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

Post by Guyver I »

I think there are some decent differences between "the old days" and the new, and like others have said, that doesn't necessarily mean one is good, and the other bad. I would argue, on some level however, that the fandom of the past had a bit more substance, in terms of participation, whereas newer fandom is a bit more passive.

In-between working on a few projects and finishing up PhD applications (which is why I've been absent for a good while - hey everybody!), I've been buying up old fanzines and early convention programs as research for a long-delayed project I hope to start devoting time to in the next month or two. Reading these, you really get the sense, not only of the "newness" of the medium itself, but the enthusiasm among the fans about the prospect of bringing it to a wider audience, of sharing it with folks. And, I don't think that's something that can be replicated at this point, just because the medium itself isn't "new," to the larger American culture, as it was then.
But also, just the time and effort put into fanzine creation; into convention organizing and, as others have mentioned previously, the recording and distributing of tapes; into the creation of things like the Anipike and all those zillions of Geocities and Angelfire fan webpages - I don't see that level of participation in newer fandom. Not because "these kids are lazy!"; but rather, those were activities undertaken, I'd say partly for enjoyment or personal satisfaction, but also just because that was the way members of the fandom connected, which just isn't the case anymore. There are other, unarguably more-effective avenues of fan communication now. Does that make it "lesser" on some level? I'd say that depends on one's own view of what constitutes the idea of a "fan" in general, outside of anime solely. As others have pointed out, there is a ton of anime-related merchandise, and I think it's safe to say that "modern" fandom is a bit more consumer-orientated, at the very least for no other reason than it can afford to be, because all this stuff is out there. I don't think that necessarily makes anything "lesser" - I'm sure the guys who put together YamatoCon or Animecon '91 would have loved to have the accessibility to merchandise, and programming, available now.

I think if there is a demarcation, it's not so much "old" and "new" fandom, but rather, there's just more casual fans now, again owing to the availability of anime in the digital, streaming age, and that this influx has changed fandom, as a whole. To have seen an entire show, you don't have to track down tapes or join a club; rather, you just click or swipe or whatever, depending on your device of choice. I don't know if the amount of fans that retain the enthusiasm "of old" has lessened, but rather perhaps is still there, relatively unchanged in size, and the overall group that is collectively called "fandom" is just larger, augmented by more casual fans. And I don't think the current fandom, casual or otherwise, is just mindless, product-grabbing automatons - I've done a few "H.P. Lovecraft's Influence in Anime", and other similar panels bringing in other literary genres, to halls that were standing room only, and I've seen other panels that require a real interest in the origins and influences that shaped anime and manga over the years, packed to the brim - so, to say that modern fandom is solely consumption-orientated, with no appreciation of the medium as a narrative art form, is not true, at all. And this forum, and the great webpages and excellent podcasts its members produce, is proof that the participatory aspect of earlier fandom is certainly not gone, either.

Conventions are certainly more corporate affairs now, and more "social" events, than they were previously. Not that conventions weren't social events from the beginning. Of course they were, but rather most now seem like "something to do" rather than "I'm going here to meet with people who share my interests" being the overall drive to attend. I consider that a loss, in all honesty. Are there still fan-run conventions, no different than 30+ years ago? Absolutely, albeit fewer in number. That's great I can go to a convention with an attendance of 4, or 5, or 10,000; if I can't talk to anyone there about shows from the 70s or 80s, or about this writer or that character designer or what have you, it just feels kind of empty. That brings up another question, that I may leave to others, or come back to later myself - how much of a community do you see at modern conventions, of interactions between people, coming together and just connecting over a shared interest? In my experience, I've seen that sort of interaction a great deal less in recent shows, but perhaps others have a different view. I think, if there is indeed a lessening, that would be a significant difference between any "older" and "newer" fandom.
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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by Drew_Sutton »

