This modern anime, man

Ok guys, an NYAF report will come soon, with podcasts coming in like… probably a month or so, but for now I need to talk about something of an issue that’s often brought up in my neck of the internet, and was brought up while I was behind the Hen Da Ne table at NYAF, so it’s fresh in my mind.

That issue being, what’s with these fuckin’ moe shows that have NO STORY AT ALL, MAN. WHAT’S WITH THIS SHALLOW MODERN ANIME?!

When people talk about how much they fucking hate shows like Lucky Star, K-ON! or whatever, their first criticism is that these shows have no story. I don’t honestly think story is a requirement for most entertainment media. While story driven things are great, there’s nothing wrong with a show that relies solely on its characters.

The next thing that people fire at me–and this is specifically aimed at K-ON!, since it’s the show of the hour–is that THIS SHIT ISN’T FUNNY. And you know, in all honesty, I’m not too crazy about K-ON! I too don’t think it’s very funny. Actually, when I was flipping through the original manga back in Japan, it seemed the joke delivery in there was funnier than it was in the anime. I do, however, feel it is a good show. It’s really just about some girls hanging out and living life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can feel free to not like it, but don’t say that it’s bad because it’s doing exactly what it’s setting out to do.

The problem here is that people can’t really differentiate between their own tastes and what a show sets out to do. I have the same problem. But then again, there’s also people who just don’t approve of what a show sets out to do from the get go, but those people are probably just stuck in a time before 1989, so they’re impossible to help.

After all this, the finishing blow goes something like, “these moe shows are condemning otaku to a fake reality from which they are unable to escape, making them unable to function in the real world.” This is an awful, sweeping generalization. Then again, I can’t quite say my rebuttal to this is entirely in the right considering it’s based off of limited experience, but this experience is certainly more thorough than that of the people who haven’t even been to Japan to meet these otaku they just love to badmouth.

The stereotypical otaku still exists in Japan. You see them around, especially at events. I’ve spoken to some of them. They’re not bad guys, but they are pretty easy to look down upon. However, what you find to be more common these days is an otaku who is–quite honestly–kind of like these Yappies Matt Alt has been talking about lately. I mean, they’re not crazy and don’t carry around anime log books and shit, but if you were to walk into my manga club at Jouchi University, you’d be surprised at how fucking hip these people look. Part of it is because in Japan–generally–young people just tend to dress up nicer than American young people. This is also because as the years have gone by, being an otaku has slowly worked its way into the mainstream. It’s still niche as fuck, but I don’t think fandom today takes as much pride in putting on the wife-beater and headband just to be a cultural outlaw.

That’s not to say that these guys don’t enjoy indulging in these “moe anime” (I hate saying that by the way, since “moe” isn’t a genre) and some of these cool dudes even snuggle up with their dakimakura–just like me! Remember this guy? Dude fucking loves dakimakura, figures and tapestries. However, in addition to writing about that stuff on his mixi, he also talks about shopping at high-end clothing stores, and let me tell you–the dude was sharply dressed whenever I saw him. In addition to that, he was very sociable with everyone and you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell he was an otaku unless he told you he bought that Fate dakimakura because he loves Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha so fucking much.

Most of the fans I met in Japan just–on the whole–just seemed a lot more socially adept than most American fandom. You know Shima Shima? Guy who draws lots of Cardcaptor Sakura doujinshi? The dude is chill as fuck. I’d go out for Hoppy with him. At this point, I think being an otaku has simply evolved into a lifestyle, and the requirement to be weird about it is slowly fading away. And these guys know how to poke fun at themselves, too. It’s not as if they’re shutting themselves in a fantasy world. They’re just living a different kind of lifestyle from most other people, and are cool about it.

So basically, all y’all are wrong.