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dorkatlarge

How anime fandom has changed over the years

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Today, I dropped by one of the last remaining independent video rental stores in the suburbs (at the corner of Euclid and Des Plaines River Road). What I found was fascinating... in between a variety of VHS and DVD, and videogames as far back as the N64/PS1 era, there was a small anime selection on videotapes. Most of what was there was years out of print -- from a long forgotten Lupin III feature to Iczer-1 to Devil Hunter Yohko. And the series that were still available was just like the bad old days, when it was not unusual to find Ranma 1/2 right next to Pokemon right next to La Blue Girl.

 

So now I'm thinking... what do you think about how anime and its fandom have changed over the years? What are your thoughts about the following:

 

* Relative obscurity over the years. (From finding shows on little-known TV stations in the early morning hours and purchasing rare videotapes... to the ways in which anime series have made an impact on Cartoon Network and streaming services.)

 

* What was common, versus what is common. (Once upon a time, series like Fist of the North Star and City Hunter were a big deal. These days, there's seemingly endless fighting shows, harem/reverse harem shows, and series which have different types of moe appeal. Other types of series don't often get much publicity, or don't sell much.)

 

* What you used to purchase, versus what you buy now. (Did you stop buying series in individual VHS/DVD volumes? Have your renting and borrowing habits changed? Are you still interested in physical products, or are you focusing on digital versions?)

 

* Who the fans are. (I've been told that until the late 90s, most anime fans were male, and over thirty. These days, it's tough to find any other fans over 25 who aren't involved in the industry, or who aren't parents.)

 

So yeah, I'm curious what you think about how anime/manga has changed over the years. But I'm also interested in knowing how you've changed as a fan. If you haven't lost your initial enthusiasm, say so. If you've become discouraged, and are focusing on the few series/things you still like, say so.

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wrexness   

I'll post in more depth later when it's not about time for me to go to bed, but I'll say this: all anime has high school students. Every one of them. I'm only kinda exaggerating on this point.

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I think the fandom has gotten more extreme. Too much ecchi and too much hentai.

 

Example is stuff like on sankaku channel. There is actually a guro, yes guro, kawaii moe girl anime in Japan right now, think it's called Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The whole purpose is to appeal to the guro fanbase. You wouldn't find stuff like that back 20 years ago.

 

I used to buy manga mostly and VHS were hard to come by unless you had a credit card and went online. Now you can stream, download, upload, whatever anime; whole series.

 

A lot of shows are more into fandom, going back from the old days and cashing in, as well as fanservice. The amount of anime with tons of fanservices that you don't need (I don't mean just a panty shot, I mean straight up 20 bath scenes, upskirts, panty shots with shimpan, girls groping girls, almost borderline hentai,) is nuts now. It's shocking compared to how there was Gundam and thundercats!

 

And I have to agree with Wrex; too much moe and too many young girls. Almost every anime has what I mention and high school girls. K-on, High school of the dead, To Aru, I can't believe my sister is cute, Bakemonogatari, Haruhi, and Toradora! to name a few. The only thing I have been reading is Nononono, Sumomomomo momomomo, and Under the bridge and even Nononono has high school drama with it's chapters.

 

I actually miss Gundam compared to Gundam seed, Gundam seed Destiny, Gundam seed etc. etc.

Edited by The Fujoshi

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wrexness   

* Relative obscurity over the years. (From finding shows on little-known TV stations in the early morning hours and purchasing rare videotapes... to the ways in which anime series have made an impact on Cartoon Network and streaming services.)

Aww, now you've made me sad that CN doesn't really show anime anymore. :/ But for sure there's been a distinct shift. Typically for me I'd watch whatever came on TV - TechTV or CN normally - and that was it when I was younger. In the days of Toonami I was only a kid / in my teens, no way I had the money to buy anime or manga. While I do still buy DVDs and Blu-rays, I also take advantage of more on demand stuff - namely The Anime Network and its content through DirecTV. I often find myself pulling it up every Friday and just going through the list of recently added stuff and just go, "hmm, seems interesting. Might as well download it and give it a go."