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?
From my perspective, anime fandom feels Balkanized. I don't know if it's because there are more titles readily and easily available, more anime is being produced now than ever, style and genre changes over the last 25 years, or what. But I seem to remember a time where saying you were an anime fan, you liked a large portion of Japanese animation around you. While there wasn't really a canon of "watch this, then this, then this", there was sort of an ethereal collective knowledge of being exposed to a lot of the same titles. Now, there's too much going on to keep up and I feel there are a lot more fans of shows and franchises, than anime in general. I don't know if I can call this a like or dislike though - outside of places like here or Twitter/Facebook, I feel like I can relate to other fans less because we just don't watch the same shows. If it's a problem or dislike, I'm part of it. I'm drawn to mostly 80s and 90s stuff by and large.
BadMediaKarma wrote:How has it changed and what do you miss?
I think some facets of it have changed but they are only notable in certain spaces. Like I mentioned, places like this, which have a specific focus, or twitter/facebook where I can curate my own lists or join specific groups, I can interact with anime/manga that I am interested in and leave behind the stuff that interests me less. But when I head to a convention, everything is out there in front of you. The programming schedule might have little I'm interested in because the weekend is finite and there are a lot of people to try and cater to.

Thanks to there being simply more - quantity and availability - and things like Toonami, lots of kids grew up with anime right along side animation from other places. But that sort of mainstream appeal seems to spread into the 'nerd culture' scene where some anime are immediately recognized as popular or nostalgic but 'anime fandom' is still a dirty word or shameful group.
BadMediaKarma wrote:Are you still involved in the community? Why or why not?
With a Balkanized and non-monolithic fandom, I would emphatically say yes, I'm still involved. However, that involvement isn't what it once was where I am out there evangelizing or signing up for every/any general anime forum on the Internet.
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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by davemerrill »

Drew_Sutton wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:34 am

BadMediaKarma wrote:Are you still involved in the community? Why or why not?
With a Balkanized and non-monolithic fandom, I would emphatically say yes, I'm still involved. However, that involvement isn't what it once was where I am out there evangelizing or signing up for every/any general anime forum on the Internet.
I find myself looking at the challenges that the anime conventions are facing here in 2019 - trying to find and keep venues that will hold 20,000 + attendees, trying to find guests and speakers and musical acts, trying to keep everything legal and ethical and non-assaultive, trying to stay on top of everything in a constantly expanding field - and if this is "anime fandom," then this is definitely *not* a field I would be engaging with now the same way I did in 1994 or 1995. I've been narrowing my fandom involvement for years and if I was getting into fandom now I think it would just start out narrow and stay that way. The field's too large.

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

Post by DKop »

Dave I get what your saying. It's better to be an expert in a couple of areas in fandom than trying to know everything out there now because there is too much out in the field. This is why we do the panels we do, you're the expert of older titles and series, I got my things and so does Drew, which is why we do the panels at cons we do because that field is our expertise, which to many current fans today wouldn't know about if we weren't talking about them to begin with.

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

Post by gaijinpunch »

Way late to this party, but...

I'm not really involved in fandom. In fact, I watch very little and none of it is new. The new stuff aesthetically just doesn't appeal to me and there's tons from the golden era I missed. So, that keeps me busy.

I concur w/ most of what's said: it's just a different beast now. The internet, in it's fledgling state of the early 90's was a fantastic filter (technologically) where it basically allowed people to communicate, and maybe coordinate ways to meet up, watch, copy tapes, etc., but not a hell of a lot else. Then, broadband came (which is about the time I bailed) and from what I understand it became like a warez scene. Then eventually what it is today. Take that as you will... b/c anime/manga as a facet of pop culture is simply is simply not what it was. It seems like cosplay is way more acceptable these days. I guess as a late teenager, I'd probably loved to have seen more scantily clad girls. But hey, it is what it is.

I had one conversation with a cousin of mine (who is quite a bit older than me... in fact has children my age, and is thus a grandmother). According to her grand daughter, I am "the coolest relative possible b/c I lived in Japan and speak Japanese." So yeah, huge anime fan. Oddly enough she never asked me to pick anything up for her for Xmas all those years.

