It’s been two years since I’ve been writing here on We Remember Love. Looking back at the work done here on the site, there’s no surprise that much of it was done looking back at past anime, rather than talking about the future, or even the present. Here I’m going to talk about the present.
I believe that the anime fan that I am in 2010 is fundamentally different than the one I was in 2008. In 2008 I was full of intention to express what I thought who I was, as a fan. What actually happened is I became the fan that I am while attempting to express a self that didn’t quite exist the way I imagined it. This is going to be an involved post, and I invite you to be patient with me as I attempt to fulfill my intention to explain this world I choose to live in.
I am an anime fan, and if you’re reading this chances are you are one as well.
The Changes in Taste
My taste for shows didn’t change in a way that I stopped liking a certain kind of show, and then replaced it with another. Instead in the past two years I found that my taste has expanded. Prior to 2008, I was primarily a limited robot anime fan. I am a big fan of the Macross franchise for 25 years, but I had yet to see Macross 7 which I was certain I would hate, but now favor among the sequels and believe to be the most important show in determining the kind of Macross fan one is. I was a fan of super robot anime, but I really had completed watching less than 10 shows at the time (within the sub-genre).
I had seen the Gainax robot shows, and a few newer robot shows, but really very little relative to the breadth of titles available. Significantly, I didn’t really start liking Gundam until 2009. My conversion into a Gundam fanboy is one of the most extreme I can think of, because I did hate a lot of it and was rather indifferent with the rest. Over the past 2 years I then published over 30 editorials about Gundam.
Here is a list of works I’ve discovered over the last two years that I shouldn’t really be surprised I ended up liking so much (an abridged and unordered list):
- Eureka SeveN
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes
- Macross 7
- 20th Century Boys (manga)
- Bakuman (manga)
- Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Nana (manga)
- The Five Star Stories (manga)
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
But more importantly I’ve ventured out of my core preferences and found myself rewarded. Before 2008, I had no idea what moé was but over the last two years I’ve exposed myself to quite a few shows that feature such elements extensively. I liked more shows than I disliked (though I’ve stayed away from shows I felt I wouldn’t like at all). Outside of participating in the anime blog community, I would never have discovered how much I’d enjoy the following shows (an abridged and unordered list):
These are shows that don’t really fit in any kind of shows I previously liked. While I probably won’t prioritize buying merchandise from these licenses, or actually buy legitimate copies of these shows budget and availability willing. What I learned? Tastes can change. Sometimes, I won’t like a particular show because I’m not ready for it.
It’s seldom wise for me to voice out my dislike for a show, especially to go at length to show hatred for a work, because I limit my possibility in life. How so? It’s because I will thereafter feel that I have to keep justifying my position instead of allowing my natural curiosity to discover something I might like about it in the future.
By acting so sure, and then acting so tough, I get in my own way of discovering new things. Even if I say that I don’t mind making mistakes (and I really mean this), this doesn’t mean I enjoy humiliating myself, or having others humiliate me.
The Economics of Anime Consumption
I don’t vote with my money. The assertion of Capitalism is that it is a democracy, and you vote who stays in the market with your money. I do not purchase anime. When I was younger I watched anime on local television (Philippine English dubs, then Tagalog dubs), then on basic cable. At some point, I started buying bootleg VCDs, then DVDs; many of those bootleg DVDs were poor encodes of bad fansubs. This is still how most Filipinos watch newer shows. In 2008 I started downloading digital fansubs via P2P methods.
I think anime fans here who use torrents to download anime are still a minority. Most fans, the ones that go to anime-related events, the cosplayers, the plastic model kit builders, they watch shows either on local TV or via bootleg DVDs.
Aren’t there any legitimate DVDs available locally? If there are, they’re hard to find, and far more expensive than their bootlegged counterparts. Some people even end up buying Hong Kong bootlegs thinking they’re original. While many young people use the internet extensively, online purchasing isn’t widespread. They don’t usually have credit cards, nor are eligible for them, the exchange rate often works against them, and most simply do not have the means to build a collection this way.
They would have to relate to acquisition of hard copies as collecting, because such an object is rather expensive relative to their means. Hence, if DVD purchasing is the means to simply watch anime, it isn’t a very efficient means for viewers here to do so.
The minimum daily wage in the Philippines (circa 2010) is PhP 404.00. This doesn’t amount to much purchasing power to maintain any hobby. If local cosplayers or model kit builders spent on acquiring legitimate editions of anime, they wouldn’t have the means to do their preferred fan expression. Many cosplayers only play shows on local television or basic cable (Naruto, Bleach, One-Piece). I know of toy hobbyists who purchase toys from shows they haven’t watched or don’t even intend to watch.
The viewing of the source material (or the reading) in many cases isn’t the primary fan activity. This makes more sense than it seems. While there are indeed fans who consider viewing the paramount (or in some cases even the only) way of being a fan, in more than a few cases, it just isn’t so. But how about me? How do I fit in all of this? I blog anime, writing or making content is my primary fan activity. What I enjoy most in the hobby is sharing and discussing with other fans. This isn’t to say I don’t care for the source material, the actual shows. That would be grossly mistaken.
I just don’t vote with my money.
I vote with the publish button, and the send button (for blogs and various online communications methods respectively). Just as people go through their considerations in their heads or with other people on what anime to buy, I put my choices into words or the work I do with media, and I share this with anyone who’d care to read. I imagine this is how a cosplayer votes by making or wearing a costume, or how a model kit builder by buying, building, or displaying toys.
Let it be clear that I am not justifying anyone’s actions here. What I do (and how I vote) is my business. How others choose to do so is theirs.
If I reach a certain level of disposable income, I intend to buy legitimate Blu-ray editions of shows I want to collect, but this will not stop me from downloading fansubs. I want to talk about new things too, or material that won’t be available for purchase for a long time. Still, my pace of consumption over the last two years, even if it is quartered, will outpace any foreseeable ability to purchase legitimate editions.
With manga it is very similar. My wife and I probably own 70+ manga volumes total (of various titles). I want to continue purchasing manga (even though they are as expensive and sometimes more expensive than the books I buy), but my reading consumption via scanlations will outpace any attempts I make at collecting (to say nothing of the lack of availability of many of the titles I follow).
Sometimes I put off reading a manga I know I will love, simply because I know it is licensed and on sale locally, but I cannot afford to collect it.
I feel sad (this happened with Monster, to name a title I haven’t read or have stopped reading), but the feelings come and go.
So How Do I Wish You to Remember Me?
I am a passionate fan of anime and manga, and that the core of this is a desire to connect with people who like them too, or people who will enjoy discovering these works. My being a fan is significantly diminished if it means I don’t keep making and sharing related content. I can’t make original animation or manga (at least not yet), so this is the closest thing I do to show my appreciation.
There may be less means, and time to keep up with this hobby, but I have no intention of giving it up. I’ve made preparations so that this site will publish content throughout 2011.
Thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far. For everyone who’s read, subscribed to, commented in, wrote for, and shared We Remember Love to others, thank you from the bottom of my heart.