My resentment for some modern ‘anime fandom’ (I use that phrase loosely for this purpose) and the general Internet culture has been stewing quite aggressively lately. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me getting older and whatnot, but some of it is really wearing on my last nerve.
* People complaining about Adult Swim’s programming choices as if they didn’t know anime existed outside of it. Underline this a few times.
* Obsessing over English dub actors (I’m sorry, I refuse to use the inane loanwording pervasive amongst some of these groups and use seiyuu – heck, I pretty heartily detest it when people use that term for the Japanese voice actors; using Japanese replacement words to sound cool or authentic when you don’t even speak the language only makes you look like a clueless, annoying, and/or pretentious twit – and there’s nothing, other than these people’s nationality, to distinguish them from any other kind of actor, except that some of them also sing – but wait, we have that too, and the term is usually either actor-singer or double- threat, or…you get my point).
* Those that act authoritative just because they can transcribe syllables from katakana to roman characters and then proceed to butcher the word’s intended language just because ‘it isn’t pronounced that way in Japanese’ – seriously, how hard is it to realize that when a word comes from English or German or French or Spanish, you render the word as English or German or French or Spanish, not as a mess of near-unintelligible Engrish (or respective manglings of other languages). It’s forgivable and somewhat amusing when it happens in a vacuum (see Engrish.com); it’s a poor job when it’s done in the framework of a language which allows for a proper transliteration. Some of this gets at me because not only do I have a prevailing interest in the Japanese language, I also took German for 7 years, and French for 2, so I know that translation and transliteration is more of an art than a science.
One glaring example of this is the insistence of so many fansub/scanlation groups to use the term ‘vice-captain’ for the lieutenants in Bleach. Namely, it’s a bad translation – ‘fukutaichou’ may literally mean ‘vice-captain’, but that rendering completely misses the way the rank is treated in the series itself. ‘Vice’ in English is a prefix used to indicate equal or near-equal status as the person being viced under: a vice president is assumed to be just as qualified as the president to lead the country or business in the event the latter is incapacitated. In Bleach, this is only true insofar as adminstration is concerned. But look at actual militaries – adjutants of a captain are their lieutenants, and perform in a virtually identical fashion as the ones in Bleach, not to mention that it’s pretty clear the power gap between a captain and lieutenant is huge in that series, so the two are obviously not equal or even near-equal.
* Kingdom Hearts, anything. Seriously, this was the point where Square lost all of the respect I had for them (Einhänder excluded). I mean, they went and anally raped Final Fantasy with Scrooge McDuck’s pimp cane…I’ll just let that image settle in your minds for now. The fandom surrounding it is again, one of my top picks for things that make me hate the post-2003 anime scene. It’s the same sort of revile I hold for Harry Potter fandom over the age of 11. I suppose it’s great for the kids, but by the time you’re in middle school and most definitely high school, sorry, I don’t pity you for getting picked on.
* The steaming pile of Internet waste disguised as ‘social networking’ (which I hate anyway) known as Gaia Online. Gag me with a spoon. Mainly my annoyance is in the fact that the demographic it’s aimed at is more or less what I described in the previous four points. It also has a lot to do with my next point.
* As I hear more talk about ‘texting’, or the kind of memes like ‘epic fail’/'fail’ anything, ‘doing it for the lulz’ (or the term ‘lulz’ in general), ‘rickrolling’, and all the other examples of being a douche that you find out there, the more I feel like punching a koala – proverbially, of course. I have a well-developed appreciation for dark humor and Schadenfreude, but the aforementioned memes are just mean-spirited and using the anonymity of the Internet to be as big of a jerk as possible. Those that talk like that seriously come off to me as having the maturity level of a grade schooler. Of course, they’d probably take that as a compliment…how older teens and 20- somethings can think this reflects well on them is beyond me. It’s almost as bad as the brain cell-killing tripe that passes for children’s television these days, and then people wonder why there seems to be a prevailing trend toward the dumbing-down of today’s youth. Whatever happened to 3-2-1 Contact, Carmen Sandiego, or pre-political correctness/obesity awareness Sesame Street, people? Heck, even Looney Tunes would be an improvement, but you’ll only see that on for the 5-10 year old demographics once in a blue moon these days.
Why is it that I think this is getting to me so much? I honestly believe it has to do with the fact that a generational gap is forming, but it’s not quite a traditional one, because it’s splitting even among people that are the same age, with ‘experience’ (as nebulous as a designation as that is) being the only distinction of substance. Guess what? I’m only 23. The difference, however, is that I started watching anime when I was 10, way back in 1995 or the early part of 1996. So I’ve been exposed to it much longer than the average fan you’d run into today, and have far more in common with the scene as it existed 8 or 9 years ago, and knew long before the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim era that to find the best variety of stuff, you have to – have to, without exception – look outside what the broadcasters want to throw in front of you (which is fairly obvious anyway, considering the only series that seem to appear on American cable networks are action shows, unless you count The Anime Network, and aside from their On Demand offerings, that’s not even carried in my area).
I also finally got sick and tired of hearing the same very small pool of English vocal talent handling – and in many cases, mangling – series. I’m not opposed to dubs like some ardent Subs Only people are, but with the exclusion of shows I’m nostalgic about (Robotech, Gall Force, et al) or were always reputed to have good dub work on (like Cowboy Bebop), I will pick the original Japanese over the English nowadays. It happened mostly around the time I watched This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, which was the first time I refused to watch a show with English audio when the option was there.
To go along with that first paragraph, my interest in Japanese culture and language has little to do with anime, even if it’s become my primary route of exposure to it. Before all that, I loved Godzilla movies and we even had a Japanese cultural exchange speaker come to our class weekly during the 5th grade, which provided my earliest experience with the language itself and some of the customs. Pair that with the fact I’ve always viewed anime as merely entertainment rather than a ‘lifestyle’ (whatever that’s really supposed to mean), and I don’t take very kindly to the appropriation of the term ‘otaku’, of people insinuating that all anime fans act like obnoxious 13-year-olds that continuously spew out superficial references to dance games and clichés and litter their speech with Japanese loanwords, or even that among fellow anime fans, that we all went through ‘that stage’. I’m sorry, I never went through that stage, and I’m pretty damned happy I never did.
As for my vitriol toward the texting stuff, I grew up in a time when cell phones were the size of bricks and even at that, were a luxury. Even bulky car phones were a luxury. When I was in middle and high school, we had 56k internet and my first exposure to AIM, which as far as I’m concerned, on a computer terminal is the only way instant messaging should be carried out (and I still use completely proper sentences and punctuation when talking on AIM). If you have the device in hand, use it to, you know, SPEAK to someone, not get carpal tunnel in your thumbs to do something as awkward as sending a text message. Perish the thought I’m still of the mindset that cell phones are for emergencies or convenience, not primary phone usage.
Every so often it’s really nice to rant. And I’m fully expecting that some people probably don’t appreciate some of the things I said above, but objection or no objection, it doesn’t change how much of a gap I feel there is among those that came into this stuff during the 90s vs. those that have in the last five or six years. Chalk it up to me being part of the old guard (albeit perhaps the youngest group therein) or whatever you use to justify it, but things have changed, exactly like times have.