Are Otaku The Worst?

Hello everyone, welcome to my storytime! Some of you might remember this post from when I published it on Karandi’s blog. I’m repurposing my old essays for those that didn’t get a chance to read them then. I hope you enjoy it!

Over a year ago now (it was much more recent when I first wrote this) I watched a Youtube video by this guy who has a comedy tv show review/commentary channel. He basically picks a show, watches a bit and pokes lighthearted fun at it with these little cartoon avatars. It’s a cute channel and I enjoy it as an occasional distraction even though I don’t think I’ve seen any of the series he talks about.

Anyways, he recently (over a year ago…) made a sort of behind the scenes video where he talked about navigating international copyright laws. How different large distribution companies tend to deal with fair use and why he avoided certain shows despite frequent requests. It should be said that this guy is American born but lives in Japan.

As such, the subject turned to anime and why he never reviewed *any* even though it was the single most requested topic from viewers by far. At this point I was expecting some specific limitations of Japanese Intellectual Property laws which would apply to Japanese creators and this being somewhat connected to my work, I was very interested.

Interested-Anime

go on…

Instead, he found a polite way to say, anime fans are the worst! What he said was that the anime kids are “next level”, which was indeed a very nice way to put it. He then explained that he had done a very short essay video a long time ago, when his channel was tiny, going over some of the history of Anime and stating that it was his belief that modern Anime simply doesn’t live up to the shows from the late 80s and 90s.

**** Just a small personal aside here. He also stated that this was a common belief among anime essayists and reviewers and I have indeed seen it expressed a lot. However, despite the fact that I think this guy and I are similar in age and have had similar anime experiences, I strongly disagree with this. I believe every era has had its share of strong and weak shows. This said, just by virtue of increased output, there is more variety and I find contemporary works tend to buck some traditional tropes and try things I had not seen before. Kill la Kill, for instance, came out in 2013/2014, just off the top of my head, and is generally well-liked and not considered appallingly derivative… I went on a big tangent here. If you actually want to know my views on this subject, let me know. I get pretty passionate when people dismiss art based on age. It’s just a number man….****

1532967138690-nana
Nana is a classic anime, beloved by many, which came out in 2007…

Back to the subject at hand. Even though I may not share that opinion, it’s both pretty common and pretty tame. However, it seems the poor guy received a deluge of hate, all the way to death threats based on that only. He mentioned not having gotten such a negative reaction before or since, despite his channel having gotten pretty big in the meantime.

We hear these types of stories all the time. Otaku act all meek and wounded but they bite! They play the victim but they will rip into you at the drop of a hat. I have an occasionally confrontational job with a huge amount of delicate politics to take into account but I never watch my words as carefully as when I interact with anime fans. I consider my blog a bit of a safe haven (within reason) but whenever I stray elsewhere I walk on the most fragile of eggshells.

So are we really the worst? I should include myself. You saw that paragraph up there being all grumpy about the old versus new anime debate. And I’m milktoast. I can just imagine how a more passionate person would react! And if we are, is it ok to be the worst?

The short answer is no. Death threats immediately invalidate your opinion. If a fascist dictator can advocate for genocide more calmly and eloquently than you discuss your entertainment preferences, something went wrong. Time to take a deep breath and try again.

But being particularly passionate and protective of a medium you enjoy shouldn’t be a bad thing by default. Heck, it’s one of the things I like about anime fans! So how did it go from, look at all the pretty colours to all those that disagree shall fertilize my garden?

snow-white-with-the-red-hair-garden
this guys said he thought SAO was boring and then…

I’ve always thought that part of it is due to the fact that anime is an emergent market. It’s still a little fringe. The world seems to be absolutely set on convincing me that anime is just not very popular in Japan and is actually more widespread outside the country, which means it’s not that popular anywhere. And it never was, so there’s no respectable history to fall back on, like theatre or opera. My theory is that anime fans get so overzealous when protecting anime because they feel like no one else will.

That’s just a personal theory though and it still doesn’t make the behaviour any more acceptable.

