Understanding Elitism in the Anime Community

It’s something that has slightly troubled me over the years. Nudging me and making me feel that something’s not quite right. No…I’m not talking about Justin Bieber’s rise to fame. Rather, I’m thinking of the anime snobs. The people who bash others simply for liking a particular anime series that they themselves deem ‘unworthy’.

From my observation elitists rear their head and devourer a show at just about any opportunity. The show has a few minor flaws – bash time. It isn’t the tailored taste that a specific elitist viewer likes – again the metaphorical baseball bat is coming out. And god help us if an anime series becomes hugely popular. There is almost no hope for that series coming out unscathed. Elitists will spend hours picking apart every flaw they can, landing hit after hit and discussing in their inner circles how horrible the series in question is.

What I don’t understand is why. Why do people do this and why is it so prevalent in the anime community? I mean, I am yet to hear someone go on a tirade as to why the don’t like shows such as New Girl or Modern Family (that being said it’s the internet and I’m sure I could find this if I tried).

Yet in the anime community it’s almost like the more popular a show becomes the more people go out of their way to hate on it. Sword Art Online is potentially the most notorious of the bunch, and yes, it has its flaws, but I still feel the hate is a bit over the top. This isn’t the only series. One Punch Man, Angel Beats…heck I’ve even seen people hate on Attack on Titan (for some strange reason that remains a mystery to me).

Kirito from Sword Art Online. He's arguably the most polarising character of all time. Source: A-1 Pictures
Kirito from Sword Art Online. He’s arguably the most polarising character of all time.   Source: A-1 Pictures

Now I’d better clarify. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with disliking an anime or even voicing your concerns to what was bad and could have been done better. Yet for some reason (and tell me if I’m crazy) I feel like there’s more behind the scenes – there’s a reason people often spend excessive amounts of time investing so much energy beyond a standard “this wasn’t great, move on” review. And I think it’s to big-note themselves.

I ordinarily wouldn’t have a problem with this. Even in everyday situations, when people ramble about their opinions as if it were fact my response is to nod, smile and agree with them while thinking in my head that they’re obnoxious and mentally planning my escape. Yes, i’m not one for confrontation. But from what I have witnessed it often goes further in the anime community, to where people outright vilify the groups that think differently. It no longer becomes about what they think and believe, and the reasons why, but rather flows to insulting and demeaning the groups who think differently. This is what concerns me – arguably even more than 2007 Britney Spears did.

While I’ve never bore the brunt of this myself i’m also not very vocal (also, in most cases i’ve seen the hate is more so pointed at generalised groups rather than specific people). But when I do see elitist comments demeaning a popular series or fan groups for an obtuse reason it does make me question what they stand to gain.

Because what would an opinion piece on elitism be without a picture of Gilgamesh (though you could argue he's just an outright snob). Source: ufotable
Because what would an opinion piece on elitism be without a picture of Gilgamesh (though you could argue he’s just an outright snob).   Source: ufotable

I do think in some scenarios there’s another trigger point that comes into play – and that’s that some fans talk about shows like a preacher on crack. Of course, when this is seen by a strong-headed person with a differing view they’re likely to speak out, especially if they feel they have more of an insight on the topic.

And in a sense sometimes they can be right. People who’ve watched more can give more insights and naturally have a greater viewing experience in which to draw conclusions from. They can bring awareness to more niche, lesser-known anime which are often overshadowed by the more popular series. By the same token, however, it’s all opinion, and popular shows are often popular because they’re fundamentally enjoyable or expertly pieced together. People also have different tastes and shouldn’t be attacked for liking a series, no matter what that series is.

In short lets just stop the fighting and all be friends :). Source: Studio Deen
In short lets just stop the fighting and all be friends.   Source: Studio Deen

Admittedly, I also wonder sometimes if people simply dislike shows for the sake of it. There are some profiles on My Anime List that seemingly rate almost everything excessively low, to the point where I can’t help but think. “If you’re hating these series so much…why are you completing them?” Again I think it comes back to big-noting oneself – clearly a person who’s exceedingly critical knows more about a topic…right…right?

When it comes down to it, I honestly don’t completely understand anime elitism, these are just my thoughts on how I think it plays out. But the often unrestrained audacity of the anime community really does fascinate me because it doesn’t regularly appear in other television genres. The bottom line is that I feel a small minority of people place too much worth on what is ultimately their opinion. It’d be awesome if they could tone it back, realise everyone is different and respect (or at least tolerate) others opinions. If you have more insights please feel free to post a comment.

Thank you for reading my thoughts!