The anime community can be a fun and friendly place for many anime lovers and newcomers. It is great place to find people that you share a common interest with. However, like any community there are some bad apples. This can be a big problem and can give the community a bad name. Recently, I have seen a surge of toxicity and negativity with the anime community through different social media outlets and forums. I love anime and I feel that these issues need to be addressed. I do not want anyone to feel uncomfortable in place where we can share our love and interest for anime.
Fetishization of Japanese Culture
The first thing I would like to address and talk about is the fetishization of Japanese Culture. First off, I am not saying you can’t like anime, or Japanese fashion/ cosplaying or anything like that. You may be asking how? Let’s define fetishization, according to the Oxford Dictionary: fetishization is have an excessive and irrational commitment to or obsession with something. Fetishization doesn’t always have to be sexual, it is literally an “unhealthy” obsession or commitment. This can include cultures, people, and ideology. What I am referring to as the fetishization of Japanese Culture is when, non-Asian people play into the stereotypes of Asian people, especially of Asian women, like being submissive or docile. These people either try to make themselves look more Asian or fetishize Asian women to make profit. At some point they stop seeing these Asian people as human but as something exotic. They actually have a term for these type of people within the anime community and it is weeaboo. A weeaboo is someone who is so obsessed with Japanese culture and everything about Japan that it seems weird, annoying and cringe. In other words, fetishization of the Japanese culture. This not to be confused with weeb: someone who likes anime or manga and only anime or manga. This thought process can be dangerous, especially towards Asian women. As the surge of hate crimes against the Asian community rises because of Covid-19, it is important to beware of this toxic behavior. I am not saying you can’t enjoy the Japanese culture or want to be a part of it. Take it from someone who enjoys Asian culture and took the History of manga and the History of Japan in college. The difference is being respectful, understanding, and aware.
*Otaku is an offensive term in Japan, otaku has generally regarded as an offensive word, due to the negative cultural perception of withdrawal from society.
Sexism and Harassment
Sexism and harassment are big problems in the anime community, especially for women. According to Statista in a 2020 survey conducted in the United States found that anime was generally more popular among men than women, with 13 percent of male respondents reporting that they found anime to be very favorable, compared to 9 percent of women who said the same. With women being such a small percentage, it can be a difficult and even an uncomfortable experience for some in the anime community. As one of few women on many different platforms, it never fails that my sex plays a role in the anime community. Many women within the anime community do not admit they are women because of the apparent sexism and harassment they face. Some male member within the anime community put down women for liking anime. Saying women can’t like anime or women are the reason anime has become “shit.” For example, on the social media app TikTok, there was a trend going about putting down female anime fans. This trend started because some male anime fans disliked how much attention Haikyuu and Jujutsu Kaisen (Gojo/Sakuna). This is only one example of the sexism women face.
Another big issues women face is cosplaying! Now this is double edge sword for many women. I personally cosplay and I love it! However, there have been instances where I cosplay a character and a male fan says I should not be that character because of my body type. For women, who enjoy cosplaying, they are objectified and sexualized. Why do you think anime conventions had to put up signs saying Cosplaying is not consent!? I have been at conventions where men have touched or grab female attendees inappropriately or without their permission. Don’t even get me started on pictures. It is also not just men, hating on the female anime fan but other women as well. Women can be just as mean and at times harsher. The reason why women put down other women is truly unclear. Whatever, the reason for this sexism and harassment, it needs to be stopped. As a member of the anime community, call out people's bullshit. Don’t let them get away with it. Report them, band them, and mute them. It is important to make the community a safe place.
Just like any community, there will be bigots and racists. Sadly, it happens within the community. And this is not okay! When people within the anime community throw out racial slurs, it is the communities’ job to shut it down. I am not saying that it is your job to change these people’s minds but to cut it out. Saying that we will not stand for it and telling them to leave is what is important. Stop the hate and spread the love!
Okay, these people really grind my gears! These are the type of people that feel as if they know everything about anime and there is right and wrong way to watch anime. Do not get me wrong there are some staples in the anime community. Many of these animes have withstood the test of time and laid the path for their respective genres going forward. For example, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a pillar in the anime community and helped forge the path for the mecha genre. However, I absolutely hate it. I found it boring and a waste of time. The only good quality is the opening theme song, that shit slaps. My opinion is an unpopular opinion and I get a lot of shit for it. However, I do respect this anime for what it did during it time. That doesn’t make me wrong. Nor does it make the people who enjoy Neon Genesis Evangelion wrong. Anime boils down to preferences.
Bring me to my next point. Elitist are also the ones that say subs are better then dub. First off, we all had to start off somewhere and for most of us it was watching late night tv. The first I watched anime was on Toonami and Adult Swim. None of that was in Japanese, I eventually learned about sub and my preferences grew. Same should apply to anyone with in the anime community. There is no wrong way to watch anime and people need to learn to chill and enjoy anime.
Fandoms can be very toxic for the anime community. How, you may ask. Well, they promote a lot of negativity and refuse to see another point of view aka tunnel vision. Fandoms believe they are right and only their opinions matter. Anyone with a different thought is shot down. For example, DBZ fandom that says Goku is the strongest anime character. Debatable, right? However, in a fandom there is no room for debate. I not saying that everyone is like that but most fandom can be intimidating, aggressive and negative. Moreover, there is a difference between a fan and fandom. Confused? Then let’s define them. According to the Oxford Dictionary, fandom are the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture. According to Wikipedia, a fan is a person who exhibits strong interest or admiration for something or somebody. In other words, a fan is someone who really likes something, while a fandom is group of fans coming together. For an example, I am going to talk about the Naruto fandom, since I am huge Naruto fan. I love Naruto so much I got the Nine tales seal tattooed on my shoulder blade. Coming back to the difference between fandom and fan. Within the Naruto fandom, there is a strong belief that Sakura is utter trash. And that belief is undeniably huge part of the fandom. However, as a fan I believe that is incorrect. Sakura is considered a combat medic, while Naruto is a solider. Sakura as a combat medic is considered a Healthcare Specialist making her responsible for providing emergency medical treatment to the wounded. While Naruto as a solider is on the front lines fighting for the cause. I am leaving it at that…if you want to talk more about it message me on Twitter, Facebook, comment, or email. Having a different opinion from the majority can result in a lot of negativity and backlash. By refusing to accept different opinions or even agreeing to disagree promotes hostility and toxicity within the anime community.
Another issue that is found within fandoms are ships. Ships are when people root for two characters to get together. I am a sucker for a good romance and a good ship. However, these ideas can be toxic when taken too seriously. After all, these are only characters and they already have planned ship. Even though, fandoms can be fun place to share a common interests, more often then not it is a toxic place.
Even though, there are some rotten apples in the anime community, it does not mean the whole batch is bad. There are still many people that enjoy having a friendly chat about anime. It is up to us as member of the anime community to stop this toxicity. If you see this negativity, call out their bullshit. As I mentioned before, it is important not to let them get away with it. Report them, band them, and mute them. We all came together because we love and enjoy anime. We should not let a few bad apples win and ruin our community. remember it isn’t your job to change their thinking but to prevent the spread of toxicity. Let us try to create a safe and fun space for all!