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Old 2012-10-10, 08:53   Link #1
Midonin
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The Fandom vs Itself

This isn't one of those threads that come around every once in a while. It's coming from another perspective in an attempt to hopefully bring the fandom together instead of subdividing it further, because people seem so intent on subdividing it. Whether it's coming up with reasons why certain series didn't sell, or simply looking at story elements and immediately seeking someone to blame, I've noticed the fandom tendency to split everyone into three groups, one clearly being the "good" group, and it more confuses me than anything else.

The first one is the "otaku". The term doesn't have a positive connotation in its home country anyway (though that does seem to be changing) and in Western fandom is supposed to be a value neutral term. But here, and more frequently everywhere else, it's used, strangely, for anything that seems to be too feminine. Whether it's cute and without any fanservice at all, or ero and with a lot of fanservice - it's true both are trying to reach the same demographic - and that's just for series without any male characters, in which case the same "otaku" are still blamed for problems that are actually required to make the genre work. Basically, the atmosphere/daily life-type comedy and the harem/love comedy are the ones often blamed on the otaku, or at least certain elements of them are.

Basically, the same "otaku" that everyone's attacking are being narrowed down to a strawman that surely can't apply to all of them. I suspect it's being used as some sort of scapegoat so people can brush off elements of series they're not comfortable admitting they'd like. If these elements really are disliked, okay, but to blame everything on the otaku is a bit suspect. They're just as discerning as the rest of us, they're simply discerning about different things - and those things aren't quite so bad themselves.

I don't know what percentage of this board has female posters, but this often ties into the other problem. Like the previously mentioned "otaku", "fujoshi" are treated more mysteriously than simply as some sort of fan. Sometimes they're spoken of in the same breath as people who enjoy yuri, sometimes not, but the general impression given is that people don't want "them" getting near "their" series.

So where does that leave everyone who doesn't fall into the first two groups? Apparently they're the "normal" fans, but this definition of normal seems just as stifling as the first two groups. By taking out so many interesting elements that put anime on its own playing field, the idea of what normal is looks rather... same-ish. It might be more respectable, but even respectability can fall into patterns, like with what defines an Oscar-winning movie or some such.

This is based on fandom observation, and if I got anything wrong, I apologize. None of these statements are attacking anyone directly. But I do feel it's a problem that keeps discourse from reaching a certain level. On some level, these niches probably do exist - the anime fandom is a wide and varied collection of subfandoms begrudgingly working together. But even those niches are more varied than surface impressions might give, and I think, out of a story, we're all looking for the same resonance in the end.
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Old 2012-10-10, 09:01   Link #2
Marcus H.
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You also forgot the "idort", which likes many of the stuff that the other groups think are "the cancer of the anime industry". However, although "idort" is originally a term derived from a misspelling of "idiot", they are the "Goldilocks zone" of anime viewership. He doesn't care about what people say, and he/she ends up liking two things that the elitists of a particular aspect of anime fandom, and ends up ridiculed for it.

Just like how the word "idort" is formed, this forming of rifts amongst anime fans can be blamed to 4chan and its tendency to condone this kind of mentality.
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Old 2012-10-10, 09:05   Link #3
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Just wondering, but which anime series and/or threads inspired your Apologia? The whole argument's been there since forever, or at least since the glory days of Western "serious anime" fandom, so I'm genuinely curious which particular discussion thread, or a number of them I suppose, set you off.

On the fujoshi thing, was it SaintessHeart's funny little fujoshi-phobia taken too far again?

