The Seven Tyrannies that Crush Anime Fandom

Anime is our escape, where any dreams are possible. Anime is our freedom, the door that leads to a place beyond our mortal senses. Anime is the wings that fly us to the world so large and yet so private. Of course, we can live our lives without it. But life with anime is much more interesting. Am I exaggerating? Maybe I am. But I tell you now, I am not lying. But why does it have to end?

Although lots of us here in the blogsphere are longtime fans, we are undoubtedly minority among countless silent, brief anime fans in general population. So why do so many people abandon anime? Why can’t anime fandom last very long? This is by no means a new question. And we all know that it depends on multiple factors. Anime fandom mostly occurs on circumstances in which all the contributing factors are simultaneously present like age, raw imagination, education, community, availability and opportunity. As time goes by, all these things start to change and anime fandom eventually dissolves into oblivion for many people. When do we decide to shut that door forever? Or maybe we simply grow up?

The following article discusses about this nearly inevitable phenomenon. Most of it has been mentioned before in this blog and elsewhere. I simply try to organize it to make it easier to understand. Here, I am talking about several oppressive powers that every anime fan must face. After some contemplation, I come up with these common ‘tyrannies’ that can (and will eventually) crush our fragile anime fandom.

The First Tyranny: Distance

Distance is the tyranny that started it all. Anime is only made in the small islands off to the east and nowhere else. The farther you are from the place, the harder to get into anime. It’s simple logic which explains why anime has only become more internationally recognized after the use of internet. But the boundaries are always there. Accessibility and availability of anime, to this day, remains major factor that limits the number and life-span of anime fandom in every country except Japan.

The Second Tyranny: Family and Friends

Unless you are an extreme introvert or a serial killer, family and friends will inevitably influence your choice of media consumption. Especially when you are young, you watch what your family does or what your family selects for you. Even if you love anime, it’d be very hard for you to keep the hobby going against your family’s disapproval. After you grow out of your family, there’s another big tyranny; your friends. Beware of who you choose to hang out with especially if you are weak-minded. The need of communication, participation and acceptance give your friend enormous power over you in your teen-age years.

The Third Tyranny: Adulthood

Just when you think you are free from everything you face during childhood and school years, the third (and bigger) tyranny shows up. And this one means to stay for a very long time, possibly all your life; it’s adulthood. Some go to college, some start working fulltime job(s). But everyone has to survive and find the place to call home. It’s the time for making many difficult choices and the time to display your full potentials. In short, suddenly you have so many things to take care of and watching anime pushed far down in you priority list.

The Fourth Tyranny: Time

You cannot touch it but you can feel it pressing against your back every day, every minute. Time management is such a painful task. It makes everything seems like another obligation. Anime watching should be something that lets you escape from all obligations but when you have so little time and are force to manage it strictly, watching anime suddenly seems like a tiresome task. It’s not so relaxing anymore and many people slowly drop out of it. (Time matters a lot. Just look at what these people go through each day!)

The Fifth Tyranny: Social Stigma

People believe what they heard and generalization is a common habit for everyone, even us. But unlike other mass media, one needs to be active to really get to know anime. Watching too many Japanese Cartoons, not to mention dressing like one, can (and will) create false (or true?) impression about yourself. People may think you are geeky, weird, depressed or a dirty pedophile which may or may not be true but that can insert negative effect into your social life and career. As a result, many anime fans keep anime to themselves. Some even live in fear. Such way of living is not healthy both to your spirit and anime fandom.

The Sixth Tyranny: Anime community

Anime community can be a two-edged blade. On the positive side, it facilitates anime lovers in discovering many good shows and provides invaluable place where thoughts and feelings can be freely shared among friends of the same interest. But as the community grew larger, some voices become louder than others and some voices may contain illusion of authority. If you are not careful, you can get carried away by the tides of voices in the community. You may feel obligated to follow some trending shows in order to remain in the conversations. Your impression and opinion can potentially be influenced by others who seem to be more talented and wiser. Diving too deeply and blindly into the community can make you feel outdated, outwitted and drained of inspiration.

The Ultimate Tyranny: the tyranny of Self

I know this sounds cliché but it’s true. You may be able to withstand all the six tyrannies but if you cannot overcome the seventh, you are doomed. The tyranny of self refers to how you perceive yourself, anime and anime fandom. It all winds down to the most basic question; what is anime to you and how do you view yourself as anime fan?

