Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

The roughly mid-90's and earlier (generally pre-Toonami, pre-anime boom) era of anime & manga fandom: early cons, clubs, tape trading, Nth Generation VHS fansubs, old magazines & fanzines, fandubs, ancient merchandise, rec.arts.anime, and more!
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BadMediaKarma
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Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by BadMediaKarma »

I know this question has been touched on in other threads before, but as a newer fan of anime, I'm interested in hearing older fans' perspective on the current anime fandom. What do you like/dislike about anime fandom at present? How has it changed and what do you miss? Are you still involved in the community? Why or why not?

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by mbanu »

Anime middle-schooler here -- my era was pre-streaming, post VHS, the great Pirate Wave of anime fandom when anime clubs started to die off and torrenting websites started taking their place, for better and worse. (^_^)

Variety of anime available today is similar to during the pirate wave, but it's legal! Also most of it is new, as opposed to being an archive of everything that had existed between the 70s and 00s.

I think in terms of new content being produced, this era will probably be remembered in a similar way to the 80s OAV boom; right now Chinese investors are basically hurling sacks of cash at Japanese animation studios trying to buy their way into controlling the Japanese production committees, and the committees are fighting this by taking the money and then subdividing it over so many shows that the Chinese still don't have a controlling stake. A byproduct of this is that a lot of weird anime ideas that never would have gotten funding before can get funding now, assuming animators can be found to animate it. This being the other byproduct -- they are working the existing animators into the ground in order to produce the quantity of content being produced, which can't be healthy.

American media companies are starting to become interested in anime as the market for television continues to die off. In some ways this seems like the final stage of the goal of otaku back in the 80s, to get anime being supported by the big guys (although I won't try to speak for anyone here). One side-effect of this though is that a lot of the stuff that smaller fan-oriented licensors learned are needing to be re-learned, as big companies try to do stuff like offer closed captioned dubtitles rather than proper subtitles, etc.

Even though there is a lot of anime out there right now, finding anime is actually not harder, due to things like the Anime News Network Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, Sakugabooru, and other database sites that let you do something like say, "I like this director and I like this manga author; did they ever work together?" That's really something.

However, as the old Pirate Wave sites die off, you do sometimes find yourself in the situation where you know a show exists, but is unlicensed and whatever fansubs did exist aren't available anymore, which is a little weird, although probably a lot more familiar to true Old School fans. (^_^)

The "doing" section of anime fandom seems to have moved from creating fansubs to creating cosplay. Not a bad thing (the cosplay out there now is pretty crazy), but it also means that some indie stuff that in an older era would have made it into English somehow never does now. Like you can find some pretty cool stuff on Nico Nico and Japanese YouTube that doesn't quite follow the traditional anime market so sort of becomes lost to the wider English-language anime fandom, like capstone projects at animator schools, animated commercials and music videos, and Japanese meme culture stuff (although sometimes these do burst through, like "Onara-Gorou" which was a traditional anime made by a director known for mostly making online trolling shorts, and of course you have traditional anime adaptions of online comics like One Punch Man).

The anime clubs that are left seem to have figured out some secret to the question, "What is the point of an anime club when you don't have to go there to get anime?" although I don't know what the answer is today. Hopefully it is something stable; anime clubs are good for people, I think.
mbanu: What's between Old School and New School?
runesaint: Hmmm. "Middle School", perhaps?

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by davemerrill »

Anime fandom right now seems to be very fragmented. People follow specific series or creators or genres, and have almost zero exposure to series or creators or genres that aren't in their area of interest. I don't know if this is a positive or a negative. When I got into Japanese animation fandom, "anime" was a big pot everybody filled their bowl from; anime clubs would show episodes of SF robot shows, girls soap opera, historical fantasy, martial arts, romantic comedies, and everything in between, and we'd be exposed to shows we might not ordinarily see while waiting for our favorites to start. Even if we weren't fans of a specific genre or series, we'd at least know about it in a general sense.

On the other hand, for the modern-day curious anime fan, it's never been easier to check out an episode or two of a show and see if it's to your taste, and we don't have to waste a lot of time (or a blank tape) on a film or TV show we might not enjoy.

