“LOL...aaaand goku & naruto are real ones 🙌🏾”
March 18, 2018 2:32 PM   Subscribe

It’s Time To Stop Acting Like Nobody Watches Anime [Kotaku] “Despite the genre’s overwhelming popularity, people act as if anime is still a niche interest. When celebrities like Kim Kardashian or Michael B. Jordan say that they’re fans, or Britney Spears posts pictures of her son’s Dragon Ball Z fanart on Instagram, fellow anime-enjoyers are shocked. Anime has actually been mainstream for a couple of decades now.”

• The Anime Fandom Just Got Real About Its Gatekeeping Woes [Comicbook]
“Anime fans should be familiar with gatekeeping as the issue has persistently dogged the fandom for years. Like with comic books or any once-niche medium, anime has experienced growing pains as it becomes more mainstream. Decades ago, it was frowned upon to even mention anime in public. It was almost impossible to get legally imported anime in the US, but that culture has since changed. Nowadays, watching anime is as easy as logging into Netflix or turning on Adult Swim. Hot Topic carries all kinds of anime merchandise, and conventions like Anime Expo are becoming known as some of the country’s biggest. The anime community is growing leaps each year, but the fandom began wrestling with gatekeeping accusations all thanks to Kim Kardashian. Late last week, the reality mogul caught the world off-guard when she revealed she was a big anime fan. Not only did Kardashian say she died her famously blond hair pink because of her otaku interests, but she took her love of anime a step further. The celeb revealed she dyed her hair after seeing Zero Two from Darling in the Franxx, a new anime done by Trigger and A-1 Pictures.”
• What Kim Kardashian Liking Anime Means For Geek Culture [Geek]
“This pushback against mainstream celebrities being into anime illustrates one of the greatest weaknesses of the geek community – our tendency to be exclusive in a negative way. The implication that Kardashian is a “fake geek girl” who can’t name five anime series that she watches is a classic example of something that’s been happening for years, as self-declared gatekeepers of a fandom struggle to come to terms with its expanding popularity. We’ve seen it happen with comic books, as ranting YouTube men bluster about unqualified “diversity hires” even as Marvel movies soar to the top of the box office. We’ve seen it happen with video games as female streamers get excoriated by anonymous commenters who aren’t satisfied with their skills or cleavage. It’s not surprising that anime would have the same idiotic backlash brewing. But why shouldn’t Kim K. like anime? She grew up with it, just like we all did. Sailor Moon hit American screens in 1995. Just because she’s rich doesn’t mean she got different cartoons on TV as a kid.”
• Is Anime 'Cool' Now? An Investigation [Broadly.]
“In my senior year of high school, I became a fan of anime. I was not uncool as a suburban teen—which is to say that I wasn’t a loser, but also everyone thought (half-correctly) that I was a witch who did BDSM spells in my basement and approached me with a sense of general trepidation as a result. Because I was not uncool, I did not advertise my interest in the oft-maligned medium; I would come home from school and watch literal hours of Naruto, a show about adolescent ninjas primarily targeted at boys age 13 to 18, and set my AIM away message to something like “outtttt, hit my cell.” It has come to my attention in recent days that anime is cool now. I first began to suspect this stunning reversal of fortune a few weeks ago, when I saw several clips of Michael B. Jordan professing his love for the highly stylized form of animated entertainment, and then did a search for every time he had tweeted “Naruto,” as any diligent reporter would. His stance on the genre could not be any clearer: In March of 2011, he tweeted, “Yea I’m into anime I love this shit!””
• Here’s How Cool You Have to Be If You Want to Watch Anime and Live With Your Parents [Mel Magazine]
“Michael B. Jordan is cool. He’s Killmonger, arguably Marvel’s best villain ever, in Black Panther, the biggest film of the year — not to mention an instant cultural touchstone. He’s Apollo Creed’s son in Creed, the finest reboot of the decade, and made his name in prestige TV like The Wire and Friday Night Lights. He’s routinely listed as one of the sexiest and most stylish men on the planet. He does push-ups whenever Lupita Nyong’o demands it. You’d be hard-pressed to name someone cooler at this moment in American history. But is he cool enough to make watching anime and living with your parents cool by association? Folks, I think he cracked it. Those things are cool now. [...] Jordan gets around the uncoolness of anime in a few ways. Firstly, he’s not in the closet about digging this shit — he owns that nerdiness, and he does it with self-deprecating charm. He knows anime isn’t cool, but he loves it anyway! Secondly, he’s not a snob about it. No sooner had he tweeted about Goku and Naruto being “real ones” than someone was crawling up his ass about those characters being too “mainstream.” Jordan clarified that this had been “a softball for the anime-uneducated,” which goes to show that while he could name-check some obscure titles, he doesn’t need to. Cool!”
posted by Fizz (56 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
The new episode of Dragon Ball Super crashed Crunchyroll last night, so I think a few too many damn people may be watching anime.

