I’m probably going to make it worse…orz
A few days ago I published a post about, well actually it was a spoof on the concept of coolness and popularity as many of my fellow anime fans claim to not be cool or popular and I relate to that feeling. So I tried to make fun of my own obliviousness towards that concept. That’s actually what the post was about.
However, in order to make it fit this blog and really just as an interesting observation, I tried to frame it in the context of the rising popularity of anime and boy did I not chose the right example. I mention in the first paragraphs that people use to be embarrassed to talk about their love of anime even when it was their primary hobby, something they were passionate about and really one of the subject they knew the most about, whereas in recent years, people are more than happy to declare themselves as such, even when they have a lot of other hobbies to pick from or it’s not that big a part of their lives. I used it as an illustration of how far the acceptance of medium has come.
I didn’t do it on purpose but it seems I got the wrong message across. So I want to take a minute to clear things up. I really really encourage people to declare their love of anime regardless of circumstance. Even if you think it’s kind of meh or you haven’t watched any and aren’t planning to…
I’m not saying popularity is the most important thing in the world or that it should be a primary goal for people, but anime is an industry, an entertainment industry at that, popularity is a form of currency in those circumstances.
Publicly announcing love of anime, especially in a forum that can be seen by millions, like the internet, raises the industries profile and potential. Even if one never has any intention of watching a single anime, it makes it seem like they do, and the more people that seem like they would watch one, the more attractive anime becomes to potential investors. And it’s an industry that really needs to get the resources to take care of their manpower. Whatever personal gain one may get out of falsely claiming they like anime (which I doubt is any at all and that’s why I really don’t think anyone does or has ever falsely claimed to like anime), is completely irrelevant to me, while the gain to the industry is something that makes me happy.
Naturally a single voice isn’t going to make that big of a difference but in the internet, voices can get amplified. One person talking about a subject will easily find another wanting to talk about the same. Get enough of those people together and you have a movement, a tendency, a demographic. I want my beloved mediums to have the widest most mainstream demographics possible. And perceived interest, is one of the ways to help that.
One person’s stated interest, even if for some reason not entirely earnest, ca inspire another person. A few people talking about how cool anime is, may lead a new viewer to go see what all the fuss is about and actually become a devoted fan. It’s a domino effect. Heck, you could even argue that any publicity is good publicity and say that the people outraged at whatever they don,t like about anime are also doing the industry a favour but that’s not as straightforward and to be honest, right now, I sort of want to stay away from delicate and complex subjects.
And the advantages of being mainstream don’t stop at money. Yes funding is a big part of it and probably the best reason to want you’re favourite medium to move beyond niche, but exposure also has a lot of merits.
Having an industry be the next cool thing all the kids are into these days, means that there are a lot of kids that will become passionate about. And passion can lead to inspiration which can ultimately lead to creation. The next anime genius is out there but they might become notary or doctor instead if they never discover their spark for the art. Tragedy! (It’s a joke, we need notaries and doctors and those are great jobs…)
A few years ago, everyone and their aunt wanted to break into the gaming industry. I live in a town with a few studios and we regularly had news stories about how iffy conditions were in that particular industry. For the record, working in Quebec is pretty cushy compared to some places. Our studios didn’t have stellar reputations for how they treat employees although I know a lot of people from other countries thought they were getting spoiled. Point is, every kid wanted to work there to the point that schools specifically aimed at teaching you skills for the gaming industry started to pop up all over the place.
I’m not sure how this potential new workforce affected the big studios, I’m sure it helped in finding qualified people since they had a much wider range to chose from but then again, it meant they didn’t have to be so careful with their employees for that same reason. This aid, one thing it did do, is usher in a rich and surprisingly lucrative age of indie game titles.
In the past years, a much higher number of indie games have become smash hits and for good reason, A lot of them were simply brilliant games. And that industry was born out of passion. It was people who either desperately wanted to make it in the mainstream industry but couldn’t, or people who were so passionate about their gaming hobby they wanted to pour their creativity into it on their own time. Some of the pioneers created the tools to make it easier for those that came after to create their own projects and eventually, a whole viable separate industry was born that gave gaming fans access to this huge expanded world of games with crazy mechanics and incredible stories.
I want that for anime. I want to be able to randomly stumble unto someone who made Kyousougiga in their basement or something. And I want them to have Marvel money. I want the industry to be able to afford giving people 9 month maternity or paternity leave. I would love for them to have ergonomic chairs and provide animators with the latest tools. And I understand that it sounds a little crazy to link all of that to a single random person saying, I really love anime, but that’s where it starts.
And this is why, I think anime’s increasing popularity is a great thing and I feel like people who are vocal and passionate about their love for it, are an asset to the industry.
Man I hope I didn’t make it worse. I went on this super long tangent about video games. Believe it or not, that’s the edited version, the first one went on for paragraphs describing worker’s rights in the province and comparing benefit plans. It was pretty bad. Well at least I tried.