You know I’ve been meaning to talk a bit about fanfiction for a while now. I was going to touch on the subject when I wrote about copyright and scanslation but honestly the intellectual property issues of fanfiction are fairly complex and a lot of the details are up for interpretation. So I decided against it. But I still wanted to explore the general subject of fanfiction as it is sort of complementary to anime fandom.

Actually, fanfiction is a pretty big part of all fan communities, but I m going to stick to what I know a tiny bit about. Anime…not fanfiction…

watching anime
although anime still often baffles me

I do know more than a few bloggers that were around when I started and have since migrated to archive of our own because their true passion was in crafting their own stories about beloved characters rather than analyzing them. I find that admirable! I am not a creative person so I am impressed by those who are.

And I can clearly see the appeal of fanfiction. It allows authors and readers alike to revisit universes and characters that are dear to them. It also presupposes that the readers are already familiar with all the bases of the story so you can skip over all the exposition groundwork and concentrate on the action. With premade characters an author can simply smooth out rough edges to make them really shine which is easier than crafting a whole person from the ground up and more likely to yield a consistent and well rounded character.

And I know fanfiction has a bit of a spotty reputation. I know why. Let’s just say it’s not always the best examples of the genre that have become widely known. But can we really judge fanfiction by that. We’re ANIME FANS…

I feel like I’ve had the exact conversation illustrated in this screencap a dozen times

For my part I know that a lot of my favourite authors (published, celebrated, award winning ones) have at some point experimented with fanfiction. Although it’s not quite recognized as the same thing, I’m a huge fan of modern retellings of fairy tails and myths. Those types of stories share a lot in common with fanfiction and could even fall in the category.

Point is fanfiction is a perfectly respectable form of fiction that has yielded some great works and nurtured definitive talent. And I don’t read it.

O.k., that’s not entirely true. I have and occasionally I still do. I really enjoy independent and amateur authors. I read a few doujin every day. but when given the chance, I will choose amateur works with original characters and settings. I am not sure why. And I’m curious about it.

I think for me, one aspect is perception. I do a lot of reading between the lines. I think people who read my anime reviews have probably noticed this. It’s just the way I am. My imagination runs free and fills up any narrative holes I can find so that someone else’s interpretation often comes with some dissonance which I find distracting. This often makes me enjoy a story less than I would otherwise.

Index meme

I think another reason is that I’m one of the few people that really enjoys the set up of stories. Often more than the action or conclusion parts and you don’t really get that we pre-established fictional universes much. Because they’re…pre-established. I mean one of the greatest strengths of fanfiction is that you can get right to the core of the story you want to tell because all the world and character building foundations are already in place.

These are not hard set rules though. Talented writers can take a good character and make it great. Use that extra time to add complexity and nuance that wasn’t previously developed for lack of time for instance. They can take a great premise that yielded a bad or boring series and give it the treatment it deserves. They can allow us to have further adventures with our favourites. Really there are a lot of possibilities to fanfiction. It’s not that fundamentally different to a sequel (or prequel). And I’m a staunch defender of sequels. If there is more story to be told, I say go for it.

So while I do know why I am more attracted to original works, I really don’t understand why others would dismiss fanfiction as a concept. You can be weary of the execution but that holds true for original works as well.

anime snob
or is there another reason?

So why am I going on about this. Well I know a couple of fanfiction authors. Some of them are quite talented. Some are imaginative of witty. Some are improving. Basically like all authors. But even they often have a bias against the art. I remember comparing a series to a good fanfiction and the person I was talking to immediately assumed that was an insult. I really wondered why.

I get that the general audience think of fanfiction as weird soft core pornography with questionable writing. I get that. I also understand were this prejudice comes from. But let me repeat myself. We’re ANIME FANS. For years most people thought anime was weird questionably written pornography. Some of them still do. We shouldn’t dismiss a medium based on that.

I guess I wanted to know, do you read fanfiction and if not, why? Is it the amateur status? Have you had bad luck with it. Or is it perception? That’s what held me back for a long time and I’ll admit you got to get through a whole lot of oysters to find a pearl but there are definitely pearls out there and the level keeps increasing.

