For many people being an anime fan is like holding on to precious secret deep within one’s soul – and if said secret were suddenly revealed, it would lose all value and be cast aside like last weeks old news. Mirroring the music scene when the underground trendy band signs for a major record label only for their so-called hardcore fans to (forget the music) then cry "sell out" in disgust, anime fandom is rife with its own detestable levels of elitism and superiority complexes. Is it human nature that people seek out obscure tastes in order to feel different, as if being a part of something unannounced will validate their cultural superiority? In other words, would you still be an anime fan if everyone – even your mum – watched The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya?
Old school anime is better than this new crap!
A particularly classic elitist sentiment that crops up inside many older fans is how anime went bad after Akira and Ghost in the Shell exploded into the global mainstream a decade ago. I’m not sure if it’s simply a case of old age (and therefore, old brains), but many fans over the age of 30 appear to have trouble watching (let alone praising) anything beyond Tenchi Muyo! or the original Macross series, an attitude that smacks of a quite desperate attempt to cling on to an unpopular era long since departed, a hopeless try at maintaining ones superiority over those damn annoying newbies and their stupid Naruto headbands.
I’m quite familiar with the dub elitist slant, largely because I am a film purist myself. It’s almost as if there is this silent agreement amongst anime fans that any kind of foreign dubbing of anime is rubbish by default. In worst cases, this ignorance extends itself to the discrimination of dub fans and actors at conventions, where said people are sometimes booed and heckled in public while trying to hold an intelligent and mature panel.
The fansub divide
If you frequent any popular anime forums, you’ll find yourself on one side or the other — fansubs or no fansubs. Both points of view frequently clash – each time with the same baseless arguments cropping up. The American DVD fans would like to see fansubs disappear because they have served their purpose — but what about the anime fans from Nigeria, or India, what do they do when fansubs disappear; import the American DVDs of course! "But I have no money!" "Oh well, anime is a privilege not a right!"
Typically the most hardcore fansub supporters are basically pirates. Bandai have recently asked the community not to distribute fansubs of Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society, and honestly there is no true value in producing a free copy of Solid State Society when it’s backed by such a well known franchise – we all know about Ghost in the Shell, it doesn’t need a fansub. But there will be one anyway, because it’s free. We have no morals.
Forget your domestic DVD market, import away!
Living in the UK we constantly struggle in the shadow of US anime DVDs (and US anime DVDs in the shadow of Japan etc). They have better picture quality, better artwork and more extras. To invest in our domestic DVD industry is a waste of money. Forget the fact that in doing so you are supporting better quality releases in the future, aiding in the development of your own local anime community. It’s all about me, me, me.
This importing issue, and many of the other points raised, relate directly back to whether or not you wish to see your obscure little hobby make inroads into your dumb friends’ DVD collection, in other words, whether you wish maintain your unique, trendy identity as an anime fan and not become one of those "deaf mutes".