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Old 2011-09-06, 21:10   Link #1
Suzuku
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Why don't "normal" people like otaku anime?

I just thought about this recently when I was over a friends house, but it's really difficult for me to understand why "normal" people don't like "otaku" anime. When I say otaku anime, I mean shows like Steins;Gate, TB, Anohana, Madoka, etc. I can show my friends Naruto or Bleach and they'll watch it all day but if I try to get them to watch TB or Death Note they don't want to. I mean, the plots are better, the characters are better developed, animation quality is higher, etc etc. It just boggles my mind why these shows can't appeal to normal people, in America at least. I mean, do most people just find watching a cartoon for actual plot not enjoyable?
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Old 2011-09-06, 21:19   Link #2
Ichuki
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Originally Posted by Suzuku View Post
I just thought about this recently when I was over a friends house, but it's really difficult for me to understand why "normal" people don't like "otaku" anime. When I say otaku anime, I mean shows like Steins;Gate, TB, Anohana, Madoka, etc. I can show my friends Naruto or Bleach and they'll watch it all day but if I try to get them to watch TB or Death Note they don't want to. I mean, the plots are better, the characters are better developed, animation quality is higher, etc etc. It just boggles my mind why these shows can't appeal to normal people, in America at least. I mean, do most people just find watching a cartoon for actual plot not enjoyable?
I think that watching cartoon/anime for plot is not enjoyable to westerners true because usually the cartoons that western viewers watch usually don't have plots and probably treat it like it's not so serious.
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Old 2011-09-06, 21:33   Link #3
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Among males, there seems to be much aversion to the the bishoujo/moe aesthetic of many shows (nor are they interested in stories that focus so strongly on the female characters). These are dismissed as "girly" or "for perverts". Meanwhile, the bishounen aesthetic is effeminate.

I don't think mecha has garnered a ton of interest either. However, titles like Afro Samurai and Cowboy Bebop were strong sellers before.

I'm not really familiar with either Naruto or Bleach, but I understand that thematically and artistically, they cater to the lowest common denominator. That means a better chance of attracting viewers (much like how sitcoms and reality TV are better at attracting people than genres catering to specific interests, such as science fiction), plus it helps that everyone talks about those shows.
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Old 2011-09-06, 21:59   Link #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzuku View Post
I can show my friends Naruto or Bleach and they'll watch it all day but if I try to get them to watch TB or Death Note they don't want to. I mean, the plots are better, the characters are better developed, animation quality is higher, etc etc.
That's a pretty bold and most likely un-informed statement right there, but anyway...


I wouldn't consider something like Death Note or Steins;Gate an "otaku anime". Using examples from the current season I feel an "Otaku anime" would be more along the lines of Ro-Kyu-Bu or Yuruyuri, usually things that feature cute girls and/or an abundance of fetishes for the viewer. Something only the most hardcore of folks in the anime fandom would appreciate. Series' with actual complex plots and that deal with serious realistic issues can have "otaku elements" included in them, but they still break out of the mold of the "otaku anime".

Madoka Magica would be a very hard one to classify and get people who don't usually watch anime interested in, because on the surface it indeed does appear as an "otaku anime" with the rather cute characters and very girlish concept, yet everyone who actually watches it knows it's actual content is rather dark and harsh-in-tone. I think the best solution is to watch these series' with your friends IN PERSON. Show them yourself that it is indeed something worth investing their time in. Just words don't always have the best convincing effect on people. They need to actually see it themselves to make proper judgement.


But I think the main reason anime in general is usually disregarded in the west is because it's animated. Usually the default connection people make is that animation=cartoons=for kids.
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Old 2011-09-06, 22:07   Link #5
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I think expectations might have a lot to do with it. Anime can have a high barrier of entry if you're not open minded to new cultural context. If you watch anime long enough you get desensitized to that and forget that normal people just don't get anything with a show as it's very... Japanese. If you had never seen anime before, and weren't expecting anything insightful or particularly artistic, then Bleach and Naruto are pretty appealing - especially for their target demographic. What I would recommend as "starter anime" and the "best of anime" would be fairly different.
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Old 2011-09-06, 22:11   Link #6
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Originally Posted by SilverSyko View Post
I wouldn't consider something like Death Note or Steins;Gate an "otaku anime".
While Steins;Gate may not be an otaku anime exclusively, it has a lot of otaku humor and jokes that you just won't get unless you're at the very least an experienced anime watcher. Death Note is definitely not, though. It has a very broad appeal, and actually played a large part in getting me back into anime.

A lot of anime is not made for a general audience, and you shouldn't expect everyone to like it. If you're really passionate about spreading the gospel, make a reasoned argument, or do as SilverSyko suggested, sit down and watch a couple of episodes of said series with your friends and see if they convert.