I’m always very skeptical when people single out anime fans as the worst. Yes, I’ve had a few unpleasant experiences with people that were aggressive in their fandoms and that was frightening. For the most part, it’s just the usual mix of low-grade misogyny, insecure people being gatekeepers to show they are better smarter fans and just harmless excessive enthusiasm for favourite franchises. That’s the sort of thing you see in just about every community.

Just ask anybody that has any sort of public presence!

So why does our bad reputation persist? We’re a bunch of self-identifying nerds and dorks who have a soft spot for cute things! I understand that in the specific case of the video commentator I mentioned it may simply have been a mix of unique circumstances and perceptions.

The video came out when he was a much much smaller channel so bad comments are bound to stick out more. Being a Japan-based creator who does blogs on the country he probably did attract some hardcore anime fans but since he doesn’t talk about it often, the only ones that would have stuck around on that basis were the extremely passionate ones with enough free time to do so. You get what I’m saying. There are a few anitubers, some of which have pretty controversial views and their comments section are…I was going to say fine but let’s go with completely normal for the platform. Youtube has some issues that have nothing to do with anime.

However, whether earned or not our reputation cannot be denied and that’s not great. Maybe we should get an anime ambassador to rehab our image. Maybe we could all be anime ambassadors, I know a lot of people around here that don’t fall into the “worst” category.

What do you think, is our reputation for aggressive lashing out and gatekeeping justified? Can we fix it? Will we?

Rini 3 (13)

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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53 Responses

  1. Otakus are not the worst. There are plenty of people out there who are way worse than orakus like criminals, corrupts government officials, and traitors. Otakus can only be judged by their deeds but sadly, most of their actions are on the negative side which people use to generalize otakus as a whole.

  2. Merlin says:

    I don’t think otaku are the worst at all. I think we’re just an example of something that has become sadly common.

    When something we like is criticized or diminished (as we see it) in any way, it is a natural reaction to flare up and argue like zealots. It takes patience, maturity, and reason to control that urge, and we’ve had a profound lack of such in recent times. We’ve been bred to go to war with each other over trivialities: N’Sync vs Backstreet Boys, Marvel vs DC, etc. Somewhere along the line, the things we like, the things we enjoy, and how well we know every last detail of such, became tied up with our social worth, and therefore our self-esteem. It’s Academia, as practiced by the populace. Which is one reason why I strive to rise above all that nonsense (though I do still fail on occasion), because I know that we all have worth no matter what we happen to like. Like and let like. And relax when one criticizes or disagrees or whatever. If we did more of that, in everything, we’d all be a lot better off.

    • Irina says:

      Oddly, lately I almost always see anime-fans attacking anime and never see them defending it much. It’s odd times

  3. RisefromAshes says:

    I feel like part of this is also the difference between online and in real life communication. Like until after college I exclusive interacted in real life fandoms, only associating with people I knew and could talk to in person about an anime I was watching, or drama, etc. That had it’s own set of communication errors, but it’s a lot easier to be able to confront a physical person, then an online one.

    This year, given circumstances, a lot more people who might have been in real life fandoms (conventions, anime clubs, etc) have more or less moved/converted into online spaces. Those who have always been in online fan spaces can navigate it better, but communication isn’t easy. It’s a lot trickier to have a civil online conversation because you can slap an ‘lmao’ or ‘lol’ on the end of something to indicate it as a joke. But not everyone is going to agree it’s funny or be aware of an inside joke. I.e. I made a joke that Natsume Yuujinchou has a cult here on WordPress (and said you were the leader, jokingly of course) and someone actually thought I was serious and messaged me about it. Maybe that too was a joke but the writing style certainly didn’t come off that way…

    I also feel like any space were people can identify themselves as ‘nerds’ just opens the flood gates for gating keeping and holy then thou pontifications about how x anime is the best an anyone else is wrong. Many things I find myself a fan of there’s always, ‘those people’ who get off on flexing their knowledge and belittling others. Yet those same people were also once newbies to anime or whatever. It’s a strange world to navigate online fandom, and we’re all just trying to figure it out as we go without being a dick about it.

  4. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    I might not be the worst, but I sing like it!

