To celebrate 10 years of being an anime fan (can you believe that?), I am writing a multiple post series focusing on anime fandom. I reckon despite more than four years of anime blogging, I seldom wrote about anime fandom at all (with few exceptions). So for this first part, I’ll discuss about that specific time when a person start being a true anime fan.
We have all been asked this very same question more than once. ‘How long have you been such a huge anime fan?’ The answer naturally varied depending on how you thought you started being an anime fan. But the diversity of definition on this subject made our answers somewhat unreliable.
For example, I once ask my RL friend (who has now retired from anime fandom) this question and he told me he had been anime fan for a decade. But he, in a matter of fact, had very low knowledge about anime which only expanded back for a year or two. Only after I asked in detail that I found out the truth; he had only watched the original FMA and then he was watching FMA: Brotherhood. If I had used the same logic that my friend did, I would have been an anime fan for more than twenty years now because I watched my first anime when I was like five years old.
You get the idea. Defining the specific time when your anime fandom actually started is not easy. Below is the list of possible definitions used by many people with a few that I throw into the mix.
Your anime fandom started at the time when…
When you were exposed to anime for the first time
This is the worse definition, in my opinion. Lots of people passively watched anime when they were really young (some didn’t even know it was anime). Then they got to some popular anime again when they grew up. If we use this definition, we would have countless of false anime fans who only have vague memories of watching anime in their distant childhood.
When you start watching anime other than your gateway series
This one is more interesting. Gateway anime ignites the love but it takes some determination to keep the fire burning. Many people fall in love with their gateway anime but never seek another title afterwards. Nevertheless, this definition lack specific details on exactly how many further anime one need to watch.
When you have completed the list of ‘classic’ anime titles
Believe it or not, good number of fans only accepts another as a fan when that person watches certain set of so-called ‘classic anime’. It sounds kind of selfish and narrow-minded. Of course, there’s no argue that some ‘milestone’ anime will help expand your view of anime and will get you deep into conversations. But forcing someone to watch something actually destroys fandom itself. Plus, diversity in experience and taste help keep the discussion interesting.
When you have been watching anime continuously for more than a year
I like this one the most. It’s not about how many anime you watch or how fiercely you love it. The most defining factor is durability. Time can prove lots of things including true love. But then again, how much time do you need to prove yourself worthy of being called anime fan? This point is up for debate but in my opinion, it must be longer than usual ‘honeymoon period’ in which a new fan usually goes on a ‘binge anime watching’. So I’d say 6 months or a year, perhaps? (Take Yumeka for an example, it takes her 6 years to become stable!)
When you start expanding your love of anime into other kinds of activities
At one point of being an anime fan, anime starts appearing in your daily life and in your thoughts. It’s only natural that you will take anime fandom up to another level by putting it out in the open. This is when you start participating in conventions, talking in forums and commenting in anime blogs (this also includes other advanced fan behaviors). This definition sounds most solid but its weakness is that many silent anime fans would be excluded completely.
So there you go. There are so many possible ways to define that specific time when you become anime fan. If you ask me, I would call myself an anime fan after I have watched anime for a year and be sure that I won’t give it up soon after. Using this definition, I am utterly surprised that I have been anime fan for 10 years now.
How about you? In your opinion, which factor should be used to identify the beginning of anime fandom?
And finally, how long have you been an anime fan? Answer in the poll below!
Also make sure you read the second part of my discussion on anime fandom here.