Anyway, I've never heard of this "idort" thing. I think I'm behind in memeland...again. Sigh.
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Old 2012-10-10, 09:22   Link #4
Midonin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Just wondering, but which anime series and/or threads inspired your Apologia? The whole argument's been there since forever, or at least since the glory days of Western "serious anime" fandom, so I'm genuinely curious which particular discussion thread, or a number of them I suppose, set you off.
One of them was a post in this morning in the Girls und Panzer thread, and another was two recent posts in Binbougami and Hagure Yuusha trying to figure out why those series didn't sell. All of these posts either were or resorted to some crude stereotypes to try and figure out a reason, and it didn't sit right with me. There's only two posters between these three, so it's not a huge problem - most people probably don't actively engage in this - but that it continues to exist on some level annoys me.
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Old 2012-10-10, 09:27   Link #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Anyway, I've never heard of this "idort" thing. I think I'm behind in memeland...again. Sigh.
I guess it's the 4chan people again.
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Old 2012-10-10, 09:42   Link #6
Irenicus
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Ah, the old "what sells in Japan" thing and the "what Japanese otaku likes" thing. Gotcha.

Carry on.

Albeit, I wonder if this type of speculation would not benefit from people actually knowing/learning Japanese and trolling 2ch to get the scoop on what the Japanese actually think. They do translate our comments for the lulz from time to time to find out what the crazy gaijin think, might as well pay them back the proper courtesy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stormtrooper
I guess it's the 4chan people again.
Hmm.

So I was curious and googled and it seems Urban Dictionary has a very specific definition born from a "comical" misspelling. Nobody knows what makes some memes tick and some pathetically lame, but, meh. Really, meh. I'm calling this one dead on arrival.

[/though I do get Marcus' point that I might just be one of those "idorts."]
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Old 2012-10-10, 09:43   Link #7
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Personally, when I refer to "otakus", I'm usually referring to the 50 to 100 thousand people that pretty much drive this industry. In other words, I'm referring to hardcore Japanese anime fans who are serious collectors. Ultimately, these are the people who put their money where their mouths are and play a real role in determining the future of the anime industry with their purchasing power. At some level, I respect these people. They don't just say they love anime, they do in fact love it, and they use their purchasing power to get more of the anime that they want.

Nonetheless, they do have certain tastes - There's a reason why K-On! is a smash hit but Nichijou didn't sell that well (and it's obviously not just the KyoAni factor). The otakus have every right to their tastes, and in many (but not all) cases, I share the same tastes. But they do in fact play a huge role in charting the course of the industry so I see some value in trying to figure out what shows they're likely to go for and what shows they're likely to not go for.


Now, I know that some of us "gaijins" apply the term otaku to ourselves. Within the anime fandom in general, I think that the term "otaku" basically means "hardcore anime fan", so I don't have a problem with that, per se. I myself am a hardcore anime fan, so if a fellow fan called me an otaku I wouldn't get upset about it. However, the term "otaku" is a bit of a loaded term so it's not something I'd call myself.


"Fujoshis" unfortunately take a lot of heat because people care too much about fanart and fanfiction. If a fujoshi wants to draw all sorts of yaoi imagery involving Kotetsu and Barnaby from Tiger and Bunny then I'll just politely ignore it.
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Old 2012-10-10, 09:49   Link #8
Midonin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Ah, the old "what sells in Japan" thing and the "what Japanese otaku likes" thing. Gotcha.

Carry on.
I suppose it is a bit of an old debate, rephrased in a new form. I know threads like this pop up every once in a while. The angle I'm attacking this from is less about the shows than about the fandom. If a person know someone and they have tastes that can fit into one of the above niches that are often blamed for things, it's brushed off, but when they don't (or the language barrier is in the way), the niches are turned into this sort of strawman/boogeyman representing a group that probably isn't as uniform as people make it out to be.

It leads to some fierce tilting at windmills.
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Old 2012-10-10, 10:00   Link #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Personally, when I refer to "otakus", I'm usually referring to the 50 to 100 thousand people that pretty much drive this industry. In other words, I'm referring to hardcore Japanese anime fans who are serious collectors. Ultimately, these are the people who put their money where their mouths are and play a real role in determining the future of the anime industry with their purchasing power. At some level, I respect these people. They don't just say they love anime, they do in fact love it, and they use their purchasing power to get more of the anime that they want.

