This was originally a response to Scott, but I ended up weaving my own post about a topic I wanted to write about anyway, so…here we are.
From having bothered with a blog centred around a specific fandom (magicalgirlsandcerulean), the average time spent in a fandom is 2 years because the first year is when your love shines brightest and you’ll consume everything about it (normally, this is when you consume the mainline content in one big shot if it’s already finished). The second year, you’ve consumed a bunch of things you like in the fandom and you struggle to find things to sustain your existence, until you eventually move away, having found something else to engage with at the same initial enthusiasm level and start the cycle again. If the series is a long-runner, you might grow tired of complaining that it will never stop, or if it’s finished, you might grow tired that no one’s there to support you in the fandom anymore. The seasonal cycle and the general ability to access information much faster than we used to means we go through these phases much faster than we used to and sometimes with multiple fandoms simultaneously, hence burnout.
Also, if the fandom is currently alive due to recent developments, plot or otherwise (maybe an anniversary of the original run of the work), tensions may rise between people with opposing viewpoints (ship wars, people who like different characters, shippers vs. people who don’t care about ships and/or anti-shippers…
somehow all my examples are about ships, because they are contentious after all…). People can leave the fandom at any time because of arguments they have with these other people, or because they’re showing scepticism about their fandom.
There is only so much you can do, as only one fan in a sea of fans, and other fans will and can upstage you by showing their fan pride in ways you may not even be able to imagine and/or feasibly do. For instance, one way certain fandoms show their pride is through making “shrines” to their favourite characters – generally buying tonnes of merch and/or adding themed decorations to make something really impressive. A lot of merchandise, for anime fans in particular, is Japan and/or online-exclusive as a way to bait you and/or the Japanese fans to buy stuff (which is especially tricky during COVID), so it’s significantly more difficult for fans not based in Japan to express their love in the same way (…unless, in the case of COVID, you handle the massive shipping costs and do not go crazy over the wait time).
Similarly, anime and anime-adjacent fandoms are normally sustained by less-than-legal file distribution due to Japan-exclusives (disc extras, drama tracks etc.), so sometimes it raises questions of morality and/or legality. Of course, these may have to be translated on top of that, meaning you have to put faith in the (often amateur) translator as well…but that’s another can of worms I’ve already discussed. I’ve found certain fandoms, which are more reliant on the translators’ words than others due to the nature of their content (e.g. heavy ties to other works like Bungou Stray Dogs, heavy ties to Japanese history like Touken Ranbu or reliant on wordplay like Boueibu and Hypnosis Mic) give an abnormally high level of importance to translators’ analysis of this content even though one person’s thorough analysis can still miss things due to lack of “seeing outside their own box”. Sometimes there is no way of verifying if this analysis is correct without having a 2nd or 3rd translator around…and when there’s only one translator plus the official source, that can be problematic in itself (*erhem* Fairy Ranmaru *erhem*).
Once again, I’ve put too many good topics into a single post…There’s a lot of anime focus because this was originally about anime only, but a lot of the statements could apply to other fandoms as well.
What do you think regarding the life in an anime or anime-adjacent fandom being 2 years? It was probably longer pre-internet, where content was a lot harder to come by.