I just want to watch my stories about high school friends traveling to Antarctica or going on camping trips, dammit!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:38 PM on March 18, 2018 [10 favorites]

Even within the anime community there's far too much gatekeeping. The amount of guff I often receive when I mention that I enjoy anime like Naruto or Dragon Ball is astounding to me. As if there's only one type of "correct" anime that should be watched. Like so many other things in life, variety is the spice. And I like to live in a world where I can enjoy Attack on Titan one day and InuYasha the next. There's an anime for every mood, it's a giant rainbow of awesome.
posted by Fizz at 2:49 PM on March 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

I definitely agree with Fizz about the gatekeeping, and it is the same as other previously socially denigrated interests, such as gaming (including the super helpful alt-right presence).

On the other hand, Darling in the Franxx. ಠ_ಠ

I mean, I'm still watching it, but ಠ_ಠ
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:58 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is there an anime about hipsters who watch anime who deride anyone into it now as not real anime fans?
posted by symbioid at 3:12 PM on March 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Somewhere there's a comparison between Killmonger's outfit and Vegeta's and, Internet, I'll say it: mind blown.
posted by curious nu at 3:14 PM on March 18, 2018

Anime fans, let a Trekkie reassure you: your time will come, and may in fact already be here and the criterati (i.e. the professional criticism clique) just hasn't caught up because there's nothing that they love more than an easy go-to subject of snobbery. They made fun of Trek and the conventions through the years that the original series became a diehard perennial in syndication, through the movies, and up through the time that TNG became the most popular syndicated first-run show ever, and then all of a sudden it seemed like all sorts of celebrities came out of the holo-closet.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:28 PM on March 18, 2018 [9 favorites]

Anybody who dismisses anime should watch Mushi-shi. That show blew my mind.
posted by Pendragon at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2018 [14 favorites]

I seriously had basically zero exposure to it all before 2016, and I have been really tickled that I found friends who, instead of trying to define what a real anime fan is, have been happily helping me through finding out exactly which bits are my jam--a bunch of sports anime, which I hadn't expected at all that I'd like before I wandered into Yuri on Ice, but not just that. Natsume's Book of Friends finally led to my discovering that there is an entire genre called iyashikei, "healing" shows? Which, I mean, when you're trying to live through 2018--that's a good thing to know. My tastes are now kind of all over the place, but I'm so happy that they can be.

I find the gatekeeping really silly when I can like an entirely different set of shows from someone else who Likes Anime, it's not like there's just a small list of stuff available or like you necessarily have much in common with someone just because they're also into it. All I can do is smile and nod at the sort of people who're really into Naruto or One Piece, but I'm glad they have their thing, too, and it's that kind of variety that means that like--yesterday alone at various points I was watching Haikyuu (high school boys' volleyball) and then Devilman Crybaby (art violence and crying) and then Natsume (lonely boy sees monsters, make friends) before bed.
posted by Sequence at 3:31 PM on March 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

yesterday alone at various points I was watching Haikyuu (high school boys' volleyball) and then Devilman Crybaby (art violence and crying) and then Natsume (lonely boy sees monsters, make friends) before bed.

Literally me yesterday, only replace Haikyuu with Yowamushi Pedal, Devilman Crybaby with Castlevania, and Natsume with Voltron. :D :D
posted by Fizz at 3:34 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

YowaPeda has very much the same problem I have with Haikyuu where I wind up at the end going BUT I WANT THEM ALL TO WIN. (Controversially among my social group, on YowaPeda this kind of includes Kyoto Fushimi. I somehow got attached to the body horror lizard boy.) I still need to get caught up, I'm about midway through New Generation now. Somehow I've got like 17 shows in progress right now. It's awful, but also great.
posted by Sequence at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2018

Fanfare usually has an active general discussion thread for each current and recent seasons' anime shows. ("Season" according to Japan's 12-week broadcast schedule) Winter 2018 is now in effect, and the Spring 2018 thread will be posted some time in the coming few weeks, after Anichart and other sites have translated and posted the broadcast schedules for Spring. Join the Anime Club to get new anime posts automatically sidebarred in your Fanfare front page.
posted by ardgedee at 3:48 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm curious about whether gatekeeping in anime fandom is a gendered phenomenon.

I just don't ... see it much. I mean, I've seen a lot of conflict in fandom - I used to be a regular reader of Fandom Wank. But it's hard for me to remember conflict about who had the credentials to be there. No one gives a shit about whether or not you're a "real" fan.

