Rant train, I choose you!
Some of you may be aware of such a thing as Desutalks, a seminar-style anime event held annually around these parts. The latest one was held last week, and lead to the creation of this bloated pile of poorly articulated ranting. A webcomic artist blogged her experience on the event in a comic form, which was promptly posted on Ylilauta (the Finnish poor man’s counterpart to 4chan) along with expectedly snarky commentary. I know, I know! Bad Nova! You don’t bring f/a/ggotry to these superior parts of the internet! But the discussion on the thread was something that I’ve been exercising my mind on while busting ass at work, and eventually it turned into an inspiration I could not overlook.
What especially seemed to stir up discussion was this strip, translated by yours truly.
My regular denizens may remember that I’ve ranted about a related phenomenon in the local scene recently, and this provided me with a little push to continue on the subject. The question of the day is: “How much anime must one watch to be a good/respectable hobbyist?” I know, it sounds pretty insipid but bear with me, mikos will be had! Observe the word hobbyist – personally, I’ve come to dislike the widely used term “anime fan”, because a fan is “…a person who is enthusiastically devoted to something, such as a band, a sports team or entertainer.” A fan implies fanatic interest in anime for the sake of itself, and this doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone who actively consume anime. But back to the topic at hand.
An interesting string of comments on the thread started with this guy:
I don’t understand this nolife anime nerd thing that one should watch 500 unknown shitty series when one could watch 50 good series?[sic] Nobody ever talks about those 450 anyway. It’s not like movie hobbyists are supposed to watch every Adam Sandler film and Uuno Turhapuro.
To which someone replied:
I’m annoyed by these guys who watch “only good series” and every other show is shit. How can you even know that you’re watching good shows if you haven’t seen bad or mediocre ones? The arrogance that you’re better hobbyists and know just as much about anime as those who have taken the effort to watch those 500 series is the greatest cancer in the anime hobby.
Some bright guy has a clue:
Crappy shows are watched so that the good ones feel even better. Watching only the best series just dulls and you sink into the state of mind that you’ve already seen everything and that anime has nothing more to offer.
This is so very much true, and probably the reason people “grow out of anime” – as you begin hoarding only the cream of the crop, there is only dullness to be found. It may well be what’s causing this:
It’s one of the things I was quick to notice when I decided to acquaint myself with the real life anime circles – a whole lot of people in them don’t actually give two craps about anime these days. They used to watch it way back when, eventually “grew out” of the medium, and decided to stick around just because they’d made a lot of friends on the way. That’s actually one thing why trying to discuss anime in real life community circles is kind of a bother, as you can never be quite sure whether the person you’re talking to has seen anything that aired since 2006. Surprisingly often all you get is “Sorry man, I don’t really watch anime these days.”
This is perhaps one of the biggest disappointments that have caused me to start drifting away from the local scene, because it’s very common to run into people who hang around conventions – or organize them – and yet haven’t watched anime, read VNs, or consumed manga at all for years. Hell, if you dig deep enough you’ll even find the subtype that takes twisted arrogant pride in this. They’ve seen it all, and have evolved to Level 2 hobbyists who are beyond the pathetic levels of modern anime. I feel nothing but contempt towards these failures. Just the use of “grown out of” uncovers them, so stay on your guard.
Doesn’t apply to everything, though.
The artist of the comic blog seemed to have misunderstood the point of the lecture, revealing that she hasn’t watched anime in three years while standing in the middle of a pile of manga in a statement of irony. No, you aren’t an anime hobbyist if you read manga but don’t watch anime. Likewise, I’m not a manga hobbyist because I read very little of it, but watch anime all the time. But maybe it was just a bad lecture – I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there. It’s regrettable that “anime” is used as the umbrella term that’s supposed to describe every single person in the scene regardless of whether they watch anime or not.
Okay, so then what makes an anime hobbyist? How many series listed on MAL could possibly earn one the much coveted title? Maybe 100, maybe 1000. Simple numeric measurement is useless, as you can have someone who has watched everything from 1997 to 2005 and nothing since. Likewise, a fledgling hobbyist could be watching everything from every season but hasn’t been at it for more than a year yet. Personally I think it’s mostly a question of attitude. If you think you’ve seen everything anime has to offer and then some, then you’re done. Go huddle in the corner with those American oldfags who quit after realizing there will never be another Cowboy Bebop, or write up 4000 word analysis on Revolutionary Girl Utena and 90’s Ghibli movies you just finished watching for the 150th time.
Better yet, consume mikos.
If you ask ol’ me, it’s not about how many series you watch in a season or a year, just as long as you fucking keep at it. Keep watching all this stuff Japs crank out, even some of those that aren’t sure winners – as one of the anons pointed out, it’s imperative that you don’t only go after the tried and true winners, creating yourself an inescapable comfort box where you sit hugging your knees staring at the wallpaper. When confronted with the common insult-question “Why do you even watch this if you’re clearly hating it?“, my instinctual answer is the bread-n’-butter “Because blogging bad shows is so much fun, and it’s what critics do.” But this is only half of the whole story. Perhaps the most important reason is that watching a wide spectrum of anime keeps my senses sharp, adds contrast to my tastes, and keeps me up to date in both good and bad.
All in all, it’s like a relationship: You can’t just expect to only get the best parts of your significant other – you get the whole ugly package, and will have to learn to deal with it. Or you can pay for a gold digger 20 years younger than you who is always hot, horny, and ready to do whatever the hell you want with a smile – I’m sure that will be a fulfilling and worth while relationship.
As for Desutalks, looks like once again I missed nothing. The only reason I go to local events these days is to meet up with friends, and discuss anime with the select few folks that I’ve found being somewhat on the same wavelength. Apparently a few Desutalks attendees were also out with this in mind, only to have their plans thwarted by the breakneck-paced programming and the afterparty full of dubstep and drunk. There’s my second big disappointment with the local anime scene – there are actually very few occasions when I could sit down and talk about anime with people. Not only because of the “I don’t watch anime, I just work here” types or the lack of suitable locations due to party animals, but also due to the nerds who have the irresistible need to argue about everything.
This is one of the greatest plagues of any nerd scene – there are a lot of people who apparently have never been able to satisfy their need to look badass at something, and thus take it out on anyone by escalating every statement into an argument and playing the devil’s advocate at every turn. Not only are these people shallow and boring, but outright tiring to interact with. And believe me, they exist in great numbers. More often than not a promising meeting of minds and tastes has turned into a clusterfuck as one or two of these people show up, later followed by the pseudo-hobbyists who pull the conversation apart. I saw enough of this shit back in the airsoft scene.
Well, about as clusterfuck as this post. I better call it quits for now. Here, a Raymoo just for you:
PS. As for the comic blog’s text part I can only state the following:
>complains about the use of the -fag suffix