Nonetheless, they do have certain tastes - There's a reason why K-On! is a smash hit but Nichijou didn't sell that well (and it's obviously not just the KyoAni factor). The otakus have every right to their tastes, and in many (but not all) cases, I share the same tastes. But they do in fact play a huge role in charting the course of the industry so I see some value in trying to figure out what shows they're likely to go for and what shows they're likely to not go for.
Out of curiosity, how do you know there is a base of 50-100 thousand otaku that drive the industry? How do we know that the 30k who bought Infinite Stratos are the same as the 40k who bought K-On? Are they the same people as the 80k who bought Bakemonogatari? Are they even the same as the 4k who bought Koichoco or Campione?

Last edited by OceanBlue; 2012-10-10 at 11:50.
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Old 2012-10-10, 11:47   Link #10
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I have a feeling that the Japanese Anime fandom is a lot more fractured then people realise. It's not the same people watching Gundam, as watching K-On, as watching Nodama Cantabile. Just like in America, it's not the same people watching Star Trek as watching Spiderman as watching Beverly Hills.

The "hardcore" Anime fandom is more unified in the west simply because it's too small to realistically split apart. The only real split is the large number of people who only watch Bleach/Naruto and never anything else.
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Old 2012-10-10, 12:39   Link #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OceanBlue View Post
Out of curiosity, how do you know there is a base of 50-100 thousand otaku that drive the industry? How do we know that the 30k who bought Infinite Stratos are the same as the 40k who bought K-On? Are they the same people as the 80k who bought Bakemonogatari? Are they even the same as the 4k who bought Koichoco or Campione?
Obviously I don't know. 50 to 100 thousand is an educated guess (based partly on the fact that some shows crack over 50 K, but I've never seen a TV show crack over 100 K).

I'm inclined to think there's a lot of overlap between each of the groups you mentioned.

Why do I think there's a lot of overlap? Two reasons:


1. Because we also have it here on Anime Suki.

The hottest shows of the seasons (i.e. the ones that get subforums, basically) tend to get talked about a lot, and you see an awful lot of the same names and faces/avatars from one such subforum to the next to the next. This is even true with shows that are pretty different from one another, like Fate/Zero and Hyouka.


2. Because the anime fandom has a tendency to think of themselves as a generally unified fandom that watches loads and loads of all sorts of anime (and I see little evidence that the Japanese anime fandom is different in this regard). This is where Don's Star Trek, Spiderman, and Beverly Hills comparison doesn't really work, imo. No Trekkie would expect other Trekkies to be a Beverly Hills watcher just because he's a Trekkie. But anime fans do tend to expect one another to have seen all the most prominent anime.
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Old 2012-10-10, 12:58   Link #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
2. Because the anime fandom has a tendency to think of themselves as a generally unified fandom that watches loads and loads of all sorts of anime (and I see little evidence that the Japanese anime fandom is different in this regard). This is where Don's Star Trek, Spiderman, and Beverly Hills comparison doesn't really work, imo. No Trekkie would expect other Trekkies to be a Beverly Hills watcher just because he's a Trekkie. But anime fans do tend to expect one another to have seen all the most prominent anime.
Sure, that's how it is here. We're not mainstream enough to have split apart, further more if you're into anime you're already probably pretty open minded (after all, it's something that's foreign, animated and subtitled).

Doesn't necessarily apply in Japan though. I've never been in Japan though, so I can't speculate on how unified it is, but I wouldn't presume anything. I personally think there's a divide between, say, mecha fans and Moe fans. I'd also say there's a divide between Moe fans and Fujoshi.
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Old 2012-10-10, 13:08   Link #13
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Anyone -- who deem themselves as "otaku", without any understanding -- is a noob. Just like and enjoy all this Japanese animation -- and leave it at that.
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Old 2012-10-10, 13:32   Link #14
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Or could it be that they are divided also cause of this
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Old 2012-10-10, 13:38   Link #15
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I've been involved in some pointless bouts between fanbases myself and although I can't object to the heights stupidity these flame wars seem to reach, I am not for trying to unify the fandom either. Like movies and books, anime is an entertainment medium. There's bound to be divides between people based on what they like but whether or not the "otaku" and the "normal" fan can get along is up to each individual; it's just a matter of finding the right people not the right fanbase.

