Sometimes being a member of the anime community is walking on a tight rope. There’s a balancing act involved. It’s a power struggle for some. It’s also a matter of being discrete for others.
Because as an anime fan, there are two opposite extremes one can fall into – being “casual” and being “hardcore.” Furthermore, the implication of each term can affect one’s image in different ways depending on the social circle being discussed.
If an anime fan is widely considered to be “casual” by other members of the anime community, then the target will be subject to several connotations and assumptions. On the plus side, a “casual” anime fan can be easygoing and refreshing to interact with since they don’t become obsessed with minor details. They’re not fussy! However, that also means they can potentially be prone to misremembering or getting specific instances and moments wrong, which can make them seem sloppy or ill-equipped to talk about the subject matter in question.
This unfortunately makes the decision to dismiss “casual” anime fans opinion easier to justify. People start to think there’s no point listening to a particular individual who doesn’t seem to know what they’re talking about. The accussed’s authority and credibility is thus undermined within the anime community.
As for being “hardcore,” some believe the term corresponds to a negative image. To be fair, I can’t help but immediately imagine a hardheaded fanatic who gets upset over minor mistakes.
Although it’s nice that they pay such close attention to a particular anime series, interacting with such individuals can be rather exhausting. Then again, one should be expected to have a thorough understanding of a series if one attempts to discuss it with others, so it’s not like they’re being excessive or “extra.” They just really care about the series and get a little uptight over minor mistakes in recollection, that’s all.
So what does it mean to be a “hardcore” anime fan? Is it when they buy figma anime products, memorize specific poses or phrases, write fanfiction, draw doujinshi, cover anime songs, and/or cosplay as anime characters?
I don’t know where the line is drawn here. But if such fans are considered “hardcore,” then I would be impressed with their dedication, their imagination, and their artistic ability since they’ve gone and placed their passion and admiration for a series on display for all to see.
For those who aren’t part of the anime community, however, such behavior could be considered obsessive or overboard. Thus, out of fear of labeled as such, some anime fans feel obligated to hide their efforts from those who wouldn’t understand. They may even lie to their friends and family and claim they dislike anime or that they’re only “casual” anime fans. Except the difference here is that being “casual” is considered a positive since that means the individual isn’t just focusing on anime, which the outsiders dislike.
The key point here is how the perception of anime determines the acceptable amount of “fanboying” / “fangirling”. Since (most) members of the anime community actually like anime, then being comparatively closer to acting like a “hardcore” anime fan is to be preferred in general since such a label establishes a sense of authority. Meanwhile, being a “casual” anime fan can mean your opinions are dismissed.
The situation is reversed if we’re talking about how people (who aren’t anime fans) perceive both anime (and you), however. In that case, since anime may be be disliked, it’s safer to pretend to be a “casual” anime fan if you’re one to care about public images. Being labeled as a “hardcore” anime fan can cause you to look bad to people who dislike anime, after all.
It’s a bit sad that we have to consider labels and public images. I can’t see how this will ever change considering how some people have strong opinions about anime. But it’s just a thing we have to deal with.
I guess this is the part where I tell you to be yourself and to not care about how others see you since your true friends will accept your lifestyle (yes, anime is a lifestyle) even if they don’t like anime. In fact, you probably shouldn’t even care about these limiting and arbitrary labels. It’s easier said than done, I know.
But I’m giving you permission to. You don’t have to, of course. But if you want, you can. Express your pride as an anime fan!
Speaking of which, is anime fan the proper term for this? I tweeted about this a few days ago (and DerekL chimed in with some interesting points that inspired this post), but I still don’t know.