Top Ten Red Flags That Fans Can Raise Regarding Their Favorite Anime

red-flag-eyes-spice-and-wolf-wink-wolfgirl-konachan-anime-434041 You ever see someone praise an anime in a way that just turns you off from it even more? A show has a fanbase so obsessive and un-savvy on the Internet that it makes you dump a show before you even give it a proper chance? I definitely have, so I wrote a post detailing ten things I never want to see in a positive review for something, whether it’d be trash like Zegapain or good shows like Beast Tamer Erin.

1. It gets better.

Reason: You have to like the concept/big picture first before you can you like a fictional product. Whilst most anime do start off kind of iffy, you’re supposed to give a reason to want to continue watching within the first episode. Otherwise, why would I bother continuing? Yes, Air Master sucked in its first few episodes, but that’s because of the humor. The fight scenes and underlying story were pretty good in that intro.

2. It’s better than (something crap)

Reason: So just because one thing sucked means it’s okay for another thing to suck?

3. I am a (insert anime TV studio) fan/fan of (loosely related at best product).

Reason: Whilst directors themselves can be consistent in quality, TV studios themselves have always been hit and miss. Even when Gonzo was considered good with Gankutsuou, they had a lot of crap being made. Shaft is a bit of an exception because Shinbo practically is the studio, but he’s always been hit-and-miss with a huge leaning towards miss in recent years. Also, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of Steins;GateRobotics;Notes was awful. It shouldn’t matter what it was a sequel of, because on its own, it’s still crap.

4. Best girl/boy/mecha!

Reason: Don’t care.

5. Boy x Girl/Girl x Girl/Boy x Boy/Whatever x Whatever

Reason: Don’t care.

6. Using the word “sasuga” in any context.

Reason: I think only the n-word beats that particular s-word in terms of annoying things that people can say.

7. Saying it’s a subversion/deconstruction/original work.

Reason: Don’t care. Also, semantics aside, you need to care about the genre the work is subverting/doing an original take on before you can like it. Stanley Kubrick may be one of my favorite directors, but even he couldn’t make me like a war drama with that Full Metal Jacket snorefest.

8. It’s so fun!

Reason: Saying something is fun is like an explosion. It’s fine in support of something, but on its own, it’s terrible and meaningless.

9. HNNNNNGGGGGHHHHH!

Reason: BAAAARRRRRFFFFFF! Oh, and praising something in all caps is also like an explosion.

10. Not giving any attention to the big picture.

Reason: See Reasons #1-9.

22 responses to “Top Ten Red Flags That Fans Can Raise Regarding Their Favorite Anime

  1. On 1: It’s not a matter of liking or not liking something that is important, it’s a matter of investing in it. The distinction is important because it is very possible to invest in something that we don’t immediately like or even that we hate. Fiction won’t break simply because we hate it, it will break when we reject it. Do those things usually go hand in hand? Maybe so, but there is a difference. Sometimes the payoff of a story is even better when the opening isn’t that great. The humble origins of the hero’s journey for example. It’s all about expectations. All that “good” fiction really is in the first place is something that is successful in exceeding expectations for the people who invest in it. Getting a positive return on said investment. If there is no investment in the first place everything is going to look like shit no matter what. If expectations are too high the same thing is true.

    On 2 – 10: Maybe they don’t care about the big picture? Maybe the people reading their reviews don’t care either? Sure most anime reviews are awful, but fans being excited about something is an even more awful reason to hate it. I wish more people could clearly articulate what they like and why, but this blog post just comes off as anti-enthusiasm. Why do you care if someone is excited about character pairing x or the studio that made it? Stating those things on their own doesn’t make for a good review, but why does that matter when it comes to what you do or don’t like?

    • Maybe they don’t care about the big picture? Maybe the people reading their reviews don’t care either?

      This is pretty much the main reason why I wrote this article. Fanboy culture in general has always been bad at looking at what ties the elements together and it’s been annoying me recently how commenters and people who post on forums and stuff always want to emphasize how cute a girl is in Nisekoi without going beyond that. At the very least, you can do what Frog does and make up a big picture out of nowhere. I’ll probably think it’s bad, but eh, it’s something.

      Why do you care if someone is excited about character pairing x or the studio that made it?

      It isn’t exactly an uncommon thing for a fanbase to detract you from checking something out through their overemphasis on superficial qualities. Akira itself has a shitty fanbase that turned me off from the movie for a while, and let’s not get into Portal or My Little Pony. You can do that sort of stuff, but A) don’t make it a major focus of your praise unless it’s for a joke B) don’t overdo it. If you’re too enthusiastic about things I don’t care about, then what’s motivating me to give it a chance?