Maybe you get bored because you have too narrow view towards anime and starts negatively generalizing every new anime that comes your way. Anime may be your way of getting along with friends. It could be excuse for you to keep doing something you love even more like writing, blogging, dressing or drawing. Is anime just a tool to make yourself different from others; the feature to define yourself during your teenage years? Do you view anime fandom as a shameful secret? If your anime fandom depends on short-lasting conditions, it’s doomed. Your image of Self as anime fan also matters immensely. Do you think being anime fan is a shameful secret? Or maybe you, like everyone else, also think that watching too much anime is not perfectly normal. There’s no worse enemy than one’s self and it’s no different in case of anime fandom.

The bottom line: this is just for fun. Don’t take it too seriously.

With that said, I would like to emphasize that each anime fans will face all of these tyrannies in different forms and varying degree and duration. It usually takes some time and combination of factors before the dissolution of fandom.

Did I sound pessimistic? I hope not. I drew inspiration from my experience which was not always so bright and cheery. What do you think of this observation? Have you faced any tyranny other than these seven? Or better, did you face less than seven tyrannies? If so, you are very fortunate.

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33 responses to “The Seven Tyrannies that Crush Anime Fandom

  1. I think the second, third, and fourth are my biggest vices right now. Time especially. It’s just so… impossible to watch all the anime I want to as well as interact with it at the level I want to be when time is so little and so precious. As for family and friends, I have a different issue than the one you mentioned. It’s not so much disapproval. I think they wouldn’t disapprove of a hobby. Rather, it’s simply that they are not fans, so when I spend my time with them, I am not engaging in any anime-related activities. And I definitely spend a lot of times with my family, partner, and friends. (Note again that time is the primary limiting factor.) Finally, med school takes sooooo much time.

    Oh Canne, how long will we be able to keep watching anime and blogging anime?

    • Thank you for the comment! Your situation with spending time with family and spending time to study makes me realize that all these tyrannies are closely interconnected.

      The pacing and anime watching habit will have to change according to circumstances. But I believe that as long as you still love it, it won’t go away. ^_^

  2. For me, third and fourth tyrannies are my biggest problems. Since starting school again, my time seems to just have all disappeared and I somehow just do not have time to find time to watch all the anime I want to. I really need to get the priority ‘right’ again at some point, starting this summer:) Family and friends have never been too much of an issue though I am trying hard to convince them to watch a series so I can at least kill two birds with one stone by watching anime with them.

    If I have to rank them (ranking is always fun), I would say 4,3,2,5 (Some people are too ignorant to really care about their opinions),7,1 (getting better and internet is your best friend), 6. Cannes, what’s your greatest tyranny?

    • Thank you for sharing!
      As I get older, I become more capable of dealing with the 2nd, 5th and 6th tyrannies. My biggest tyranny is probably ‘Adulthood’ with ‘Time’ following close behind. Lately I almost exclusively write about older anime and no longer try to be up-to-date with the currently airing shows. But of course, I still watch new titles though it’s hard to tell when I will write about them.

  3. Time is a problem for me as well. The anime community also can turn me off to anime. There are a lot of….rabid fans out there.

    Selection is also another problem. I wish there were less High School anime and more on the order of Ghost in the Shell, Mushishi, Samurai Champloo, and Spice and Wolf. Most adult oriented anime are too violent/gory or sexualized for my taste.

    • LOL, there are rabid fans and there are tyrannical fans.
      I notice that many of us are drawn towards very selective groups of anime that only pop up once or twice a year. But I think that’s normal for every medium; most of them are satisfying, some of them are great but only few actually becomes our timeless favorites.

  4. I never had much problems with the others except for just time. I suffered from disapprovals when I was a kid but a little later, I don’t have much of an issue with this :p Never had problems with socializing too, since most people here are pretty ignorant of anime themselves to even care.

    • Maybe it also depends on personality and how each of us react to the ignorance and lack of support from surrounding real-life people. I have seen fans getting depressed because all of their RL friends are ignorant towards anime. In which case, you are a pretty strong person!
      Thanks for the comment ^^

      • Nah I still think it’s slightly different. Being ignorant means that they won’t see me as anything “special”, They don’t see me as geeky, weird or a dirty pedophile, just someone who likes Japanese Cartoon :D

  5. Time is just a ridiculously valuable commodity these days that I can only follow about 3-4 shows in any given season and even then, it’s not unusual for me to fall behind.

