I did something a bit unusual this weekend. If anyone follows Nartaki’s twitter feed they might notice that she retweeted a announcement from Lance Fensterman about a trio of New York Film Academy students who were doing a documentary on otaku called Animted. Since Narutaki was on vacation during the audition I decide to check it out on my lonesome. I was curious to see what types of people showed up and what questions they were going to ask. It was an interesting experience. It was eye-opening enough that I felt like sharing what I learned.
The first thing I noticed was more than twice the number of women than men who showed up. Almost everyone was college age or younger. The one person who was older than me was of course a guy. If you needed an indication that fandom has gotten much younger and much more gender diverse than a glance around the room was proof positive that fandom has shifted from how it was before the anime and manga boom in the early 2000s. There was one woman who brought her niece as they were both fans after her niece introduced her to the medium.
There was one show on everyone’s lips who had two X chromosomes and it was Hetalia: Axis Powers. Every female fan mentioned the show at least once and it was the dominant show of discussion. If you wanted to hear fan girl squeals all you had to do was mention they show and conversation would flow like water. Unsurprisingly the bulk of the conversation was about parings and cosplay. Also unsurprising was that not one heterosexual pairing was mentioned. At one point when the filmmakers were not asking everyone questions I asked everyone who watched Hetalia if they did any research on the history that Hetalia references. Two of the young women were adamant about actually reading the liner notes for the show and doing their own research. So while it may seem that Hetalia is just a slash couple obsessed shallow fandom I think that the secret hope that some people have that it will get people more interested in history is not unfounded.
The last interesting I noticed was an overwhelming hatred for Funimation. The way the participants talked about the company you would expect Gen Fukunaga’s leitmotif to be The Imperial March. It was the only company whose name came up but it came up several times as if a curse. I never did ask anyone why they all hated the company so much but someone lamented Funimation picking up a series at least twice and another person put it on the same level as 4Kids. I do not agree with everything that Funimation does as a company but comparing them to 4Kids is even a bit too much hyperbole for even me and I love hyperbole. I regret not asking why so many people had those feeling because I am curious to see why they have gained this anti-fandom.
With everything said in done I had a very pleasant Saturday. It is easy to forget that fandom exists beyond the narrow selection you see in the podcasting and blogosphere communities. I was interesting to see some segments of the fandom that are equally devoted but not part of this little circle of writers. It gives me insight into dedicated segments that I might pass by at convention but have never really chatted with. The next day they did a little solo interview with me and a few other people who attended the auditions. While it is entirely possible that I will end up on the cutting room floor if there is any news of me being in a documentary my vanity will ensure that I mention it in a post.
8 thoughts on “All Right, Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready For My Close-Up”
Wow. That is incredibly disheartening. I was going to go to that. I’m so glad I didn’t.
I’m an avid supporter of the industry, I don’t watch fansubs at all. I’m also a huge English voice actor fangirl, and a lot of my favorite voice actors work for FUNimation, so I would hate to be in a room full of people bashing them. I also have next to no interest in Hetalia. I feel like if I’d gone… I would have lost even more faith in humanity. Or maybe that’s not the whole fandom there. Maybe that’s just the type of people who would go to an event like this.
Sometimes I feel like seeing people act like that and say that kind of stuff is why some people are ashamed of liking anime. They don’t want to be grouped in with that.
Most everyone there was hardcore into anime. I know several people who are very devoted to the medium but for one reason or another hold enormous grudges against certain companies for various reasons. There are still people who will not forgive Funimation for their initial handing of Dragon Ball Z years later and major improvements in the company. If anything the most passionate fans tend to be the one who hold grudges the longest. Sad but true.
I wish I knew the reason for the hate. I am curious which titles or which policy the company had that made the company the evil empire. An opportunity missed indeed. I sort of wish Narutaki was there. Her more sociable nature can be invaluable.
The hate seems to stem from a number of factors, from the company’s seemingly cheap packaging, to their subtitling work, to even their PR people. I’ve even heard people gripe that the company doesn’t distribute outside of the US, which makes them greedy and arrogant for not paying for Europe/Middle-East/Australian rights.
However, the most common argument I’ve heard is that FUNimation is a corporation that isn’t afraid to run itself as a corporation. They have lawyers, and they’re clearly not afraid to use them, as we’ve seen numerous times in the past. They take action against pirates (as we just saw), and go after people who illegally distribute their product to protect their bottom line. So, while they try to be in-touch with the fans, and make numerous concessions, the whole corporate stigma just doesn’t go away.The end result is a chilling effect that leaves a lot of people feeling bitter.
Those are all some interesting reasons for people to hate the company any even if I think a bunch of them are total BS. I guess I was just surprised for 2 reasons. Most people I speak to on the Internet either like Funimation or simply don’t care about it. The second was that it was more than one person and it was actual hatred more than just disinterest or mild annoyance. I guess I just did not expect it to be that intense and that prevalent.
It is one thing to think of something theoretically but it is another to see it first hand.
I think one of the reasons (though unlikely) why people have so much hate for Funimation is that they’re the only anime company that’s actually of relevance. You probably won’t go to one convention and not miss a single Funi title because they mostly have every anime series in their company, whether it’s one overseas or re-dubs of titles from other companies. Therefore, some will like some of the titles Funi has while some won’t.
Actually, I think I would have liked to have gone to that, though I probably would have just asked a lot of questions…
I chatted a bit with some people but I am not very good at inserting myself in conversations. Oh well. Maybe next time the more socially adept half of the blog will no be in a completely different state when something like this comes up.
So Hetalia is still that popular…hmmmm..
Well the sample size was small but in the room it was show #1. I have yet to go to a con where the Hetalia panels have not been packed and the cosplay is still popular anywhere I go. I can’t tell if the fandom has grown or shrunk but it is still viable.