Where you intrigued by that title? Or did you think it was gibberish and are only reading this because you accidentally clicked  ‘cause it was just under the post you were actually interested in….and you’re gone.

For those brave souls that persevered and are still here, let me at least explain what I mean by outsider fan. I am an outsider fan. Less so now than I was a year ago, but I still count myself as such. What is an outsider fan you may ask? Is it a fan of the outdoors? On my, goodness no. You do not get this particular shade of grey green tan by setting foot outside! An outsider fan is a fan that is generally isolated from the greater anime fan community.

Until I started this blog, my interaction with anime fans was to chat with one of my friends’ boyfriend once every other month at parties and talk to my other 3 friends that use to watch anime. That’s it. In fact, that’s part of the reason why I started the blog in the first place.

loneliness – solved!

I know I’m grossly generalizing here but at the time, forums and reddit seemed annoying and unpleasant. I didn’t have the patience to wade through the angry trolls to find a community suited for me. The blogs I did read were professional and only had small sections dedicated to anime that had very proforma copy paste type posts which rarely interested me. While I would occasionally fall on an interesting video, by and large anime youtubbers also did not create content that spoke to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to imply that it doesn’t exists. I’m just saying that I never bothered to seek it out. I had no issue enjoying anime as a solitary and independent experience. This has changed quite a bit over the last year mind you. Interreacting with other bloggers has taught me a lot. I now have a much better appreciation of the difference between both approaches.

One thing I miss a little is the bliss of ignorance. Up until recently, I went into animes knowing next to nothing about them and expecting very little in return. It’s not only that I had no idea of the storylines. I had no conception of the hype or popularity of any given show. For example, I randomly picked up Fairy Tail a few years ago not knowing that it had already been running for quite a few years and was at the height of its popularity. At the time, I had no clue that just like most long running and very popular series it had a devoted following and almost as equally devoted group of detractors. Heck – I didn’t even know any of the prejudices associated with the shonen genre in general. 

I liked it well enough. Eventually I just sort of lost interested and started watching something else but I hung in there for 60 episodes or so. I was genuinely surprised my friends had heard of it.

I was also very surprised to find out years down the line that, not only was I not the only person to have ever seen Psycho Pass, I was not even the only person to have liked it. Go figure.

are you sure we’re talking about the same Psycho Pass?

As such, I was almost never disappointed. I only ever watched shows that seemed appealing to me on some level. I didn’t feel the need to watch anything because everyone said it was great. And when I did stumble on something I considered exceptional, it was like Christmas in July! I probably missed out on a lot of great shows. In fact, I know I did. But I also never finished a series and thought: is that it?

I never got exposed to the unpleasant side of anime. There were no unsavory scandals to make me question my favorite shows. No fandoms that made me ashamed of liking any peculiar series. I never felt compelled to defend beloved shows or myself. There was no one to defend from.

It was a very fun and carefree time. I was an anime Cassanova. Love ‘em and leave em. No pressure, no consequences, no expectations. But it was also a little shallow. Obviously, I wanted a bit more out of my hobby. I am here after all.

So I traded in my anime independence, shackled myself down to the currents of the greater anime fandom. Started anticipating shows from the buzz going around. Learned about genres and demographics. I was always fascinated by tropes but now I was privy to the general perceptions of these tropes. For better or for worse, I started having those expectations.

I’ve made a big mistake

All this info has helped me make better informed decisions. I say that but I’m not so sure. A lot of my favorite shows are still ones that I stumbled on blindly. Wait, there is one title. My Hero Academia. I like that show a lot – I’m very unique that way. But I probably wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t for all the hype season 1 generated. For some reason, nothing about it had caught my eye.

Rather than guide me towards shows I like, I think all this extra information has steered me away from shows I *think* I wouldn’t like. Your mileage may vary on this perk. I probably missed out on some great stuff too. Bah, you know what, you’re gonna miss out on some anime no matter what you do. It’s not even worth fretting about.

The undeniable upside of engaging with other anime fans, in my experience, hasn’t so much been about discovering or avoiding anime, rather than enhancing the anime I watch anyways. Yes, occasionally I do find out some unfortunate details about shows I love, but more often than not, I get awesome pieces of trivia to add entire new layers to the experience. Other fans have opened my eyes to delightful aspects of Japanese culture that are illustrated in the anime I watch or introduced me to entirely new concepts I would never have imagined. This has deepened my appreciation quite a bit.

