How otacore are you? A reflection on fan behavior

Here we look into the things we do that makes us fans, hardcore fans. Yes we’ve heard of the extreme things the Japanese otaku do, but since I don’t think they’re my readers I’m not as interested in tales about those lovable elevens. I’m more interested in us, fans outside Japan participating in this anime and manga world. How do we find ourselves changing? Have you ever surprised yourself with doing something that you never thought you’d ever do? I did, and now I don’t know what I’m capable of doing.

Over the past week there have been a number of good posts on anime blogging (omisyth’s, lelangir’s part 1 and part 2), which I personally consider to be advanced fan/otaku behavior. It takes, I believe a deep appreciation for the subject, as well as hard work and guts to crank out an anime blog (what I say to myself to justify why it took me so long to make one). At the same time Ibrevis, the metaphorical midwife of We Remember Love was writing about the very nature of the anime fan over at OH, and at East Anyhow. Read both if you haven’t already.

She asked the question of what makes a fan hardcore, but doesn’t answer it. It’s a question that intimidates me as well, but I’ll see what I can come up with.

This may not be the best analogy, but bear with me. First, an excerpt from my favorite novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera (which just happens to read like an epic blog post; the tl;dr kind that I fancy):

Men who pursue a multitude of women fit neatly into two categories. Some seek their own subjective and unchanging dream of a woman in all women. Others are prompted by a desire to possess the endless variety of the objective female world.

The obsession of the former is lyrical: what they seek in women is themselves, their ideal, and since an ideal is by definition something that cannot be found, they are disappointed again and again. The disappointment that propels them from woman to woman gives their inconsistency a kind of romantic excuse, so that many women are touched by their unbridled philandering.

The obsession of the latter is epic, and women see nothing the least bit touching in it: the man projects no substantive ideal on women, and since everything interests him, nothing can disappoint him. This inability to be disappointed has something scandalous about it. The obsession of the epic womanizer strikes people as lacking in redemption (redemption by disappointment).

Because the lyrical womanizer always runs afer the same type of woman, we even fail to notice when he exchanges one mistress for another. His friends perpetually cause misunderstandings by mixing up his lovers and calling them by the same name.

In pursuit of knowledge, epic womanizers […] turn away from conventional feminine beauty, of which they quickly tire, and inevitably end up as curiosity collectors. They are aware of this and a little ashamed of it, and to avoid causing their friends embarrassment, they refrain from appearing in public with their mistresses.

Beyond the male fans who call female character X as mai waifu, I see possibility in the categorization. Not so much as to shoehorn them onto general fan behavior, but as an opening for a (relaxed) binary taxonomy. I see two somewhat distinct fan behaviors that can be present in a fan in varying degrees. The first one is the amassing behavior (the consumption and collection), and the expressing or expressive behavior (the production and action related to the hobby).

Let me be clear that I don’t think that there are individuals who only demonstrate one of the behaviors; and the expressing behavior is contingent to some form of consumption of the subject anyway.

An example of amassing behavior is that of the completist: Regardless of the quality of the experience the episodes or shows provide them, these individuals will consume all media related to a franchise (or its equivalent). Mechafetish listens to a Gundam Radio series (RAW with his limited understanding of what’s actually happening; it doesn’t even have pictures!), so why? Completist compulsion from obsessive tendecies powered by a devotion to Gundam. [@ Biankita, I’m looking at you as well!]

An example of expressive behavior is that of the cosplayer: It’s not enough to watch anime. There’s got to be some kind of way to participate in an exchange. There’s got to be some way to demonstrate one’s love for a character or show. One does this by identifying with that character, then by portraying that identity in costume.

Ore-sama hitting a forehand (ghostlightning as Atobe Keigo, Capt. of the 300-strong Hyotei Gakuen Tennis Club

Ore-sama hitting a forehand last Halloween (ghostlightning as Atobe Keigo, Capt. of the 200-strong Hyotei Gakuen Tennis Club)

While amassing behaviors are easy enough to identify, and to identify with, it is the expressive behaviors that can inspire strong feelings, from awe to disgust. My personal extreme is my ability to sign my name as CHAR (include ‘Char’ in my signature). Why would anyone do this? I can’t say. But it felt cool. That ghostlightning, he is CHAR. What is your personal extreme?

