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.
10 thoughts on “The Intricacies of Identity Within the Anime Community”
I call ’em “audience” or “viewers”, so I would count myself as a “partaker of anime.” You’ve seen my style to anime, and under most definitions, I’m definitely a casual fan mainly because I tend to focus on big picture stuff. The figure captions are just me having fun hoping to leave readers with a bit more trivia knowledge pertaining to something in a show they might be enjoying,
With this said, I have a bit of a distaste for people who worry about things like whether or not the calibre of a naval cannon in an anime can do the damage seen doing in show against the real world, or critiquing (fictional!) software practises when they evidently have no background themselves. I’m completely with you in saying that fans should do what they enjoy and worry less about what others think 🙂
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I might use those terms more often, too. Thank you.
Even though you usually focus on the big picture, I feel like you are always spot-on with your analysis in regards to thematics, characterization, etc. So maybe by my fickle definitions you are more a casual fan, but you do take great care in what you write!
The captions do enhance the experience.
Yeah, those are the kind of hardcore discussions I find myself not really enjoying. But, yes, people need to feel free to express themselves without fear of others’ opinions!
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Not sure if I’ve dropped by here before, but I’ve definitely lurked here before. Hi, regardless.
The thing is, anime fans exist along a spectrum of “casualness”/”hardcore factor”, and it’s just judgements that cause people to pigeonhole others into extremities, or more rarely positions, along the spectrum. How dedicated you may /seem/ doesn’t change the fact you /are/ a fan.
Like Scott says, it’s the age of labels and in the internet echo chambers, you don’t have to know a person to judge and/or converse with them.
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I don’t think you’ve commented before, but hi!
Yeah, I agree with what you’re saying here. I was just trying to say that some anime fans /seem/ to feel pressured to act in a certain way since they don’t want others to prematurely judge them.
It really is like a spectrum like you said, however, and it doesn’t change the fact that they are in fact anime fans regardless of their levels of dedication. It’s probably for the best for them to act however they want while not caring that others /will/ attempt to define them through the use of arbitrary labels.
Of course, I’m pretty sure that a lot of people don’t even consider this and I’m overthinking the situation. I am admittedly overly self-conscious so that’s why I sometimes write about these sort of things.
Let’s just say it out right, we live in the age of labels. You do something or like something, bam, label. It’s stupid, but that’s out really. The best thing that we can do is just be ourselves, as you said in this post.
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That’s also why it’s hard to avoid politics in anime, too. Everything becomes political regardless of intent.
Mmm that’s the best thing to do, really.
I think there’s too much emphasis on labels for everything these days. It’s a bit unfortunate, because as you say, it often detracts from meaningful discussion as people become more concerned at where on the non-existent “spectrum” of fandom they’re positioned in relation to others.
Looking back, I’ve always been a bit off the beaten track in terms of tastes, but I first became particularly conscious of it back in… about 2012 or so, I guess? That’s when I first played Katawa Shoujo and a selection of Japanese games that “spoke” to me like nothing else had, particularly from the “mainstream”, and where I decided to follow my heart rather than popular trends. I’ve been a lot happier with the entertainment I choose to enjoy since… even if it does mean I occasionally have to defend it from people who make hurtful and inevitably ill-informed comments about it!
I’ve taken the attitude since then that everyone should just like what they like, and if they like it enough to want to rant and rave about it in great detail, let them. Similarly, if they just want to enjoy something for what it is, let them. Or if they want to enjoy something that is popular but gets looked upon with scorn by the “hardcore”, let them. The only thing I still object to (and have taken to speaking out against a lot more than I used to… I blame the new anti-anxiety meds I started taking in the last year or so!) is people who pass judgement on things without having any knowledge or experience of them… which unfortunately is still far too common, as I’ve shared with you before!
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Mmm labels are just so prominent for better or for worse (mostly worse).
Oh, so Katawa Shoujo was sort of like your gateway game. And what a fine gateway game that was! I’m glad you made the switch.
Yeah, people who lash out at topics despite being ignorant are not being very admirable. You’ve definitely shown that to be rather common in other posts, unfortunately! Alas.