Of course, there’s also the sense of camaraderie. I discovered Natsume’s Book of Friends quite accidentally and fell deeply in love with it. For some reason though, I never felt I could readily recommend it to anyone I know even though I do think most people would enjoy it. So instead I wrote about it on my blog, which was tenny weensy at the time. Karandi was one of the 3 people that did read it and left such an enthusiastic comment proclaiming her own love for the series and suddenly my tiny little world became that much wider. Someone else had been touched by these stories like me. How wonderful and magical is that?

Natsume's Book of Friends season 3 anime review
super duper magical

When I watched the next season, a tiny little part of me thought about those other fans that also loved this show and it was a comforting and sweet feeling. Natsume is all about creating those comforting and sweet feelings!

This happens all the time now. I watch series recommended by people and it’s like part of them are watching along. Alternatively, I review something like ACCA and figure no one will care only to discover so many other people noticed its greatness and it makes me happy.

Because other fans introduced me to them, I discovered a new taste for light novels and merch. It sounds silly but as I’m writing this in my beloved oversized Nyanko t-shirt, I’m jus plain happy to be a part of it all.

Have you noticed how I turn every post into either Natsume, Steins;Gate or Psycho Pass? Is it annoying? I’m really starting to feel like a one trick (three trick) pony.

Ok let’s bring this one home. There are definitely some benefits about disconnecting from the larger anime fanbase but for my money, the upsides of being part of the group make up for it. You just have to find the right spot. I’m still not going to get into forum debates or pour over anitube vids (at least not for now), but I would never give you guys up!

64 thoughts on “The Fun and Lonely Life of an Outsider Fan”

  1. Oh, the good old days of not knowing anything and being happily surprised by everything—ignorance IS bliss with the anime community, but the knowledge and friendships I’ve gained because of it is irreplaceable (and it’s saved me a lot of money on Blu-rays, yahoo!).

    And grey-green? You should really get a doc to check on that. Glad you’ve found your little niche with us, Miss Outsider. 😉

  2. I love reading your blog posts. I have always been, and still am and outsider fan. I keep up with all the news but I never really found an anime community that suited me. I’ve always wanted something low pressure like a chatroom but I still haven’t found anything that works for me.

    Reading your posts definitely makes me feel less alone in my fandom so I appreciate it! <3

  3. I’m someone who has, for the most part, re-outsidered themself. After blogging for 6 years, I was just kind of done with the community I was a part of, and while I still watch as much anime as I did then, for the most part I’m not really looking to dive into another community. There are some people whose posts I read, enjoy, and comment on, but I don’t know if I want the same kind of ‘open’ discussion that I used to (more like I infrequently just want to bounce an idea about a show off someone). But I think most people, to a greater or medium degree, are ‘outsider’ fans.

    1. Well I’m honoured to get a comment then. I agree most people don’t go to cons or forums and stick to a few friends. They would probably never read this post. Nevertheless they are all welcome herw, as are you!

  4. Well, as usual you are doing better than me because I don’t know ANYBODY in real life who watches anime so, apart from a couple of brief meetings in the past with people that didn’t last – pretty much all my discussions about anime have been online.

    This idea of the “greater anime fandom” is a mystery and anathema to me because this suggests the know-it-alls who crap over the popular show and franchises to look cool and knowledgeable are the biggest marks out there and not the sort of people anyone should aspire to be like or be friends with. It really is the grass roots level fans who have the real passion about anime who are the ones worth getting to know and it seems they are found, not on forums or via snarky YouTube channels but in blogs like this one.

    You are not an outsider anime fan, Irina, just one the less obnoxious and egotistical fans who makes it fun to discuss anime and not a chore because you have confused your own opinion for fact or think knowing about obscure anime makes you an esteemed authority of sorts.

    So, please don’t change! 🙂

    1. Awww. Thank you. I guess people who go to conventions would also make up the greater anime community in my head. I’m surprised someone who has a professional blog like yours doesn’t know more people into anime. I remember you mentioning getting dvds for reviews and I was like mind blown! I do hope you like this little shard of said anime community!

      1. It’s not really a professional blog in that I get paid for it. In fact, most reviewers online aren’t paid pros, just fans like me.

        But the PR agencies and distributors know the value of getting reviews out to the masses ahead of the press and by fans who won’t be as snobby or pretentious as the pros (hence the rise of the so-called “Social Media influencers” – the only difference is that we are not on the make like a lot of them are).

