There are few things as draining to my enthusiasm for watching anime as reading what other people have to say about it. It's like being… no, it is exactly being the one moe fan in a world of anti-moe.
Sometimes, in my darker moods, I have to wonder if I'm the only person who still enjoys watching anime instead of complaining about it nigh-constantly. If it's Not To My Tastes, then so it goes; not everything is to my tastes. I don't complain about the immense popularity of mecha anime or shounen fighting anime, after all.
But hearing myself and my tastes insulted by generalities has gotten old a long time ago. I'm tired, so very tired, of having to defend myself. Which I inevitably have to do any time I express interest and enthusiasm over an anime which has been popularly derided as "moe-blob" or whatever the derogatory term du jour may be, because I still believe that the point of a discussion forum is discussion, and it would defeat the purpose for me to fail to carry on the discussion.
So more often than not, I simply avoid joining in. And soon, this leads to not being able to participate in any discussion about anime. Which leads in turn to not participating in the anime fandom in general, and soon I'm operating in what may be charitably termed a vacuum caused by my own inability to hew to the popular line.
This rant was brought to you by my attempt, now discouraged by negative reinforcement, to find out about the upcoming season of anime. So far Puella Magi Madoka Magica was about the least-reviled among the shows revealed so far, and I'm looking forward to it myself (assuming Shinbo-SHAFT doesn't go Pani Poni Dash on what I hope to be a straightforward Magical Girl story), but I have to question those who claim not to care about something, and then spend paragraphs of vitriol on how much they do not care.
Plans for a more interesting post fell through this week. We'll try again next week, if the guy who actually knows where to go shows up.
Something I've been puzzled about ever since I discovered online forums and chats and fandoms (ie for fifteen years now) is the prevalence of being critical as a default mode, which strikes me as a little contrary to being, you know, a fan. When I first started I was under the impression that it was enough to like something to be considered a fan, a view which has altered somewhat through the years. I also learned in time that a lot of the friction comes from being a fan of one specific thing, and maybe being a fan of other items of possibly the same shade, and then interacting with fans of who are also fans of that shade but have arrived there from different locales and it all turns into one big tangled mess.
What actually triggered the thought processes for this post was not anime, but games. It was just another of the endless debates on storytelling in RPGs, which inevitably segue into "JRPGs" and "WRPGs". The details are banal and ultimately unimportant, but what struck me the most about the flamewar was that a lot of the people who condemn JRPGs for being "all the same" do not seem to be familiar with very many JRPGs: the vast majority of their reference pool consists of Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 8, and Final Fantasy 10, with 9, 12 (I'll give a pass on the MMORPG 11), and the ones in the SNES/NES era unmentioned. Even talking about the Persona series, much less Shin Megami Tensei, got blank looks. Dragon Quest was unknown. Earthbound/MOTHER did not count, for some unspecified reason.
I cannot comment on the Other Side, as they were not very well-represented, but the more coherent ones hit upon the high points of Black Isle and its alumni (Bioware, Bethesda, now-defunct Troika, so on and so forth), which could be the same sort of narrow vision I am criticizing here. (I consider myself exempt in this instance because, yanno, I am not criticizing WRPGs for all being the same.)
I say "criticizing", but it's more of an attempt to figure out if I can criticize in the first place. Is there a Right To Criticize that is conferred by… what? A degree after several university courses on storytelling in media? Several degrees? Experience in the things we criticize? Or just experience in the general area of things we criticize? If I play a lot of Final Fantasy, can I talk about Star Ocean? How about Ace Combat? Or do I need to play Tom Clancy's HAWX for that?
Let's transfer this to anime. How many episodes of something should I watch before I can say "I don't like this"? How much of a difference is there between "I don't like this" and "I don't like this now", with the implication that there is a possible mindset during which I will like the show in question? What about the difference between "I like this" and "I don't mind this"? Where is the line between "I don't like this" and "this is not good"?
Am I allowed to give a judgement on a show before it has ended? Eyebrows were raised when I named Kampfer as my favourite show last season before the last few episodes, but I do not see any objections mentioned to people slamming Omamori Himari after… what, two episodes? Is there some sort of definable, distinct, discernible threshold of "good" or "bad" that is accepted by the vast majority of people? And if I am not in this vast majority, should I have to join with that majority? Won't that contradict the message of "don't follow the crowd" that I keep hearing when I profess my love of cute girls in anime? Which crowd is the crowd?