  5. Anonymous says:

    As someone who’s a total anti sjw i wouldn’t say otakus are the worst at all i’d say fujoshi shippers are the worst. I mean they bully creators and falsely label them as homophobic for not making their ship come true and then you also have these far left types attacking artists like if you dare like the Uzaki Chan character you’re a sexist who hates women. (Bro i have many female friends online and they love sexy women like Bayonetta so you’re going to tell me if they like Bayonetta that means they hate themselves for being women?!)
    The attacks on artists gotten way more prevalent and visible when tumblr banned porn and those refuges moved to twitter and it just made the place even more of a nightmare then it already is and yeah its apparently ok to like something like cuties but if you like uzaki chan you’re a misgonyist.
    If you ask me there’s a reason why Japanese creators are just worried for stuff they shouldn’t be worried about thanks to social media and far left types.
    -K.anthony

    • Anonymous says:

      I also should add that western localization companies really love to insult and mock their own audiences and they really love adding in far left political stuff in the English dubs when the original version in the Japanese subs never had any in the first place like Prison School referencing gamergate since the script writers at Funimation thought those who supported them were sexists.
      This kind of stuff gives the sub vs dub war way more kerosine and to be honest i don’t think its a bad thing at all being an anti sjw and in fact its actually taught me the importance of honesty,fact seeking,questining stuff and not accepting being force fed stuff from the media and playing the victim card is really a form of manipulation and bullying and believe it or not these people who are claiming anime fans are entitled are the real entitled ones for demanding creators to meet their never to be satisfeid demands and to make them bend the knee to whatever they want to do to them.
      So yeah thats my hot take on the matter and this is mainly coming from personal expierince on the “negative side” of the anime fandom or i should call them for what they really are non fans if they wanna call anime sexist under the guise of social justice.

      • Irina says:

        It’s semantics right. Social Justice is an umbrella term used to define trying to bring disenfranchised groups on a more level playing field in a society. For instance giving gay couples the right t be recognized as couples so that if someone you’ve spend 40 years with in a loving relationship is dying in the hospital you can have the right to visit as family. Random example that happened to a friend. so I guess Anti SJW would be actively fighting to make sure that social unbalances are preserved and certain groups remain disenfranchised. I’m not sure why this is good, historically it tends to really drag societies down.
        This said, most people I know wo call themselves anti SJW aren’t. When it’s a cause that affects them they really want their rights to be respected. Usually it’s more a matter of specific causes or means. Like they are highly religious and think homosexuality is a sin. It’s not that they firmly believe that some people should be oppressed always. Or it’s simply a fear of change which is very common for everyone. Everything I’ve read from you was really more of you trying to defend your views and resenting being labelled rather than being inherently against people having equal rights. But could be wrong.

        • Anonymous says:

          Most anti sjws i can’t speak for all are egaltarians and we don’t play the race card or gender card at all and we’re completetly color,sex and genderblind and we believe in things like women being punished for false rape charges and that minorites need to stop blaming white people for everything wrong in their live as well and develop self acountabiltiy.

          • Irina says:

            Well in both Canada and the States false rape charges are punishable with jail time and hefty fines regardless of the gender of the accuser. I think it’s in fact pretty common in most countries that if you waste the court’s time you will need to pay for it. In the States you can also be sued for damages. I’m sure it will come to your part of the world as well.

            • Anonymous says:

              As i mentioned before in passing i’m from Ontario myself and i remember watching a hero hei video as well about a really horrific hot take that men should take false rape charges and spend the rest of their lives in prison and these kind of people are the ones who are pushing for slap on the wrist leniant punisments for women who falsley accuse men of rape.

              In twtitter there is no such thing as evidence everyone is guilty until proven innocent.

            • Irina says:

              I work in law. I assure you the rules are in the books. In fact false accusations were illegal in Canada before rape became illegal. So congratulations! You got that one

            • Anonymous says:

              A reader of mine has a dad is a legal professor and he can very much agree with you on that one.