Rini 2020 (4)

45 thoughts

  1. Fanfiction was basically what got me started with seriously writing, even before I started blogging (that said, my stories – fanfic or no – are typically either too ambitious for their own good or extremely short)…I used to read some of it, but these days the fanfic space is no longer what it used to be, if you ask me. I guess it doesn’t help my current obsession of Hypnosis Mic has a pretty quiet fanfic scene in English but a booming fanart scene.

    1. At least there are a ton of Hypnotic Mic Japanese doujin and you can read them without translation which is awesome

  2. I have read a teeeny tiny bit of fanfiction,and discovered despite my expectiations I actually REALLY LIKE what I read. As some may know, I’m also a writer. However, I have avoided fanfic. Certainly not becuase of any aversion to p)rn becuase I wrote plenty of that – but because I know how much I LOVE my characters and I feel a bit like it would be trespassing to write with someone elses characters. So I fell into a perfect fanfic, of Mushi-shi where someone wrote in tha world, but with a totally different protagonist. And I loved it. I love Mushi-shi and yes, I would probably at least consider diving in – in the same way, with a new protagonist. And hey, dont’ put down P0rn. People read and love that shit and much of it is, in fact, VERY well written. So what if it is in a world where the original author did not choose to delve deeply into that aspect. Well, someone ought to, eh? I’m of the attitude that sex is simply part of life, and so if you write about life and don’t write about sex you are probably guilty of ignoring a whole section of life. What I personally need is more hours in the day for fanfic, p0rn, manga, and anime. There are some amazing writers in the world who only write fanfic or p0rn. There are some meh writers who crank out mainstream novels one after another – and the same is true p0rn too. I guess my point is never prejudge anything or anyone. If I had done that – I’d never have watched my first anime. What a huge part of life I would have missed then. Never slam the door on anything.

    1. That,s a good lesson. In the end, we’re the ones who end up missing out when we blindly decide we don’t like something

  3. Yeah I definitely enjoy fanfiction quite a bit when I sit down and read some but admittedly I rarely end up making time to do so. Conceptually I think it’s great to expand the universe and have a good time with alternate routes. As long as it’s not super mean spirited (Like some of those fanfic where everyone picks on Sakura or Deku or any character with a large anti-fanbase) and just has fun with it then it’s usually a winner. I’ve always enjoyed Dragon Ball Multiverse for that reason as a fun tribute to the various characters and I’ve certainly read a lot of fanfics for endings.

    1. I completely forgot about the concept of negative fan fiction… That’s just so odd to me.

  4. This was a really fascinating read and you made some awesome points. I have always loved fanfiction, if the fact that I have a whole section of my blog dedicated to some of my favourite fanfctions did not make that obvious. I am also going to have to check out your post about scanlations as I have also recently made a post about piracy within the yaoi genre and fandom! Again loved reading this, in fact after posting this comment I am going to share this to twitter keep up the great work!

  5. Nope.
    I won’t go into it because it’ll set me off and I don’t want to offend you or any of your other commenters. So sufficed to say, fanfiction and I do not cross paths.

  6. I used to be into fanfiction when I was about 14. That was before I got into anime though. At the time, I was into western comics so it was a lot of Batman stuff. Some of my favorites were stories that incorporated Harley Quinn into the Dark Knight universe (this was before the Suicide Squad Movie). I even wrote some stuff about that too.

    I think I might be more interested in the side of fanfiction that’s set in alternate universes or reinterprets characters, such was the case with adding Harley to the Dark Knight universe. There’s definitely a lot more room for reinterpretation of characters and stories in western comics than in manga though, with many of these characters being reinvented every few years.

    In manga, the extent of fanfiction I consume are hentai doujins. Specifically ones focusing on a ship I like, like Mustang and Hawkeye from FMA. There was also doujin I liked where the two female leads in Hibike! Euphonium got together. The anime was kinda queer-baity and made you expect them to get together but they never did, so that doujin scratched that itch for me.

  7. I’m all for fanfiction, it’s a creative outlet after all and that’s a good thing in my book. Who doesn’t imagine stories about their favourite fictional universes? I do!!

    Side note great choice of featured GIF for the article, +1 Anime Points

  8. I tend not to read stories online (I prefer print), and most fanfiction is online. I’ve occasionally read and enjoyed fanfiction. I’ve also read and not enjoyed fanfiction. They’re stories, like any other.

