or Evangelion? That gives no one an excuse to give me an often obscenity-laden tirade on how "I suck" and "I shouldn't be reviewing." It's stupid, it's pointless, and it isn't going to change my opinion.

And I'm not trying to change the opinions of those who disagree with me. I'm thoroughly convinced Lord Carnage will never like most shoujo anime, and you know what? I'm fine with that. I'm perfectly happy he's got a huge review site, because that's a GOOD thing - he's obviously put a lot of effort and time into it, and I'm glad there people willing to spend that much time on anime fandom, regardless of whether they think Kimagure Orange Road and Hime-chan's Ribbon are good or bad.

There IS room for disagreement. But sadly, a lot of bad apples in anime fandom don't seem to think that way.

There are lots of people who think that if you don't like, for instance, Neon Genesis Evangelion, then you aren't a "real" anime fan. Or if you happen to like (gasp) English dubs! Or if you think fansubbing is good or bad...the list of divisive issues goes on and on. I won't even get started on cosplay, either - what is so controversial about dressing up as your favorite character from anime? Apparently, more than I care to think about. (Thankfully, a lot of that's died down lately, but still! Cosplay?!?)

I think what really pisses me off the most in the sheer snobbery and elitism that punctuates many anime fans. So what if you haven't seen Gatekeepers or Love Hina, or the latest series? Does that magically detract from your love of anime? Give me a break! What's even more offensive is the occasional insinuation from older male fans that women shouldn't be watching anime because it's a "man's hobby". (This is the opinion of the proprietor of a certain anime store here in Tempe while excusing the CardCaptors adaptation.) Utterly ridiculous, given the amount of anime made specifically for that audience.

We've even received flame mails from fans of children's shows.

Some of my friends often tell me that it's because a lot of the "new fandom" is younger, often teenaged, and don't know how to express themselves appropriately on the Internet, or often come at odds with older, more experienced fans. That isn't quite true. Often, flame mails and rude comments come from adults who claim to know better. That's inexcusable, and frankly, embarrassing. I don't want to be looked down at a convention upon because I'm an anime fan - so don't be stupid and act like it's the most important thing in the world to always be right and always be the number one fanatic in your hobby. Get real. There will always be someone who knows more, has more stuff, has better access, knows more Japanese, et cetera, et cetera. Worrying about all that isn't what a hobby is about! It's about having fun!

If only there were more fans like the ones we meet face-to-face. Whether experienced and older, or young and enthusiastic, we've met so many people, now lifelong friends, who share our hobby, and aren't nasty or snobby about it at all. You know, even my roommates disagree with me on anime. Then we go out and grab some milkshakes and burgers at Sonic and watch anime or laugh and talk until the sun comes up.

And you know what? I bet most of anime fandom is really more like that than the rude spammer on the boards, or the guy who decides we should take our site down because we dislike Kite.

Until some of the more confrontational anime fans realize how stupid they're being, expect disapproving stares at comic stores and video outlets, and total ignorance from passers-by. Does anime fandom really want to languish (or bask) in obscurity by being petty and fractious, or just generally being pissy because fan A and fan B don't like the same genres of anime?

I should hope not.

Before I end this little article, I have an important question that each and every one of you should ask yourselves.

Are you an anime fan because it's cool to be an "otaku"? Or are you an anime fan for the love of the medium?

- Carlos Ross


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