        • Anonymous says:

          Most anti sjws as well frankly don’t care at all about what sexuality one person is they just don’t want the lgbt crowd just go around and force people to automatically accept them for being gay and 9 out of 10 times it wasn’t because of their sexuality it was because of being a pompous douchebag.

          • Irina says:

            You lost me with that sentence. What wasn’t because of their sexuality? And what does accept them mean? Cause I’m fine with letting gay people be gay without them having to earn it?

            • Anonymous says:

              It basically means that hey if you’re gay cool but don’t go around being a douchebag just because someone is straight and attacking them just for being straight.

            • Irina says:

              O.k…. so you are 100% pro LGBTQ+ and anti douchebag. Fantastic. You would get along well with my friends. We feel the same way.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m quite sure i can easily get along with anybody since i’ve been told by my readers of my own site rogueotakugamer that i am very easy to talk too and quite friendly.

            • Irina says:

              By the way, your site won’t let me comment.

            • Anonymous says:

              i remember mentionng before i use wix different then wordpress but that was before i learned of wordpress existing. In retrospect should have went with wordpress instead.

            • Irina says:

              How do you communicate with your readers on Wix?

            • Anonymous says:

              also the requirements of using facebook instead of disqus is really stupid.
              Anyways i got some stuff to be doing so im logging off now thank you for providing a civil and mature perspective as always

            • Irina says:

              Well you seem to be pro social justice issues so that will go over well

            • Anonymous says:

              My readers communicate through mainly by my email account thats at the front of the site page.
              And yeah you could say that i am for fighting against issues like for example better working conditions in the anime and gaming industry,fair wages and employee rights to taking medical leaves and crunch time being avoided at all costs. So yeah i’d say i’m very much pro human rights on the anime and gaming industry.

    • Irina says:

      Who ever bullied a creator to add a homosexual relationship. Do you have a link? that sounds amazing. I would love to read more about it and maybe do a post.
      Let me assure you there ae plenty of sexist women. Women aren’t inherently better than men or beyond bigotry. Not saying your friends are. I have also never heard anyone serious ever saying liking sexy women is sexist though. And most of my friends are leftists and feminists. You may be hanging out with some weird people. Again, if you have any links I would really appreciate it. I have been meaning to write a post on this but I never actually found any real examples. I’m not good at research.

      • Anonymous says:

        Here’s acouple of videos as well relating to crazy shippers and attacking artists. Its mainly from the My Hero Academia fandom you’ll often hear stories like that from.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzbK2h2NSwM&ab_channel=HeroHei

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYgcSKQgZ_M&ab_channel=HeroHei

        My friends are mainly apolitical to centrists (We never talk about politics at all really.) and what you just said is very logical and very much basic uncommon sense since common sense is pretty rare these days.
        If you’re interested in learning more about anti sjw culture you should visit the tumblrinaction and kotakuinaction subreddits and you shouold also check out memeology 101,hero hei,yellowflash,thatumbrellaguy,thequartering and otakudaikun as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        You should even checkout resetera takes and dataracer117 they take out screenshots of some really crazy far left people online as well and their shitty hottakes as well. But if you want to use screenshots from dataracer117 you’re going to have to credit him as he’s well known for being easily annoyed for not having proper credit.

      • Anonymous says:

        i keep trying to send you the links in the comments but you should look up hero hei’s videos on the my hero academia fandom as thats where most of the fujoshi shipping attacks are documented from. And you should really check out anti sjws channels as well as they can give you a different perspective to what your own friends tell you and my own friends are centrists to apolitical and we don’t talk about politics at all and what you just said is going to get you lynched by your own friends because todays feminsits would claim women can’t do no wrong at all.

  6. “modern Anime simply doesn’t live up to the shows from the late 80s and 90s”

    That’s an attitude taken by many people over many things. Change out “anime” for anything you want and change the time reference to any past era you want. The “good old days” have the benefit of something known as “euphoric recall.” That’s where the annoyances and shortcomings are forgotten and the good stuff gets magnified.