    Also, I’ve hung out on writing boards for a while, and I found more people than I thought I would who thought writing fanfiction is “crutch writing”, because you don’t have to make up your own characters (and sometimes world). I always thought fanfiction writing is hard mode, because you have to get pre-existing characters right. I tried it once. Once is enough. There’s always the idea in the back of my head that I can’t get those characters quite right. It induces anxiety.

    While at university, I’ve participitated in a seminar called novels and re-writing. We covered the following pairs:

    Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe – William Makepeace Thackeray: Rebecca and Rovena
    Daphne de Maurier, Rebecca – Susan Hill, Mrs. de Winter
    Charlotte Bronte, Jane Ayre – Jean Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea (I actually liked the fanfic better, here)
    And three others I’ll remember as soon as I hit send. We had to hand in paper and find our own fanfic. I did:

    Mary Shelley Frankenstein – Brian Aldiss, Frankenstein Unbound

    People have always used other people’s characters. I mean, the second part of Don Quixote had the main character complain about the deeds of an “imposter” (de Cervantes didn’t seem to think the fanfic got his characters right…).

    I’ve never read any anime fanfic, though I did play a Love Hina fangame once, because it played in the browser and was free. Somehow checking a vase made Rei Ayanami’s head explode and I still don’t know why (there were plenty of non-LH references sprinkled throughout the game).

    1. That sounds like a great game. Also a double Frankenstein fanfic is a glorious idea. I never did anything fun like that in Uni. I’m a bit jealous, I admit

      1. Brian Aldiss went through a phase where he wrote novels based on classics. Frankenstein Unbound, Dracula Unbound (the title doesn’t work for this), Moreau’s Other Island. Even a short story “Better Morphosis,” where a cockroach wakes up to find himself transformed into Franz Kafka. I think the title is ironic.

        1. I remember the unbound books but I have never heard of Better Morphosis. It’s a really good title

    1. Good. Out of all the stuff we could be ashamed of, fanfiction shouldn’t even be a factor

  9. I like fanfiction and still write occasionally when I get the chance, since it gives authors the chance to explore areas of a setting that normally might not be fleshed out.

    Mind you, it has only seemed harder and harder to find fanfiction that can interest me enough to make me want to drop everything in order to binge read as I did years ago.

  10. Fan fiction introduced me to reading. As a blind person, I don’t have easy access to books, and braille is a horribly inefficient way to print books.

    But through fan fiction, I got to see how expressions are pulled off, how fight scenes may look, since I never saw them. And in the case of Harry Potter, got to witness some of the greatest magical battles, which simply didn’t appear in the canon.

    Once I discovered the Ebooks, I gradually stopped reading fan fiction, mostly because the plots got repetitive, lots of stories are never completed, and I just didn’t had enough patience to deal with them.

    But I will always be thankful to fan fiction. It allowed me to improve my writing, try out some of the tools of the trade of writing fiction like developing characters, setting, and plot, and generally helped me a lot. So much so that I’m even planning to publish my own fiction in a form of online serial soon.

    Also, funny that you wrote this article. Just previous week, I interviewed a fan fic author. I’m extremely sorry to advertise here.

    1. They have fanfiction in braille or are you talking about a text to speech option? I never thought fanfics would be more accessible. That’s really surprising but great

      1. Text to speech. Also, I realize I have been talking about my blindness in your comment section for a while. I’ll stop doing that immediately. I don’t want people to think that I’m doing this for attention.

  11. I don’t really read fanfiction, but I did write a whole bunch of it in my formative years. I think back then I was just biased, I accepted the bad reputation of fanfiction without ever really thinking about it, but all my little comics that I drew and the Doctor Who stories I wrote in my teens are all definitely fanfiction. My opinion on fanfiction changed as soon as I realised that and I now see it as the glorious expression of love and admiration that it is.

    My only real barrier now is time, I’ve enough trouble keeping up with all the officially licensed stuff, never mind what a dedicated fanbase is putting out as well. That’s just too much content for all the fandoms I dip my toe in.

    1. I know what you mean. I will probably not live long enough to watch all the anime I want to watch, let alone read all the fanfics

  12. Fanfiction was actually a big part of what got me into anime in the first place. On more than one occasion, I read some fanfic (I can’t remember why specifically, it could have been totally by accident) that I’d never even seen the anime for, and that inspired me to go and watch it later. While I don’t read fanfiction any more, there’s no way I’d want to dismiss it as a “lesser art form” or whatever, as I feel that would be super hypocritical of me.

