It isn’t always easy being an anime fan – or any particular kind of entertainment fan that has a large enough community – because there’s always that negative side that’s a constant. It’s a give and take and it will always be there – and should be. But often we can find that it can dominate the discourse and it’s easy to get caught up in it. Piling on is something that’s in human nature to some degree, especially when it’s so easy to do online. We’re in a new year, a time for renewal for many, so we wanted to offer some suggestions on how to be a happier anime fan in 2014.
5) Drop the hyperbole
The first thing to realize that everything that you watch, that’s coming up or that hit your sweet spot when you first started watching anime was the most amazingly epic awesome work ever. There’s been such a push to use phrases like this in the last few years, which has always been there to some extent, that so many shows get hit with that label before it even arrives, especially if it’s based on an existing print work, that the expectations are so high that they can’t be achieved. It does a disservice not just to yourself and your expectations but also to those that do put in the work to create the show to the best of their abilities, budget and however the committee that’s adapting it is constrained for whatever reasons. When talking about a show, it’s best to find a different way to really express it beyond just the buzzwords. And in doing so, you connect with friends and others better about why that show really <i>is</i> epic.
4) Share your passions – not your negativity
It’s easy to be the curmudgeon online and just poo-poo everything in sight, especially since so many others will take you up on it and join in since it’s all very primal in our nature. It’s harder to be positive about shows since there’s that sense that there’s less to really talk about. It’s so much easier to take down than to build up. But building up is far more satisfying, even if it’s met with a lot of criticism. Sharing what you’re passionate about and why will build more of your own sense of how you feel about something and reaffirm it, and for others as well who feel the same way. And it should and could draw them out more to talk about the shows they’re passionate about, which will drown out the haters.
3) Explore new genres
Every year we hear the same refrain – and we’ve heard it for <i>many</i> years. There’s no good anime being made anymore. Everything is shit. Some of that goes back to the hyperbole and some of it to the negativity in general. But a lot of it tends to come from people that are very specific in what they watch, especially if the genre they’re into is out of style. The 80’s was big for giant robots and the 90’s lead to some good philosophical stuff because of Evangelion while the 2000’s brought in more of a pop culture kind of feeling as anime took off in a big way in America through Toonami. But most people get into anime because of a particular show and end up sticking to that genre for a long time. I was huge into the 80’s material when I stared with Gundam, Robotech and the ultraviolence films. What kept me into anime in the 90’s when more releases were legally coming out? Urusei Yatsura and Kimagure Orange Road. Comedies and romantic material. Which then spilled into martial arts shows, sports, historicals and so forth. The key to this is to explore new material and discover new things. Not everything will click but if you limit yourself and then complain that your needs aren’t being served, you’ll just become more and more negative. We’d even suggest trying a little hentai, though you’ll have to go the manga route for that.
2) Be social
This is obviously a double-edged sword since engaging in any community will have you dealing with the negative side. But focusing on the positive and talking about your passions on social media can be pretty nicely reinforcing, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or forums where extensive discussions range across many shows. Yes, a plug for our forums, sue me. I engage through all of these different areas and they all serve different styles of communication, but through it you can meet more people of similar interests to share your passions with and build up that positive side since finding those who love what you do can build some great communities. And happiness on the inside.
1) Don’t be that guy.
Yeah, we’re going kind of specific here. There are surely women who do it as well, but I’m speaking as a guy here. Don’t be that guy. You know that guy.
The numerous creeper stories at conventions this year is off the charts – mostly because people are finally speaking out about it more and women (primarily the targets) are being more vocal about how wrong it is. The lewd comments, the groping and the catcalls in general have been all over the place and sparked plenty of controversy across many channels.
Don’t be that guy.
And it’s not limited to conventions. So many cosplayers are online sharing through their Twitter accounts and Facebook personality pages about their craft and their passion. But they have people posting directly on their pages, or on pictures that are shared, or being Tweeted directly, things that really make you wonder how they were raised.
Your breasts are too small.
Your breasts are too big.
Look at the size of your ass.
You’re too thin.
You’re too fat.
You’re black (always a killer for me; cosplay of Japanese characters should be limited to white people?)
Your character isn’t the same gender as you.
You’re not wearing a revealing enough costume.
Your costume is too revealing.
Your costume is too amateurish and awful.
Your costume is too high end and polished.
Don’t be that guy.
Yeah, some of your friends may be cheering you own or joining in on it all. Some of them are being quite and ashamed to be around you. You may think the cosplayer or person needs a thicker skin. You may be thinking you’re helping them.
You’re not. You’re just a wave of negativity rolling over them, yourself and those around you.
There’s plenty to be negative about when it comes to fandom. There are constructive ways to do it. But there are ways not to do it. And often we find ourselves doing it without realizing it after awhile, like when we’re kids and start cursing for the first time with our friends and thinking how fucking cool we are. Meanwhile, there’s more than enough adults around looking at you and just laughing, hoping that you get through this phase sooner rather than later since later often leads to it just being ingrained.
2013 was a great year for anime. Lots of new shows came out, both through new broadcasts and home video releases. You had your choice of nearly anything and everything, watching it for free in high quality or purchasing it, supporting it through ad supported viewing or directly paying for services. Hundreds of volumes of manga, plenty of amazing artwork and merchandise. Epically awesome amazeballs shows out the wazoo. It’s a golden age and most don’t even realize it. Take the moment to realize it and to realize what kind of fan you truly want to be. And make 2014 that year.