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

Post by gaijinpunch »

Appending to this:

Went and saw How's Moving Castle w/ my son, in Torrance, CA. As some may know, it is a small Japanese colony. Not sure if that had anything to do w/ the targeted advertising, but in the commercials before the show, I saw ads for:

- A convention in Boston
- A convention in Atlanta
- Bokksu which was a monthly subscription for Japanese snacks (this I thought was actually a pretty good idea)
- A Japanese auction/website shopping proxy (WOW!)
- New anime soundtracks
- New anime releases

Honestly I never knew that stuff would be advertised to that level here. How times have changed...

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

Post by usamimi »

gaijinpunch wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:25 pm
Appending to this:

Went and saw How's Moving Castle w/ my son, in Torrance, CA. As some may know, it is a small Japanese colony. Not sure if that had anything to do w/ the targeted advertising, but in the commercials before the show, I saw ads for:

- A convention in Boston
- A convention in Atlanta
- Bokksu which was a monthly subscription for Japanese snacks (this I thought was actually a pretty good idea)
- A Japanese auction/website shopping proxy (WOW!)
- New anime soundtracks
- New anime releases

Honestly I never knew that stuff would be advertised to that level here. How times have changed...
These were the types of ads I saw before the last anime showing I went to in a theater as well! It's kinda wild to see that kind of stuff advertised on a big screen now, huh?

Man, there are SO many Japanese snack subscription boxes now, I've honestly lost count. :lol:
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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by gaijinpunch »

The ironic thing to me is as an expat living in Japan, I was usually paying a premium for American snacks. There's a few goodies Japan has but most are pretty lame. They have a lot to learn when it comes to corn chips which they suck at... and quite a bit for potato chips, which they are medicore.

Chocolate they are on top of their game, especially Alfort by Bourbon. The price in the states sucks... they are like 100 yen at a convenient store, or 68 yen at Donki. but man they are aweomse. I always tell myself "just bring back 100 next trip" and then realize how quickly I'll eat them and just bring back a few.

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

Post by usamimi »

Yeah, I only buy snacks at the Asian markets so I don't have to pay too much of a markup. The snacks at Daiso are only about $1.25, which isn't too bad. H-mart puts a premium on the more popular stuff, though--$5 to $7 on bags of Japanese Kit-kats, though that's still cheaper than buying them online. :lol:
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Re: Older fans – what is your take on anime and anime fandom today?

Post by Drew_Sutton »

davemerrill wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 9:35 am
Drew_Sutton wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:34 am

BadMediaKarma wrote:Are you still involved in the community? Why or why not?
With a Balkanized and non-monolithic fandom, I would emphatically say yes, I'm still involved. However, that involvement isn't what it once was where I am out there evangelizing or signing up for every/any general anime forum on the Internet.
I find myself looking at the challenges that the anime conventions are facing here in 2019 - trying to find and keep venues that will hold 20,000 + attendees, trying to find guests and speakers and musical acts, trying to keep everything legal and ethical and non-assaultive, trying to stay on top of everything in a constantly expanding field - and if this is "anime fandom," then this is definitely *not* a field I would be engaging with now the same way I did in 1994 or 1995. I've been narrowing my fandom involvement for years and if I was getting into fandom now I think it would just start out narrow and stay that way. The field's too large.
Yeah - especially the convention stuff, it's why I don't really organize anything anymore. The things that are a hit are things I'd never book and the stuff I would think are super neat would attract the same crowd as a fart in church. If I am at a con, I'd rather it be presenting panels because I have a ton of fun with putting them together, putting that information out there for the community, and getting together with some other fans who are interested in that subject.

I think the days of 'anime fandom' as a big tent are over but rather 'anime fandom' is a big campground - I just want to pitch my tent where the neighbors are into the same stuff I am.
usamimi wrote:It's kinda wild to see that kind of stuff advertised on a big screen now, huh?
I'm still trying to get used to 'anime in a movie theater' as something I can actually do in the US! :lol:
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