This is more of a response to a mentality I have seen in forums and just the darker and less accepting side of the fanbase more so than any individual. This will probably be a bit controversial and I may ramble from time to time through my tales, yet I felt a more stream of conscious approach to this post would fit it better. This is meant more to discuss generalities than specific people, hence the lack of names within some stories, these are just some of the experiences I have had over the years regarding the fandom. I’ve grown to meet and read articles from some great people on the blogsphere and in real life. So thank you for reading through this and let’s have some fun shall we?
Now I have seen a lot of stuff going on and on about the debates between people discussing the labels of “casual” and “elitist” a lot in the anime community. I myself adore entertainment as a medium and anime is my bread and butter next to film. My initial reaction to these terms is “Why does there need to be sides to enjoying something?” We can all enjoy what we want to and be done with it. That’s my motto, but unfortunately I often find that not the case with both sides of the argument. I’m in a more middling ground with “apparently” a leaning towards elitism as I have been told by my friends.
Now the term elitist to them does not mean watching the most top notch shows or hating all the popular shows. It does mean that I tend to analyze shows and judge heavily. The connotation however and the negative effect that the very meaning of elitism has, since its about advocating that you are better than others, is often used by many fans to describe a fan in a derogatory term. Yet in all honesty I enjoy shows when I look more in depth into them, looking past the veneer of purely enjoying the shell of something. In my cinema classes we delve into specific films and learn about the important scenes and how to digest them. I merely bring that into talking about my enjoyment of films and shows. That is why when I said to a lot of people that I don’t enjoy or particularly care for such shows like Erased, Attack on Titan, Naruto, they label me an elitist.
Erased to me was smartly directed, but I had problems with a lot of their conveniences as well as its predictable and overdone mystery that took me out of it. Why did I care so much about the mystery? Because if it wants to give me a mystery, it needs to not be telegraphed to me who the killer is 24/7. I’m a mystery buff and that’s why I wasn’t too keen on it despite some of its scenes and visuals being very impressive.
Attack on Titan is a popcorn series to me. It’s exciting with its swooping angles and I think it’s a fun time, but I couldn’t jump into its manipulative emotional center. Yelling words doesn’t give me a thrill, which is why I never connected with Dragon Ball Z as much as I did with the original Dragon Ball. The animation was top notch and the story, while far-fetched, had some stellar moments in its characters especially in Jean one of the most underrated characters in that show to me. I can’t dive into it though, as fun as it is, there isn’t much to stare at past the fun time at the cinema. Just look at Jurassic World, it’s the same thing there. Mindless fun with some good moments, which is also Attack on Titan in a nutshell.
Naruto is something I grew up with and originally loved. The Zabuza arc is still etched into my mind today as one of my favourite sections in anime. Yet overall I just had a hard time buying into the series’ crutch, Sasuke. His whole plotline was terrible especially in Shippuden dragging out a series far too long. It diluted my interest and I never really wanted to dive back into those murky waters so I swam to the manga instead. It has great moments and arcs, but I’m still not liking it as much as others.
These three shows are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the times I am complained against. I don’t like a show, but why do my views on it not matter in discussion? Why do you insist on calling me an elitist in a derogatory sense? There is this stigma that if you aren’t with them then you are against them. That easily goes for some anime fans I find and it can be disheartening to hear that you aren’t valid because you showcase a differing opinion.
I was once asked to fill in for a group discussion on Acchi Kochi, the guy knowing full well I wasn’t a huge fan of moe humour. They wanted a full group and it was that day, so I said sure and binged the entire 12 episodes to help out. When the time came to discuss he didn’t allow me to even converse giving me one of the most insulting comments I have heard as an anime fan. I didn’t understand Seinen anime, or Seinen humour. What does that even mean? It is a demographic genre, one about an age range more than something like sci-fi, fantasy or drama. That felt like a slap in the face. He essentially asks me to watch the whole thing, then tells me after I binged it that my views weren’t going to be accepted because I told him I didn’t particularly care for it. They talked anyway and life goes on, but those words still stick with me as a constant reminder of just how ruthless some people are about differing opinions.
The same thing goes when I talk in the elitist camp. You enjoy specific shows and you instantly get that glare, you know that glare. “You honestly enjoy that Ghost in the Shell ripoff Psycho-Pass? Psh last time I listen to your opinion.” That is the general consensus and it’s a bit disheartening to hear as a fan. There are many shows that I enjoy in the modern era that one could easily get disregarded for. Just like the opposite side I’ll use three examples: Death Parade, Konosuba, One Piece.
