There are a few general laments that we Otaku always go to. You know, about how misunderstood we are or how much negativity there is. However, in my experience, the negativity is often coming from inside the house!
Sure, I still get the occasional incredulous look followed by “what, you watch cartoons?” from people who discover my hobby. But when I say “oh yeah, they are amazing you should try it” I usually get, maybe I should, or I don’t know, what do you recommend?, in response.
The truly aggressive stuff, strangers (when I’m lucky) calling me stupid for my tastes or calling any specific anime trash. That stuff almost always comes from self-identifying anime fans. There are some exceptions but by and large not that many.
There was a point last year (when people might have been stuck at home and have had arguably too much time for social media) when I couldn’t open Twitter or Discord without seeing someone with Otaku in their bio gratuitously ranting against at least one show I happen to be enjoying, or ranting against other fans at least.
I have even seen anime fans go from bemoaning how negative the community is to trashing a show and insinuating unflattering stuff about the fans of the show, in the same thread. Like only one or two responses down. That’s some impressive acrobatics!
Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense that anime fans would be the ones to criticize specific anime or other anime fans. After all, they are the ones that are most familiar with it. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the pan flute community for instance. But that’s in no small part because I have nothing to say about it at all.
But just because I can explain the cause of something, doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I know where UTIs come from… What I’m saying is that we should be able to criticize anime, even for personal deeply subjective reasons that won’t apply to a wide audience, all we want. It’s o.k. to dislike an anime. It doesn’t make you a fake fan or someone who doesn’t understand or whatever. There are millions of titles out there. I figure, anyone even capable of having preferences, isn’t going to like them all.
But just because I don’t like a show, doesn’t make it trash, and it certainly doesn’t entitle me to make any hurtful assumptions about the fans of that show. Sure we can call disruptive or plain old bad behaviour out if we actually have the energy for it. But I don’t think liking an anime series falls into that category. Unless it’s Mayoiga of course… I’ve got to stop that!
So far I’m pretty sure I’m not saying anything revolutionary. I don’t blame any of you that dropped the post a few paragraphs ago. These are rather self-evident platitudes. The more interesting part comes into the why do we do that. I know we are probably not the only community that turns on itself but this is the community I am a part of and care about, so this is the one I want to look at.
I keep wanting to say, the anime community used to be much more welcoming. But I’m actually basing that on my personal experience and really until I started my blog, for me the anime community was like 4 people, 3 of which were good friends and one I was dating. So yeah, my 3 good friends and a partner with vested interest were more welcoming than thousands of strangers. Duh! That doesn’t mean anything at all changed within the community, my horizons just got bigger.
For all I know, had I actually ventured out to social events I would have met the exact same types of folks that seem to be constantly unhappy now. In fact, if I am completely honest, one of those friends was kind of a troll. They were just nice to me.
But I think what is actually wearing on me is the slowly but steadily increasing pessimism I’m starting to see. Crunchyroll announces a collaboration with Webtoons for Crunchy-produced webtoon-based anime and before any of them even aired there were soooooo many people calling it the worst decision ever, a travesty, yet another marker in the downfall of all things anime. For the record, I watched all three shows and enjoyed them all to varying degrees. They weren’t masterpieces but certainly, all compare decently with past anime I have seen. But that’s not the point. Even if they had been the worst, they hadn’t even been produced yet, much less aired.
American companies start to distribute manga and anime and even produce some. People are mad about Western influence on the media. It’s certainly going to destroy everything good about it. A Japanese company buys Crunchyroll, people are still mad about it (sometimes the same people). It’s certainly going to destroy everything good about anime…
If we’re not going to do anything productive to make a situation better, or we simply can’t, how about we actually get an idea of what a situation is before we get really angry about it. Cause honestly, I’m starting to feel like anime is doomed. And I don’t know why. I keep seeing amazing new series coming out but there are so many people assuring me that those series are actually garbage and also that the industry as a whole is garbage. And those are the fans. Hate to see what the detractors say.
Now, I’m obviously not going to stop being an anime cheerleader just because of that. Not with so many amazing series coming out and so many incredible older shows I still have to discover. It’s a medium that still has a lot to teach me.
But I really want to share that joy with my fellow anime fans and sometimes I don’t know how. I occasionally feel like anime fans just don’t like anime and it’s a little sad.
Maybe I can start a silly little tag or something. Actually, I have an idea. this is my new tag. Go to your MAL or AniList or Excel, or brain, whatever you use to keep track of your anime. Pick the 5 shows you personally rated the lowest (but still remember) and say something nice about them.
I’ll go first:
- Mayoiga – The Lost Village: Big surprise, right! I really like those character designs and the premise is awesome!
- Kite: This anime thought me a lot about myself, specifically about what I don’t like…
- DRAMAtical Murder: The source material was bomb! In fact, I’mma gonna replay it!
- King’s Game: It might not have been on purpose, but I did get a lot of good laughs!
- Cinderella Nine: It was fun collabing with Matt.
See even bad anime have something going for them! And as far as I’m concerned, any one of those would have been exponentially worse if I had to watch a live-action version! So now I remember that I just like anime in general.
I’m not actually going to tag anyone because I’ll get sad if no one wants to play with me. However, I do encourage you to try this, even just as a mental exercise. I think it will make us all feel better.
And if you do write a post about it you rock and I thank you! Sharing that good feeling is even better! You don’t need to link to me or anything. This one is just to spread the anime love around.