Watching the view on anime change over the years is something that I think anime fans should appreciate a lot. I thought about it recently and realised the amount of conversations I’ve had with people who watch anime, as well as the amount of people who don’t recoil in disgust when I say that I’m an anime watcher. There are so many threads and conversations on social media that are about anime, there are also healthy discussions on topics relating to anime characters, YouTube accounts and blogs dedicated to anime with a healthy following and it’s weird to think about especially when I compare all of this to how anime was viewed when I was growing up.
There are some people out there who probably feel as if they have to act like anime gatekeepers because it’s not really viewed negatively nowadays. Thanks to things like Netflix, social media and memes, anime is more accessible than it was before and people can now see the best part of a series before questioning why people would dare watch it. Once upon a time, people who had to stomach the shots and the jokes when it was discovered they watched anime. It didn’t matter too much if they were down to earth or very weird, for the most part these people were put in the same box. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people who watched anime had a phase where they acted as if they dabbled in a few shows here and there because they cared what others thought of them. Binge watching anime was information that anime watchers could only truly share with other anime watchers and even then, it was done with caution.
It makes sense when people feel negatively that anime watchers can now be part of the cool tribe because it never happened for them but that’s not the big picture, it’s not even part of the picture. I want to say people born in the 90’s and later are now a driving force in the changing perception of anime in the west. Personally, when growing up it felt like if you watched anime then it meant you were either into shows for really young children (like adults didn’t watch Powerpuff Girls) or you were into Hentai (or both!) when that wasn’t the case. Now thanks to people who have carried their love for anime into adulthood it’s slowly being integrated into society more, with songs that sample anime themes, music lyrics and tv shows referencing anime and even celebrities that people love admitting that they like a cheeky anime or two.
The recent willingness that people have shown towards accepting anime in the west is good thing because there are a lot of assumptions that come with it in dire need of erasure. I have to admit that at the moment, it doesn’t bother me how people watch their fix of anime whether it’s subbed or dubbed, legal or illegal. The most important thing is that it’s getting out there and it shows. It must have been years in the making to see anime go from a point where it was shunned to a point where some shows can cause FOMO (like One Punch Man) and when you add in the fact that some people publicly go out in anime inspired clothing or sometimes you may find yourself eavesdropping on a passionate conversation on the subject, it really makes it clear that good times could be ahead.
Despite all of the flexing that’s done on instagram and twitter, we live in a time where people like to promote the idea of being yourself. People don’t have to be marginalised for not fitting in with what’s around them and that gives people who watch anime a chance to be more confident in the fact that they watch it. For me, this is something that I wanted to see growing up and I feel that this should be the end goal for a lot of anime fans in the west. Seeing the medium in a space where most people won’t mock it without giving it a chance. Time will tell if respecting anime is a trend or if it’s here to stay in the west but I want to assume the latter because of the amount of things it could lead to, such as more love and respect for OEL manga or just more anime inspired things to really help it translate to the masses better.