And if not, hey, there's still a huge fanbase out there for anime, so don't worry about it.
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Old 2011-09-06, 22:17   Link #7
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Sometimes its as simple as "its hard to read the subtitles". An action show like Naruto.... not that big a deal. A verbally dense show like, say, either of the -gatari series? Joe Average's brains shut down.

Its not much different than comparing "NCIS: Los Angeles" versus a show like, say, "Inspector Lewis" of Masterpiece Theatre. One is a 'cartoon' in the one inch deep sense - the other actually requires paying attention. And I'm not saying that to be rude but rather an observation of motivation.

A lot of series labeled "otaku" can be just as enjoyable to someone who "doesn't get the references" - it is simply that the other aspects are well-done or appealing.
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Old 2011-09-06, 22:52   Link #8
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I'd label Stein's Gate as a pretty Otaku show. I'd also not label Tiger and Bunny or Death Note as Otaku shows, they have more mainstream appeal.

That said, your friends seem to fall into a larger group of westerners with little regard for Japanese Animation, or, in fact, anything foreign.

It's a hard thing to break down. Some of us are naturally drawn to foreign film, including Anime. My guess is that most people who are Otaku also are more likely to consume foreign films of all sorts generally. Meanwhile some people find it hard to get their heads around foreign stuff. They label stylistic elements as funny, weird or inferior often not realising that our own cinema does it just as much, though differently, and a way that they're so accustomed to that it seems "invisible".

I don't think it's impossible to get people into Anime or Foreign cinema, but for some people it's more difficult then with others. Generally the issues are breaking down barriers. There are usually 4 types of barriers you need to break down:

1. The Language Barrier: It takes a while to get used to subtitles.
2. The Cultural Barrier: These guys are eating rice for breakfast? Japanese people are crazy
3. The Genre Barrier: I don't watch that stuff because it's all girly and/or crap.
4. The Stylistic Barrier: What's with these odd camera angles and long periods of silence?

Generally, I'd focus on breaking one Barrier at a time. Otherwise the person will shut themselves off to the thing in question. The obvious one is the Language Barrier, you need to find something they'd usually be willing to watch in English, in this case something like Bleach/Naruto but in the original Japanese with subtitles. That or you could try something more European, for instance Downfall if they're into WW2. Or you could go for something that is very stylistically western, in Anime terms the best example is Cowboy Bebop. Give them no choice and present it to them in Japanese in subtitles. Once they're used to subtitles it all flows from there.

After that you have to start breaking the other barriers, which are usually easier. Generally, the best way is actually a blitzkrieg. If you can find something that they will like, but they think they won't, and get them to watch it (somehow...) then you can completely break through all their preconceived notions. If you can shatter them with one thing they might (correctly) assume there is more out there and that they need to open their minds a bit.

This is something that happened with me. I initially was very dismissive of Anime, though I wasn't averse to subtitled foreign stuff. Anyway I stumbled on Ouran High School Host Club, something I would never actually have admitted the possibility of liking prior to my seeing it. When I watched it and enjoyed it it completely broke through all my preconceived notions and forced me to reevaluate my viewing habits. I started to be a lot more adventurous.

However you could also argue that I was already quite primed to like Anime given my previously held high esteem for foreign Cinema, and ability to read subtitles.
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Old 2011-09-07, 00:56   Link #9
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This is an excellent thread topic by Suzuku, and its already been met with some great responses (I particularly liked the ones by Afterstep and DonQuigleone).

There are only a few points I would add to theirs...

1) There's no accounting for taste. Some shows, and even some entire genres, really are an acquired taste, and not everybody is going to like them, regardless of quality level in a general sense. Most of us here probably have at least one or two widely highly regarded "otaku shows" that we don't like. I myself was not particularly fond of Elfen Lied, for example, as its level of gore is simply not for me. Elfen Lied might be a very high quality show in general, but the level of gore in it was an almost instant turn-off for me. It's possible that some shows you introduce to your friends will have an element or two in them that are complete "deal-breakers" like that. From your perspective it will be understandably unfortunate, but from their perspective, it may be a perfectly legitimate taste issue.

With this in mind...


2) I think that many Bleach, Naruto, and/or One Piece fans simply have a strong taste for fighting action-driven shows that tend to start off with a bang, and then just get completely taken up with ongoing conflicts.

Something like Anohana is the absolute last thing I'd try to transition them into (not "last thing" in the sense of "never", but "last thing" in the sense of trying other "otaku shows" you like before you try one like this). Anohana is just about the diametric opposite of these big shonen titles. You'll probably need a bridge anime or two before hardcore shonen fans can absorb pure life drama and/or slice of life. I myself had to go through shows like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (helpful in part since the sci-fi premise can appeal to otakus and non-otakus alike) before I could appreciate a character-driven life drama-esque show like Anohana.