    Another tyranny I’d throw in there is one of money. So many goods (DVDs, figurines, etc) I’d like to purchase but can’t because now that I’ve come back to becoming a student, I’m finding my available funding to have pretty much disappeared and I have to scrimp and save to get by :P

    • I personally think that money is kind of a minor factor. Buying anime-related stuffs really helps boost my excitement for the anime but not buying them does not have significant negative effect to me.

      Oh, 3-4 shows per season is actually high in my standard!
      Thanks for the comment :)

  6. Great post and thanks for the two pingbacks XD

    I think the first Tyranny is debatable, as anime has been a hit in the Western world and the Internet makes the problem of distance as far as media works pretty much nonexistent. Maybe this first Tyranny could be called “Cultural Differences”; not so much physical distance but a distance in cultural ideals that can make people lose interest in anime once the novelty of its foreignness wears off.

    I think the fourth and second are the most prominent. A lot of the others really depend on perception and whether you care what others think of you, but our family and friends make up our environment, especially at an early age, so if they’re not encouraging towards anime, chances are our fandom won’t get far to begin with. Likewise, lack of free time is something we can’t do anything about if we’re tied down with jobs and/family obligations.

    • Thank you for the comment!
      I love your addition of cultural distance or difference. I didn’t pick this one up probably because I also live in Asia and thus, didn’t feel that anime was so foreign as much as fans from the west. About physical distance, I can still feel it through the lack of anime related merchandise and convention in my home town. But, of course, each of us faces different tyrannies in differing angles.

  7. Time is the biggest tyranny for me as I am holding 2 jobs at the moment. Time is the reason why i have a huge backlog. When I do have some free time, I find myself getting pulled by my friends to socialize.

    Thank goodness though that my passion for anime is still as strong

  8. I think the one that I am always trying to deal with is the second tyranny. I don’t have anyone who disapproves of me watching anime, but outside the internet I don’t have anyone to talk about anime with and sometimes this comes as a discouragement for me. Luckily, I have placed like forums, twitter, and blogs to make up for that.

    • I have the same problem. Though lately have been more open about my animenano fandom with my real-life friends, I still cannot talk about it with any of them.
      Thanks for the comment :)

  9. Tyranny Eight: Summer

    Once summer comes around, I watch almost no anime.I’m so busy enjoying good weather and the nightlife that anime takes an immediate backseat to everything. I’ll watch maybe 1 episode every 2 weeks.

    Once fall hits though, I’m back to my old self burning through all of the stuff I missed.

    • Summer is a pain for me too, but for different reason. Summer is usually the time when movies are most abundant…I am easily distracted by action/fantasy/sci-fi extravaganza. And this past summer I have been totally distracted by big superhero movies -_-

  10. UltimateReaper

    It may be a bit late to write this but I can say this with certainty,
    I’ve never nor shall I ever hit any of these vices.
    Just like I won’t ever stop reading books, watching good tv shows or movies
    This isn’t just a fix for me, its an opportunity to absorb more stories, more ideas, and philosophies. My hunger is endless.

    Honestly I can say this, maybe it’s just by bit as a creator, I like making things, and absorbing good creations is quite satisfying

    • That’s great!
      I think that being a fan of multiple form of media that are related to each other helps a lot. I am also a movie fan and sci-fi/fantasy novel fan. So even if I stray away from anime, I never go too far away that I cannot find the way back :)

  11. My writing style revolves around referencing other media besides anime. It helps make me happy for some reason.

    You are right though about the seven factors. I think the biggest threat of all seven is adulthood for me. I know maintaining my animeniac self while trying to remain a “professional” adult won’t be easy but I really want to give it a try. One of my life goals, as sad as it is, is to continue being an animeniac past the age of fifty. It’ll be tough but I know I can do it.

    The other six don’t bother me because I’m used to being alone in that area. Besides, the internet helped me find other animeniacs besides my few anime loving friends and, being a conformist, increases the amount of anime I’ll watch without being a hardcore critic. It’s clear that the only time I bash anime is when it’s a terrible hetero harem or when something really irritating happens, like in Tari Tari episodes 5+6.