    Another factor is that you can only see the ocean for the first time once. Anime that came out in the 80s and 90s is the time when most middle aged people today first saw anime. They remember that freshness. Today we’re going on 30 years of generally available anime. If AOT had been released in 1990 (in a 1990 style) the same people dissing modern anime would have been praising it today.

    Something that irritates me just as much are the people who specifically diss older anime. They didn’t have the same production technology back then and the tropes hadn’t all been standardized and that bugs some people.

    “So how did it go from, look at all the pretty colours to all those that disagree shall fertilize my garden?”

    Because some people literally have nothing else to do with their lives. When something is the central focus of your life – and it helps that you are protected by the anonymity of the web – you go ballistic. The monsters come out.

    If you ever get a chance, there is an incredible 1956 science fiction movie called “Forbidden Planet.” (Would be a stunning anime, even today.) Once you see it, (or if you have already seen it) you will know what I mean when I say that the internet has released the “monsters from our ids.”

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/id

    It’s all just human nature unleashed by the internet.

    • Irina says:

      I have not see Forbidden Planet. Maybe, I’m sure most people would agree with you but as you know, I’m sort of a reckless optimist. I believe human nature is highly pliable and adaptable and that we ae not only capable of becoming better, we regularly do. I mean I can do math in my head and very few people have tried to light me on fire so the progress is real!

  7. Dawnstorm says:

    Luckily I haven’t had a run in yet with anyone, much less a death threat. For, say, the serious crime of preferring dubs to subs, maybe? Sigh. People just want to enjoy anime.

  8. ospreyshire says:

    I remember reading this essay. I do agree that otaku can be quite bad. Not all of them of course. I just hope I never came off that way to others even though I was bullied for liking anime. Personally, I think other fandoms can be just as bad or worse like the Disney fandom or sports fans (especially the latter since they get away with wrecking things when it comes to their teams).

  9. Pinkie says:

    I recently watched something in a similar vein.
    I do think that the “extreme” anime fan is slightly more common than the “extreme” western series fan. It mostly comes from hardcore fandom. My Hero Academia, Dragon Ball and Jojo have very loud and obnoxious fans among well behaved others as well of course. I think what the anime fandom miss is the charismatic reasonable persons, there are some but in general I feel people either are afraid to speak up, or if they speak up it’s that loud YouTuber like extremism.

    To some anime is a cry of attention! I watch something Niche and I know everything about it! Respect me! I know Naruto is the best show of all time! Fight me Bro…
    I even have seen the behaviour on anime discord servers I was in in the past. Anime fans often have lower self esteem, we are either drawn in by mystical powers we wish to have, see people struggle socially like we do, we see ourselves as clutzes or baka’s .. I feel alien when I watch a western show.. I don’t adhere to that crowd behaviour and with anime I feel less crazy.. I revel in others being crazy or strange as well.. but in general I think the average self esteem of your anime fan is much much lower. So when you harm what little they have… they bite back… like a mangy dog who begins growling if you even look at it’s only chewtoy. So that for me is part 1 on why I think we have that reputation and that is something we should change and evolve from. Like you said an Ambasador would be nice :p.

    However partially I think we aren’t completely at fault here:

    Fans of anime have only been “recently” “discovered” around the YouTube times. Before no one really was aware of the subculture. While people loving their western tv shows, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer have always been there. They are also toxic on the internet.. but we also know the times were they mad a forum to share pictures.. back when internet culture was very different. The “animefan” has been discovered with/along the recent trends of internet culture and so I think they are connected with it much more. I notice I do that myself with for example people who play Fortnite.

    We rose to infamy along with the YouTube/Twitter era, and are much more connected to that in the eyes of the onlooker. Plus anime is a collective term opposed to how we do it in Western media.. you are a fan of Medium, Charmed and Buffy.. no one says “series fans are crazy” because of how wild Breaking Bad people can get.. no it gets put on Breaking Bad fans. While A DragonBall Fan raging out causes the exact same bad rep to those into Fruit Baskets. That’s like saying all anime fans are alcoholic .. while it is just a small part of the Natsume Book of Shadows fandom.. we are much more collectively judged opposed to fans of other media. So obviously we will have more scandals.. as we cover 1000 series and fandoms instead of one.