The field is so much larger now than it was in 1985 or 1995; it's probably foolish to expect the modern day fandom to have a lot in common with how things were back then. I don't know of anyone that has the kind of overall grasp of the whole field that we (mistakenly thought) we had back in the day.

In terms of Japanese animation itself, I find there are a few shows every season and a few films every year that I wind up watching and enjoying, and a big middle section of things that just aren't of interest, and a few things that are abysmally lousy. I don't feel the need to keep up with everything, and even the things I keep up with I feel pretty casual about.

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by SteveH »

I don't think there IS an 'anime fandom' currently. Oh, there's lots of people watching Japanese cartoons, there's heated discussions over at ANN and likely other places, Twitter and Instagram are awash with memes and other things but...fandom? Where is anything that has any reach, any growth, anything other than mayfly of-the-moment excitement? Where are the shrines, where are the info databases, where is there anything but blind consuming of the moment?

Dave has the right of it regarding how anime is consumed now, but what is the WHY? Has anything taken over someone's life the way the shows of old have?

Can anything made in the current world serve as catalyst anime? That singular event that pushes a person from mere consumer to active fanatic? Is any of the interchangeable, disposable, endlessly copied MOE/harem/lolicon nonsense even worthy of being a catalyst anime?

What discussion there is reeks of entitlement and pseudo-intellectualism. People throw around Japanese words-staff titles, technical terms, the 'inside language' of production- in casual ways without need to do so. A writer is a writer, a showrunner is a showrunner, it's not a magic incantation. (of course that's part of the instinctive need to 'gatekeep', to keep the thing a special secret club that you have to be in to understand)

I dunno. I'm glad people watch anime but I really don't think there's gonna be a whole bunch of people gathering to talk about whatever flavor of the moment show is the current darling 20 years from now.

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by DKop »

So what you're saying Steve is we really don't have a "fandom" today, but more like a "band-wagon" type fandom.

I mean we're not the only people to see it. I know Daryl Surat theory on the avg fan life span is at most 2-3 years. They get hard into it and consume what they can, then eventually they tapper off and forget all about it. I feel that's how it is for a lot of things, especially video games. Love it or hate it, Fortnite is the hottest thing at this moment, it's what the kids wanna talk about the most that has their interest 110 percent, when only a couple of years ago Overwatch was the hottest thing that did just about the same thing. The thing is trends aren't meant to last long, so the next thing has to show up for people to be obsessed over.

This works as a double edge sword. Trends bring in money, and money is the life blood of a property to survive. Once that's dried up, the property dies, so does it fans. At the same time, trends don't have that kind of heart or passion involved that's meant to be enjoyed for a decade or more in the future, so only the "true" fans of something stick with it no matter if it ever gets brought back to popularity. Anime works as a medium because there's been so many hot trends in anime that come and go, which brings in those fans.

Fandom today is based on trend mentality, and sadly that's how it's going to be. I don't think anime is ever going to die out, because that would mean animation as a whole would, which has done nothing but that when you take in early animation from Walt Disney and other countries who have built their media empires on. What you have out there are two types of fans: the "trendy" fans and the "true" fans. True fans are the old geezers at anime cons that do panels on things they enjoyed and were at one point "trends" during that time that to some new fans, can see how powerful and impactful that series/movie/ova is many decades later because its earned its right to stand against the test of time. The newer generation of fans today can one day be the next generation "old guard" for their new generation of fans. We need both the new fans who catch onto the trends and the old guard to be under any fandom umbrella, otherwise there would be no fandom at all. That's my rough viewpoint on fandom when you take in everything.

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by NorthernKaleCity »

BadMediaKarma wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:50 pm
I know this question has been touched on in other threads before, but as a newer fan of anime, I'm interested in hearing older fans' perspective on the current anime fandom. What do you like/dislike about anime fandom at present? How has it changed and what do you miss? Are you still involved in the community? Why or why not?
There are several things to like about the anime fandom at present. First and foremost, you're all just as much fans as we old school are. The new generations go to conventions much like we did growing up, you have friends who enjoy anime just like we do, and I'm pretty sure you have your room decked out in what you love to watch, read or flat out enjoy.

