Elitism within anime circles

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.

Dubbzz Suckz

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".

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

13 thoughts on “Elitism within anime circles”

  1. How about the "I watch more anime than you and use a lot of references in my lines and you dont get them cos you n00b." type of elistism?

    While these "elitisms" discussed have been talked about to death, I don’t see how the final point is one. Isn’t it more a matter of picking the superior product? The idea of buying to support something is really dumb because its your money and if not enough people are buying it, that just means the product is a failure and they need to improve it.

  2. Also, "old school" is defined as "whatever you first started watching".

    My favorite part of the "anime fans from Nigeria, or India" thing is that the "Anime is a privledge, not a right!" statement makes it seem like it’s the responsibility of these non-Americans to economically prop up the companies that serve Americans.

  3. i’ve started with anime with… lemme see…. macross… or robotech… i was too young to remember that =p.. also a bit of doraemon and some time after.. saint seiya and dragon ball (not z). were they great? not really.

    there was also the hype about watching yuyuhakusho… well, i really liked the show… but school got me and i went without watching the last two eps for a few years hehehe (got myself a copy of those eps only hmmm 10years after?). i admit there’s nothing like ‘1st time’ but.. other shows have proven themselves quite entertaining.

    now… about that part about old school… its not like that=p
    for me, old anime have some naive elements that u dont see around anymore(read innocent) so if there’s a good story… the anime is good. even if the animation is not that great. now pick some random anime of the last 3~4 years…. even crap looks good with good package y’know?. yeah, cg cg cg, wtf. i’m not saying there’s only crap nowadays. they do have great aspects that u dont see on old animes. but its a reflection of the society. anime will look different in 5~10 years again. but crappy anime… old fansubs groups did a better ‘pick up’ when subbing… now u get to see even the most swallow fanservice subbed o_0 and that great anime with good story and stuff is too boring for them.

    bah. regardless… like ppl who dont watch anime says: "quit complaining, u’re just complaining about cartoons anyway" so lets stop here

    =============

    ah, i’m also a purist about dubbing. but just for some reference… portuguese(brazil) CardCaptorSakura didn’t go ‘hoeeee’ =(

  4. Is there also "I’m watching this ultra elite new show called The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi (or any new anime) and you’re still watching Inuyasha? What a n00b!"?

  5. lol, and i was reminiscent of watching nadesico this very morning o_0. on a second though.. its not a bad idea… since i saw the 60mb realmedia ones y’know? heh

    at least its not cgspaceship[e.g. archangel-gundamseed] + dull background ^^

    btw, ruri² ftw :3

  6. How about, ‘ I don’t know you, so you must be a nobody? ‘ Some people, especially those who belongs to an anime club, just because I asked them some questions, presumes that their knowledge is far superior, when, in reality, I have been watching anime and organizing various club activities before they were even conceived in their mother’s womb.

  7. >> tj han: While these "elitisms" discussed have been talked about to death, I don’t see how the final point is one. Isn’t it more a matter of picking the superior product?

    I’ll agree with you if your domestic DVDs are of seriously inferior quality (we’re talking sub-standard picture, dub-only etc). If your being needlessly picky – like constantly importing due to release dates or cover-art – then I see it as a case of elitism, since your importing is an intentional snub to your local DVD industry. As an anime fan, you’re in a position to help spread the word to the rest of your countrymen – by sending your money abroad you’re ading in the limitation of your industry, essentially cutting off the majority of anime fandom from its most basic of sources; and in turn, preventing others from potentially becoming anime fans. That’s where I see the elitism. Consistently importing is an attempt to starve your local industry of finance; without your support they will never improve.

  8. How about "Evangelion is a marvelous, fantastic (insert a thousand adjectives here) piece of art and if you can’t understand it, it’s because you’re a dumbass who just can’t appreciate its beauty and the intrincate plot it has"? Because I’ve seen that a lot :P

  9. off-topic: cool bit about being able to upload an avatar. I couldn’t resist.

    My "favourite" elitism of the moment (although I do learn a bit from it) is the writing-in-Japanese of sentences and words in text and title and NOT explain (not even via mouseover) what’s written there.

    Yup ^^

  10. Har, good points, I have kinda fell foul of the dub slating and i was quiet annoyed? by the whole naruto on uk tv thing, mainly because i didnt like the idea of people seeing it for what it really was, if that makes any sense. I mean, the onepiece dub is notorious in its butchering, not that i actually saw it myself but after reading up on it and then checking episodes its just… ugh, horrible.

    But, i think im growing out of my elitist phase, i mean i can nod my head when i hear a good dub… things like bebop, flcl, abenobashi… they work. That said you still get those series where it feels like they havent hired "actors" as such, things that are so american it makes you cringe, e.g. happy lesson.

    my 2peneth – christ what a bump too…

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