Here’s are people doing their expressive thing:


The humble beginnings of the Tytania family. SPELLING, UR DOIN IT WRNG.



Misa-Misa pwnd L

Misa-Misa pwnd L

I never thought of participating in a drawing contest while in cosplay

I never thought of participating in a drawing contest while in cosplay

Upcoming local produced anime... I know nothing of this!

Upcoming local produced anime... I know nothing of this!

What's HARD GAY doing in my anime con?

What is HARD GAY doing in my anime convention?




Loli Yuna... I'll just stop there.

Loli Yuna... I'll just stop there.

The above photos were taken in the HERO TV Anime Convention last Saturday, November 22 in Pasig City. I just wanted to take a peek and see the contemporary Filipino anime fans up-close for the first time, but the Waifu tagged along and led me to the promised land of WIN. Because finally, on-SALE, is the 2nd series of CM’s Macross Collection figurines, which means… LIN MINMEI AWESOMENESS!





My Prize Figurine: the "Do You Remember Love?" Minmei


I end up cheering for the idols who don't get their man.


Yakk... DEKURACHA!!!


In an ocean of expressive behaviors during the HERO CON, I was able to amass in an awesome way. I leave you with a bonus pic:



Back on topic, these are the questions that I’m really interested in:

  1. What/How have you been amassing anime and anime related things?
  2. What was the most expressive thing you did as an otaku/anime fan?

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in fanboy, only in the Philippines and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to How otacore are you? A reflection on fan behavior

  1. Caitlin says:

    Very interesting article. I think prior to college, I was a completist – I bought up DVDs right and left and collected everything I could of my favorite shows. The most expressive thing I did, if this counts, is organize an anime club. Unfortunately, didn’t fit in well with the seriously hard-core fans (I suppose they’d be more expressive than completist) so I left. Now, I’m just a casual anime fan.

  2. lolikitsune says:

    What is HARD GAY doing in my anime convention?

    Arousing your lolikits.

  3. I started collecting anime in 2003. I have always been ne to extensively research the things I like. I used to write fanfiction way back. These days I just run a blog. And buy shit. I onw a few figures and dakimakura though not as many as i’d like to. Got some posters. I also own all of Yoshiitoshi Abe’s artbooks. MY DVD and manga collections are both over 100. I have been to 1 anime convention, otakon, at which I did some karaoke and my cousin and I wouldn’t stop creaming ‘SoulTaker’ as loud as possible during JAM Project until they had to play it.

    My proudest moments of otakudom are major purchases and research breakthroughs. My least proud are… fucking pillows. Probably. these two things do collide though, as seen in my discovery of 80s loli anime.

    I almost started an anime club but there are so many fucking narutards at my school that I started a film and animation club instead and got exactly the crowd I wanted.


  4. lelangir says:

    Hmm odd, my amassing behaviors relate more, or are a product of my expressive behaviors – Possibly, I find more pleasure in collecting/archiving/making systematic sense out of blogging and discourse than I do actually watching anime, but that’s taking it a bit far. The expressive part is just blogging. I’m not really interested in anime paraphernalia that much.

  5. ghostlightning says:

    @ Caitlin

    Though you probably don’t write about Japanese school food to provide trivia we anime geeks to consume ravenously, I’m tempted to relate to your recent posts as pretty expressive (and entertaining!).

    @ lolikitsune

    I’m glad to serve him up for your viewing pleasure ^_^

    @ digitalboy

    Research breakthroughs… pretty epic in my book! I have a battery operated Mirmo de Pon doll as well as a plushie. It’s awesome, and I have no shame.

    @ lelangir

    YES! Again you succeed at articulating something that I haven’t. I gain more fulfillment in the social aspects of the anime hobby: blogging, discussion, the occasional cosplay, watching with others than that of pure consumption.

    I amass toys and merch because I fail at not amassing toys and merch; might as well enjoy it!

  6. choujin1 says:

    I amass to the point where my bedroom looks like a mini TRSI warehouse! Budget? Self-restraint? What are these things?? I have become the Galactus of consumers, devouring anything and everything anime that crosses my path.

