Over the past year, I’ve read through a lot of academic analyses of anime and anime fandom, some on my own out of curiosity and others for academic purposes (yes, really). The overall state of academia in the anime studies field is pretty similar to what you’d find elsewhere, that is, abysmal and embarrassing. I’d say that Bl. John Henry Newman wouldn’t be impressed, but then, neither would anyone who isn’t fully embedded in the university system.
Last weekend I wrote up a recommended reading list as a permanent page, and as I came to the end I briefly considered adding a section for comics, but decided against it because my goal was to direct people to higher art; pop culture already has enough promotion. While thinking about some of the graphic novels I may have added, I noticed that most of them were works that I’d only really recommend to someone specifically interested in the medium.
A few years ago, I wrote a post called “What’s Up with Anime Fans?” In short, I considered why anime and its fandom make some people, including some of its own fans, uncomfortable, and concluded that the problem isn’t anime in itself so much as the culture surrounding it, and that the fandom’s awkwardness is a self-reinforcing phenomenon. I still agree with most of that post, but it raises a couple broader questions that may be worth considering.
This post was written with my bear cap on. I got my first job in late October 2004; it was only as a temporary hire for a one-week special event, but for me that first pay cheque was an absolute fortune. I don’t remember what all I got with it, but do remember the one thing that mattered - a copy of serial experiments lain, which I count as my first anime.
In short, why do you watch anime? A few reasons. One is that I enjoy the community. A few problems aside, I like exchanging thoughts with other fans on blogs, forums, and Twitter. Conventions and podcasts can be fun, too, and it also gives me something to share with my little sister. Of course, there’s also my interest in Japanese culture generally; I’ve studied Japan’s language and history, and seek out Japanese films and literature.
Recently, my sister and I were talking about our favourite anime, and she said that she finds it difficult to separate her top three, Madoka Magica, Gurren Lagann, and Mushi-Shi. Now, ‘favourite’ is a subjective term, so there’s no need to try to be scientific about it, but this did get me thinking about how one would objectively judge between works that, though in the same medium, are so different from each other.
A recent conflux of posts on blogs I follow has me thinking about the place and perception of animation in the United States. On Friday, Yumeka over at Mainichi Anime Yume wrote about introverted and extroverted fans. An excerpt: At first glance, it seems like anime should be a hobby one indulges in in an introverted way. After all, in our society it’s not typically considered “normal” for adults to be really into foreign animated shows.