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I Don’t Wanna be Their Frankenstein

October 24, 2009

As an oldschool fan who has been into this crap longer than some fans have been alive, let me tell you how fucking difficult it is to be nice to the kiddies.

I got into anime when I was about halfway through with high school. That was 1994, give or take a year. I’ve been into anime since the days when it was considered fashionable to wear flannel and not bathe for weeks on end. I’m hardly as old school as some fans who have been hip to anime since the days of Battle of the Planets, Starblazers, or Robotech, but I’m old enough to have first hand experience with the days where buying a new anime VHS cost you close to $40 after tax, and said cash got you a measly two episodes.

To say that I find it hard to identify with the new crop of fans is an understatement. Hell, I’ve been disillusioned since around the turn of the millenium, when I started to frequent anime conventions and when I dove into the internet’s anime community. I was too old to have seen DBZ during my “formative” years, so I had no attachment to that series. I enjoyed Pokemon, but only because it reminded me of a post-Communism take on the Rocky and Bullwinkle formula (Team Rocket owes a LOT to Boris and Natasha). When shows like Love Hina and RahXephon were popular, I couldn’t stand either one. I jumped into Hina thinking it’d be the next Maison Ikkoku and I got obnoxious girls fawning over a pathetic loser. I jumped into RahXephon thinking it’d be another cool post-Evangelion mecha show (I really dug Gasaraki, another show in that vein) only to find a poorly paced, deliberately obtuse, nonsensical mess.

Anime fandom had all but left me behind almost immediately after I tried to find my place within that society. These experiences are hardly unique. There’s plenty of other bitter, cynical, disillusioned fans out there whose experiences mirror mine to some extent, so this is hardly some sort of “oh woe is me and my old man ways, why should I suffer so” bitchfest. This is more of a “yeah, this is how it is” rant. I’m railing against the existential fate before me. My interests have never been relevant to the general otaku public, and the only logical reaction is to accept one’s fate as best as one can.

That doesn’t mean I don’t lash out. But that also means that I know where the above video is coming from. When we old fogies, by anime fandom’s standards, go on our tirades and snap at the whippersnappers trashing up our fanboy lawns, all we’re doing is giving said delinquents more fuel to preserve their adolescent ways. If you give a kid a big lever and continually rant and rave about how said kid should never pull said lever, what’s that kid going to do? Yeah, it wouldn’t matter if that lever launched all of the world’s nukes and brought about the end of the world. That kid is going to pull that lever. Hell, he’s going to pull it again and again and again, just to spite your obnoxious ass.

We think we’re being mature examples to live up to when all we’re doing is playing Dr. Moreau and creating monstrosities.

At the same time, that punk ass kid is a punk ass. He likes the sort of crap that makes you want to gouge out your eyes. He has a wall scroll of Kyon’s Sister next to his poster of Megan Fox and “uses” each of them equally. He thinks Light Yagami is a genius and finds Death Note to be a brilliant morality play akin to Shakespeare. He looks at your favorite anime from the 70s, 80s, or 90s and thinks it’s “badly animated” because it wasn’t rendered in Flash and doesn’t use cg in the background. He has no fucking idea what he’s talking about. He’s no more “mature” than the kid next to him in his English II class that still thinks the WWE is real and that Slipknot is hardcore. He’s no not “smarter” than the girl in his class that stood in line to see the midnight showings of the latest Hannah Montana and Harry Potter flicks. He’s thinks he’s some rebel without a cause rebelling against tween/teen popular culture when he embodies everything that is modern kiddie pop culture. You want to reach through your computer screen and punch his goddamn face in.

But you settle with metaphorical blows. You mock him, you troll him, you tell him his mother never loved him. And it feels good. I know, brothers and sisters. I’ve been there. And every now and then there’s some snot-nosed bitch that really deserves such a verbal beatdown. But far too often people are willing to pull that trigger and let loose their righteous indignation upon someone who doesn’t quite deserve it. That bastard on the other side of the net isn’t always the Moe Antichrist of the Shounen Satan. Sometimes he’s just a little lost black sheep, and he needs some serious shepherding.

When that punk says “OMG GokU is soo bad@$$,” don’t be so eager to tell him that Goku’s just a Superman ripoff. Tell him “well, if you think Goku’s hardcore, why don’t you watch Fist of the North Star. Kenshiro’s just as much of a badass as Goku.” Or maybe some American NEET is going off about how adorable and moe the K-On! girls are and how he wants to date Mio or whatever he name is. Don’t launch into some tirade about how Mio’s just a desperate Japanese male fantasy, tell him “If you think Mio’s hot, check out Kyoko from Maison Ikkoku. She can do everything Mio can and she’s an independent woman!” At least try to lead them down the path of quality. Maybe they won’t be such annoying little jerks once they get some good stuff flowing though their otaku veins.

Also, if you’re nice to them and they still give you shit, then you’re totally justified when you bring about the virtual beatdown. It’s a win-win situation. Either way, it won’t be you creating the monster that tosses little girls into the lake to drown.

Most people reading this crap probably already know all of this. Consider this a sermon from the Unitarian Church of Anime or something. Gotta preach to the choir sometimes. That said, Mifune was totally a god amongst men, am I right brothers and sisters?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 1:00 AM

    I can see where you’re coming from. I started getting into anime about the same time you did. Granted I’d seen Voltron and Starblazers before then, not knowing what it was, but sometime around 1994 was when I saw Dominion Tank Police on Sci-Fi’s Saturday anime that really started it for me. I remember buying those bloody expensive VHS tapes, and how the dubs were always cheaper than subs. I remember when it was sometimes still called “Japanimation”. But I have to be honest with you here, I think you’re being just a tad harsh here. I mean, for example, I really enjoy watching Urusei Yatsura, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to it having some blemishes that didn’t get worked out. There’s a definite evolution occur, some things improve, but slowly. And not everything I enjoyed in my ages as well as say, Bubblegum Crisis, for example. ;) And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the heck out of Death Note. It was definitely nice to see an intelligent main character for a change. (Though why do I always see the common theme of smart people are either doormats or evils. Huh.)

    • Landon permalink*
      October 28, 2009 1:42 PM

      Yeah, I won’t deny being harsh. Call it tough love or sadism. Either one’ll work.

      Death Note was hardly bad (it had a great visual style and the interplay between L and Light was amusing), but it baffled me that people found it to be some sort of intellectual masterpiece. I never saw it as a morality story, since it was pretty obvious from the beginning that the series thought Light was in the wrong, so I don’t get why people think it’s playing around with moral gray areas. And most of the debates felt like circular logic rather than any sort of intelligent discourse. So yeah, I got a kick out of it, but never for the same reasons as most of the fans.

      So yeah, while it was refreshing to see a smart character, the actual series wasn’t nearly as smart and clever as its characters. Still a decent series, but not the objectively-provn masterpiece that far too many fans like to claim it is.

      As far as “smart characters always being evil or doormats,” smart people ARE evil, and they only let people step all over them to hide their nefarious intentions.

      • October 28, 2009 9:55 PM

        Lol, well I imagine the reason some people think it’s morally grey is that they find themselves rooting for Light to win, and I think that’s about it. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Light’s a evil guy, especially given his plans in there series. I don’t know if it’s fair to call the series itself unintelligent though. The plans within plans aspect and the scheming was a real treat to watch. I imagine it’s being treated as such a great masterpiece is because compared to a lot of things that audience has been able to see recently, it was really good. I can’t think of a whole lot that was that good in a good while, and if the viewing audience only has access to what is broadcast on TV, well then it seems like a godsend.

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