    • Irina says:

      It seems every time I log on to discord someone is saying how this show is crap or that show is awful or the only good show this season is X or Y is brilliant and the only reason people don’t like it is Thinly veiled insult… I actually had to step away from it for a while and I still can only take it in small doses

  10. Sadly I do think that the perception of the anime comminuty as being agressive and gatekeeping is somewhat justified. I think a lot of it comes from individuals becoming very invested and very wrapped up in their anime fandom not all dissimilar from sports super fans.

    That being said I think it is entirely fixable and that is going to take time and level headed voices like you and mechanicalanimereviews. I also think that as anime becomes more mainstream in so much that it is possible, some of the fans will relax and be less defensive in their attitudes. I see this happening already with the younger generation of fans I see come through my classroom. This increase in acceptance will mean newer fans don’t have to be as defensive of their hobby.

    While I have experienced the agressive fans, I haven’t experience much in the way of gatekeeping, That being said I think the gatekeeping comes from a sense of either feeling or wanting to feel superior to others, and push the shows the person enjoys over the expense of others. They want to seperate the casuals, from the real fans, not unlike what you can see with sports fans. Specially when a fan will say well you only liked them while they were popular and I like they even when they are bad. As to why this happens my uneducated guess is that their fandom plays a an outsized role in their identify.

    Either way keep up the good work doing what you do and apoligies for the long winded comment.

  11. Sadly I do think that the perception of the anime comminuty as being agressive and gatekeeping is somewhat justified. I think a lot of it comes from individuals becoming very invested and very wrapped up in their anime fandom not all dissimilar from sports super fans.

    That being said I think it is entirely fixable and that is going to take time and level headed voices like you and (https://mechanicalanimereviews.com/). I also think that as anime becomes more mainstream in so much that it is possible, some of the fans will relax and be less defensive in their attitudes. I see this happening already with the younger generation of fans I see come through my classroom. This increase in acceptance will mean newer fans don’t have to be as defensive of their hobby.

    While I have experienced the agressive fans, I haven’t experience much in the way of gatekeeping, That being said I think the gatekeeping comes from a sense of either feeling or wanting to feel superior to others, and push the shows the person enjoys over the expense of others. They want to seperate the casuals, from the real fans, not unlike what you can see with sports fans. Specially when a fan will say well you only liked them while they were popular and I like they even when they are bad. As to why this happens my uneducated guess is that their fandom plays a an outsized role in their identify.

    Either way keep up the good work doing what you do and apoligies for the long winded comment.

    • Irina says:

      I actually get a lot of gatekeeping which I always find amusing. Just a week ago I got an email through my contact wondering how I could possibly have an anime blog and not have reviewed Death Note or Naruto like a real anime fan. t’s never bothered me but it’s a little funny.

  12. Djm says:

    Are anime fans the worst? No.

    But nerds in general are kind of the worst. Reading this story made me remember a couple of things about fandom and the things we love and grow attached to. When you dismissed age as just a number, I felt a HARD disagreement on that one, because how many times (whether it’s anime, comic books, video games, etc) do you see people on the internet building their entire personality around their nerd nostalgia?

    Nostalgia is powerful. As we grow older, we change and our brain goop reacts differently to certain things. And the pull of nostalgia and things we love from our childhood is strong. Furthermore, the age we live in, where we are constantly inundated with SO MUCH CONTENT makes us feel like we are in a constant deluge of mediocrity. But there was plenty of mediocre and bad anime back in the 80s and 90s. We just don’t remember a lot of it, because it wasn’t worth remembering. In time, we’ll remember the Attack on Titans and Re:Zeros, but how many of us will remember all of the other isekai shows that have come out in the last few years?

    So long as you don’t get dragged down by “things aren’t as good as they used to be”, which in many cases is COMPLETELY false, you’ll keep from being the worst. Nostalgia is okay in small doses, so long as you don’t get hooked and turn into…THAT.

    • Irina says:

      I completely agree with you. I remember so much boring, dumb and dull 90s anime. It’s just not really around anymore because it wasn’t good.

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