    • I intend to continue watching anime indefinitely as well.
      I am sure that there are many just like us and it’s comforting to hear that I am not walking this path alone. I really can’t imagine life without internet :)

      • We’re 90′s kids dood. We were born in a time where technology began its progression to becoming a necessity in everyday life, for better or worse. What our parents label as a plague to our life progression we view as blissful.

      • @ OG
        Very ture. I still remember life when technology was a luxury only for those who can afford it. Now I am just like everyone else -_-

  12. What anime is the first picture from?

  13. Distance interferes with me when it comes to purchases and I’ll add for the moment language being another barrage for my manga love.

    Family is more of a problem when it comes to my yaoi and yuri habits and until I leave my place to go live with my boyfriend in the unknown future… I can’t express myself freely, buy stuff or even put such a themed wallpaper on my laptop (in case mom gets curious when she gets into my room or in case the laptop has technical issues and father might want to take a look…).

    Time I guess is the problem no.1. This year I worked 4 hours only per week and in this state of unemployment I had plenty of time, but this year I’ll have to see when I’ll be able to watch, read and blog :/

    Lastly, the anime community has discouraged me or disheartened me quite a few times, either by its manners or by the pressure to follow series to be part of the discussions. The countermeasure to this is to remind myself I watch and blog above all for myself, as my blog started as a diary of my relationship and hobby :)

    I hope that I’ll be able to keep going till my old age, if that’s possible. I really love anime and manga, and blogging can be a great medicine for self-esteem.

    • I am sorry about the (very) late reply.
      I totally understand the pressure of having to catch up with new shows and even when I managed to do so, I still faced with the problem of writing blog post about that show. In the end, I chose to watch the show at my own pace and write about it when the time was right for me. :)

  14. Distance – Enough to keep me away from spending my money on merchandise.

    Family – No one hates, but no one understands either.

    Adulthood & Time – This is like receiving a big slap to my face. Too much anime, not enough time. Hopefully I can watch anime to relax some time in the future.

    Social Stigma – No problem.

    Anime Community – Fun to discuss anime in the internet, awkward IRL.

    Myself – I think of anime as ‘Animated stories’. Entertaining, and while harmless, is still very addictive.

    Your post was a nice read. Thanks :>

  15. Well, let’s begin with some prefacing points of disagreement:
    1. Fandom is bad. You should love anime, but not when it’s bad, I think we can agree on this ;)
    2. The blogosphere is a tiny subset of anime fandom. Most people are happy to watch anime without ever feeling the need to read or write about it online. The reasons people stop being anime fans versus reasons for them no longer being bloggers aren’t the same – especially as blogging is a very social activity and quite time-consuming, as those of us here can attest to.
    Let’s address some of the tyrannies:
    Distance- In this day and age, it’s more of a reason to not pick up the fandom, either due to not encountering the material at all or not encountering it often enough for a connection to form. This is unlike when I first encountered anime, when there still wasn’t really internet, not to mention downloading or watching videos online, and as such I had to wait between conventions or the house-con the local comic/manga seller had to watch anime.
    In this day and age, for the vast majority of us? I just don’t see it.

    Family and Friends – let us be more positive, with the concept of reciprococity – we can influence our family and friends and get them to pick up anime!

    Isn’t the problem with adulthood a mixture of the 2nd and 4th tyrannies? There’s nothing about adulthood itself that kills anime, it’s a mixture of having less time and society expecting you to “just grow out of it.”
    5th tyranny is basically the 2nd, just made impersonal and diffuse, rather than a specific face we can’t ignore. By the by, I watch an anime episode every day at my lunch break at work, and I don’t care what people say 

    I think the 6th tyranny, the one of the anime community, is indeed one of the biggest hurdles, but not in the way you discuss: There’s the snark, the airs of superiority, the insufferable treatment of dissenting opinions. No matter which anime you like, there are people who don’t like it. And some of these people will happily enter your discussions and not only say you like shit, but you obviously don’t understand anything/this is the only anime you’ve ever seen, if you somehow like it. Why would you want to remain a part of the community if this is the way it treats you? I need to find a few hours to discuss this issue at length. The desire to discuss this issue and bring a voice who can be excited about what it loves is one of the things that finally got me blogging again.

    • Thanks for the comment.
      Concerning anime community, I started to think that all communities are all the same. It can be an inspiration or the most discouraging factor. In the end, finding the right community is the key. And of course, some internal strength against dissenting opinions also helps.

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