Life in an Anime Fandom

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.

12 thoughts on “Life in an Anime Fandom

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  1. I generally lean towards “more variety of ideas and influence a person can collect, the better,” at least for myself as an artist (or creator, analyst, whatever I am). I also, parallel to that, think “normal people” who never make art should try to consume as broad a swath of influences as they can to find something, be that to pull them off the path of society (not to be too “Gamers rise up” about it) or just for enjoyment’s sake.

    At the same time, I mostly watch anime and read manga. Sometimes I play games. That’s a pretty narrow spread.

    The only live-action films I’ve seen in the last year are The Thing and The Fly, the only books I’ve read have been House Of Leaves, Boogiepop, and Welcome To The NHK, etc. When so much of what I consume is the plumbed depths of the human experience, “esoteric studies and gruesome art,” do I have any more right to lecture about “broad swaths of influence” than someone who just watches sports or reality TV?

    I don’t have the answer to that, honestly. Because while I’m a firm believer that no art is “high” or “low” so long as you get something out of it, I’m also loathe to consider consuming something for pleasure’s sake- without getting anything out of it. How much can someone “enjoy” something before they start to be inspired by it? I certainly can’t watch my favorites like Evangelion, Lain, Re:Zero, Haruhi, Madoka, etc without wanting to write my own fiction on the same continuum- or using the same ideas in different ways. My enjoyment comes from what I can learn or take from a story. Maybe that’s why I can espouse ethical hedonism so freely, especially when it comes to art, because my pleasure in consuming content comes from what I can make of it rather than how it sits in the “stomach in my brain”.

    Does that sound pretentious of me? Sorry if it does, and thank you for putting out such an interesting piece of writing.

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    1. It’s not pretentious, so don’t worry about it. I’m honoured you were inspired to write so much for this one post, really.

      Inspiration and creation when it comes to art are very much an ouroboros – although you can get inspiration from places outside other works, typically it’s other works that inspire a creator to make their own works.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would go even farther than that- nothing is created from nothing, every story owes its existence to another. In that sense I dunno if I would call creation an ouroboros so much as a tree of life, or some convergence of inspirational aesthetic/narrative ideas. I guess something like that could become cyclical, though, so it’s not an entirely un-apt metaphor. I’m probably overthinking this. Sigh, if I only put so much effort into actually making stuff as I do into thinking about the meta of creativity.

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  2. Very interesting article and very well written. I don’t know about 2 year fandoms! “One Piece” both manga and anime, began in 1997 and 1999, and are still running with the manga at 98 volumes and the anime at 973 EPs. I have been following “Chihayafuru” both manga and anime since 2011 when the first season of the anime began. The manga story itself began in 2007. The story is supposed to wrap either this year or next. In all that time, I have looked for groups, blogs, or websites which want to follow the story, only to run into the mass hordes of shippers who can become quite hostile and insulting if you do not support their particular ship. Fandom fanatically treats “Chihayafuru” as if it were a Romance, and yet there has never been even one romance in the entire story. We have only seen one partial, non-reciprocated kiss. There have been a few confessions, but no acceptance of a confession. There have not been even one date in this story of an obscure Japanese card game. Yet the fans treat this story as if it were the greatest Romance of all time, like Moses coming down the hill with the final ship carved in stone. Very tedious to the point that I no longer even participate in any discussion. Even opened up a Chihayafuru category in my own blog. I published a detailed analysis of the problem (very dull and dry for most) https://pywackettproductions.com/blog/2020/10/28/on-fandom-and-free-will-w152/
    in an attempt to understand the mentality of the shippers. Fanatical! is an appropriate word. “Little Witch Academia” did an interesting take on this where soccer fans are ready to go to war over a game. The whole issue of fandom is so problematical and difficult to deal with that it all gets rather frustrating. (Sorry about the long rant, but this whole issue of fandom really bothers me.)

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    1. 2 year fandoms are a rough indication for the lifespan of anime seasonals as we know them at this point in time (for anime-original works). If an anime gets a subsequent season which appears as originally scheduled about half a year after the new season’s announcement, you automatically add 2 years to the lifespan of the anime…For something with an ongoing manga, the lifespan would roughly be (length of manga + 2 years), give or take factors like size of fandom (big fandoms can sustain themselves for longer) and source magazine (WSJ manga, in particular, have longer staying power, in part due to their large fandoms).

      By being ongoing prior to the seasonal model plus some of the other points I just mentioned, One Piece is immune to the 2 year thing, but its fandom still has a lot of the problems touched on in the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not making an argument against the point which is well thought out. I certainly can see it, and your discussion is very interesting. Fandom is just crazy. Thousands of years ago the ancient Greeks would kill each other in riots over Chariot teams, the Reds are better than the Blues, etc, etc. Nothing much has changed with Soccer fans. This human behavior is really deep and difficult to wrap your head around. One person likes movie X. Another person hates movie X. And each is sure that the other is “wrong” with regard to Truth! It is all a mystery to me, sad to say. In any case if you or anyone reading this post, knows of a mature and reasonable discussion of Chihayafuru or even just the poem upon which it is based, Chihayaburu. I would appreciate a reference link.

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  3. It’s certainly a curious thing. I actually would have guessed it been shorter, but 2 years sounds about right. I’ve been watching the SK8 fandom loosely since it’s inception. As someone who acknowledges there are open elements that could be queer, but I am by no means a shipper of anything; the content is more or less already gone. I’m sure there are fanartists on twitter and elsewhere making original content but at least on Instagram the well seems to have dried up. Any account posting original content or re-posting content seems to be a conglomeration of SK8/YOI/Banana Fish and other anime verses just SK8 content.

    Fans are already pressed since SK8’s merchandise has had a lot of delays, from when it was announced, suppose to be released, and then actually released and delivered. I’ve never seen so much brand new merchandise listed online that’s just opened and unused before. I’m wondering if this truly due to delays and changing fandoms, or if this is people pre-ordered with the explicit goal of reselling, but that’s another discussion.

    But yeah, I’ve always wondered what makes a fandom last as long as some of them do; the Sailor Moon’s, Dragon ball-esque type of fandoms that just never seem to end and fans are truly in it for the longest of hauls. Although that two year turnover rate does hurt my heart a little… but it makes it easier for late to the party people like me to enjoy it without all the stampedes for goods and things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems gateway anime and the largest fandoms (normally the big WSJ shonen or similar) have longer longevity than a single seasonal with 1 season. It’s probably a matter of reach (how easily can you watch the series? is it dubbed? etc.) and nostalgia, which seem to grab the most money over a longer period of time.

      In the case of Sk8, it got hit by COVID lockdown in Japan (or caught the end of it, at the very least) and was meant to piggyback on Olympics hype (skateboarding was meant to be added in the Tokyo Olympics), so while it’s caught more eyes than ever, I can see why merch isn’t moving as much – Japanese merch is normally meant to be obtained at events and/or in person.

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      1. That does make sense too. Completely forgot the fact there are series that get multiple seasons in a row (since I haven’t touched one in ages). I also never considered the fact that having a dubbed version could really be such a high selling point too. It makes sense seeing how beloved certain voice actors are, in Japan and elsewhere.

        SK8 got hit by the lockdown, but also just general production issues. The anime had that re-cap episode to buy some time, and it seems somewhere in the supply chain they hit a few snags as well. I don’t mind the wait, especially since I can’t really leave my area, but it’s still a bit befuddling.

        I am curious to see exactly how long SK8 in particular lasts. A lot of shippers seem to have unofficially dubbed it the second YOI, minus the canon, but I’m not sure that the series sold well enough to get that title lol.

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