Last week, I wrote a little bit about how you can improve as a member of the anime community. Recently, a friend who read that article asked a follow up question; who are anime fans?
This seems like an obvious answer because anime fans should be anyone that likes anime. But she's actually asking a fair question because how can you be a better anime fan if you're not sure you are one in the first place? What she's really asking is, who was that last article for and who has the agency to really create change in our community?
So who really are the fans of anime? Are they the casual watchers who've maybe seen only the most popular shows or are they the ones who watch every new release each season? Are they the people who have maybe one t-shirt of a series they really loved or the people who have an extensive figure collection? Does how much we've seen or how much we buy influence this? Well, let's talk about it!
Firstly, it's important to note that at base value, anyone can be an anime fan. The anime community is so unique in that the genre itself is simultaneously the fan base. The changes we want to see are the changes we, as viewers, have the agency to ask for. Ask anyone and they'll tell you, anime isn't just a cartoon or just for kids; there are so many sub genres within it that it's more diverse than most other fandoms.
So when we want to look at fans, we have to look at people who like everything from love stories to adventures to horror. And keep in mind, we often can't separate them because people tend to like more than one of those sub genres; yes, you can still like shojo and shounen at the same time.
When I wrote last week's article, I might have been a little too vague and perhaps even unfair because I was only really considering fans who are typically the most involved in the community; they go to cons, they throw a lot of money at their fandom and they also participate in everything from blogs to Facebook groups. These fans exist and are certainly important, but they aren't the only kinds of fans out there.
Casual fans, in my opinion, have just as much of an influence to the community as super fans do. In fact, their agency can be very different because they can bring different perspectives that super fans would have never thought of. Casual watchers might see more of the outside world's stereotypes and actively challenge them in a way that supers probably couldn't. In that same aspect, fans that are more involved might be able to change things more from an inside perspective; shaping healthy conversations in their online groups or forums, helping out at conventions or challenging other hyper fans to be better.
Last week's article is for all kinds of fans because the one thing that makes the anime community great is that there are so many different kinds. You don't have to go all in to be here and a part of the conversation. You also don't have less of an impact because you aren't as involved. When it comes to communities as unique as ours, we have to accept all walks of life and types of fans that are out there.
Anyone can be an anime fan. It doesn't matter how much you've seen or not, it's about your love for your shows and the people you enjoy sharing that with. So with that, go forth and show off your fandom!