Please hire another fact checker MSNBC.

Brian Alexander recently wrote a rather controversial article which states that extremely sexual and shocking mediums of anime and manga have become mainstream in the U.S. This article is filled with poor research, quotes taken out of context, and broad generalizations in order to make a predefined point. In other words it has all the earmarks of modern shock journalism. This clearly caused most of the Internet community to go right to their favorite local forums and blog and complain like nobody’s business.

With so much being just blatantly incorrect it’s laughable that he goes on to call anime mainstream. Mainstream implies that the average joe on the street knows a least a little about whatever it is. So since the not-so-average joe writing the article seems to know close to nothing about it, it is hard to believe anime is mainstream. What is also sad is you know a bunch of middle-schoolers’ parents saw that article and freaked out at their Naruto watching children. Poor kids.

The claims that anime and manga have become mainstream forms of art and culture are, oddly enough, the most erroneous mistakes in the article all together. Anime is still a very niche interest in the U.S. and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. This is a fact that some American anime fans don’t seem to realize.

It is the power of the internet. You can always find like-minded people online and once you immerse yourself you can forget there are other people out there. If you prowl around anime websites, forums, blogs, and hang out with people who watch anime it is easy to think most people have a clue about your hobby. Anime acceptance in the U.S. has come a long way but I don’t think it will ever reach mainstream.

It’s easy to think that anime has become mainstream. You read interviews with animations and movie producers that have been influenced by anime. You see anime to buy in your local Best Buy. You remember that Spirited Away won an Academy Award. This leads to some people thinking that anime has become mainstream. This is a case of tunnel vision leading to a incorrect perception of the truth. Anime has certainly come far from its humble beginnings. There was a day that it would be inconceivable to all but the most optimistic fans would consider the fact that we would ever see anime regularly on TV, have manga in chain bookstores, or read regular articles about it from major news channels. Despite this, anime is still a fringe hobby and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

The popularity seems to ebb and flow like most things in entertainment. Why just a couple of weeks ago we learned that anime was being relegated to the “death slots” of Adult Swim, with the exception of Bleach. And AWA brought the news of no more anime for Toonami though it was unclear whether or not Naruto would be staying. This seems to further enforce a trend we’ve been seeing in the last couple of years, anime is not selling like hotcakes. Apparently it isn’t even being watched for free enough to sustain a run on cable in some cases.

I’m not some elitist anime fan that feels that anime is only cool if you keep a velvet rope around it so the mundane people can’t get in. I still have the old school mantra that spreading the love of otaku culture is cool; the idea that anime is a treasure to share with others; the feeling that it is your duty to spread the knowledge. But anime is still a niche product that most people are generally unaware of let alone any have sort of interest in. Anime is still mostly the hobby of nerds and geeks. The sheer number of fans has grown. I would even say that it has become a mainstream geek hobby but that does not equate to an overall leap into the mainstream.

You must spread the love! I lent anime to countless people throughout my middle school and high school days. Some of it stuck, some of it didn’t. But there is always someone out there that hasn’t seen it that will fall in love with the medium. I think it is also easy to mistake an interest in one thing, like Naruto, as someone having an interest in anime. While Naruto is absolutely anime, it doesn’t always make people leap into the fringe. For the most part is creates a mild passing interest in such things. It is a starting point though! Most of us have our roots in something similar.But I still think that the amount of people that grow from that into full feldged anime fans is small in comparison to the amount of people watching.

You still have to explain to most people what anime is. Even if they do know what it means they might not really understand it. Most people have a narrow perception of anime. You still meet a great deal of people who think that anime is all either tentacle rape porn or Pokemon. The best selling anime DVDs still sell far less than any moderately popular show or movie on DVD. Manga does better but most nowhere as well as any best selling novel or children’s book. As the product of a foreign nation for a foreign audience I feel that anime will always be banished to niche realm. Its popularity will rise and fall depending on what Japan is creating that year and what Americans are looking for. Certain titles will rise above the pack and gain something close to a mainstream appeal but the medium as a whole will remain in its geek ghetto. This is not unfair or horrible nor is it preferable or right. It merely is the way it is and I accept that fact.

Top 5 series I got the wrong impression of
5. Zero no Tsukaima
4. Kaiba
3. Air
2. Ouran High School Host Club
1. Pretty Cure

6 thoughts on “Please hire another fact checker MSNBC.

  1. dm says:

    Silly offended fan-boys.