This might be because I've successfully curated my fandom experience, but I'm inclined to think that's not the full explanation because I sure as hell see a lot of other dumb drama. So, I wonder if this is a more male-coded kind of status-jockeying? Or if it's a crossover with gaming culture? Or if it has to do with what kinds of sites you're hanging out on?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:04 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'll also share this. I'm all for more celebrities sharing their love of anime. I won't judge their tastes or whether they're a "true" anime fan. Drake playing Fortnite, MBJ watching Naruto, Kim Kardashian drawing fashion influence from her love of anime. This is alright in my book.

I may not be fond of Kim Kardashian as a human being but she can like whatever she likes and watch whatever she wants to watch. And even though I may not be a fan of hers, I recognize that she has an influence, children, teens, adults, they look up to her and if it lets them feel more comfortable enjoying anime, then I'm all about that.
posted by Fizz at 4:04 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

The kind of "gatekeeping" I've personally encountered has been more along the lines of making fun of some people for being too "weeby", melding ouroborosishly back into self-aware in-jokes and becoming a badge of pride for some subsets while still being a genuine disparagement for others, etc. Layers of hipsterdom, yes, but more on the ~ironically~ side than the ~before it got mainstream~ side.
posted by inconstant at 4:36 PM on March 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

I never understood the gatekeeping mentality in American otaku communities, but for me I think it was because I've always looked at anime as a broad artistic style within a medium (animation in general), rather than as a genre unto itself. When I think of animation *other* than anime, it seems to quickly fall into one of only a few simplistic buckets: WB-style slapstick comedy, Disney-style epics, purely kids shows, comedies for adults, and occasionally kids shows with jokes aimed at parents peppered throughout. But in Japan anime is clearly seen as just a method of expression, so generic in form that any story can be told within it without limitation. That should be a *freeing* thing, making it available to all, so to see purity tests over it is truly sad.
posted by mystyk at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

If we count Speed Racer, and we should, American kids have been watching Anime for half a century.
posted by Beholder at 4:59 PM on March 18, 2018 [12 favorites]

What year is it? We've been having this discussion since Spirited Away received an Oscar (2001?), and Pokemon has been an animation juggernaut for at least as long. I'm a bit burned out on it. Every time a new anime is released with a 14 year old male protagonist in a high school setting I grind my teeth. I'm amazed I have any teeth left at all.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:08 PM on March 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

See you space cowboy.
posted by vrakatar at 5:11 PM on March 18, 2018 [13 favorites]

If we count Astro Boy, and we should, American kids have been watching Anime for 55 years.
posted by ardgedee at 5:11 PM on March 18, 2018 [13 favorites]

Bah, I grew up in L.A. in the '60s, where four non-network TV stations were competing for the "kids audience" every afternoon airing every cartoon available, including the earliest Anime. Yes, I saw the ORIGINAL Astro Boy more than once (and none of the revivals have been half as good), Gigantor, 8Man, Kimba the White Lion (later copied by Iron Giant, RoboCop and Lion King, sorry) and Amazing Three, the most INSANE cartoon premise of the decade (three aliens with a serious task to judge earth and humanity while disguised as animals - and the duck alien is Donald and Daffy combined!). Speed Racer bored me (I was reaching an age where action cartoons were losing me and Wacky Races and Jay Ward's Tom Slick did racing toons much better - and with jokes) and I drifted away, pushed way far by all the Dragonballs and Pokemons and Sailor Moons only to drift back with Akira and all the Miyazaki/Ghibli goodies and ultimately FLCL and Satoshi Kon dragging me back into the INSANE. "Anime" contains multitudes, but considering my past reactions to the Things Kim Kardassian Loves, I'd assume she's mostly into Bad Anime.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:12 PM on March 18, 2018

I'd love for my wife to quit, if this is the right term usage, gatekeeping herself away from anime. I've tried to introduce it a few times as a potential shared show interest but everytime it's basically an instant nope because it falls outside of the Venn diagram of cartoon and Disney. Not that she's a fan of the latter but she'll at least tolerate that but still doesn't understand why I am pumped that our oldest has loved "The Girl That Lost Her Name" (Aka Spirited Away) since before she could understand the main plotline. It's a great movie for a little girl to enjoy.... But I digress... One day maybe...
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:13 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

TIL: The first TV adaptation of Astro Boy was a live-action series in the late fifties. That must be pretty wild.
posted by ardgedee at 5:15 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Is Anime 'Cool' Now?
Betteridge's Law strikes again.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:18 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Since the spring schedules are up anyway, I've jumped the gun and started a Spring 2018 anime Fanfare Chat thread.
posted by ardgedee at 5:36 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Okay, even now I didn't know about the 1959 live-action Mighty Atom/Astro Boy... still I think of him as the only cartoon character besides Mickey Mouse whose ears change position when he turns his head...
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:25 PM on March 18, 2018

iyashikei genre? Healing shows?!?!

i neeeeeed this. Steven universe comes out too slow. please hope me
posted by rebent at 7:33 PM on March 18, 2018

The way I've come to approach it is a lot like Fight Club. Unless I'm somewhere obvious like a convention, I don't talk about anime when I meet a new person or are making a new friend. Maybe eventually it'll come up and if they seem receptive, then we can talk about it. It usually comes up because I named my car after a character and I'll say something like, "I took Shinobu on a nice drive this weekend," and they'll be like "What?"

