Cynicism in Otakudom

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If you are an anime fan, upon seeing the above image you have pulled forth your opinion on the subject matter.  You’re either happy that I’ve went out of my way to post K-On on my page (this will be a rare occurrence) or you’re withholding your rage for the, honestly, innocuous junk that is moe.  However, this is just a demonstration of the broader prevalence of cynicism in the anime community.

Probably as a result of, and parallel to, the “rise” of hipsterism as a subculture, anime subculture has become increasingly skeptical of widely appreciated series and large fandoms.  It’s happened to all of us in some way or another.  I know that I have become an opponent, to a fault, of any series that has too much fan-service, spends too much time not developing its plot, or which every other word is “Uguu~!”  This is a problem when my attempts to be pleasantly biased against aforementioned problems become distorted to the point where I ignite the pyres for these kinds of series.

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It’s a problem when major series like Code Geass, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Madoka, and, more recently, Sword Art Online are ridiculed for their minor flaws when we as a sub-culture aren’t looking back at our roots.  Sure, there is something to be said about nostalgia, but consider the fact that the majority of anime fans claim to “love” Dragonball Z or Pokemon.  These shows are much more flawed than, admittedly, 90% of the series making it on air these days – and that includes the plethora of slice of life shows that mostly involve relational drama and comedy (which is only arguably on a higher ground than 90’s shounen anime).

Entertainment in anime has improved.  Vastly.  The writing in anime in recent years has outclassed the majority of anime’s previous scripts, but to what end?  Despite the fact that the anime community has been provided with incredibly interesting stories, the growth of interest in the community is only marginal.  Additionally, phenomenally diverse and unique series are met by disdain because of their fandom or simply out of obstinance.

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I’m not trying to say that some fandoms don’t suck.  I’ve went into that in-depth, before.  The fact of the matter is, some things are worth experiencing despite their faults and it’s not worth an individual’s time to ridicule, in general, and much less before having given adequate time for review and contemplation.  That’s right, I’m basically saying that people need to stop hating things before they’ve watched them, which should be anecdotal, anyway.

While I doubt that the hate for organized and large fandoms will ever go away, I think it’s worth mentioning that there are a couple more problems that are extremely prevalent in the subbed anime culture.  There has always been a hipster-like smugness associated with the culture and that is that a general subbed viewer finds himself superior to a dubbed viewer because “he saw the series before it was cool.”   There is definitely nothing wrong with seeing a series before it receives widespread release (I gladly give my money to Crunchyroll every month), but to do so only to revel in glory when your show receives praise only to cast it away after it reaches mainstream popularity is a problem with our culture, entirely.  That being said, it’s an easy hole to fall into.  I do my best to proliferate the knowledge of a series I thoroughly enjoyed rather than hoard it until it reaches those who would prefer to watch a series in their native language.  Selfish anime viewing makes people skeptical of you along with your opinions.

Burst Angel - Bakuretsu Tenshi
15 minutes trying to find a “cool” Burst Angel picture…I forgot that this was an impossibility.

As a final note, it’s important to distinguish between cynicism and criticism.  The cynicism that I’m talking about that is abundant in anime culture is that which is bitter and, usually, baseless.  Criticism, on the other hand, is a good and healthy thing.  For example, you are asked,”Why don’t you like Burst Angel?”  A cynic replies “I hate the way it looks.  I don’t like the genre.  I don’t like you if you like it.” whereas a critic would explain his reasoning, “While the character of Jo was relatively well-written, she did not have a personality that allowed her to stand out from the remainder of the cast.  The animation was also inconsistent, and there was no cohesiveness to the plot being put forth.  On the other hand, Burst Angel: Infinity almost atones for its evil stepfather by correcting a lot of the problems with the original series.”

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I love a good conversation about anime, and it’s about time that we as a community both begin breaking our comfort zones in what we watch and also have serious discussions about the reasons we like or dislike things.  Seeing a broader spectrum lets us know why we like things and why we dislike things, rather than just learning that a specific series is entertaining or not.  My attempt – I’m watching Vividred Operation this season despite the fact that I know there will be needless fan-service and buckets of cuteness.

What are you doing to help you form constructive opinions on anime?

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