Hey folks. Today’s May 31st – I hope you had a good Asian History Month! Wait what? You didn’t realize May was Asian History Month? I guess I can’t blame you. After all when I was in grade school, in February the school would put up these big banners with the faces of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks plastered on them. In May, do you think my school put up big banners with Confucius or Tokugawa Ieyasu on them? Hell no. (Not that anybody that age would recognize them if they did. At worst, they’d call Confucius ‘the fortune cookie guy’). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Asians are the least-minority of the minorities in the US. We get the marginalization, the prejudice, the bad stuff that comes with being minorities, but none of the perks… if you can call having a month where people pay attention to you and 11 months where they don’t a ‘perk’.
Anyway, that’s not what I’m going to talk about in this article. You see, I have a confession to make. It’s hard for me to say it, but… I like anime.
GAH! There, I said it. Happy? Yeah, I don’t usually tell people I like anime because it’s embarrassing. But wait! Why the hell is it embarrassing to say you like anime in this country? I’m half-Japanese, even, it’s part of my culture. I should be embracing it!
I’ll tell you why it’s embarrassing: OTHER ANIME FANS. When I say “I like anime”, it unfortunately puts me in the company of some of the most annoying, shameful (and also shameless) people on the face of the planet. Incidentally, while there are extremely annoying anime fans of Japanese or otherwise Asian descent, most of the annoying ones (and most fans in general in this country) are white, so I’ll be talking about these people most. A friend of mine has a term for them: JAPANOPHILES. I’ll go over their worst aspects step-by-step.
1. They think anime is the pinnacle and/or the ONLY aspect of Japanese culture
I hate it when people say they’re interested in Japanese culture. This is because usually what they really mean is ‘I’m an anime fanboy’. If you took 100 Americans who say they like Japanese culture, 99 of them would give you a blank stare if you asked them what they thought about wabi vs. sabi, or the kaidan of Akutagawa Ryuunosuke, or the folk music of Inoue Yosui. Ask them what they think about Cowboy Bebop, however, and they’ll tell you exactly what they think about it.
2. They think that many things OWE THEIR EXISTENCE to anime
I play Guild Wars, incidentally. When Guild wars: Factions, which had an Asian-influence, came out, there was a sharp and staggering rise in the sheer amount of idiocy springing up about the game and what inspired the things found in the game. The worst came from Narutards, of course. There’s a skill called Way of the Assassin in Factions. For some reason, these Narutards assumed that the skill was an homage to Naruto. Never mind that “Way of the…” has been used for decades to translate ‘do’ in Japanese.
Such as you know, Bushido being translated as Way of the Warrior. Later when an NPC named Acolyte Sousuke was introduced into the game, Narutards said that he was clearly an homage to Sasuke. WTF?! The names aren’t even spelled the same, and never mind that “Sousuke” is you know, a name that existed way before Naruto did! That’d be like saying, oh hey, I’m a huge fan of Heroes… did you know that Peter in Family Guy was named after Peter Petrelli!!!?!? Hurr. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if some younger Narutards were so stupid that they think Naruto INVENTED ninjas.
3. They think liking anime somehow makes them COMPETENT in the language
When I do watch anime these days, I try to download the raws. The reason is if I get fansubs, invariably I’ll find some bad mistakes and I’ll end up getting pissed at the fansubbers instead of paying attention to the episode. A major problem is that fansubbers (and their video game counterparts, the RPG script translators) have a passing knowledge of Japanese but not enough to be competent. They’ll make up for it by looking stuff up in online Japanese dictionaries, or in the worst-case scenario, using Bablefish. So they’ll translate idioms literally – like ‘kanazuchi’, meaning ‘bad swimmer’, they’ll call ‘iron hammer’, the literal translation. So you get nonsensical sentences like “Oh that girl, she’s an iron hammer”. They’ll also translate false cognates incorrectly – like ‘saabisu’ usually means ‘free’, not ‘service’. Anyway, everybody makes mistakes, but when these people make mistakes, their mistakes get taken as truth by hordes of other Japanophiles.
4. They try to BECOME JAPANESE
This is one of the most annoying aspects of these people. They talk about how they love Japanese culture so much, they’re going to immerse themselves in it and become as “Japanese as possible”. Naturally this is based on the false assumptions I mentioned in Point #1 that anime comprises a large part of Japanese culture. You can easily tell who these people are – they take Japanese classes and say ‘sugoi’ and ‘baka’ all the time; they take kendo but all they really want to learn is battou-jutsu; they talk about how they’re going to move to Japan and it’ll be so awesome because they can buy all the manga and anime merchandise they want and nobody will call them a freak. (Reality check: they will in fact be called freaks.)
5. They EXPLOIT Japanese culture for money and/or fame
Hell, remember MegaTokyo? I fucking hate MegaTokyo. It’s a bunch of Japanophiles writing about being Japanophiles that just gets scarfed up by other Japanophiles – and they MAKE MONEY OFF OF IT. If you aren’t of Japanese descent, you have no idea how ridiculously offensive that concept is. Though maybe I can put it into a more familiar parallel – if I were a young black man growing up in the ghetto, and some suburban rich white boy started making rap albums about growing up in the ghetto when he’s never even set foot in one, and he subsequently sold millions of albums to other suburban rich white boys who wished THEY were rappers… yeah, that’s about the same level of pissed that I am about things like MegaTokyo.
Anyway, it’s clear I have a love/hate relationship with anime. Actually, it’s not even that complicated – I love anime, but hate most of the people in the fandom. So I don’t like telling people I don’t know that I like anime, because I’ll get lumped in with them. Damn, those people are obnoxious. Going to conventions are the worst. I’ve been to several, mostly to hang out with friends, but at conventions I always find myself saying stuff like “Man, I like anime, but at least I’m not like these freaks!” to myself about every 5 minutes or so.
I don’t have the time nor the energy to write about every annoying aspect of Japanophiles. Hell, I barely touched upon the cousin of the anime fanboy, which is the import video gamer fanboy. You know, the guys who know 10 words in Japanese but mod their PS2s and import Final Fantasies (or Naruto games) and try to slog through it. I’d write about them now but I’m already feeling nauseous from writing what I have so far, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Happy Asian History Month!