To dislike anything about the anime fandom today would be like telling our own kids that, "Your anime is NOTHING like my anime." Imagine hearing that from your parents, whom could have been the very same people to have given you a foot in the door into the world of anime or manga. Disliking the anime fandom today, would be like someone disliking our anime fandom, when we were young.

How has it changed? It's changed for the better, right? Whatever you want, is practically at your fingertips, and who doesn't want that?

What do I miss? Absolutely nothing. I have everything I could possibly want or need now, and I'm certainly old enough to appreciate its value now that I'm in my 40's. My dumbass kid self back in the day would have NEVER imagined, how incredibly satisfying it would be as an anime/manga fan, in 2019.

I can't relate to the new anime or manga that's coming out today because it's being made for this generation of fans. I've already had my chance, back between 1988 and 1997, whom production houses, translation groups and the like, catered to the growing fan. The very same is happening now, but the only thing that's different, is the way that it's presented, and consumed.

Am I involved in the community still? Sort of.

The only involvement I have with the community now are how BL fans can approach me and talk shop, for the lack of a better term, because I draw adult/hentai. I have casual and hardcore yaoi fans come up to me and ask me if I can teach them how to draw their favorite characters, or help them flesh out their fan fiction stories through character exercises. If that's the only kind of involvement I have with the community now, I'm happy with that.

But to distance myself from a growing population of fans because of the, "YOUR anime is not MY anime?" mentality? Nope. I'm doing my younger self a GIANT disservice by doing so. I wish I had someone older tell me that my passion was okay and healthy for me to follow other than just my parents, and not have to be afraid to go to school without being afraid of being ridiculed, or laughed out of class for.

The old guards standing watch need to realize that the younger generation ARE us. The growing pains are going to be there, but for you new gens, you have vets you can turn to for encouragement, advice on the fandom and above all else, love for what we both enjoy.

Yeah I know, this, coming from a nerd who draws porn. Go figure.

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by davemerrill »

I think Steve has a good question when he asks if there's going to be a "catalyst anime" today, if there are properties premiering in 2019 that will have the fandom-creating impact of the properties that premiered in 1963 (Astro Boy) or 1972 (Gatchaman, Mazinger Z) or 1974 (Yamato) or 1982 (Macross) or 1995 (Evangelion, Sailor Moon) or 1999 (Pokemon).

And the answer is "no" - but that doesn't mean that the properties appearing today are better or worse, I think it has a lot to do with the environment of 1963, 1974, 1982, and 1995 being vastly different than the media environment of today. Similarly, we aren't going to see another Star Trek (or Astro Boy) show up on NBC, gather a devoted fan base, and become a pop culture icon. We aren't going to see shows create entire fandoms and cultures out of nowhere - because those cultures are already here. We already have fanzines, conventions, costuming, trivia, autographs, media releases and tie-ins, and the endless cycle of reboots, reimaginings, sequels, and rip-offs - new media properties simply get fed into the machine. If you like Evangelion, here's your Eva DVD set, your Eva cosplay, your Eva panel at the convention. If you like Devilman, here's your Devilman DVD set, your Devilman cosplay, your Devilman panel at the convention. If you like Stargate SG-1, (repeat as necessary).

We're at a point now where Japanese animation is like any other hobby, like rock climbing or comic books or mountain biking or Airsoft or model kit building or model railroading or geocaching or collecting those replica horses - it's something that's out there that people can enjoy on a casual level or on an intensely fanatical level. We don't have to be at the "fanatic" level to get past the bare minimum with Japanese animation any more, we can go as deep as we like, whenever we like. We can enjoy Space Battleship Yamato without having to join the "Earth Defense Command" and wait for a fanzine to come out twice a year - and a show like Cowboy Bebop can enjoy continuous cable airtime for two decades and still inspire print fanzines, even in this digital age.

I've honestly quit trying to predict what's going to happen in the fandom world, what the new big show every year is going to be, what's going to catch fire and what's going to have a big splash and then vanish. I would think nobody'd be making print zines any more, but print zines happen all the time. I have confidence that the world of fandom will confuse and surprise.

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by DKop »

Well Dave even back then when Yamato and Macross were getting known here, did anyone in fandom thought those titles could still have life in them 2 or 3 decades later? You're right that it is hard to predict what series will turn into a fanbase later in time, because you never know.