Sometimes I get the feeling that I am only allowed to have opinions in sets, rather than individually-packaged a la carte. If I like this, I should dislike that. If I like both, I am deviant.
I realize that I tend to be harsher on the negative aspects of fandom, such as slamming a show with hyperbole, than the positive aspects, such as praising a show with hyperbole. I suspect this is because the negative aspects usually incur more flamewars than the positive ones, and while I am fine with disagreements, I am only fine with them when they are polite disagreements.
This really should be no surprise to anyone who knows me. I think what does cause confusion among people who only read my forum postings or my blog stuff is that I have somewhat different triggers for what sets me off.
One of these, and indeed a major one that will cause me to fume impotently behind my computer screen for hours on end (if not days), is people assuming motives for me. Stuff like "You're doing this to look cool" or "You're just trolling for attention" make me want to scream at the other person: "Don't you dare pretend to know why I did what I did!"
I can't help it. I think it's incredibly rude and unwarranted; I also know that I'm in a very tiny minority who thinks like that, especially on the Internet. I know that it doesn't matter what some random person out there in the world thinks of me.
But there's a difference between knowing something, and accepting something.
I always assume by default that when someone says something, or more likely posts something on the Internet, if it's not an obvious joke (and it usually has to be quite obvious, because of the text-only nature of communication on forums and blogs), that person actually does believe what they're saying, and they are welcoming of honest, polite, and friendly discussion on the matter. This is because that is exactly my state of mind when posting; it's always a major wrench in mindset to realize that this is not the case for everyone.
If I get my facts wrong, I will try my best to acknowledge it, in the comments if nothing else. (I don't like editing posts on this blog because of some really annoying problems that crop up occasionally due to conflicting WordPress plugins. On Livejournal it's a simple matter, but here…)
So with a comment like that, I see "OP not cool", and think "well, that's true, I never said I was".
Then I come across "OP just wants attention".
NO. BAD. WRONG. COMPLETELY INCORRECT. A TREMENDOUS AND HEINOUS INACCURACY.
Yes, for that post I would welcome further discussion, and this is obviously impossible without some form of attention. But to say that I wrote that post for attention itself is just wrong. That post came about through some stitching together of disjointed notes and thoughts, and put up because I had nothing else prepared for my Two Posts Per Week. The sum amount of thought put into that post may be substantial, but it's all disjointed; actually posting the thing was a result of "hey, what do I have in my drafts Notepad file? Here's something substantial, let's go grab a tangentially-related pic from my collection and post it up before midnight."
And the anger that arose from that comment is not because of the content, which, when I got past the beginning, I found to be a valid contribution to the discussion (unlike the constant advertising spam), but only because of the pretense at omniscience, of attributing a motive to me that was entirely, thoroughly wrong.
Seriously. If it had been "OP did not think this post through at all", it would be accurate, and I would have cheerfully accepted it. But since it's seldom obvious which possible motive I might have had in doing whatever I did (I usually think it's obvious, but I am not Everyone Else), it's best not to guess.
I'm posting this here because I just realized that This Is My Blog, and I can actually say something about it. This is kind of a buildup from other comments on various forums, which cast aspersions on my reasons for doing this blog. I know of these comments thanks to the Incoming Links feature of WordPress Stats, and so I am exercising Right of Reply.
I am currently writing for this blog mostly on sheer bloody-minded stubbornness.That is what informs the posts I have been making; not because I have Something To Say, but because I have Nothing To Say, but Need To Say It Anyway.
And I am afraid of declaring burnout, not because of what it means, but because of what it may result in.
The last time I burned out resulted in something that I've seen linked to in very many places, resulting in an even greater need to maintain a certain standard that I did not even know existed. I've seen GamerS critiqued and analyzed as though it had been planned, something that I sat down to sketch out at least the broad outlines thereof and had some sort of goal in mind, and I don't know why.
This is fairly stressful. The longest I've ever planned the content of a GamerS comic for was half an hour, and it's apparently one of the weaker ones. The "good" ones (which seem to get linked to a lot) are those which I came up with pretty much on the spot.
I came up with GamerS as an escape from responsibility, not as an additional burden.