I don't like watching the new seasonal stuff. I don't want to wait a week. I usually am watching 3 or 4 shows at a time, one episode per day. I'd rather let shows come out completely and filter through the test of time before I'll get around to watching. One of my friends watches the seasonal stuff but is frequently telling me about how bad show X or Y is and I'm like "Why are you still watching it?" and he'll say that he's already watched it this far so he has to keep going, also it might get good. I just don't have the patience for that. I don't have time to watch shows that might eventually get good. There's a TON of shows that are already good. I'll watch those.

Watching in this way, for me one of the greatest joys is those first few episodes when I'm not sure if I'll like it or not and am trying to figure out what is this show really about, where are they going here? When I find a really good show of course I love watching it just because I enjoy the show, but even when I end up not liking a show and bailing after a few episodes, I still enjoy the fun of discovery, and it's also a joy of self-discovery. Finding out if I'm the sort of person who likes Is The Order A Rabbit? (I am, and it's ADORABLE 🐇) and not High School of the Dead (😒🍒).

To facilitate this I have about 170 fansubbed shows I'm working through alphabetically (the entire Coalgirls oeuvre). I started a year ago and I'm currently in the K's (Kaichou wa Maid-sama and Kampfer at the moment). At this rate I've got shows on tap until roughly around the next US presidential election, and by then there will be 3 more years of new shows time-filtered for me to start looking into.

So uh, no one asked but that's how I do anime.
posted by glonous keming at 7:57 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Rebent, to start with Stuff I've Seen:
Natsume's Book of Friends (can be seriously bittersweet and I cry sometimes but it's still very calm and reassuring)
How to Keep a Mummy (teeth-hurting cute, less complex)

Stuff I haven't seen yet but it's on my list to get to because other people have referenced:
Flying Witch
Laid Back Camp

Natsume's Book of Friends in particular is one I keep recommending to queer people because the undertones are very--well, not gay in the sense of BL/fujoshi-bait kind of stuff where you're supposed to spend a lot of time picturing the boys kissing, but queer in the sense that the main character is set apart as Different and has experienced a lot of rejection from classmates and family because of it, and as a teenager he's finding a new family and friends who like him for who he is and learning that he doesn't have to keep trying to be normal and lying to everybody he cares about. The overall message is incredibly comforting without being patronizing about the difficulty of resolving past traumas. I expect it would work similarly well for people who feel different/alienated/lonely in other ways, too, so I thought I'd put that out there in case it helps anybody who needs the comfort.
posted by Sequence at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think like gaming, the gatekeeping in anime fandom is largely driven by insecurity. The notion that anime isn't a unique isolated subculture with its own language, but is simply a popular hobby, means that antisocial white males wouldn't be able to dominate things with their knowledge. They assume the "popular kids" will crowd then out.

Also like with gaming, a number of anime fans fear that with popularity comes critiques. Like say: "So has anyone noticed that moe is really freaking sexist? ", or "You know, these series based on light novels generally aren't very good. They're more like ads for the novels."

Anime fandom gatekeepers really seem to have a fear of a spotlight being turned on problematic elements in their hobby, and by extension, themselves.
posted by happyroach at 8:26 PM on March 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

As if there's only one type of "correct" anime that should be watched.

Anime is so diverse it's like saying "I like movies."

"No you don't! Not unless you like my five favorite movies."
posted by straight at 8:37 PM on March 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

iyashikei genre? Healing shows?!?!

I don't know if all of these count as iyashikei, but here are a couple of recommendations:

Flying Witch
Sakura Quest
Konohana Kitan
Laid-Back Camp

The main concept is gorgeous animation and super chill storylines.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:51 PM on March 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Anime fandom gatekeepers really seem to have a fear of a spotlight being turned on problematic elements in their hobby, and by extension, themselves.

"Wow, the US really has some issues around talking about young people's sexuality!"

Japanese Popular Culture: "Hey- we love talking about young people's sexuality!"

