Gatekeeping in Anime

[Repost, mainly because I’ve wanted to bring attention to my older posts from when I had fewer followers.]

I am not one of those people who believe the anime industry is dying. Some people do, and they are welcome to that opinion, but anime is reaching more and more people every year, and I think it will only get better. However, we aren’t growing as fast as we COULD be because of one thing, and that’s gatekeeping. For those unfamiliar, gatekeeping is what happens when hardcore fans, directly or indirectly, through their actions make people turned off on anime or certain subgenres of anime altogether.

Some people are genuinely just passionate, but passion is not a good thing by itself when it is directed towards such petty and cringy things. The usual case, however, is just a bunch of sad nerds who want to feel special and superior over other people, and lording that fact over them. I’m here to talk about how this negatively affects our chances as a community of converting casuals into fellow moe-trash loving degenerates.

Pic unrelated

“I ONLY WATCH REAL ANIME”

Disclaimer: These are all great shows

This is the most common one I see, and frankly, the most ridiculous. I think it should be obvious that good anime isn’t limited to weird and obscure violent shit from the 80s and 90s, or anime that mimics that style from 80s and 90s. Yes, these shows are great classics in their own right for having mature and gritty plots, horrible, gruesome violence and deep philosophical musings. Like any other medium, these are not the only shows that can be good, and claiming anything that isn’t like the anime you watch is trash makes you even more trash. This extends to stuff like shounen and moe, but the most prevalent are the ones I mention above, because these are the people who want to feel smart, but have to rely on anime from the 90s to do so. You are literally limiting your own knowledge and enjoyment by sticking to one genre of anime, and are even preventing more avenues for discussion by pushing away people who might actually be interested in watching your show. Being a pretentious minge is not gonna win your side any points, and neither is telling people off about the shows they like.

“OWO, SUGOI, *insert western name here*-chan! “

Hint: Never do this if you want friends, ever

Weeaboo culture is a hell of a thing. What is it about sheltered nerds suddenly releasing so much concentrated cringe once they find an avenue to vent it? While the anime elitist is more about preventing casual anime fans from wanting anything deeper to do with anime, this specific brand of weeaboo is the one that is turning normal people off from anime in general. They are passionate, but they lack the charisma, or the sanity, to make a good point as to why you should watch anime. Instead, they post about their nonexistent waifus on social media, to their immediate family’s abject terror. I’ve found that the majority of these kinds of people are the people who grew up with early 2000s romcoms and shounen, during their middle school to high school years, and never really grew out of that phase. It sucks because I know anime has helped them go through some tough spots, but they have used it so much as an escape mechanism, and have stayed on forums or cons with several, like-minded people, that they think this behavior can be socially acceptable, when fortunately for us, it is not. It makes the anime fandom look childish and immature, and why this particular brand of anime fan is so hated by anime elitists, because even they get lumped in with them, despite their “mature” tastes.

However, something these two can agree on and directly go against is-

“NORMIES, GET OUT”

They have this weird obsession with being “true anime fans” like it’s some kind of religion. It’s anime, for God’s sake, it should be treated like any other medium of entertainment and fiction. These are the people who come out of the woodwork when ANY mainstream show is suddenly talked about by normal people. It will either be elitists saying “you’re not really an anime fan when you watch trash like this”, while the weeaboos say “You only watched this show because it’s popular and trendy!” Obviously, fakers DO exist, but I see far more normal people who just happen to like an anime than fakers. They just can’t separate the two, however, and they end up bundling all of them in one basket. As per usual, this whole thing is very sad and depressing to look at, because

Conclusion

Gatekeeping is NOT something we want for a “niche” industry such as anime. More and more people are being accepting of it, but it’s these kinds of people that are actively harming our quest to spread the jot of anime to other people. I like that they have a passion, but passion can be as much a fuel for hate as it is for love of a thing.

21 thoughts on “Gatekeeping in Anime

  1. Great post! Shoot one of my favorite anime is now Made in the Abyss and that was just last year. Honestly they are the ones who miss out. Sure there are anime that get really repetitive, but there are always those that have great stories and I really enjoy anime a lot more than most TV shows now.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sooooo I’m not saying I approve of that sign as a successful method for getting more mainstream folk interested in anime, or anything. Far from it, really, but would it be wrong to still consider attending one of those UoAAMC group meetings? I do think it’s kind of comical, even if misguided.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wooo, I did not reply to stuff back then XD

      Ah, those are a hit and miss. Usually, I want to chill and talk about anime, with any “uwu” stuff being done ironically.