There's no doubt that there are some really good titles out there that can have a fanbase around them, but it seems that people want to consume it quickly and forget about it just as easily. It takes a whole lot of dedication to start a fanbase up, and I think its easier when people are given limited titles to obsess over than say an over abundance of them because they can toss that series aside and seek out something that would interest them more. The thing is with that kind of mentality, is that they're always going to be seeking, and it'll never be the right fit or never enough for them.

For me im the only Sol Bianca fanboy I know, i'd love to start a fanbase about Sol Bianca, but when it's just me, it can only go so far (The fanbase is open for anyone to join, pleeeeezzee join my fanbase ;) ;) ).

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by davemerrill »

There are so many different variables in what makes a show generate a decades-long fandom. Shows that weren't big in Japan become huge in Italy or France and something Japan goes crazy for fails to make a dent in that market, a show that Latin America goes crazy for can't get arrested in the US.

In my experience, when Star Blazers was on TV there were people who watched it every day and enjoyed it and would talk about it with their friends, and when it went off the air they didn't think much more about it. Same with Robotech, or Sailor Moon for that matter - for many people these shows become nostalgic TV memories. For others, something about them sparks a fan interest that lasts their whole lives.

I don't think we're going to see another series with the mass-market reach of these kinds of shows, because the way we watch TV has changed so completely in the past 20 years. There isn't any more "mass market." The media landscape has changed; when there is no longer a "mass media", when TV shows are aimed at smaller audiences, then the impetus to finance a mass-market, mass-appeal animated series simply isn't there. I think you're more likely to see that kind of reach in a video game or online video thing.

I do think that there are active, busy fandoms out there right now for things - yes, even anime shows - that we simply don't know exist, and that there are shows on the air right now that somebody will be drawing fan art of, or making videos about, in twenty years.

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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by Akage »

My best friend returned from attending Comiket all 3 days, and there is still a lot of 'older' series there. He's still pretty stoked about his Haruhi Suzumiya doujinshi.
BadMediaKarma wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:50 pm
What do you like/dislike about anime fandom at present? How has it changed and what do you miss?
I hate how corporate conventions have become and how much control they have at these events.

What was nice about the older conventions, even Anime Expo, was that the convention invited and controlled the guests. They weren't corporately sponsored by Viz Media, GoodSmile or whatever other company was in attendance. This lead to greater interaction between guests and attendees. But now, the arrangements with many conventions like Anime Expo is that the premium booth space is allocated to companies that bring in attendees just by their presence or are willing to bring in a guest. When a corporation brings a guest, it controls the guest, and that includes prohibiting the guest from interacting much with fans and often charging for autographs by forcing fans to buy whatever merchandise will be sold there at a hefty con price to get it signed. It's no longer an issue of who guest relations wants to invite, but rather who can their corporate sponsors bring. The attendance fee, which once included concerts, now is just an admittance fee, and if you want anything else, like autographs, concerts, etc., it's additional and extra. Even then, you're only going to be limited to the same autograph that everyone else got because the artwork, if the guest can draw, will go to the corporate sponsor instead.

I miss the more grass-root feel of the older cons. I liked when a convention got only a handful of guests and fans could line up hours ahead of time to attend their panels, concerts or get an autograph. I liked the unscripted panels of old, where you could have guests answer completely off the wall questions (or some idiot propose in front of a seiyuu) instead of the pre-scripted versions that most of them are now. I miss being able to sit down with a guest and watch them draw or talk trash about other Japanese artists they've worked with in the past. That was fun because you got to know the guest on a more personal level, even if it was through an interpreter. But now, with even smaller conventions calling in the local police to help control attendees, it's gotten absolutely absurd. By telling everyone they can attend an event when they don't have the space and the staff to control them, conventions ruin the experience for all in the name of capitalism.

The corporate nature of conventions has driven me out of attending. I used to hit around 8 conventions per year. This year, I'm looking at 3. I refuse to return to Anime Expo until they can come up with some other system that doesn't involve paying $1K for a room near the con only to spend most of my time standing in line to get autograph tickets for the following day.

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