That being said, I'm kind of disappointed that Tiger and Bunny wasn't doing the trick there. It's pretty close to the big shonen titles in the sense of similar fighting action appeals. It also has almost no moe to speak of, so even if your friends simply can't handle moe, Tiger and Bunny shouldn't have lost them on that alone.

This brings me to my next point....


3) A lot of people watch anime for the social experience as much as for the actual enjoyment taken from watching the anime content alone. In other words, getting to talk about the show with fellow viewers can often be a big part of the appeal for watching it in the first place.

The big shonen titles have an obvious edge here - Massive fanbases. Countless people to talk to about the shows. At a psychological level, your "normal" friends might be looking at these latest shows and thinking "Is this really worth the time investment? Once I'm done watching these shows, will there be anybody I can talk to about it other than *insert your real name here* himself?"

With this in mind, maybe it would be a good idea to show your friends the lengthy and passionate discussions that a show like Madoka Magica spurred. Maybe even the discussions right here on Anime Suki.

I know that becoming a member of Anime Suki opened up a lot of doors for me, when it came to noticing people talking a lot about anime shows I wasn't familiar with, which in turn helped to generate interest in those shows for me.

Now, tying this all back together...


4) Try to find out what, exactly, about these shows is turning them off. Ask them if the sheer aesthetics of Madoka Magica is a turn-off for them (in which case, most magical girl anime may simply be a non-starter for them). Ask them if subs instead of dubs is an issue for them (if so, it might be a good idea to find an older "otaku show" that's already been dubbed to use as a bridge show for them).

Once you know what the "deal-breaking" element is, try to find an otaku show that doesn't have that element, and introduce your friends to that.
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Old 2011-09-07, 01:44   Link #10
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Otaku anime are for otaku. Let otaku watch them, why do *I* have to suffer through them?
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Old 2011-09-07, 01:53   Link #11
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The "otaku" word in the thread title is loaded. I prefer calling non-mainstream anime as "obscure". It sounds better, and it doesn't carry the stigma people associate otaku with.
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Old 2011-09-07, 02:14   Link #12
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The term "Otaku anime", in this thread, is basically being used to mean "Hasn't yet penetrated into the mainstream North American marketplace".

That's certainly not my definition for "Otaku show", but then I see what Suzuku is getting at there, and I honestly don't know if there's a better short-hand for it.
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Old 2011-09-07, 02:24   Link #13
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In my opinion, as there are many old adults, anime for them is no more or less different from Western cartoons that are for kids only, that is also or probably the same reason why parents in some countries when they see nudity or panties being exposed in "anime cartoons" are kinda weird, and that's why some don't appreciate it even though the plot are nice...

They prefer humor, action drama and simple but not complicated to understand. Just look on those anime that were shown when we were young (Yuyu Hakusho, Doraemon, Remy, Hunter x Hunter, Mojako, Dragonball etc).

Hey if our parents appreciate them, why not us more?
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Old 2011-09-07, 02:27   Link #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJR View Post
Among males, there seems to be much aversion to the the bishoujo/moe aesthetic of many shows (nor are they interested in stories that focus so strongly on the female characters). These are dismissed as "girly" or "for perverts". Meanwhile, the bishounen aesthetic is effeminate.
Hehe... yeah, I'm a unrepentant fan of the bishoujo/moe aesthetic, focusing on female characters, and even the occassional "cute shouta" or flashy bishounen... let's just say its not something I tend to go around advertising.

I do occassionally subtle hints for those in the know, but even that can be hard.

Edit: Although, I often think Madoka's "cute and twisted" sensibilities might prove accessible to a fairly wide if hardly mainstream audience.
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Old 2011-09-07, 02:39   Link #15
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Otaku anime is just anime that lacks appeal to groups outside otakus. If you aren't a typical anime viewer, would it be an appealing show? Of course if it's just a bad show then it's not otaku, it's just shit.

There are many reasons anime that is more otaku in nature doesn't have the appeal to mainstream western audiences.

Take something like Madoka.

Visual style is strange, and it's not at all what western cartoons or disney looks like.

Main cast is a bunch of 12 year old girls.

Magical girl genre.

These things are all too foreign and alien to the minds of western audiences. It becomes hard to embrace this, and the people who do are people familiar with anime and it's ticks.

Still really, anime often tries to build complete story lines often about very mundane things. Take any slice of life show like Usagi Drop and try to get any western viewer to comprehend it if they're not familiar with anime. They tend to not be so accepting of such things. Western television and many western main stream movies are all about capturing the audience's attention very fast with a thrilling first episode. There's no build up.