Death Parade is always one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of just beautifully constructed episodic anime. Each episode is compelling to watch and its moral quandaries are intriguing to say the least. I have my misgivings with the show’s world building and overarching story, but I still think its episodic storytelling and visual prowess overpower those negatives. Yet many will disagree with it being a solid recommendable work because of its final few episodes and overarching story. I think that is a discredit to all the previous episodes before it which at times had me completely invested in its one-off characters.
Konosuba is one of my favourite shows of 2016. I found almost all of its episodes hilarious and even at times sobering within its more serious moments. The show managed to have me be invested in its comically flawed characters seeing them as individuals in this world that have depth to them. The sexual jokes were just as fun as their more intelligent jokes playing off the trapped in a video game world setting used in other anime. This is a show I found myself just able to sit back and enjoy myself for once in a long time since I watched something like School Rumble.
One Piece is the deciding nail in the coffin, as one of my favourite anime is one of the One Piece films. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island is hands down one of my favourite tales in One Piece. Mamoru Hosoda knew exactly what he was doing when taking the ideas of Luffy as an individual and creating his foil in the titular Baron Omatsuri. Creating a terrifying embodiment of Luffy’s desire and the antithesis to what One Piece is. Moving from one place to another and enjoying the adventure, instead Omatsuri was content with remaining static in his own little world. The film is powerful in some of its fabulously animated segments. Not only that but I still go back to watching the Arlong Park recap film every once in a while to relive my childhood and one of, yet again, my favourite segments in anime.
These three shows are deemed by a lot of “elitist” standards to be subpar, yet I enjoy them fully and would even argue their merits extensively. Yet those who I know who are possibly under the label of “elitist” won’t necessarily regard my answers. Pretty colours don’t matter, the directing is subpar in comparison to our connection to the characters. Connection with characters is key, but the directing is a lot of the time where that connection spawns from. Do you think Akira Kurosawa didn’t have a hand in making you connect with the characters in his masterpieces like Seven Samurai and Rashomon? This is a visual medium and sometimes visuals can become more important than the written word in certain circumstances. It is why we have terms like pure cinema, which is a desire to tell cinema without the need to explain what the particular scene is about using words.
That’s where I believe I fit. I’m middling between two camps that see me as the other side for purely enjoying and not enjoying specific things. These extreme labels seem to think they define what type of person you are under this great anime fandom and that to me limits what your specific opinion is. I’d rather not be called a casual or an elitist, I’d rather be called a fan of anime. Someone who can enjoy the medium, but also see the problems it can have. Understanding that you aren’t some special snowflake given to the world and you do have a voice away from the cult of personality you think you belong to.
I’ll keep on enjoying being a fan of anime. I enjoy giving both the negatives and positives on series that I enjoy and dislike. I’m harsh on things that I don’t enjoy, but never do I try to say you are wrong for enjoying them. I love watching Jupiter Ascending, it is so bad yet I still enjoy watching it for those moments of terrible acting or plot points. We as people are enigmas for a reason, because one word doesn’t define who we are as fans. We all look for those special moments in anime that make us smile inside. For some it’s a lot harder to do than others and that is completely fine. Whatever you think you need to watch to get that sense of enjoyment out of a medium, you do that. I guess what this entire post can be summed up as is, “You do you”.
We meditate so heavily on these definitions of what we are as anime fans that we get lost in the arguments. Why do you feel the need to defend your love for anime so close-mindedly or feel threatened by others? What makes you think that other people’s opinions on specific things are less valuable than your own? We are a community for a reason, because we all love something. Whether it’s old or new, odd or familiar, popcorn or artsy, we still enjoy it. What is sad is when we block out the ideas of others and that is a disservice to the community mentality. Anime is anime, you are you, and those things may seem different over the course of time but still hold true to the same basis. If anime changes, it changes. If you change, you change. Simple as that, a label shouldn’t define what type of fan you are. Just go out there and watch what you want to watch. Don’t let people discourage you with things like “If you hate it so much, why are you still watching it?” or “Why are you enjoying this?” Discuss opinions on shows with an open mind and accept that not every opinion is going to agree with yours. Be an anime fan if you want to, be who you want to be and don’t let others discourage you for being you.
This rambling session was brought to you by Schizoidmouse! It’s nice to finally open up about a topic I find so hard to talk about as a fan in general. First time doing a personal piece especially one from the stream of consciousness so I hope I didn’t go overboard too much.
As an update, I’ve been away a bit due to personal life and schooling and hoping to get back in March with some new projects I want to work on. One of them involves video game adaptations which will certainly be an endeavour.
What do you think about the labeling process of anime fans that people like to use? Have you ever been neglected because of an anime you’ve enjoyed or disliked? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a great day!