Lately, I have been binge-listening to older episodes of the Anime World Order podcast, and the same question kept coming up in their email segment got me thinking. Many emails they got were from folks evaluating their personal relationship to anime fandom, asking questions like:
“Is it wrong that I am just not interested in anime anymore?”
“Have my friends changed or have I changed when it comes to my fandom?”
A lot of those questions seem to be fueled by a certain set of recurring beliefs about anime fandom. These beliefs are echoed to varying degrees within the anime community. I would argue, some of these ideas are not so simple or not true at all. This is my attempt to be discount Adam Conover and set the record straight about some of these so-called “words of wisdom.”
Subtitled Anime is Always Better than English Dubbed Anime
Ah, the subs vs. dubs debate. This argument is as old as the dinosaurs. Fans argue anime is made primarily for a Japanese audience so listening to Japanese audio with subtitles is the “real” experience and that English dubs are poorly acted. Dubs from the ’80s or early ’90s can sound dated by today’s standards. Anime in North America back then was in its infancy, most dubs were done as fast and cheap as possible. That’s not often the case today, I doubt we would ever see something as bad as the Garzey’s Wing dub. It really comes down to what is your preference. Some anime fans want an English dub because it makes watching the show easier and it’s comforting hearing characters speak in your native language. Others prefer the Japanese with subs because of the wide vocal range of the performances. For me, it usually comes down to what I hear first. I started watching One Piece subtitled and in my mind, that’s how I hear the characters. I have heard the Funimation English dub. The English performances for Nico Robin and Franky I enjoy. Luffy’s English voice, on the other hand, I can’t get use to. On the flip side, I can only watch Dragonball with the English dub because that’s what I heard growing up. In the end, there is no better way to watch anime it comes down to your personal preference.
Using Piracy Sites or Reading Scanlations is Morally Ok
Maybe if it was 2001 and we still had to pay $40 to $80 for 4 episodes on a single DVD I might agree with you. Thank to streaming you can pay $7 a month for Crunchyroll or five dollars a month for Hidive. You’d pay that much at a fast food restaurant for a combo meal. Almost every well-known show has been released on streaming or physically at this point. There are a few rare exceptions such as the Macross franchise but the majority of white whales have been caught. Legend of the Galactic Heroes is now on Hidive. The wait for anime to be released is almost nothing as every anime in every season is simulcast. On the manga side of things, Kodansha publisher of Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell, and Fairy Tail have frequently teamed up with Humble Bundle. Selling large chunks of their catalog for as low as $15. Viz started releasing their manga chapters ongoing titles such as One Piece and My Hero Academia same day as Japan and free to read digitally. For only $2 readers get access to the entire Shonen Jump catalog. The excuses for piracy from its too expensive to not released the same day do not exist or very weak. Crunchyroll and Viz need to make a profit not be greedy but to keep what you love widely available and provide a living for their employees. Support what you love with financial support if you can.
Anime Conventions are Boring and There is Nothing to Do
The boring sentiment starts to build after you have gone to a number of cons and the wow factor starts to wear off. You have two options, go to a bigger con that will likely have bigger guests and more activities to do. Option two create your own fun. Try and get your own on content at your local con. A lot of the Third Impact Anime crew do panels because what they enjoy wasn’t represented at cons. I love the Lupin the 3rd franchise and was surprised there weren’t any panels on Lupin at the cons I attended. I created my own Lupin panel as a response to what I wanted to see. Paneling can be a great experience in expanding people’s knowledge on a topic and seeing the audience reaction to your panel can be thrilling. Plus some cons give badge discounts if you do a certain number of panels. That being said if you decide to do panels put some work into it. Don’t just do panels to get a free badge nobody wins in that scenario. Avoid doing too much Q&A and ask the characters panels as it’s been done to death. If you don’t want to do paneling due to fear of public speaking that is totally fine. Remember cons are a social gathering of people with like-minded interests so try and be social. Bring a board game and see if people want to play in a tabled area. Playing games like Cards Against Humanity can be fun and make the hours fly by.
You Must Keep up with the Anime Seasons/Keeping Up with the Jones
(The number of anime released within a given year)
This is near impossible with the number of shows that get released within a year let alone a season. Trying to keep up with every show will just cause burnout. I usually watch maybe one or two shows a season. I have learned if you keep your fandom “cool” your more likely to still love it. When you get into something whether it be anime or Doctor Who etc. don’t let it consume your entire energy and focus. Doing so will just cause burnout in the end.
You Must Watch [Insert Show Here] to Be Considered a Real Fan
This is called “um, actually” syndrome or “gatekeeping” as its properly known. Don’t be this person. You may feel as if you’re being helpful in spreading knowledge on a topic, but the person on the other end will feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and unwelcome. Gatekeeping may be done unconsciously with with no malicious intent, but it also can be weaponized for exclusion. Traditionally, gatekeeping is usually done by men to exclude women from similar interests. Fandom should welcome everyone, not create a members-only club. Besides, wouldn’t you want to have more people to talk to about your favorite show?
Anime is Better than Western Animation
Let’s kill two birds with one stone here, anime is not a genre it is part of the animation medium. Animation can be done in a variety of ways from CGI to stop-motion. What makes anime distinctive is its character designs and the types of stories told. It’s still using images frame by frame to tell a story just as western animation. As for the question is anime better than western anime that is more of a preference question. I would argue animated movies and TV from the west are just as good as anime. Look at Cartoon Network’s stung of hit shows in the past 10 years Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe all really good show with their own style of visuals and storytelling. Disney and Pixar are producing fun and visually interesting movies from Zootopia to Inside Out. The United Kingdom has Aardman Animation home of Wallace and Gromit shorts. Western Animation has its own pros and cons just as much as anime does. It really comes down to is what do you want out of animation.
Fansubs are Superior to Crunchyroll or Funimation Subs
It’s easy for fans to understand an animator or voice actor’s talent because they can illustrate their skill though drawing or voice work. Translators, in contrast, get little respect by fans. People believe that translators just directly translate Japanese to English. Language is not set in stone across the world, language is transformative. Words can have different meanings or be specific to certain cultures or regions. Nakama was notorious for showing up in One Piece fansubs because it had no English equivalent word. A translator at Funimation has to look at Nakama and figure out what word or words in English have a similar meaning. Translation is a mixture of knowing a language and the culture of said language, in short, it’s a science. Next time you see a weird subtitle on Crunchyroll be a little more forgiving. Knowing that translators are having to translate day and date a ton of shows so that you can understand what is being said.
Hayao Miyazaki is the Greatest Director in Anime Ever!!!!!!!
Now before you start yelling at me in the comments this is not a negative critique of Miyazaki’s work. Porco Rosso is one of my favorites and his films are a great entry point for someone new to anime. My problem is the media’s and fans over fixation of Miyazaki. If you asked an anime fan to name someone who’s worked on an anime that is not a voice actor they could probably name just Miyazaki. Why is that the case? Miyazaki had the marketing power of the Walt Disney Company who distributed his studio’s films until 2011. Some anime companies and anime cons also do a poor job in promoting anime directors, writers, or producers. Anime cons will just state a Japanese guest name but not what they worked on. Companies such as Funimation have the opposite problem promoting show based off a studio’s past work but not putting a name to it. Until cons and anime distributors get better at promoting names it’s up fans to do the work themselves. Sayo Yamamoto, Isao Takahata, and Tomoharu Katsumata should be more recognized more widely for their work by the anime community.
I hope this article has cleared the air when it comes to these misconceptions. Are there any common misconceptions within the anime community that I missed or got dead wrong let me know in the comments.