I'm obviously still going to continue GamerS, since it does relax me, and if I'm in the mood, I can churn them out like nothing. Contrary to the belief of many, I also have not forgotten about the CCS Episode Summaries, but I am carefully not doing them because, as I may have mentioned before elsewhere, I have no more time to watch anime for fun; not without dropping this blog.
I'm not whining about the blog taking up my time. I am complaining about the way people keep misunderstanding why the posts on this blog are the way they are.
And the motives for this post? Quite simply, I'd like something to link to the next time someone else does something on my blog that makes me reply in a snippy and annoyed manner.
A psychiatrically-minded (pun unintended) reader might infer from my frequent rants about the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Original Character creation community that I have some sort of grudge against certain people. I don't remember if I've said it before, but to be safe, I shall reiterate: I am but one side of this multifaceted story. Others may have different viewpoints, and several are probably more convincing than mine.
In short, the obvious: don't take just my word for it.
I don't actually have any grudge per se, at least consciously. My primary distaste is with the habit of forceful arguments, using loaded words and condescending dismissals; it gives me an actual physical headache, possibly through some psychosomatic influence. There is the unnerving feeling that the debate is not being conducted logically; the participants are not playing fair.
This also explains my decreased presence in the AnimeSuki thread. The rules of the forum state that there is one, and only one, thread per topic, and "Original Characters In The Nanoha-verse" counts as one topic. So if I encounter friction with other regulars of that thread, or at least their debating technique, there's not exactly anywhere else I can go other than "away".
I also have no illusions that this post will make me in any way popular with the community. So it goes.
In such an emotionally-charged situation, possibly no other collection of three words can cause as much ill feeling as "suspension of disbelief". We all know that the Nanoha-verse is not a place with especially stringent physical laws, at least as we understand them in Real Life. While endless entertainment can be had in speculating whether characters would act in a way claimed by a fanfic, human behaviour being somewhat unpredictable, natural laws are supposed to be marginally consistent. (On a macro level, as a rule of thumb, and several other disclaimers to satisfy the nitpicky out there.) The Nanoha-verse, however, asks one question first and foremost: is it cool?
One of the problems with being a blogger is that where a relatively normal person would have an idle thought and then dismiss it as trivial or irrelevant to the more substantial questions of life, the universe, and where the next meal is going to come from, a blogger would pick and poke at the thought like some hitherto unexplored sore tooth, seeing how far one can probe before pain happens.
I was, not too long ago, talking (via IRC, as my actual Real Life social life has dwindled to nonexistence) to a player of World of Warcraft who lamented the much-heard lament about the WoW community and its general unpleasantness. This is, by no means, a particularly new complaint or revelation, but it struck a certain note of familiarity from other sources, which once again brings me to a tangent: it is invaluable, I feel, for a member of any fandom to diversify, to broaden his or her interests, such that a sense of perspective is gained and one realizes that there truly is nothing new.
The word which brought me pause was "community". What made a community? Sociologists and those in related fields would probably have an answer for that, but I would not know where to start researching, and in any case this is a blog entry, not an academic paper. I hold myself to the utmost standards in spelling and punctuation, but calls for citations, because I have been online for too long and am thus incapable of functioning as a normal human being, rearrange themselves in my head as "SAUCE PLZ".
I thus reason, without any logical basis whatsoever, that a community in this sense consists of a group of people who recognize themselves via at least one (if not more) distinct identifier, whether geographical, idealogical, or (most commonly on the Internet) by their hobbies and interests.
This is a blog, and my job is to point out the stunningly obvious. It fills the wordcount, you understand.
Produced below is part of the text of a Typical Rant on the City of Heroesofficial boards, which I will have to mention for the record is not as bad as some of the worst examples of the type, but is still unfortunately typical.
I've tried to edit out any references to obscure knowledge only players of the game would have (if you're wondering, the original rant was a diatribe against Enhancement Diversification, quite inaccurately at that; the nerfs that were mentioned came in the Global Defense Nerf in the previous content update), as well as removed the swearwords (which were censored out by the swear filter anyway). Other than that, the rant is fairly unchanged, but I've added in formatting and highlights for reasons of this post.
It's sad that [the devs] decided to go through with this change, when it's clear that it's their myopic "vision" of the [game] which drives [players] away. They should be following their stated goal of giving the [players] what they want, not wasting their time with this slap in the face of loyal customers. Just look around you to see how everyone is leaving in droves when the [game] could have been such a great one, but was run into the ground by stupidity. I predict that the [game] will not have much longer to live, and we are seeing its dying moments even now. I for one will never recommend this [game] to anyone ever.