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:54 PM on March 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, also- Interviews With Monster Girls is a great, super calming series. I think it may actually also be a way of coming to terms with integrating special needs kids into regular schooling (which was something that was not done very well, back when I was living in Japan).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:59 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

If we count Astro Boy, and we should, American kids have been watching Anime for 55 years.

As a kid, I wasn't aware that anime was a separate genre. All I knew was that some Saturday morning cartoons had much better art than others.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:30 PM on March 18, 2018

iyashikei genre? Healing shows?!?!

I don't know if all of these count as iyashikei, but here are a couple of recommendations:

Also in the genre, possibly at the top of the list are these two:

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō (Yokohama Shopping Trip)


Others include :


Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge (Tanaka is always listless)

Natsume Yūjinchō (Natsumi's Book of Friends)


All of them I consider very much worth watching on their merits.
posted by happyroach at 9:48 PM on March 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think the point when I realized that anime really is mainstream was when I started seeing anime-related memes posted without comment in "normal", not particularly anime-centric internet spaces, like "Notice me, sempai!" and "NANI?!"

Now that I think about it, an even bigger sign of anime's prominence is the quality of American adaptations that have come out recently, like the Ghost in the Shell and Death Note movies. Yeah, they were problematic and lackluster, but they weren't schlockfests like Dragonball Evolution that we've been used to thus far. Hell, James freaking Cameron is producing the Battle Angel Alita movie.

The thing is, though, no matter how much attention anime gets outside of Japan, it's still hard to talk about it because there's still so much creepy shit. I'll take Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, which I really enjoyed, as an example. The premise is that Kobayashi, the eponymous dragon maid Tohru, and their essentially adopted child dragon Kanna live together in an apartment. Kobayashi is the breadwinner and a huge maid nerd, and Tohru is the homemaker who acts the role of Kobayashi's maid and is madly in love with her. The whole story is about how they become better and happier people by becoming closer as a family. Kobayashi learns how to graciously accept the affection she rarely received as a child, and through Tohru gets an outlet for her kink, in a manner of speaking. Tohru learns to appreciate selflessness and human society, both of which are held in contempt by most other dragons, by seeing them modelled in Kobayashi. They find in each other someone to accept the part of themselves that their societies condemn.

And yet. There are two running gags in this story where, to put it mildly, the joke is about child sexuality. So it's really hard for me to recommend this show to anyone unless I know they're already used to this shit. It's the same story with another one of my favorite anime, a hilarious, hyperkinetic Japanese love letter to American cartoons about two raunchy angels on a mission from heaven to defeat various monsters, called... Panty and Stocking.

So, some parts of anime are becoming mainstream, but it's still not wise to talk about the other parts too freely.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 10:12 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

A brief perspective from a complete outsider:

I'm in my 40s and to me, Anime is still pretty obscure. I'm not personally interested in it, and I have almost no indirect exposure to it. (Indirect exposure: running into references to something even though I didn't seek it out. For example, I know lots of facts about Game of Thrones even though I don't watch that, because they've been referenced by my friends, or by TV shows.)

I do own four stuffed Totoros, but outside of a couple of Miyazaki films I haven't seen any anime. Nothing against it, it's just not my thing.

I have lots of friends who play video games, lots who talk about Star Trek and Star Wars (myself included) and lots who talk about Game of Thrones, but nobody talks about Anime in my circle. Maybe it's becoming more mainstream for the younger folks though.

By contrast I have two friends who are openly Furries and a third that goes to Furry events.

Maybe this is changing, and that's fine. I personally think everything should be welcome in the mainstream and to heck with anyone who whines about it being mainstream...

(I have seen "Notice me, sempai!" in some reddits I frequent... I thought it was a Karate Kid reference.)
posted by mmoncur at 11:16 PM on March 18, 2018

These articles confuse me a bit, if the issue around gatekeeping is just about how some select group of fans choose to favor shows and expressing their belief in the value of those shows with toxicity, then fine, I get that. White guys trying to dominate conversations around media to maintain their own sense of values is truly a problem, largely because of their manner of writing or talking about it. Looking at various rating sites for anime and movies, one can see there is some noticeable difference in how men and women engage with the sites and talk about the works, with men dominating the conversations and speaking more categorically about the values of works, using more hyperbolic language of extremes around ideas of "great" and "terrible".

At the same time, the idea that gatekeeping is bad because it favors less well known works over the popular is also a bit troubling, where that seems to carry the notion that any attempt to say one thing is better than another or more favored is bad in itself, and popularity is what really matters. The claims for gatekeeping in the articles all mention its around arguments that some less popular works are better than more popular works, which kinda doesn't make sense for gatekeeping in a meaningful way around engagement with the works themselves as the more popular are obviously just that and not unduly suffering for claims of being of lesser value.