Also, I have Clannad and Legend of the Galactic Heroes in my favorites. Ask me anything
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Old 2012-10-10, 15:49   Link #16
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The Japanese anime otaku population is pretty much to credit/blame for the majority of decisions made about late night anime. They pretty much fund the entire industry by themselves, and thus wield a large amount of power over what gets made and what doesn't.

As for holding them responsible for the lack of Cowboy Bebop/Trigun/etc anime or for the pervasiveness of "otaku themes," that's wrong. The responsibility lies on the people complaining to open up their wallets and make sure they anime that they want to watch have enough funding to be produced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
2. Because the anime fandom has a tendency to think of themselves as a generally unified fandom that watches loads and loads of all sorts of anime (and I see little evidence that the Japanese anime fandom is different in this regard). This is where Don's Star Trek, Spiderman, and Beverly Hills comparison doesn't really work, imo. No Trekkie would expect other Trekkies to be a Beverly Hills watcher just because he's a Trekkie. But anime fans do tend to expect one another to have seen all the most prominent anime.
I think there are at least two major subgroups of anime "otaku," Mecha and Moe. There is definitely overlap, but I'm pretty sure the people who buy Gundam aren't the same as the people who buy K-On.
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Old 2012-10-10, 16:07   Link #17
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I've always thought that in Japan, a lot of them overlap each other. If the manga Genshiken had even some value of truth in it, then Mecha and Moe might've overlap much more than one might've thought. Steins:Gate even had Daru who's kinda like this. I'm more interested in why there is a view of distinct genre otakus.

My guess is that otaku in Japan doesn't really care that much about genre distinction and is actually able to enjoy stuffs from opposite ends of the spectrum evenly. They aren't "stupid" enough to not be able to enjoy the more "intellectual" things, but are also not "proud" enough to consider moe some "stupid shit".
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Old 2012-10-10, 16:45   Link #18
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I agree with erneiz_hyde on the Japanese otaku. Honestly, I think that they're less divided than we non-Japanese anime fans are.

There's plenty of shows with both mecha and moe: Code Geass, NGE, Infinite Stratos, Rinne no Lagrange, etc...

A show like Lagrange almost certainly doesn't get produced unless there's significant overlap between moe fans and mecha fans.

Also consider - One of Ore no Imouto's OPs had a giant robot in it. Haruhi and Kami Nomi have both had shoutouts to the Principality of Zeon of Gundam fame. You wouldn't see this if there wasn't significant overlap between moe fans and mecha fans.
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Old 2012-10-10, 19:37   Link #19
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Irenicus: The "idort" term is one of the rarely used terms in /a/, anyway. Surprisingly, though, being an idort holds a somewhat positive connotation in /a/, because it would regard you as a "bro who doesn't believe in *shit (moeshit, etc.)".

I also agree with erneiz_hyde's statement. What we see are numbers and posts in 2ch and 4chan. We don't know which of these guys (aside from particular people with tripcodes) watch X and Y, the latter of which is hated by fans of X.
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Old 2012-10-10, 20:21   Link #20
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I think probably the first point is this:

Japanese "Anime Otaku" are a subset of the customer base, defined mostly by their strong devotion to this particular hobby. (For the sake of this discussion, we'll say primarily their financial devotion, because that's the biggest relevant impact.)

Forgive my lazy chart:

( Fringe Customers ( Regular Customers ( Core Customers/"Otaku" ) ) )

(Think of this as concentric circles.)

When you have an anime that sells in the 10s of thousands of copies, it's not usually just because you've appealed to the "Otaku" base, it's because the show expands beyond that core group. Because, just like we see on this very forum, there are a lot of "casual anime viewers" who watch shows with supposed "otaku themes", but don't usually buy.