    On the other hand, blogging about anime is about as expressive as I get. I don’t do much expressing period. Just ask otou-san.

  7. LBrevis says:

    We seem to be on a very similar wavelength because I was considering writing about stuff fans have created. On a similar note I find myself interested in the symbiotic relationship between fans and professionals such as the fact that as far as I know no company has ever tried to sue Comiket. Somehow I just don’t think that would fly where I live (the US). Imagine Disney letting people get away with selling Daffy x Bugs porn.

    To answer your question I’d put myself in the amassing category – DVDs, manga, art books, fan art, magazines, etc. Then again I do have a blog so I guess that counts as something. I’ve also been somewhat ashamedly spray painting the Gurren Lagann logo on my skateboard. When I’m done it ought to resemble the back of Simon’s jacket when he goes into space.

    By the way, no big deal but it’s Lbrevis not Ibrevis. I’m an idiot so it took me months to realize I could correct my capitalization mistake.

  8. usagijen says:

    Very interesting article, inspires me to do more introspection about my current fan behavior, or the evolution that it has gone through.

    Anyways, I used to be a hardcore completist (though I still am, to some extent), in terms of collecting items of the animes I adore (from cards (or in Pinoy bootleg term, tex/Teks lol), stationeries, pencils, bootlegged CDs, and PLUSHIESS). I’m scared to think of the MASSIVE loot I would’ve amassed if I learned how to shop online for animu stuffs way back my total weeaboo/hardcore days. Having been addicted to manga more than anime (at least that’s how it was before), I’d see to it that I look into the past and later works of a mangaka I take interest in (one interesting manga is all it takes, and it becomes a slippery slope). But this “addiction” didn’t cost me much *cough* I’m a pirate *cough*

    Now, well, I still am a hardcore fangirl… but I’d like to think I’ve grown wiser. I’m able to appreciate a series more than just the aesthetics and shallow rabu rabu aspects, for example lol. I guess I owe much of that to blogging, and participating in various discussions. But I still need to learn MOAR, so as to churn out more insightful posts such as yours, senpai!

    And I don’t really understand what the whole point of my comment is anymore lol.

    I was looking forward to going to the Hero con! But heh, till the next con! =D And I presume you didn’t watch the cosplay catwalk? Or you no longer wanted to see any more of HARD GAY LOL.

  9. TheBigN says:

    Most amassive: Probably the drive for me to complete any series that I have the ability to finish, though it may take a while. And I’m sure I have at least 50 series of anime and manga each in my possession. And this is probably a pretty low estimate on either medium.

    Most expressive? Writing this blog. Chronicling my exploits on my MAL. Going to two anime conventions so far. Helped run my college anime club. Admit to people who ask that I like anime, but don’t usually tell people on the fly that I do. :/

  10. ghostlightning says:

    @ choujin1

    Stop it. You’re terrifying me. I’m one who not only fails the marshmallow test, but fails in a spectacular way (read: MARSHMALLOWS WER GUD, NOW I WANT HAMBURGER).

    @ Lbrevis

    Indeed, it’s not the first time that I couldn’t wait for you to post something you’re pursuing (or at least in my mind related to it) so I posted something myself.

    >>the symbiotic relationship between fans and professionals such as the fact that as far as I know no company has ever tried to sue Comiket.

    Now that’s worth waiting for. I’ve no idea how to go about it, only that we’re all pirates here (ne, usagijen?). Again, that future post of yours is central to one of the core themes of my blogging (opened when I wrote about Gendo, more next year).

    Double-YEAH on the Gurren Lagann logo on your skateboard. Mechafetish, The Princess of Tennis, myself, and brother of Mechafetish form the Dai-Gurren Dan Tennis Team. The Princess of Tennis is already designing the jacket logo (maybe perhaps after she recovers from having watched episode #8 of TTGL last Saturday @_@).

    @ usagijen

    Senpai? Me? My goodness that has got to be an age thing because I’m still very much a blogging n00b. I just happen to get LOTS of help from you commenters.

    I couldn’t stay any longer at the Con because the Waifu is bored and our little barkada had other anime-related stuff to do at home. But I do hope to see you come Friday. The Waifu and Mechafetish will also join later.