Popularity itself does often mean the works are trying to appeal to a larger group of people which tends to make the works less singular as they want to draw in the biggest possible audience. That isn't going to be appealing to everyone and it does have its drawbacks in what messages, themes, characters, and the like, are given preference for their broader appeal. Criticism of popular works being considered gatekeeping just for being critical is not an ideal I'm all that keen on.

That the articles frame the gatekeeping debate around a couple celebrities mentioning their own appreciation for the form doesn't fill me with any added confidence in the assumptions being made about the subject as celebrity and its worship is both a form of gatekeeping and can be toxic in its own right. See the current US president for example. One of the articles shows a tweet by Kanye saying something to the effect of "There's no way Akira is worse than Spirited Away." Is that gatekeeping? It's something a lot of the annoying fanboys would argue. (Not that I'm calling Kanye that, it's also certainly a legit opinion for anyone to hold in the abstract.)

If the arguments are for better methods of discussing differences of opinion, then, great, I'm all for that since I find the hyperbole and categoricals mostly annoying and unhelpful, but if the arguments are that there shouldn't be criticism of popular media as that itself is gatekeeping then, no, I can't sign on to that. The liking of something shouldn't be free from examination to make people more comfortable about not thinking about the works they like, and if talking about popular works in ways that aren't complimentary then is seen as gatekeeping it isn't the problem that needs to be faced. Removing toxicity and extremism from discussions is to my mind an unquestionable good, using that as an excuse to denigrate the importance of respectful criticism would be much less desirable.

I've been watching anime as anime since the eighties and Robotech, not with the same totality of involvement that some have, but with enough interest to be reasonably knowledgeable about it. One of the great pleasures of anime for me is that so much of it isn't all that popular and thus can be more experimental or just plain odd. Anime has its own genres, conventions, and tropes, but within those, and because of its limited appeal, they also can take added risks and tells some really unusual stories that more popular media won't do for fear of losing their audience, which they would. There is sometimes good things that can come from niche sources for not relying on mass appeal, there can be some really bad things that come from narrow interest appeal too for much the same reason. I'm not sure trying to smooth out the difference, losing the high and low, is the way to make anime better even if it is more popular.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:40 PM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

The claims for gatekeeping in the articles all mention its around arguments that some less popular works are better than more popular works

I didn't think the point was really about what's better, just that dismissiveness toward casual fans (who are less likely to know about the less popular series) is a common form of gatekeeping.
posted by atoxyl at 2:14 AM on March 19, 2018

For me, the distinguishing characteristics of iyashikei are laid-back stories of small consequences, lavish food scenes and a fondness for old and old-fashioned things, whether that means modern people in old buildings or stories about traditional trades or country life or indulgent visits to Old Ruritania.

There are a lot of anime series that provide a similar warm blanket of emotions without necessarily being iyashikei, so here are more ways to feel the feels:

"Sakura Quest", mentioned above, is highly recommended. Five mostly-twentysomething women find themselves in a dying rural town trying to sort out what to do with their lives and careers. Passes the Bechdel Test. Realistic and mature in portraying the compromises we have to make between what we are passionate about and what we can accomplish, yet maintains a positive tone throughout.

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life: Kind of a rare item in popular media (Japanese or American) in that it's a fantasy story about morality and how you're shaped by the choices you make, while managing to mostly avoid being heavy-handed about it. At one point while watching this I remarked to my partner that I wish I'd been able to see this when I was in junior high school. There are occasional fights and some dramatic tension, but for the most part it's got an easy-going pace and every episode has a big eating scene. For some reason. The food always looks delicious.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie: Kind of a Nora Ephron romantic comedy but set in Japan and in a virtual world. A woman gives up on life and sinks into a world of depression and online escapism until reality intrudes on her reverie and she has to overcome her anxieties. This is a really great, charming series that even people who hate romance shows can love; every step the lead character takes towards her recovery feels earned, but it maintains a relatively lighthearted atmosphere with occasional laugh-out-loud moments. It's a short series, only 10 episodes (although one of the unbroadcast bonus episodes furthers the story a bit).

Restaurant To Another World: Nearly plotless episodes about a restaurant in modern-day Japan that for some reason teleports to an alternate universe every Saturday. The cast of characters are all very loosely sketched and exist mostly to wax eloquent about Japanized European and American food. "Isekai Izakaya", scheduled for the Spring season which starts in a couple weeks, shares an identical premise but is a completely different production. For most people these shows will either be hella boring or they will be porn.

Poco's Udon World: A 30-something man returns to his hometown from Tokyo in order to settle his recently-deceased father's estate. A tanuki-boy appears to him and instigates a personal struggle over whether to stay in the big city or make a new life in the small coastal town where he grew up. Kinda bludgeons you with the melodrama sometimes but there are also a lot of genuinely fun moments and it's an enjoyable ride.