If your "Otaku" customer buys, let's say, 12-15 anime series a year on Blu-Ray. Your "Regular Customers" may buy 2 or 3. Your "Fringe Customers" may only buy one series in a blue moon when it's a really important show to them. And that's what you see with something like a Madoka, or a Haruhi, or a Bakemonogatari. These are shows that get people who aren't even "otaku" (people who aren't already core customers) to buy them. Heck, I know a lot of people on this Forum and others who imported those shows even though they rarely import anything else.


There may be an overlap of the interests of the "otaku fans" but there doesn't have to be. There's nothing really defining them as a group other than "they like a lot of anime". You put three "anime otaku" in a room (by that definition alone), and they'll probably argue bitterly about what anime are good or bad, even if there may be a few shows that they've all watched because they're considered almost "required viewing". They're really no different than any other group of anime fan, except for the amount invested in the hobby. This can no doubt be a bit of a self-perpetuating cycle (their interest is maintained by having shows that regularly appeal to their tastes), but every serious "otaku" has bought their share of unpopular shows that appeal to them but not broadly even among the hardcore base.

People often blame elements they don't like in shows on "otaku-pandering". But really, it's just about the "other-audience-who-isn't-me". You'll see people dismiss a popular show that has lots of "element X" (let's say fanservice), but then there's another show that also has "element X" that doesn't sell well at all. So contrary to the barbs often thrown, the "otaku audience" doesn't just buy anything and everything that has certain elements with no discrimination or sense of taste, and increasing that "element X" isn't necessarily going to increase the show's marketability "to otaku". It's just that different people have different tastes, and when those tastes happen to coincide with a show that appeals broadly, you have a hit. And when you have people whose tastes don't coincide with that popular trend, you have bitterness seeking to find someone or something to blame.


At the end of the day, I think the only reason people treat "otaku" differently than "hardcore gamers" (or any other group of core fandom) is because there's an unfriendly image/stereotype perpetuated in the media of basically loser NEETs sitting in their parents' basements doing nothing but watching anime all day. It's always easy to pick on the anti-social losers. But these people are not your core customers because they have no money. The core customers are going to typically be singles in their 20s and 30s with good-paying jobs, no large financial responsibilities, and enough money to spare to spend generously. So when people do the sort of stereotypical "blame the otaku" thing, it's really just "blame the industry's best customers". That serves their interests ("it's *their* fault I'm not more satisfied"), but it should be completely obvious why the industry isn't going to do that.

Should also say that there isn't necessarily a huge overlap between the people you hear doing the "big talking" on message boards and the ones who often buy. The people who can afford to buy presumably have to work. So you also have this other group of people who are "otaku" on forums (they live and breathe anime discussion all day), but aren't actually part of the "core customers". There is no doubt a group of core customers who don't make their presence known on message boards and just continue to buy what interests them. That all may further tilt the impression people have.


At the end of the day, I totally agree with this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midonin View Post
On some level, these niches probably do exist - the anime fandom is a wide and varied collection of subfandoms begrudgingly working together. But even those niches are more varied than surface impressions might give, and I think, out of a story, we're all looking for the same resonance in the end.
Wide-brushed stereotypes can't possibly capture the subtleties of each person's individual tastes, and even when tastes appear to overlap, you don't even know how much of this is due to "otaku" and how much of this is due to going beyond the "otaku walls". Anime can appeal to anyone who might watch and, when people put aside the labels, can often appeal to anyone regardless of whether they'd consider themselves "otaku" or not. It seems to me that the labels are just a crutch people use to hold on to their bitterness and explain why things either a) aren't as good as they used to be, or b) aren't as good as they think they should be, mostly because they themselves aren't happy that other people are apparently being "catered to" and not them.
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Last edited by relentlessflame; 2012-10-10 at 23:27. Reason: fix typo...
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