Not easy living as an “otaku” in the states.
Alright, so after running my school’s “Japanese Animation and Film Club” (otherwise known as Anime Club). I’ve started to realize a lot of things with people in the states who watch anime and my definition of an anime watcher (Casual watcher if you will).
Here’s what I’ve noticed. I showed Gekijouban: Shakugan no Shana, Azumanga Daioh and Lucky Star. Here’s what happened. People disliked Shana and found that it had too much story development leading up to the action and got very confusing. Azumanga Daioh was dropped for unknown reasons. Lucky Star…people dislike it because it has no story (also due to the fact that the parodies are that of which might not be understood by many in the states).
Now I’ll admit that Shana was slightly winded when it came to the movie, but its understandable and its pretty good for what it is. Azumanga is also funny in the sense that its “random” and has plenty of humor that it doesn’t really need a story. As for Lucky Star I feel that, yes you do need some background on other shows to fully enjoy it, but at the same time I’m not one to say that I got EVERY parody that was thrown at me. In reference to Tea House Beloved I laughed at the “first layer” of jokes, but I also understood many of those other ones, such as Da Capo parody or even the Kanon parody. I even had a feeling of Nanoha when Konata found the Leavantin(sp?) Sword.
My main point is. Its a show that I find will be funny to the states, and yet…many people dislike it. Now this is just one instance. I’ve noticed that when I recommend a show that does not include the follow: Excessive FanService, Lots of Action, Lots of Blood, and a “Straight Forward” story.
If I were to show something like…oh I don’t know…the ever so classic Gundam series, people will most likely like it, but if I were to show something like ToHeart or Da Capo, many will be turned off by it and leave. With that many call themselves a casual anime watcher, and yet they do not indulge themselves to anything else other than those few selected series. Now I understand personal preference and all plays a big part in show selection, but as a huge fan I can not allow it to go un-noticed…especially when those people don’t even bother to finish the show to even get a good judgement of it. Here is my description of different levels of “anime watching”
The “Cartoon Network/Adult Swim” watcher: These are the people that have little to no knowledge of anime outside their little box. Most of the time they don’t even know the word “anime”. They follow the most known series showing.
The Casual Watcher: Most of the time these people are split between those who watch from various TV Channels or buy DVDs or those who watch online or a mix of the two. Usually these people have a pretty basic knowledge of anime. They will explore series outside the popularity base, but might not necessarily follow any news of anime.
The “Explorer”: I generally fall into this category. People who will go outside that of US releases and have a pretty good knowledge on terms and ideas. Examples such as tsundere, moe, and zettai ryouiki. These people will also follow minor news happening within the anime world. These people will also probably have a high quantity of anime stored up or watched.
The “otaku”: Those who have a passion for anime. Its almost a life-style if you will. Not only do they watch a vast amount of series, but will go out of their way to follow any and all related news such as stuff on seiyuus, production company, author, etc. You could say they are really indulged in what they love.
Now I won’t say I’m perfect and reached the level of otaku-ism, but at the same time I’m probably seen as an otaku to many people in the states who are “casual” watchers. Most of the time I hear something like, “oh my god, I love anime! have you heard of this one called Inuyasha/Bleach/Naruto? zOMG I love those shows and [insert super yaoi character here] is awesome!”. Seriously if someone is like that…they are most likely not a casual watcher. I have no problem with that, but I dislike the fact that when I try to bring in terms such as moe, yaoi, yuri, etc. into a conversation and explain stuff to people, I get in return this blank and confused stare.
Back to my dilemma here at my own neighborhood Anime Club. Many say that I recommend bad series or run the club horribly just because I reject the common needs of Fanservice. Its either the world is stupid, I’m speaking in a different language, or people just have a one-set mind. I’ve explain various times that school policy might not allow it. Now I don’t TOTALLY reject the want of Fanservice, for I don’t mind it, but the fact that its school setting…I don’t want to get in trouble.
Which brings me to another point. Anime fans (from what I’ve seen) are seen as perverts to many people. I personally can understand that point, but at the same time some of the reasons given are usually false. Biggest discussed idea is that of being a lolicon. I will admit that I like loli characters, but thats due to the cuteness factor and just the lovable nature of them, but many who hear the words I, like, and loli in the same sentence will automatically call you a pervert and a pedophile. Another one is the idea that most Westerners (not all and not 100% true) is introduced to the world of anime through H-animes, Hentai, ADVs, 18+, eroge, etc. While again I have no problem with that, its a pretty bad assumption that everyone of us who loves anime is a pervert. Also the fact that a eroge is liked by someone does not mean they like it for the 18+ parts. For instance I loved Tsukihime and Kagetsu Tohya not because of the H that was in it, but the fact that the story was really well developed and each character was greatly developed and had their own background.
I guess this is just turning out into a giant ramble of how I hate society assuming people who like anime are weird and all, but one thing bugs me the most within the anime community. It is those seriously believe they know everything or those who watch anime, but do not have a passion that burns strong for it.
Everyday I deal with at least one who has seen anime in one form or another and majority of the time they try to act as if they knew everything or try to act as if they were the biggest lover of anime out there. Here’s the best example…just go on someone who likes anime that is on Myspace or Youtube. They will most likely be plastered with random anime pictures and will have an anime picture from something they don’t even know. And when you ask about it or tell them about it the most common answer will probably go something like, “Oh I got this picture because it was cute and blah blah blah.” Most of the time they are fangirls. Yes I seriously think Fangirls ruin just about everything, but thats not the point. The point is most in the community that I’ve dealt with lacks passion. I myself am not as passionate as those in other areas, but I do try my best to follow what I can. I love watch anime as a form of entertainment and also believe that each series gets equal treatment of possibility of being watched. From the states…I get a really different vibe. I have some who are really into anime and are almost up to that of an otaku, which I’m really greatful for, but what annoys me the most is those who pretend to know every, who “pretends” to love anime, and who pretends to even try to understand whats going on.
Overall though I must admit that we’re all imperfect and all, but at the same time those who truly love anime should at least get out of what is popular in the states and go out and watch more series, learn a thing or two about the seiyuus and just enjoy larger spectrum of anime and Japanese culture outside of your little homes.
P.S. I’m extremely sorry for the long post and offending those who find this offensive. If I have gotten anything wrong please feel free to correct my mistakes.