Sweetness and Lightning: A young widower and his grade school-age daughter learn how to cook, with the help of one of his high school students. Every episode focuses on the three of them preparing a different dish, but there's enough story around it to draw you in to their world. If you have a Crunchyroll subscription you can read the original manga in translation, complete with recipes intact.

Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro: This is almost completely unlike the above in all ways: The art style is crude, episodes are rapid-paced, the characters are rough and there's a lot of loud music; all in all the opposite of a relaxing time. But it's got a similar story arc of finding yourself and your place in the world, and conflicts tend to be relatively low-stake and quickly resolved. A teenage boy finds a passion for club music and strives to become the best DJ in Tokyo, using his family's traditional fried pork restaurant as both inspiration and motivation. It's about as ludicrous as it sounds but they commit to the bit and pull it off; let it grow on you and it's very satisfying to watch.
posted by ardgedee at 5:40 AM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

YowaPeda has very much the same problem I have with Haikyuu where I wind up at the end going BUT I WANT THEM ALL TO WIN.

YowaPeda has the advantage that the races never ever end, so you can keep on cheering everyone forever.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:40 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel like dude weebs should feel guilt and be ostracized for being so grossly into their fan-servicey shows like Fairy Tail and Shokugeki no Soma or the once-popular Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. because it's really not much of a difference between the luridness and sexual harassment that's part of the shonen/seinen formula to the rampant sexual assault/abuse/torture in the internet porn sphere. arguably, at least in every anime-obsessed circle I was in, the cultural component of hentai was always a fixture, a weird one that people would occasionally shame each other for but still ever-present and easily accessed via the web. and if you think American hardcore porn is bad for its dehumanization of sex, wait until you start seeing the nastier side of hentai (see, for example, the popularity of 'loli' and 'rape' tags on the sites that host those videos and images, and, if you really want to ruin your day, go ahead and search for them in confluence with one another)

I mean, I love anime and manga, especially stuff like Vinland Saga or the things that Satoshi Kon helped bring into the world, works that deal with its characters maturely, working through tough themes while also dedicating itself to not falling into the pitfalls of shitty stereotypes. but there are not nearly enough voices and critics in the medium that push for maturity and artfulness and virtually none that deal with the just tons and tons of embedded sexism and racism in the medium. like, for one example, how nearly every black person in the medium is depicted as golliwogs or how those features are persistently used to symbolize dehumanized monstrousness
posted by runt at 7:19 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

or the Rick & Morty fanbase. or Atheism. or a lot of SF&F franchises in general. or smoking weed. or STEM related things like Cosmos

take your pick of countless communities where opinionated manchildren see themselves as the default and will scream at you for not sharing their specific neurotic tendencies
posted by runt at 9:14 AM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

The claims for gatekeeping in the articles all mention its around arguments that some less popular works are better than more popular works

Sample set of one, but more commonly the gatekeeping I've seen is "you can't really talk about this show unless you've already read the [usually fan translated] manga or light novel." It's where the people who used to be able to brag about fansubs moved to when simulcasting started. Happens especially around the start of a new series ("you can't say you didn't like the first episode of the anime because you don't know what happens in the 13th light novel"). Not sure what's been happening in their precious little worlds now that more English-language publishers are picking up current light novel series.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:32 AM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I've definitely seen the "you HAVE to read/watch this version of it!" kind of response, Lentrohamsanin. But even then, I feel like it's coming from a place of "this version is best! everyone should read/watch this version!", so that they'd probably be quite pleased if their favorite version was made more widely available.
posted by inconstant at 9:45 AM on March 19, 2018

I've run into that, Lentrohamsanin, and what I consider to be a related phenomenon of "you can't talk about this unless you know the source material backwards and forwards so you know that JJ isn't Catholic, that what looks like crossing himself is actually this thing some other figure skater did once" or whatever. Even in fan communities I've been in that have mostly been pretty good, there's a bunch of like... you can't just watch the show, you need to have seen it 8 times, read the original manga, and done a bunch of independent research into the source material. Heaven help you if you aren't aware of some detail of how Japanese schools dictate school uniforms, or whatever.

That side of things is really not just guys. I've seen not-men get a fair bit into "oh well you don't know this part of the plot because you'd only know it if you'd already played the Japanese-only mobile game" territory. I've still made plenty of good friends who're nice people as a part of this, but it makes me a little crazy how many people I've run into who will tolerate fanfic with terrible writing and no grasp of voice but will nitpick details until it's not fun anymore.
posted by Sequence at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2018

iyashikei genre? Healing shows?!?!

i neeeeeed this.

