Having been part of the anime fandom since 2009 now, I’ve seen some massive controversies take the fandom by storm. The Neon Genesis Evangelion finale fiasco, in which the incredibly entertaining, provocative, and thoughtful show suddenly and spectacularly sh*t the bed during its last two episodes, was before my time, as was the “nice boat” incident, when School Days’ final episode was replaced by live action footage of a boat following a gruesome crime in Japan. #boatgate. But, fortunately or unfortunately (I’m not quite sure which), I’ve had front row seats for the Aya Hirano sex scandal, the Endless Eight debacle, and the mess that is the Darling in the FranXX fandom right now. And if all of this has taught me one thing, it’s that anime fans are, generally speaking, very angry people.
It’s common knowledge that, way back when, Evangelion’s creator, Hideaki Anno, received death threats from fans unhappy with the ending of the show and that upon learning that idol and popular seiyuu Aya Hirano wasn’t whiter than white and actually had an active sex life *gasp*, fans ripped up photos of her, destroyed her merchandise, and, generally, denounced her very existence. I’ve even seen some claim that her sex life helped destroy the Haruhi Suzumiya anime franchise. However, it’s more likely its studio’s decision to air the same episode (with some minor differences) eight times, which led some to boycott KyoAni’s other shows and merchandise. But even now this extreme behaviour isn’t out of the ordinary. Following a recent episode of Darling in the FranXX many of its fans have threatened to drop the show and its producer, screenwriter, their families, and one of its seiyuu have been inundated with calls to kill themselves and death threats. All because fans were angry that their favourite ship had been sunk.
I’m not going to sugarcoat what I’m just about to say. This kind of behaviour is absolutely disgusting and childish and stems from a mistaken sense of entitlement. Just because you like a seiyuu and might have bought their merchandise that doesn’t mean that you own them body and soul and that they are not permitted to enter into relationships. And just because you enjoy a show that doesn’t give you the right to decide which direction it takes, that’s the privilege and responsibility of content creators, producers, etc. If you’re unhappy with the direction a show takes there are healthy ways to process that. You can produce doujinshi, fanart, or fanfiction that depicts your ideal scenario, you can discuss your dissatisfaction like a rational, healthy adult, or you can even drop the show. Thankfully, most anime fans do use one of these options, but, as with other subcultures, we, as a group, are most well known for our most extreme behaviour.
Maybe some anime fans exhibit such extreme behaviours because, perhaps even more so than fans of other geeky pastimes, we are incredibly passionate about our chosen form of entertainment. And passion, when betrayed, can lead to red-hot anger. They say that love and hate are two sides of the same coin, after all! But… it is possible to be passionate about something, and to get mad about that something, without resorting to making threats. To demonstrate, I’m going to follow this post up with another one describing some of the times when I’ve been angry at anime without then burning flaming effigies of characters or creators. Stay tuned.
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