Anime tends to like to weave and construct a plot like many books. This isn't very appealing. It's not easily digestible entertainment. It takes time to understand, and fully appreciate many anime shows.

However, your remarks that TB and Death Note are more "otaku" shows are off the mark. Those two are some of the more western appealing shows out there.
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Old 2011-09-07, 03:03   Link #16
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Take something like Madoka.

Visual style is strange, and it's not at all what western cartoons or disney looks like.
Indeed... but, I remember helping my uncle pick up his new 60 inch plasma a few months back and him commenting how he wanted to rent Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland when a demo clip of that came on. I made a bit of a note to introduce him to Madoka at some point, as I don't think the appeals are that dissimiliar.

Also, Madoka is 14 not 12. I suppose that you could say newbies would perceive her as being around twelve and I'd be hard pressed to disagree, although personally I've seldom had trouble with this even going back to my early days as an anime fan.
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Old 2011-09-07, 03:18   Link #17
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One thing about this "Otaku Show" definition is whether if you are referring to being Otaku for a Japanese audience, Western audience or audience as a whole. Another related question is, when something is "Mainstream", are you referring to it by Western or Eastern Standards?
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Old 2011-09-07, 03:19   Link #18
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Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
Otaku anime is just anime that lacks appeal to groups outside otakus. If you aren't a typical anime viewer, would it be an appealing show? Of course if it's just a bad show then it's not otaku, it's just shit.

There are many reasons anime that is more otaku in nature doesn't have the appeal to mainstream western audiences.

Take something like Madoka.

Visual style is strange, and it's not at all what western cartoons or disney looks like.

Main cast is a bunch of 12 year old girls.

Magical girl genre.

These things are all too foreign and alien to the minds of western audiences. It becomes hard to embrace this, and the people who do are people familiar with anime and it's ticks.
Agreed.

My sense is that, outside of a handful of properties (Ghibli movies, big shonen titles, Sailor Moon, etc...), anime isn't something you can easily be a casual fan of.

You pretty much have to learn the more common anime tropes, and come to at least tolerate them. To some degree, you probably also need to immerse yourself a bit in the anime subculture.


Quote:
Still really, anime often tries to build complete story lines often about very mundane things. Take any slice of life show like Usagi Drop and try to get any western viewer to comprehend it if they're not familiar with anime. They tend to not be so accepting of such things. Western television and many western main stream movies are all about capturing the audience's attention very fast with a thrilling first episode. There's no build up.
Agreed.


Quote:

Anime tends to like to weave and construct a plot like many books. This isn't very appealing. It's not easily digestible entertainment. It takes time to understand, and fully appreciate many anime shows.
Right. So the question becomes is the viewer willing to make the time investment necessary to "get" more otaku-esque anime, and appreciate their narratives and characters?

If not, well, the hurdle probably won't be crossed. Which is a shame, because once you get over that initial hurdle, there's a lot of great anime shows to be seen, imo.
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Old 2011-09-07, 08:41   Link #19
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Originally Posted by fanty View Post
Otaku anime are for otaku. Let otaku watch them, why do *I* have to suffer through them?
I agree with this completely lol. Just watch what you like watching. Making someone watch something that they don't like is not benefiting anyone. and I thought the thread starter was going to mention super otaku anime like lucky star or clannad or k-on whatever other anime with manipulative drama and or fanservice and lolis and all that etcetc (That's what i personay consider otaku anime AND as far as those anime just let the otaku watch it. they can try to make a big deal out of those anime as much as they want on the internet but they doesn't mean i have to watch it. but they can watch it as much as they please). wasn't death note on cartoon network so it's not even otaku.
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Old 2011-09-07, 08:55   Link #20
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You really have to split Anime into 4 categories:

1. Mainstream programming in West (EG cowboy Bebop, Naruto)
2. Mainstream programming in Japan (Kaiji)
3. Obscure programming( Tatami Galaxy)
4. Otaku programming (Clannad)

Otaku Anime is generally obscure, but obscure anime is not necessarily Otaku.

Likewise a mainstream program in Japan will not nessecarily make it big in the west. Observe the popularity of Sports shows for instance. Big in Japan, more obscure over here.

Each of those categories face different challenges when encountered by the mainstream audience. Obviously 1 only has issues with people who hate animation generally. 2 has intercultural problems that all popular Japanese entertainment faces. 3 has the same problems as art films have(This is too different!). 4, the Otaku stuff, faces the most issues, similiar to what most nerd oriented programming does. Arguably it faces more problems as certain Otaku tastes are at odds with the greater majority.
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