I’ve been wondering for a while whether hobbyist anime bloggers are common in Japan. Wow, this post is off to a dry start. Let me give you some context here. Around the anime blogging community (that *I* am aware of), we often speculate or pretend to know things about Japanese culture, norms and society. A lot of hardcore anime fans are by extension, to some degree Japanophiles. I count myself as both an enthusiast of Japanese culture and an adept at pretending to know things. So, I am definitely guilty of some musings on Japanese history and traditions, with very little actual knowledge to back it up.
However, of the blogs I follow, very few are Japanese based, and those that are, are often written by expats. By that I mean non-Japanese immigrants to the island. Naturally, this is probably entirely due to the fact that my Japanese is horrific to nonexistent. I’m sure there are plenty of Japanese language amateur blogs on anime.
But then again, if I resist the urge to do any actual research and simply base myself on potential biased and out of date assumptions, I would have reason to believe that such a thing shouldn’t exist.
Let me explain myself. First, due to strenuous work and school ethic, both anime and general rumors, have all told me that the stereotypical Japanese person, simply doesn’t have the leisure time required to maintain a blog, let alone watch anime on top of that.
I know that a lot of us simply go to school or have a normal 40 to 50 hours a week job, and we barely manage to find the time ourselves. A quick google search tells me that 80 or more-hour weeks are not uncommon in Japan. That’s 11.5 hours a day – if you work all seven days… Yeah, no way am I coming home to type and format a post after that. I’m thinking the commute would be too much effort for me after that.
Then, I have every single post, youtube video and FAQ about life in Japan telling me that anime isn’t really all that popular there. And that it’s probably more mainstream where I am. I still have my doubts about that. Most anime merch doesn’t even deliver to where I live, let alone get sold here, so the market for it doesn’t seem that big. I certainly have never seen anime advertised on a building, billboard, in public under any circumstance… Huh, I guess I have a sore spot there. You learn stuff every day!
Point was though, that apparently anime doesn’t have mainstream acceptance in Japan, and being fanatical about it actually carries more stigma there than most places in the world. As such, locals would be dissuaded to openly maintain anime blogs, lest they were to suffer social disapproval.
I feel that now would be a good moment to remind you all that I did NOT do any research on the subject. I hope that my info is outdated, if it was ever accurate to begin with, but it is based on facts I’ve heard repeated from different sources over the years.
If we take my reasoning to be sound, then for those reasons alone, anime blogs would be less likely to originate in Japan. If you combine those with the fact that a certain amount of *vanity* and *self-centeredness* is needed to honestly believe that your thoughts and analyses are interesting and important enough to share with the world. Then culturally, Japan (and Sweden) would be less likely to have any amateur blogs at all, regardless of subject.
This weirder than usual thought experiment came about because a few months ago, I had a reader reach out to me on Twitter to say some really nice things about my blog. They also let me know that they had a bit of trouble with English as they were from Japan but that if I ever needed help with Japanese expressions and such, they would be happy to lend a hand.
I have to admit, I was so touched and just flattered by this that I may not have properly conveyed how awesome it was. The thought that someone from Japan would make the effort to read my half-baked theories on their own country, and in English at that. Let’s just say it was quite the compliment indeed.
I was about to let my head balloon up to the size of an average hatchback when my Slavic cynicism caught up with me, and my mind quickly went to work finding the loophole. I thought to myself, maybe this reader was trying to find a way to learn English and spotted a show they recognized so they figured it would be a good learning tool. If that is the case, I’m so sorry, I have misled you!
Then I figured, maybe they are just trying to get some reciprocity, but I checked, and they don’t have their own blog! This was a shock.
Finally, the very sad thought dawned on me that there may not be that many alternatives. Of course, there are fantastic professional sites for all your news and information needs. But if you want a more personal and casual approach to the subject, is it possible that there simply aren’t that many options in Japanese?
I don’t know. As I was writing this, I started feeling bad about my own lack of professionalism and did do a little research to find out the answer. I mostly got English language American based blogs or posts about how anime isn’t popular in Japan. It wasn’t a very long research but still, the first few pages of my google didn’t yield any significant results.
So, think about this, fellow anime bloggers. Maybe you’re not just throwing out your thoughts and crazy anime theories out there for other American (European) otakus. Maybe your blog is providing a sense of greater unity to an anime fan in Japan who can’t find such a community in their day to day. As admirers of the culture, that idea has to be deeply rewarding, no?
I know it was to me, so I figured I would share it with you. (I still think some way too nice Japanese reader was just trying to learn English)