    @ TheBigN

    Epic amassing activities there, woah. Casually admitting you like anime to people is actually a big step for a lot of us. I’m pretty shameless, but I don’t pimp this blog on facebook or on other social networks. But I guess face-to-face it’s not as difficult, because the conversation is still ‘live’ and you can charm people back after the initial discombobulation. And yes, blogging is pretty expressive!

  11. I almost went to a convention once, but then all of my friends backed out at the last second and I didn’t end up going. There was also the fear that I would just get us all kicked out and thrown in jail simply by being me and the popular theory was that I would do it by tackling the first person I saw that tried to do the Hare Hare Yukai or Caramel dance.

    …..No the real reason came down to school for most of the guys. I would have liked to have gone though.

    And now for something spontaneous:

  12. biankita says:

    Hahaha! My completist behavior are usually limited to the anime, succeeding movies/OVAs/specials and music, which my senses point to macross nowadays. Other than that, I would be content to series and music ^^

    The most obsessed I’ve over been in a series where it extended to manga and other merchandise collection would be with ranma 1/2 in the 90s. I really really need to love a series to inspire that kind of behavior. Unfortunately, that series had a really sucky ending.

  13. ghostlightning says:

    @ Kaioshin

    Oh wow that video just made my day (I was already having a real good one). I actually had that game on the old Nintendo Famicom back in the day. Game was hard as hell and I think it only played Shappailon for its soundtrack the whole time.

    @ Biankita

    Sigh, Ranma 1/2. I loved that manga/show. I’m actually afraid of watching the ending because I don’t want a no-resolution kind of harem end. I expect the worst, you know. I read the end of the School Rumble manga and I still am disappointed in humans as a race for allowing such an stoppage ending to get published.

  14. schneider says:

    Amassive: Just collecting pics from 4chan, be they cool mechs or cute girls. As for anime proper, I do it in moderation, because my HD is restricting me (but I’ll buy a much bigger one in the future).

    Expressive: I really don’t express my tastes except online. Personally I have distaste for the regular breed of otaku, and cosplayers in general (if they’re not awesome or pretty). I did go to a con was, but that was more experiential than expressing myself. But I did make a friend in the office once when I interrupted a conversation about Gunbuster, which I just couldn’t help it. 😀

  15. omisyth says:

    Great post and an intriguing theory.

    If I had to categorise myself, it would be 3/10 amassing, 7/10 expressing. Outside of the internet I hardly do any sort of anime related things, I buy DVD’s occasionaly, never been to a con, and I have no interest whatsoever in things like figurines or collectables. I just watch anime as I would any other show. Except for the fact I run a blog, which brings me to the conclusion that I’m more of an expressive fan, albeit solely on my blog.

  16. Sakura says:

    Hmm I would say 50/50. I have quite a big InuYasha collection and would have more mecha if I could get my hands on it.

    Wing Gundam sits proudly on my desk at work, but even pouting didn’t get me the Freedom figure I wanted. But I did get Macross figures instead so it wasn’t a total loss.

    Hubby won’t let me near ebay because he knows the house would be full of mecha figures and its already full of figures, dvds, mangas and plushies, not to mention art.

    I want that Arblest dammit! Your pictures are win I see Bunta-kun FUMMO FUMMO!

    I express through my blog and in the past fanfiction. I would like to go to a con one day.

    Thats quite the Minmei haul!!!! Awesome!

  17. biankita says:

    @ghostlightning: let’s just say that the end of both the manga and anime did not make my 4 years of extreme fandom worth it. this is one of the reasons why growing up with only the anime you watched on TV (before high speed internet): you only know what is being exposed to you.

    after picking up anime again, i became a fan of so many shows that extreme fandom is no longer an option unless i was a bazillionaire. hence my mild fandom of it being limited only to anime and OSTs.

  18. ghostlightning says:

    @ schneider

    We have common issues re hard drive limitations, but I heard the 1 TB is getting cheaper and cheaper. I want to buy 1 or 2 this year and get 1 more next year and set up a RAID array and call it MAGI.

    Of course, I’d name each Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazzar respectively. If you don’t get the reference, go suck some anons on /m/.