        Plus the discs we get are test discs – a plain disc in a white paper case. Very rarely do we get the complete article, but it’s still free anime every month. ;-).

  5. I feel this is quite a blissful story to tell and it really seems like a lot of people resonate with you. And while I am not a fan of labels I don’t quite feel we’re the same categorically. Like, I get where you are but I’ve always felt like an ‘outsider’. However, it isn’t so much that I don’t try to communicate with the rest of the community it is more so that the community just doesn’t wanna communicate with me. Because I represent something that they don’t like and my general opinion on anime, despite loving it, is not something that would, at all, be discussed or even accepted.

    The difference between you and me, I feel is that you are capable of communicating with everyone else within a paradigm that they find mutually acceptable. Whereas someone like me has, for the most part, created their own paradigm and their own difference of opinion that the very understanding of it is not tolerated. I feel like this is what this post doesn’t really explore.

    1. You’re right. The still quite limited contact I have had with the larger anime community has been (for the most part) welcoming and open minded. As i mentioned, I’ve actively stayed out of communities that outright reject ideas whithout giving them a chance. I have found that most people who have told me they are worried a post will be met with scorn usually get very warm receptions from WP.
      You’ve obviously had a drastically different expérience. I would love to hear about it some day

  6. Anime is just one part of a larger life for me. There is literally no end to the silly and irrelevant things I blog about.

    I like going into an anime with one eye barely open. Gives me plausible deniability when my wife hates it.

  7. My little bro is the one who actually got me into anime. It first started as a small piece of something I watched on the side whenever I interacted with the film community in the circle I was involved in. Seeing a few here, and there, until a friend recommended me Death Note, and I fell in love. I wanted to watch more anime that would give me the same feeling I got watching Death Note, and haven’t stopped watching anime because of that.

    I eventually made a MyAnimeList profile to talk about anime with people, and from there my interest grew. I ended up liking the people I interacted in the anime community more than I did the film community I was a part off. Meeting plenty of wonderful of people. However, despite my enjoyment in the community I still keep my distance from it. If I don’t, who knows how absorb I’ll become into anime if I do.

    The community is also the best part of being an outsider for me. I get to meet other outsider fans whom I’ve come to know really well, and also have some long time anime fans who can recommend me stuff to watch. They tell about the latest anime they see, but I get to make them laugh by telling them them the strange things I’ve seen in my anime. It’s a win win for all!

  8. March to your own beat, that’s what I say! Watch what you want to, when you want to, and if that means that new shows are hardly added to your rotation, that’s okay.

    1. Sounds great! Although I like discovering awesome shows my friends like as well
      I guess my moto is watch all sorts of stuff….it’s not a very stron moto

  9. I’ve noticed that quite a few people made the decision to create an anime blog for similar reasons, myself included! I’ve never engaged at all on reddit, MAL, or anything really. And have 0 friends to talk about anime with. I just sort of found anime thanks to the internet years ago and started watching it.
    And yeah, it’s funny how popular anime tend to be pretty good huh?
    One of these days I’ll find a hidden gem…!

  10. Great post! I started one piece as one of my first anime’s to start without knowing of it’s long running period. I also love Psycho Pass, and your the first person that I’ve seen mentions it so I look forward to reading about that too! Keep up the great writing!💕

  11. I’ve been watching anime for so long that before coming online was fairly used to be alone with it. Also, for most of my life I’d just watch anything that became available (not much). The first time availability expanded was in the early 90ies, then again in the late 90ies, early naughties, and finally streaming made nearly everything available (though still not in my region). The result is that I’m a hoarder who watches everything he can get his hands on. It’s a life-long habit. I’m the anime magpie.

    As a result I’m pretty impervious to recommendations: chances are I’ve seen it, tried and dropped it, or am not interested. I’m always excited when I hear about a new title, but usually those are not available anywhere (not even the seedy underground). When I look back at what I watched through recommendations, most of them are shounen shows like Hunter X Hunter or Soul Eater. That’s because I tend to ignore those on account of overwhelming episode numbers (yes, for me, anything past 26 is overwhelming).

    The other exciting thing is when I dropped something out of disinterest and then hear surprising things about the show. Last happened with Alderamin in the Sky, which I didn’t give enough credit when it first aired and watched on account of suprising comments last year. It was pretty good.

    The upshot is that I’m lucky. I get the good without much of the bad.