Flying Witch came out in 2016, is available on Crunchyroll for free viewing and is about a teenage girl moving to her family as an apprentice witch. Know Kiki's Delivery Service? It's that sort of setting, only in modern day Japan.

(For the real teenage Kiki you need to watch cup noodle commercial.)

Amanchu! came out the same year, is also on Crunchyroll and will have a sequel next season (from April 7) and is about a shy teenage girl who gets involved with the diving club at her seaside school. If you like that sort of thing, there are light yuri/girl's love overtones to it.

It's by the same mangaka as Aria, about a gondelier in New Venice on Mars, which is the most relaxing and happy anime series ever made, with the possible exception of Yokohama Shopping Trip, which unfortunately is out of print. That one is set during the gentlest end of the world ever imagined, as humanity is slowly fading away but its android children are still there.

Amaama to Inazuma and Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari are about single fathers raising a daughter and a tanuki turned adorable little boy respectively and the challenges that come with it. In the first one, the mother/wife died half a year before the first episode is set and the father has to learn how to cook for his daughter, with the help of a girl in the class he teaches whose mother is a succesful tv chef.

Yama no Susume is about girls going mountain hiking together; currently airing Yuru Camp is about girls going camping together, also currently airing Sora yori mo Tooi Basho about girls going to Antarctica together.

Non Non Biyori / NNB Repeat is about being stuck out in the boonies, really in the boonies, without even a konbini in reach.

Gakkougurashi! is about three girls and their teacher who love school so much they started a school live club, living at school and being self sustaining.

All of these are available on Crunchyroll and/or HiDive.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:19 AM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

I mean, I love anime and manga, especially stuff like Vinland Saga

--Which was just announced is getting an anime series--

but there are not nearly enough voices and critics in the medium that push for maturity and artfulness and virtually none that deal with the just tons and tons of embedded sexism and racism in the medium.

You need Anime Feminist, if you don't know it already, which looks at anime from an intersectional feminist point of view. Especially useful for its seasonal first episode roundups, but also looking at older anime series. Many of its writers also have their own blogs and such, so it's a good starting point if you want a more critical approach to anime.

They're also good for translating interviews and such with feminist and queer Japanese fans and creators, as a much needed corrective to the idea that this sexism and racism is just Japanese culture being more conservative than American culture and that's just the way it is.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:41 AM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

A new feel good anime, not sure if it fits into the genre of "healing" is School Babysitters, currently on Crunchyroll.
After the sudden death of their parents, two young brothers named Ryūichi Kashima (a freshman in high school) and his younger brother Kotarō (a preschooler) are left orphaned and having no place to call home. The school's chairwoman of Morinomiya Academy offers to take the boys into her care, giving them a new house and a free school tuition, on the condition that Ryuichi helps out with the school's daycare center and work there as a babysitter while also attending normal classes during school hours.
It's heartwarming and cute and you'll find yourself making "aww" noises out-loud on a regular basis. This trailer is in Japanese but you'll get the general feel of it. It's one of my favourite cheer-me-up kind of anime from this season.
posted by Fizz at 10:49 AM on March 19, 2018

I love when geeks get bent out of shape about who is a "tru" fan or not. Let people like stuff! COUGH *link to my Dragon Ball Super recap comedy podcast Ballin' Out Super * COUGH COUGH
posted by teamKRL at 11:33 AM on March 19, 2018

I mean, I love anime and manga, especially stuff like Vinland Saga

--Which was just announced is getting an anime series--


Good lord, I knew I was out of the loop this year, but I didn't know how far. That's fantastic news.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:55 AM on March 20, 2018

Gakkougurashi! is about three girls and their teacher who love school so much they started a school live club, living at school and being self sustaining.

Noted without further comment.
posted by Pendragon at 8:52 AM on March 20, 2018

Gakkougurashi! is about three girls and their teacher who love school so much they started a school live club, living at school and being self sustaining.

Noted without further comment.

Ummmm, COMMENT (because I just saw this was referring to the show called "School Live!" by the US licensor): It is very different from the other shows MartinWisse listed, and calling it "iyashikei" is maybe stretching the definition of the term and damn how do you even talk about this without huge spoilers, man
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:19 PM on March 20, 2018

First rule of School Living Club: we do not talk about School Living Club.
posted by Pendragon at 2:27 PM on March 20, 2018

posted by MartinWisse at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

rot13-ned for spoiler protection:

Tnxxbhthenfuv! vf npghnyyl nobhg guerr tveyf fghpx va gurve fpubby nsgre gur mbzovr ncbpnylcfr, ohg gur znva punenpgre unf ergerngrq va n snagnfl jbeyq va juvpu nyy ure pynffzngrf ner fgvyy nyvir.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:54 PM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

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