    @ omisyth

    I do sense that a lot of us are underestimating blogging as an expressive behavior based on the comments. It’s not as flashy and it provides some level of anonymity, but the work it takes to produce it and maintain the discussions at a vital and interesting level is a lot of work. I would rate it higher than that of the average cosplayer, because in most cases a broader experience of anime is expressed through blogging, and in some cases deeper.

    @ sakura

    An interesting blend of amassing and expressive behavior is that of the advanced Gunpla hobbyist. The collected item is crafted with a high level of effort to demonstrate not only skill but also intimacy and depth of feeling towards the subject. It is highly comparable to blogging IMO.

    So here’s something for you. Using photos or whatever medium you have to document stuff. Take all your figs and mecha and construct an AWESOME inter-anime battle scene. I’ll blog it with equal effort or even harder! Here, on We Remember Love!

    @ biankita

    Too bad Ranma. I totally get how extreme fandom is no longer an option. I can’t even justify a single VF purchase. I just can’t. They’re so expensive. Never mind that I live a pirate’s life to watch all these shows.

  19. schneider says:

    @ ghostlightning

    Of course I get that reference! That was one of the more interesting episodes of Eva. I’m saving up for a major PC upgrade and my first stop would be a large HD. So more power to my downloading laptop princess Marina!

  20. otou-san says:

    I think the amassing behavior has changed for a lot of people since the advent of digi-fansubs (not to mention digi-piracy) and cheap hi-speed internet. But collections like what choujin speaks of are still going strong, you can see them grow by watching twitter every time TRSI has a sale. And I haven’t seen his house for a while, but I can vouch for him. Ask him how much he owns that he hasn’t watched 😛

    My amassing habit has really slowed down lately. I recently moved and sold almost all my VHS in a garage sale, which left me with what few DVDs I had and a collection to rebuild. These days I don’t see the point of keeping around my analog/single-voice-track media when DVDs aren’t too expensive anymore.

    I never got into collecting figures and assorted extra things like that. I’m just not a doodad person. If I can’t watch it, plug it into an amp, or eat/drink it, I don’t tend to buy it. My wife leans more that way, so we do have a few stray cardcaptor sakura things floating around the house.

    Yakk… Deculture! is probably the clearest distillation of the expression half of things.

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  22. Sakura says:

    Ooh that sounds like fun! I’ll have to take the camera to work when I go next week and get a photo of Wing.

    Oh and in addition both our cats are named after anime characters.

    Our siamese tabby is named Kyo after Kyo Sohma from Fruba and our Russian Blue is name Alto after our beloved hime from Macross Frontier XD

  23. ghostlightning says:

    @ Sakura

    I had 2 finches named after Harry Potter characters, but Hermione died so I’ll rename Ron Lelouche and get him a Nunally. ^_^

  24. Sakura says:

    Aww poor Hermione, but I’m sure Ron will be happy with a Nunally 🙂

    I worry for my mecha figures in this collage post though, our other figures sadly outnumber the mecha..

    But, the mecha do have more firepower, especially Skull Leader, so they probably have the edge anyway…

  25. picchar says:

    I’m really enjoying all your posts ^^

    As for my answers:

    1. Figures, manga and two hard drives full of anime (had to by a second external drive with 500gb capacity). Back when there weren’t any official English translations of manga (especially in the Phils), I bought the Japanese and the Chinese versions by saving up, resulting in starvation.

    2. Nothing really big actually… One is to illustrate in manga/anime style and two was back when I was in high school (early 2000s) when I walked around in school the entire day in a friend’s home-made “kimono”. It looked more like a robe with really long sleeves than anything. I didn’t care though ^_^v

    I think cosplaying wasn’t known then. Had a plan with a friend to one day cosplay as Kero and Suppi. Never got the chance.

    …Gyahahaha, Hard Gay~!!!

  26. ghostlightning says:

    @ picchar

    I’m VERY happy you’re enjoying!

    I think you’re a great example of otaku behavior. Nothing extreme or negative, just curious and expressive. I LOL’d at your kimono story.

    This anime thing lets us act like the kids we still want to be (we don’t want to be like kids all the time), but that part of childhood that’s still vulnerable to wonder… SUTEKI DA!

    That’s what this does for us IMO. Keep drawing!

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