    1. That’s the first time I hear it going in that direction. I bet the authors are thrilled they could share a piece of media they love like that

  13. Fanfictions, especially those for Evangelion or Digimon Adventure, were a big part of my early anime fan days, and my childhood even saw me write a bunch of Sonic the Hedgehog fanfictions which were none other than rewrites of early 2000s Jackie Chan movies. I don’t read them often given my preferences have changed but it’s always fun to read through a good and complete one as opposed to a fragment (which is my main problem with some fanfic authors: why not upload the story when it’s completed rather than ij bits? 🤔)

    To end things I’d say my favourite of all the fanfictions is called “In the Case of Asuka Langley Soryu”, a Shinji/Asuka fanfic where the characters get a psychologist and bc of that sees an improvement in their mental well-being and changes how the story goes.

    1. Oh man, those kids really could have used a shrink. That’s a great premise, I should look for it

  14. I do enjoy fanfics and indie published stuff too. And yeah, some of it is just fan service in written form, but some of it is really good. In fact, some fan fic was so good that it went on to be published by legit publishing companies and is now considered cannon. This is seen in both the Star Wars and Star Trek writing. And I would even say that some of the fan fic is actually better than the original works. Like with the Twilight series, some of the novels were . . . . they weren’t great. Yet, I have read some fan fic that had a rich story line and had characters with actual depth! I believe that inspiration can come from anywhere, and if it comes from your favorite series, that’s fine too!

    1. Hmmm… Loving or hating fan fictions to me isn’t as important as supporting them. Because personal preferences aside, writing fan fictions is one of the possible stepping stones on a person’s journey to becoming a full fledged writer. I dabbled in fan fiction, and that led me to write my own content and creations over time. So to me fan fiction is good because it begins the creative process in a person. And hopefully sets them on a road that leads them to a long life as a writer.

      So think of it this way. You habe fan fiction to blame for the existence of the Darke Raven, reviewer, these past 20 years and counting. Oh well… Eye doctor today. Bye!

  15. Honestly I use to write fanfiction for a very long time back when wasn’t a hellsite. I wrote all sorts of styles; a lot of fluffy oneshots, stuff about obscure ships I liked, cross overs that barely resembled a cross over (my favorite being I wrote a Tokyo Mew Mew and Bleach cross over purely because the main character’s names are the same in English). Of course it was natural that since I was writing it, that I read a lot of it too. Some of the titles truly should have been reworked a bit more and published as originals – there are some insanely talented authors out there.

    But once started mass deleting the literal ‘weird questionably written pornography’ fanfics, I was at a bit of a loss. I didn’t always write that stuff, but I also didn’t want to be censored either. I’m not sure if Wattpad (cursed) or Ao3 was fully up at that time – but I saw it as a natural starting point to try writing my own fiction and move into other aspects of fandom.

    I have read a handful, and truly less then 10 fanfics since then. This might be me but fanfics went from being about almost anything. Exploring and extrapolating about the technical details and the what if’s of a series to… text chats, coffee shop AU’s and well… a lot of not well written porn.

    Don’t get me wrong, all those above mentioned have their place in fanfiction and fandom. Those authors spend time and effort to create their stories and I would never want to discredit their efforts. However, when your fandom is small, and the pool of available fanfics is even smaller and it’s dominated by said works with little variation outside of ships and AU location – fanfics lose their appeal.

    I’ve gone on long enough, but a final note is one of my big stumbling blocks as of late is a lot like your’s: I have a very specific interpretation of a character at any given time. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for the fanfic, but when authors intentionally scrub the character or their original traits and more or less just use their ‘face’ for their fiction – I can’t.

    So to answer one of your questions – I’m rather ambivalent towards fanfiction as of late. I use to be a writer and lover, but the landscape has changed so much that people like me don’t fit in these days. (And that’s okay too!)

    1. Nooo you most definitely did not go on too long. I could have read this all day. It’s a fascinating glimpse at a world I only know the edges of

      1. I’m glad that it was an entertaining read! I always get nervous writing longer comments so I’m happy to know it went over well!

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