Don't bother looking for this post: it was locked due to the inevitable flamewar, and got pruned in the regular forum maintenance which delete older inactive threads (not so much censorship as mere software limitations).
Now. You've undoubtedly noticed the highlighted words. In the style of madlibs, try replacing those words with the following:
the devs = Kyoto Animation or Sunrise or GAINAX or Studio Bones or whatever game = anime or fandom, whichever seems more appropriate players = fans
Does this look familiar?
I always find that being involved in many fandoms, especially if they do not tend to cross-pollinate, provides for a great deal of insight into how people (specifically, fans) tend to act in much the same way everywhere. For example, the announcement of the cancellation of Kodomo no Jikan was met with cries of outrage about "censorship" that had an uncanny resemblance to those surrounding what was termed Livejournal Strikeout 2007. And, as mentioned, madlibbing one angry rant from one source makes it as interchangeable as a form letter.
What is the point of this post, apart from being Blatant Filler? Well, I usually do things like this when I am well and truly irritated, which should give you an indication about my current state of mind. But mostly, I'd just like for any readers to depart with the idea that their championed causes in response to various issues, serious or otherwise, are not exactly unique. And rather importantly, when engaging in the inevitable battles which give rise to heated feelings and words, do remember the progressions and outcomes of all the other examples. It may provide for some insight.
In other offtopic news, the whole "anime elitism" debate going on right now is… well, I'm not exactly staying out of it as much as staying out of it this time, since all my viewpoints have been hammered to death already to what was probably an empty room. Let's just say that I'm tired of having to repeat myself for now; I might come back with greater energy in a while.
For a change from my usual listlessness and apathy, this time I do have something I want to say, but I am actually restraining myself from saying it. I suppose this paradox stems from my not really knowing why I have this blog in the first place: I want to be able to let my thoughts and opinions be heard, but I also want it to remain all inoffensive and unobtrusive. And so when an issue like this arises, I find myself just bursting with things to say, but not actually daring to point fingers and use harsh language. I don't like conflict, but what I have to say will probably entail some amount of conflict sometime in the future.
So I'm sure most have heard of the recent kerfluffle about KyoAni's decision to animate Clannad. The progenitor, so to speak, would be this Freezeframe commentary on Random Curiosity. Now, I have my own opinions about Freezeframe's history of controversy, but I have to at least maintain a semblance of professional courtesy. Putting that aside, the issue here is that KyoAni is now making an anime from Key's Clannad game, and some believe that this is, and I quote from the original post, "a total waste of ability and resources". Someothersdisagree.
(In fairness, the original Freezeframe did mention that KyoAni doing Key works may well be a good thing. However, the phrasing used could definitely have been improved to be less, well, condescending. But since I've already made my criticisms of the Freezeframe commentaries before, I guess the author has already taken it under advisement.)
Myself, I have my own opinions about the whole issue. Well, perhaps not so much opinions as a sort of burning rage of a thousand suns into which puppies covered in napalm have been violently thrust that is only tangential to the actual animation of Clannad. But as mentioned, I have to maintain calm and rationality, because to actually vent and let loose to my feelings would be impolite. It will not be nice. And considering that the entire point of my blog deals with an aspect of anime that many people wish to see forever erased from existence, and have said as much, I think that I should probably not throw away any advantages I might accrue from a reputation of being mostly harmless.
Just in case any of the unconscious vitriol leaks through, though, I will have to warn that anything below the cut is likely to be less judiciously edited for tone of voice, if not content.
It's fairly well-known among my friends, both online and whatever Real Life anime fans I've managed to locate, that my tastes in anime are somewhat skewed, shall we say, towards the more moe part of the anime spectrum. In fact, it's become something of a running joke: if it features female characters who look cute and a little on the young side, it immediately becomes "the sort of anime DK likes". And yes, "stay away from the loli" jokes abound.
I play along, of course. It's what friends do.
Several people have attempted to sway my tastes over to other genres. "Watch this," they say. "If you don't like it, there's something wrong with you." "This", in far, far too many cases, usually turns out to be something I don't, in fact, like. So, is there something wrong with me? How would one define "something wrong"?