    1. I can still use recommandations. For instance I’m currently watching Zvezda which I never would have heard of if it wasn’t for an awesome reader

      1. Aww, the memories. I certainly expected an absurdist comedy when clicking play on this one. What I didn’t expect was a really cute and warm found-family story.

  12. THIS post spoke to me on a personal level haha. I didn’t care about Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood at all until last month despite all the hype! Everything comes at the right time i suppose 🙂

  13. Before blogging I had tried forums and reddit to discuss anime because I loved it but had so few people in the real world I could talk to about it (and most of them I’d introduced to anime so they’d only seen what I had shown them). But, actual conversations were scarce and I didn’t ever find a sense of community. I’m really glad I started my blog and me some great people who want to discuss anime, the good, the bad, the weird, and whatever else.
    In terms of watching anime, I’ve broadened the range that I would watch due to recommendations. Prior to blogging I’d never watched a sports anime and I had very few slice of life titles that I’d finished. That doesn’t mean I don’t still like what I like, but I think it is nice that I can appreciate other genres that I wouldn’t have tried before and that there are people to talk to about the experience of watching something, even if that experience isn’t amazing sometimes the conversations that follow are.
    Great post.

  14. See, I’ve been watching anime for many years now, and never really engaged with the larger communtiy on too grand a scale. Part of that is that i’m pretty terrible when it comes to social interactions, and part of it due to the odd foray being full of negative experiences, mostly due to disliking some popular shows. The same can be said for most fandoms to which I belong, with the exception of the Brony fandom. I like the interactions over the various blogs though. Everyone seems to be nice and really great at drawing my attention to shows that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. But I guess that does form part of interacting with the wider community, just not through the stuff like reddit and forums.

  15. A mature but outsider fan is fairly unique, and your willingness to try writing reviews of shows is probably responsible for your thousand followers, even if more than a few are robots. At least half of mine are too. I think you have great potential because you’re willing to watch old shows too, and you don’t get in a huff when I suggest one or two (or 20) which are similar to one you’re reviewing. Maturity is important. Younger fans only care about the top 50 shows list once in a while, and usually just watch the Shounen Jump ones, then decide they’re 1337 enough to be snobs. You don’t pull the snob card and are genuinely interested in the back catalog, and there’s decades of that, though the best stuff has been in the last 30 years. Telling Millenials there’s been great anime longer than they’ve been alive, and then convincing them to watch it, is sometimes a tall order. Stay open minded, and don’t fret if you decide to drop a show because its not your thing. That’s fine too. It would be a strange world if we were all the same.

    1. I have to learn how to drop anime. I think years of rpg’s have subconciously ingrained in me that abandoning an undertaking is failure

      1. You have adult responsibilities, limited free time, AND a huge backlog list of known-good anime to watch that you haven’t seen yet. Those are good reasons not to waste your time on what you realize isn’t any good, or not to your taste at least.

          1. I used to be like that. I think that as I age I’m growing out of it. I’ve also gotten more trusting of my initial impression of whether a show is good or not. I’m sometimes wrong, but usually a show will display its potential early, in the pilot. Sometimes that potential will go until ep 6, when the production team gets the news they aren’t getting a second season and “wrap it up”, usually badly. Sigh. Demon King Daimao missed some great humor in their rush to finish it, for example. They never got around to revealling the bunny robot was faking being asleep for laughs. Pity.

  16. Interesting post that I can really relate to.

    I remember the blissful days where I was hardly involved in the community, back when I first discovered subtitled Anime and the only person I spoke to about it all was my neighbour who also happened to get into it at the same time. We were alone and didn’t communicate with the community at large and in a way it was very pleasant.

    Everything was exciting and the toxicity of the community and people guilting you for your tastes just wasn’t a thing back then.

    Of course, I love the community for the most part and I love being more informed about the medium and the things behind it, but sometimes I miss being an outsider myself…

    But, I’ve made some amazing friends through the community too. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

  17. I thought you were talking about a famous book at first, Ponyboy.

    And to be honest while there are some ups and downs to knowing more about the anime world as a whole, I wish I had some nativities to my experience. I’ve been too busy reading anicharts and anime news sites not to mention seeing people be toxic on Twitter and I’m a little sad to be apart of some aspects of the anime community. I do like going “yay, this show is getting s sequel soon” things because that’s always fun. Overall though, still glad to be apart of this community because most people are so cool and friendly.

