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.