      • “It isn’t exactly an uncommon thing for a fanbase to detract you from checking something out through their overemphasis on superficial qualities.” Yes it is uncommon if not impossible for a fanbase to stop me from watching something. When looking for anime I don’t really care what a fanbase thinks of a thing one way or another. A fanbase isn’t a very specific thing in the first place. Spoilers can lessen my interest, but that is about it and even that depends on the type of show. If I had any desire to watch MLP I would watch MLP. My question was why do you care about it, I don’t. I think you answered my question anyway. I take it motivation is your answer? I can understand that I guess. Though it isn’t something I consider when I am writing a review.

        For my own part, when I write anime reviews I’m not doing it to motivate people to watch something even if I am recommending it. I am writing to inform on and illustrate my own experience with whatever I am reviewing. If it sounds interesting awesome, if my enthusiasm rubs off and helps someone enjoy something more than they would have otherwise even better. If someone ends up with false expectations because I like something more than they do or decides to hate something because I like a character pairing that they don’t care for that is not really my concern. I refuse to take responsibility for the motivations of my readers. I would like to share my enthusiasm, and I don’t mind acting as a motivator, but ultimately I hold any readers responsible for their own motivations. Be it readers of my own writing or readers of something barely comprehensible.

    • Also, the fact that fanboys in general don’t care about the big picture (and their readers for that matter) should be a criticism, the same way wish-fulfillment anime these days are criticized by a bunch of bloggers. Yeah it’s popular, but that doesn’t free it from us frowning on it. The same can obviously be said for my “fans being excited turns me off reason”, but eh. I never said you can “hate” something because of its fanbase. I just said a fanbase can prevent you from not forming an opinion on account of you don’t want to try it.

      • You can criticize whatever you want. I won’t necessarily agree, but I think I understand where you are coming from at least.

    • Personally, whenever I write a review, I do the same thing. Skip the recommendation and choose to say what “I” like about it. People can draw their own opinions from it, but I think that sort of review style is the best because I’m more interested in learning about the person who likes/dislikes the thing rather than the actual thing. Cara from Caraniel’s Ramblings tends to like things for shallow reasons (or at least more shallow than me), but I like how she embraces that fact and doesn’t go beyond “I liked this because…” territory into “you should like this” territory. Frog too, although his defenses are far worse concept-wise, so I get the urge to punch his slimy tongue whenever he reveals his fanboy tendencies (hehehe).

    • If you’re requiring someone to be sufficiently invested (eg have a significant sunk cost) before juding their opinion to be worthy, then you’re obviously filtering down to a certain obviously biased subset of opinions only.

      • Worthy of what? I said nothing about value. Worth isn’t even relevant to what I said. I’m not requiring anything of anyone. How much someone wants to invest themselves into a thing is up to that person. If you invest nothing you get nothing. It’s not a complicated principle. You’re still entitled to your opinion either way regardless of what I might think of it.

  2. Yeah, posts like this make me realise that we’re never going to agree on some things.

    Personally, I think staying connected to fanboy culture is really important (at least for my own enjoyment). I totally get where you’re coming from when you say that this type of consumption leads fans to overlook the big picture or to latch onto superficial elements. It’s not going to lead to great critical discourse, and most of the time you shouldn’t expect rabid fans to sell you what they love in a way that an outsider can understand.

    On the other hand, I have great respect for fans. There are times when I find them more creative and inspiring than critics (if, ahem, we can feasibly draw a line between the two). Fans are more inclined to create new things rather than deconstruct what’s already there. They implicitly know how to engage with art and make it meaningful with their own creative interpretations. The critics who understand fan culture and that criticising art is about adding to the experience are the most effective critics, in my view.

    That’s why I personally revel in my fanboy side on my blog. There are times when it’s appropriate and times when it’s not. I try to make it clear in each post when I’m being “serious” and when I’m being more light-hearted, but it’s still an awkward blend, and I freely acknowledge it’s not the most effective approach. But it’s my approach, and it’s very important to me.

    tldr; fans can be stupid, but not all the time.

    • Yeah, well…the times when you revel in your fanboy side are usually funny. These forum posts/MAL reviews/blog comments on Moe Sucks/tweets about how deep Hunter x Hunter is, aren’t funny. They’re too busy trying to defend/circlejerk the minutiae and come off like the cult of Stephanie Meyer.

      Nerd/geek culture in general is an essential part of fandom, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still find it weird. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there are “bad” opinions out there, and said culture is usually the frontrunner of them.

      • Well, “HunterXHunter” may not be Shakespeare, but to compare it to the Twilight Saga is a bit harsh. I fully understand why your typical otaku ramblings like the aforementioned “HNNNNNG”, “best girl”, “waifu” and so on would seem like a piss poor basis for liking a show. But on the other hand, while one could argue that there is such thing as overanalysing, I still think it’s way better than UNDERanalysing (the case above) – may seem a bit pointless from time to time, but I wouldn’t consider it the frontrunner of “bad” opinions.

        Plus, ultimately, it all boils down to entertainment. I enjoy something, good. I enjoy dissecting my own enjoyment and the reasons for it, good too. I maybe wouldn’t write pages on every HXH episode but surely can appreciate the care for detail that’s put into it and can see why people would write them.

