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Why People Hate Anime

  Even just using the word... anime ...conjures up wildly varrying attitudes in people. People who love it have a wild, frothing-at-the-mouth fascination with it that people on the outside can only shake their head at, and people who hate it would probably place Dragonball and Sailor Moon just below the Holocaust on the list of history's greatest abominations. But the first conclusion I made when examining the subject was this:

  People don't hate anime, they hate anime fans!

  Now, that's not to say that haters aren't annoyed by the anime itself, but Japanese animation as a genre is way too broad for all but the most irrational people to place universal labels onto it. Besides, they're just cartoons, and the majority of anime is still pretty niche here in America. There's not much about the product itself to ellicit the sort of insane rage that many people have when thoughts of giant fighting mecha and schoolgirl panty-shots flood their minds.

  No, it's the fans of this genre that make it so widely hated, and that's for two reasons:

  1) Obsessive Fandom: Everything has fans. Everything has obsessive fans. But nothing but anime has anime fans, a classification that goes beyond even just irrational love, effortlessly vaulting over obsession and landing cleanly in the sandy pit of soul-consuming oneness.

  Every anime hater has had a friend that they saw slowly slip into the void. At first, the friend was just staying up late to watch Fullmetal Alchemist on Saturday nights. Then, they started buying the $100 9-DVD box-sets of it, seeming to have an episode on whenever you wandered into their room. Then, they branched out to other series, being careful to only order subtitled episodes from specialty stores, lest the purity of the Japanimation be soured by Western voice actors (note: never refer to it as "Japanimation" to an anime nerd, unless you want a blustery reprimanding). Then, the only music they ever seemed to be listening to was helium-voiced, seizure-inducing "J-Pop", arguing that this vapid, bubblegum pop music was somehow less vapid and bubblegum than our own Westernized vapid, bubblegum pop music. During this period, their room also began getting taken over by an inordinate number of wall scrolls, and they somehow stumbled upon a group of self-imposed outcasts who shared the same scary level of obsession for Japanese animation.

  Then, you knew the friend was gone, because they began dressing up as their favorite obscure character from their favorite obscure series and attending coventions with others in equally-obsure anime-inspired garb. The anime hater's reaction is similar to the way that people who lose a child or spouse to some form of cancer then become tireless crusaders for finding a cure. The anime hater is just searching for a cure from the obsession that took the life of their friend.

  2) Pretension: When you love something, you want to share it with other people. When you're obsessed with something, however, you won't stop until every person in your general vicinty, whether that be a social circle or an intraweb message board, loves that something with the same level of undying commitment that you do.

  While it can certaintly be unnerving to watch a friend be swallowed up into the anime sub-culture, the real pain for you comes from having them endlessly petition you to join in on the Kool-Aid chugging. If they love a series, they'll somehow rationalize that it's the deepest, most profound piece of media created within the last century, and anybody not having experienced it is walking around as an incomplete being, one who's soul has a gaping void just waiting to be filled with the divine truths espoused by "Battle Angel Mizuho".

  So your friend has been telling you about how brilliant Neon Genesis Evangelion is, about all of the deeply intellectual references to Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls and whatnot, and you crack. Part of it's just to shut them up, but part of you is also intrigued. You want to see how a 22-minute animated television show can be so philosophically dense. You wonder if maybe your friend is actually onto something, if just maybe all of their proselytizing has been justified.

  So you sit down, with an open mind, and what do you get? Giant fighting robots, a drunken penguin, and oh, panty shots. Lots and lots of panty shots.

  Now, I myself haven't seen very deep into the Eva series, but fans, you can't hype this stuff up as the pinnacle of human creation and then expect a lot of us not to laugh condescendingly when we get mecha and fan service. I honestly don't think the creators of these shows take them half as seriously as the fans who pour over them with an almost spiritual fervor.

  But don't dare say any of this to an anime fan, or else they'll get all huffy and talk about how Americans are too simple-minded to get it and how Japan is so much further ahead of us culturally and whatnot. And it's not that I don't like anime. It's not something that I have a real passion for or anything, but it's always been an influence to me, especially as a fan of gaming, where so much of anime mentality was bleeding into our games years before anybody over here even thought of Japanese animation as a genre beyond just Speed Racer and Voltron. It also had a real influence on my drawing during my teenage years, and a lot of the techniques that I picked up from copying anime are still things I make use of today.

  But damn, a lot of ya'll just take it way too seriously, and that's why people hate anime.

© Kerry Daniszewski 2005 - 2008.  The character Bubsy is property of Accolade, or whatever still exists of it, and Mai Shiranui is property of SNK Playmore.