    Also, Psycho Pass, Natsume, and S;G are generally good things to comment back to.

    1. You have a bit more participation in the larger community (beyond our little blogosphere) You are usually patient enough to explain to me whatever drama I completely missed. It does sound occasionally exhausting.

      1. You’re welcome, I think.

        I feel like I should stop at some point, but I think I am too interested to know more to do so if that makes sense. It’s one of my curses.

  18. I’ve felt like I was an outsider fan when I came back to anime recently. I’m not familiar with the newer series and I gravitate towards the obscure/overlooked. With my review blog, I wanted to talk about anime, movies, and docs that not many people were talking about most of the time. It’s been a miracle that anibbloggers accepted me despite me being out-of-touch with the recent or trendy things. Sure, I’m still on a review hiatus, but it’s cool that some people still check out my posts.

    No, you’re not a one trick or three trick pony, Irina. You have a variety of blogging talents on here.

    1. Thaks Osprey!
      I hope you come back from your hiatus but I understand you have so many project underway!
      I have to admit – half the time I don’t even know if an anime is obscure or not. Since the blogging community tends to be very invested in anime – I guess nothing is obscure here…

      1. You’re welcome, Irina!

        I appreciate the kind words. If I wasn’t so crazy busy with work and fiction, I’d be pumping out more reviews (I do have notes from the things I’ve watched for months now though). Is that so when it comes to whether something is obscure or not? That’s interesting. That point about how nothing is obscure here is intriguing since the internet allows people to find out about things they wouldn’t have thought about. I guess with a majority of the things I’ve covered, many of them aren’t seen on let’s say Toonami/Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, or streaming on Netflix (although the DVDs might be available).

  19. Sometimes I still find myself saying… Um… I… Like… anime (in a quiet whisper) haha but now I’m very open about it since I’m finding a lot of my students love anime as well. I started this blog for almost the same reason. I needed to talk and nerd out about anime and I couldn’t do that with most of my friends.
    It is weird also I love going in blind and sometimes I have to lightly skim some blog posts so I don’t learn too much.
    Also though I have found so many new anime to watch blogging it has been pretty awesome.
    I’m glad you are solitary anymore. But I definitely understand the charm in it. I miss it is someways too. It is really fun to write a post about a new anime I just watched and have others relate to it.

  20. Well. Same here. I was only a fan of anime until VERY recently. Like a year ago recently. It’s pretty amazing how quickly we went from outsider to really into it though. Something about the culture might seem toxic at first but when you realize that so much of it is done ironically and that good discussion does exist a LOT, I’ve come to enjoy discussing anime as much as I do watching it!

    1. Also, I REVEL in arguements. I’ve grown a lot as a writer thanks to all the flame wars over characters I’ve had with people. Not even just flame wars, but the rare actual debate where none of us are salty and legit just have different opinions.

      Community is a great thing for any interest.

      1. Debates are great – sexist/racist rants I can take or leave. They tend to be extremely repetitive so once you’ve read one – you have a pretty good handle on the substance they bring to the table.

    2. Same for me, I really was not in the loop at all before I started the blog last summer (and even then it took a few more months…)

  21. Great post! I found it really difficult to engage with any anime community for similar reasons that you noted. I love anime but I have just wathced whatever shows and films I happened to lay my hands on, there are so many fandom things and injokes I don’t get, and I often found anime communities irl and online to be quite competitive about who knows the most about anime!

    Obvs I’m not an anime blogger, but finding your blog and a few of the others in this community has been amazing because you all talk about anime in a friendly and relatable way. So whilst I’m still an ‘outsider’, I feel like I’ve found a place to find great anime discussions and even contribute to them every now and then.

  22. Okay…before I get to the rest of this post: If there is one thing you are not: it’s a one trick pony, ok three trick pony…but even that you are not. So let’s never say that again…okay? 😊
    Right okay…on with the post! (that intro was hilarious by the way…and you’re gone 😂😂). Well, I think I have said this before but I actually restarted my interest in anime because of blogging. I hardly ever watched anime anymore (yes that was a very dark period lol), but after discovering Karandi’s blog…I got back into it. And now I even watch seasonal anime and discover new shows every month simply because of all the wonderful people out here that have so many cool recommendations (not to mention overburdening my to watch list). Seriously though..it’s been a blast, and I would not trade it in for anything! (which means that sorry, you will be stuck with me making appearances on your blog still every day lol 😂😂). As always: great post!

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