    They don’t have to do any of these things, because the article wasn’t about anime and manga, it was about sex, and how anime and manga could be used as a supplement to jaded sex-lives. Look at the page! The article is squeezed in between “the joys of pregnant sex” and “avatar sex”.

  2. reversethieves says:

    @dm:

    No matter what the article is about, the facts presented should be correct. If I write an article about the French Revolution am I not held responsible if I mention and present incorrect information about the American Revolution?
    -Narutaki

    Even sex articles and entertainment articles have editorial standards. You can’t go around saying whatever you want just to make a point. You should also do a decent amount of research before you submit an article to a major news website.
    -Hisui

  3. dm says:

    I think a better analogy is: this fellow is writing about sex among turtles, and you’re complaining that his article doesn’t contain a general overview of reptilian species and their ecology.

    Yeah, yeah, there’s more to anime than what he talks about, just as there’s more to reptiles than turtle-sex.

    Big deal.

  4. Lothos says:

    Wow, that was some really bad stuff. Here’s the comment I left on the newsvine thread discussing the article:

    I don’t feel it really necessary to expound on the many glaring and inaccurate errors made in this article, so I’ll just say that pretty much everything everyone has said about this article is true. In short, it’s trite.

    However, one thing I do find interesting is that the only people who appear to be commenting on this article are anime/manga fans (myself included). Which makes me wonder exactly what % of the visitors to this page reading this article were lead there from an anime/manga fansite/blog/etc. Some google analytics would yield some interesting results I’d imagine.

    Hopefully the only people who really read this article and actually took anything said in it to heart are anime/manga fans and they know it’s a pile of garbage. The danger here is when equally misinformed readers stumble across such an article. They likely will skim through the article, not read any of the comments regarding it, and have a horribly skewed idea of what anime and manga is about. Mr. Alexander was at least careful enough to say that not all anime/manga deals with the things he is mentioning (unfortunately, neither were some titles he mentioned as examples), but that is one tiny sentence among a wall of hateful graffiti.

    Are there sexually explicit, exceedingly violent, and what one might consider perverted anime/manga out there? Absolutely. However, there is just as much of the same type of media being produced by American studios. Unlike American cartoons or (mainstream) American comics, anime/manga tend to delve into a much wider spectrum of genres. There are adult comics, just like there is adult manga. Both can often be found in the same shop. There are pornographic live action movies, just like there are pornographic anime – again, both can often be found in the same shop.

    However, the way Mr. Alexander presents this information is that the explicit anime/manga are being sold in places where the same types of books/movies from American producers are not, which is simply untrue and I think the most irreverent piece of misinformation in the article. I will however admit that often times at a place such as Borders they do include the “adult” themed manga in the same area as manga aimed at teens and children. This however is simply because they do not classify their manga as anything but simply “manga” and typically the adult themed titles are plastic wrapped and have a warning sticker (this is usually by choice of the publisher, not the retailer). There’s a children’s books section, a teen’s books section, an erotic book section, etc. But there is pretty much just one “manga” section that does not divide titles into any particular genre except maybe “shoujo” titles.

    The same can be said for anime. Unless visiting a store which specializes in anime or other more fringe media, there isn’t a comedy/action/drama/romance/horror section. There’s just one big section of anime and it’s sorted alphabetically.

    Imagine if you walked into a book store and all the books were simply put on the shelves in alphabetical order. Same with movies. Would Mr. Alexander then be writing an article saying that all books and movies are falling into a dark abyss of perverted debauchery because as you’re looking for a movie for you six year old you come across a title about homosexual relationships? The scary thing is, based on his level of research and the poor aptitude of his editors, he very well might.

  5. Lothos says:

    One last thing, the last line of the article really made me laugh.

    “Macias agrees and has little doubt that otaku will influence attitudes about sexual expression here. “When you see a kid sitting in Borders reading a manga, he’s not just reading a comic book,” Macias said. “There is something really powerful going on there.”’

    I know later comments said that Macias’ quotes were taken out of context of his source material in order to further the skewed view Mr. Alexander was pushing, but not knowing that it made me chuckle.

    Um, what manga is the kid reading that’s so powerful it’s going to influence his, all his friends’, and all their friends’ views on sexual expression? It just reminds me of one of those terrible middle school shock and lies flicks from the 50s. All they need is some middle aged guy in a bad suit with slicked back hair and thick horn rimmed glasses saying “It could be your child reading this stuff. Or yours, or yours, (turns and faces the camera and points at you) or yours!”

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