This will be the last post before all the manga-themed posts come. Like I’ve said, it’s merely that the series has to have a manga to be eligible for March, which doesn’t actually constrain my usual boundaries too much…
As for this post, this is a response to something of Lina’s. I’ve paid attention to the comments when making my argument, so make sure to read them too.
“You’re an otaku, aren’t you? Name 20 anime other than Naruto, Bleach and One Piece.” – the meme in Lina’s post (edited)
Unfortunately, I’d have to side with Karandi’s comment on this one. The thing about being an anime fan is that you shouldn’t have to justify your need to be part of the community – you only need to decide you deserve the title. There are people who’ve watched thousands of anime and some who’ve just watched long-running shows, after all. Karandi also mentions the “Oh, you can name 20, I can name 200” mentality. Well, the meme probably cuts it to 20 for simplicity’s sake (you’d end up zoning out if you made a serious fan list 200 anime and then proceeded to listen to them), but it is much the same deal.
Certainly, the more you watch, the more names you become aware of, but Lina does bring up a good point when she says she hasn’t watched some of them and yet knows the names of them – the metric for an otaku of any stripe (by Japanese definition) is obsession, not merely knowledge of a small drop in the ocean of their choice. After all, if there are roughly 40 anime coming out per season this year, times by 4 for a year and you memorised the lot from one year, that’s more than enough to satisfy the quota even with the ongoing One Piece excluded (and possibly Boruto, as Naruto’s successor). To add insult to injury, Bleach and original generation Naruto (i.e. the series that bears that name plus Shippuden) have moved on in the world of anime, so some newer fans may have already passed them by for Boku no Hero Academia or Black Clover. Furthermore, there are other titles one could argue could be excluded instead for the meme’s sake (as mentioned by KingDylBag regarding Pokémon and Dragon Ball).
What I’m getting at here is that there seems to be some “segregation of the elite from the non-elite” (or more simply, an “us vs. them” mentality) thing going on with this one meme. It may not necessarily be a bad thing for anime fans, which have historically been not that many. However, the ways one can interact with anime, especially in the internet age, may mean that someone’s never seen an anime and yet knows every single plot point. Arguably, I could label that person a “cheat” or “lazy” for not dedicating themselves to actually watching the thing if it were legally available to them. Furthermore, it might also depend on circumstances behind why this person can’t watch it, but that doesn’t make them any less of a fan of the anime in question.
Basically, anything that is originally intended to be a hobby can be described in terms of quality but not quantity. Recording watching 1000 anime on MyAnimeList may be gratifying when gazing lovingly upon one’s profile, but it doesn’t entitle you to a new tier (the “overlord otaku”, as Lina suggested) of fandom from someone who only watches one long runner. What matters is that both the fan with the 1000 anime and the fan with one show put passion into how they interact with the content they’re dealing with (whether that be fanart, doujins, fanfiction or something else…) plus they identify with the label of being an “anime fan”, and they’ll all win badges of fandom that way.
So, do you believe that 20 anime is enough to quantify one’s love for the medium? Would you manage to sit through someone else listing you 200 anime they know off the top of their head? (Am I overthinking this one meme too much?!) Give your thoughts in the comments.