      Stuff like that is too much for my heart to handle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea. It’s a strange situation. Like, I’d have probably enjoyed an anime club in college, but some people just make it wayyyy too offputting or outright inhospitable to outsiders. It’s fine to have people like that in a club but they shouldn’t be the ones doing public outreach haha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I should clarify I don’t think people who make anime inhospitable to Outsiders are good for a club, but I genuinely expect that there is one of that kind of person for just about every Club

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I do find it weird that anyone would try to convince another person that they aren’t a fan or that they are somehow doing anime wrong when they watch what they like. It all just seems really silly. Surely the appropriate reaction when you find someone even curious about anime is to be happy about that and maybe suggest at title they would enjoy based on their other interests. Even if they didn’t meet whatever arbitrary measure you had of a ‘true fan’ they certainly aren’t going to if you scare them off.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Thank you for this post. Seriously, anime (and by extension, animation in general), needs to be more accessible to your average everyday viewer, and by extension, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” to borrow an expression. For me, animation being viewed as an equal medium to live-action productions is a goal of my own work, with the narratives it can tell, the sorts of storytelling it can only produce, and the wonderful worlds it conceives, when at its best, is utterly enrapturing. Unfortunately, the stereotypes of anime subculture, real or imagined, often finds itself as its own worst enemy- in the interests of protecting its own insular opinions on shows, it can wind up shutting out the flow of new ideas, new opinions and new viewership. I’m not asking for the product to ever be watered down for the masses- heck, I’d never recommend that, but rather, that open discussion and shared/different experiences could change a lot of what makes this particular culture looked down upon by certain corners of the world and in turn, make the form more readily approachable for your average Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I will admit, I do like a lot of the animes spoofed in the “I only watch real anime” section. The fact that it involved Ghost in the Shell, Monster, Angel’s Egg, and three different works from Yoshitoshi ABe had me dying laughing. I certainly like the artsier stuff when it comes to anime, but I also like other things such as Shinesman, Kimba the White Lion, and even Hikaru no Go.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! I wouldn’t call the more lighthearted stuff trashy, but I still appreciate your sarcasm. Okay, I did think Sailor Victory was a decent parody with an awesome English dub. Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Here’s the thing for me-
    Directly, I could care less about the anime medium and community as a whole. Having more people talking about my favorite shows is super great, but anime being popular doesn’t increase the chances of that.
    I’d guess the more mainstream anime is, the more likely everyone will be taken in by the wave of seasonal anime. People stop making favorites, and all we keep around are these classics-
    And I dunno, I like seeing interesting discussion around shows and movies, and when most of your views come from following a strict seasonal schedule, it’s not incentivizing to write those types of posts… So I have less of those to read!
    And that’s why I could care less if anime was more mainstream.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve done my share of uwuing in my time, but only ever among people who do it in a sort of self-aware, self-deprecating sort of way rather than attempting to carry on a serious conversation “in character”. It’s important to be able to laugh at oneself.

    I agree with all of this though. Gatekeeping is shit. My least favourite form comes from the people who can’t accept that some people enjoy things that others find to be “trash”. Who cares if person X discovered anime via Sword Art Online, or their genre of choice is Cute Girls Doing Cute Things?

    I just despise negativity in general, which is why I make a specific attempt to avoid it on my site, even going so far as to “find the good” in works commonly regarded to be “bad”. (I have an article on Sonic 2006 coming up that is going to ruffle some feathers.) I’d much rather look at things from the perspective of trying to enjoy them than making an effort to exclude people or try and look like a Super Serious Very Smart Critic by saying literally everything “has issues”.

    I have strong feelings about this. But I will restrain myself from further ranting. :3

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Pretentious weeb starter pack” lol. I was like that at a point (more of the weaboo variety). You pretty much hit the nail on the head when you said it was used as an escape mechanism to get through to tough times. That was pretty much me, but I became such a special snowflake for it. Eugh, cringing as I type this. The passion is definitely valid and earnest, but sometimes people get too caught up in it and forget the bigger picture: anime is ultimately just another form of entertainment, and if you can like it, then definitely some average joe over the street can also like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Anime should be treated like any other medium of entertainment and fiction” amen. This is how I treated anime when I got to seeing it more frequently, and eventually my family got interested in it because certain series to them looked good. They either sat down to watch an episode of Princess Tutu, or Spirited Away to great enjoyment with me. They changed their perspective on it.

    Of course since I’m the ones watching it, whenever they catch me watching anything weird, like Mad Bull 34 which has a scene with a grow men attached grenades to his pubes, their use to it. They know the weird things about it, and know, just like with movies, I go out of my ways to watch strange things.

    I don’t like to categorize myself as either an elitist, or casual since it’s too simplistic of a description. I’m simply a fan of animation, and doesn’t matter where it’s from. I also don’t try to stick around circle jerk group too much either. Sure I like to come across people who have similar opinions to me, but at the same time I like getting a new perspective on something regardless how I feel on a title. I’m a part of several Discord servers where the anime fans are easily accepting of different positions on anime. If the community weren’t so defensive about anime, and what other think about it the community wouldn’t be as badly seen as much as it is by both fans, and outsiders.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s