  3. I wonder whats up with the hate for ‘it gets better I swear’. The phrase itself is simply a statement of opinion, no different from ‘X is a good show’, ‘X is a bad show’, and their respective extreme forms of best show/worst show. If sbdy says this, four things could happen:
    -It gets better in a way that redeems/ties up/puts into context/makes awesome/elevates the initial episodes.
    -It gets better, but not in a way that redeems preceding episodes.
    -Viewer never gets that far.
    -It doesn’t get better.
    That’s not a bad split at all. The exact same set of possibilities apply for anyone who recommends anything to anyone else. It sounds like the dislike for the phrase is simply because people are sick of hearing it, but no doubt we’ve all gotten sick of hearing rave reviews of shows we disliked. yet “X is good” isn’t red-flagged the same way.
    Whats generally counterargued is that a show ought to open up with a hook, which is understandable, if a bit dependent on immediate gratification. I sometime feel that if fans were less critical of shows which open slow, we would get fewer shows which are all hook and no substance, even though there’s no reasoning to support this.

    On a side note, what precisely do you mean by ‘the big picture’, and how does it play into all this?
    I recall, for example, initially thinking that Kill la Kill would actually have continued the major thematic thread about Naziism, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. How can you deduce what the big picture is without having seen a show through till the end, or point of no return. The Hyperion Cantos’ first book ties together all its plot threads in the last 20-odd pages. Similarly, a lot of people saw Shinsekai Yori as not having a big picture until the very last episode.
    (Yeah, rereading this comment gives me the feeling I’m not quite grasping sth)

    • Isn’t the big picture in Kill la Kill, Ryuuko’s quest to find her father’s killer within the school? That Nazi thing was just dressing to the story.

      As for SSY, pretty sure the “what the heck is going on?” was the main draw of that show. At least for most people. I dropped it halfway through, partly because it kept me in the dark for too long.

      Now as for the ‘it get better’ argument, most anime do a good job of setting up the mood and what to expect early on. Very rarely have I liked something I disliked initially.

      • That’s a… kinda small big picture isn’t it? Especially since it gets invalidated in the later half once the focus shifts out of Honnouji Academy, and the story becomes all apocalyptic and biblical. There was also the whole thing about being/not being human, which appeared like dressing…sometimes.
        Either ways, the point I’m trying to make is that ‘big picture’ is an easily problematised idea, since there’s a lot of arbitrariness in how its decided that XYZ things constitute the minutiae, and others the main course.

        Does that mean there is no such thing as the ‘big picture’? Well, the approach I always took to this notion was either to look at the final subtext(a la the musings on neutrality in Mushishi) of the show, or to look at what events in the show meant to characters at the largest possible scale – at the stage where the largest number of characters are affected. For example, through most of Gundam Unicorn (yes, I know you dislike the franchise, just noting sth here), the MC has no idea whats going on; the scale of his thoughts is small. Later on, they escalate to the future of humanity and all that. The latter is the big(ger) picture, since it takes into account more characters than the initial one.
        …which is why I get the feeling that we mean different things by the term ‘bigger picture’.

        Perhaps, and I’m going out on a limb here, by this, you mean ‘the most compressed possible description of the show that doesn’t distort its core’. Something like a synopsis.
        That kind of approach would work well on shows like Samumenco, which are schizophrenic as all hell.
        Yeah. Kinda confused here.

    • You can argue that the big picture is small in Kill la Kill, but the point of my article is that most fans don’t even focus on “that”. They focus on the moments and worship them without any real thought put into what connects them, treating what’s “actually happening” as an afterthought. And a lot of times, anime caters to that trend because that’s what sells.

  4. “Boy x Girl/Girl x Girl/Boy x Boy/Whatever x Whatever”

    Isn’t the case for some anime that this IS the big picture?

  5. About “8. It’s so fun!” I’d say the issue with it more that it’s circular reasoning. It’s like saying “why do you like this food?” “because it tastes good!”. Figures. Ultimately, the issue is why do YOU think it is fun, and that’s where subjectivity lies, because if someone is already asking what’s to like in a show, it’s clear that THEY do not find it “fun”. So pretty pointless I guess.

    About “it gets better” I guess it has times when it’s justified. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a perfect example, as there clearly was a change of direction and writing around episode ~19 and the rest of the series was much superior in every way to what had come before: it DOES get better, but you can’t just jump in at the point where it does because you wouldn’t understand a thing. Of course there are cases of people saying “it gets better” while completely missing the point, namely that your problems aren’t with side issues or slow pacing or lack of big enough explosions, but with the core premise of the show.

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  7. Well my mindset on this is really just, “We’re all guilty of it”. Sometimes there really are just anime out there that clicks with you so well, you get the ability to ignore many of the bad aspects of it. They have their weird tastes and I have mine.