 

* What was common, versus what is common. (Once upon a time, series like Fist of the North Star and City Hunter were a big deal. These days, there's seemingly endless fighting shows, harem/reverse harem shows, and series which have different types of moe appeal. Other types of series don't often get much publicity, or don't sell much.)

Like I said previously, it's all about high school students. As long as these series keep selling I don't think it'll change anytime soon. Don't get me wrong, normally I actually do enjoy those series (HOTD, K-On!, Kanon, Lucky Star, etc), but it would be nice to see a bit more variety.

 

* What you used to purchase, versus what you buy now. (Did you stop buying series in individual VHS/DVD volumes? Have your renting and borrowing habits changed? Are you still interested in physical products, or are you focusing on digital versions?)

I still love the physical products. I only use digital viewing as a means to determine what I may or may not want to buy. I have a pretty good internet connection, but I don't know that I'd want to stream HD anime series on it though. I'd much rather have the physical copy and get some use out of my Blu-ray player. Especially since I shelled out the cash for a surround sound system.

 

* Who the fans are. (I've been told that until the late 90s, most anime fans were male, and over thirty. These days, it's tough to find any other fans over 25 who aren't involved in the industry, or who aren't parents.)

I haven't necessarily noticed that shift, but that's probably due more to my age than anything else. I'm right at that buffer there being 25 years old and all.

 

So yeah, I'm curious what you think about how anime/manga has changed over the years. But I'm also interested in knowing how you've changed as a fan. If you haven't lost your initial enthusiasm, say so. If you've become discouraged, and are focusing on the few series/things you still like, say so.

Nah, I'm still totally into it. I was just watching a couple episodes of HOTD yesterday, actually. I'm always up for finding new series in both anime and manga, though moreso the former than the latter.

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Biggest change I see is how one watches or purchases anime.

 

I've only been in the fandom since around 2004-2005, when the primary method was either watching on TV or purchasing the DVDs one by one. Or you could get fansubs online, though I didn't do this much since I didn't have broadband. Now, it's either boxsets or being able to watch the shows free online or with a paid subscription since online video viewing has grown so much. I don't do this much- there's just something about there not being a physical file on your computer or on a disc that makes me wary. It's like I have to "have it." Not to mention anime is being more difficult to find at brick-and-mortar stores now- Best Buy used to have a whole DVD aisle dedicated to anime. Now it's about 1/4 the size.

 

There's another generation gap when I speak with my friends who have been in the fandom much longer than me, and they talk about leaving torrents on for months at a time or getting fansubs by mailing in money to a fansub group and them mailing a VHS tape with the episodes on them back to you.

 

Currently, I've been noticing a lot of shows that are just revivals of old franchises or a remaking or rehashing of old series (Inuyasha, FMA Brotherhood, the next season of _____) as if their primary motive is to just make money rather than start with a fresh new idea to be "the next big thing." It's like the creativity and the passion in the anime industry as highlighted by their products is getting more difficult to find, and a lot of series are being turned into commodities to ask "Okay, how can we make another derivative of it?" Either that or the most ambitious projects that had huge potential seem to be cut short, like if they weren't confident that they'd get a good response to the show (Eden of the East, Angel Beats).

Edited by Goldeneyeuro

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Went to one of the few remaining FYE stores yesterday, and asked if K-on! DVD #1 was available. Apparently they sold out on day one. So yeah... that kinda demonstrates at least one reason to order online, or wait for a more convenient version. Since I'm not especially interested in single discs, if I decide to buy this version, I will go elsewhere. And since I want to save on my transportation costs, I'll go somewhere close to trains/buses.

 

In regard to characters' ages in recent series... it's kind of strange and depressing to think that Tiger and Bunny is one of the few recent anime series in which the main characters are over twenty years old. Then again, if you look at manga series from seinen and josei magazines, you have a better chance of finding stories which have interesting adult characters.

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Matt   

I started watching anime way back in 1993, with titles such as Ranma 1/2, Project A-ko, Gunbuster, Riding Bean, etc. I don't believe that there were anime sections in the video rental stores that I visited to rent anime (and if there were, they were very small). Rather, I found anime in the Sci-Fi section, even though not all of the anime was science fiction. Back then, I bought anime in single VHS volumes. By the time I was in college, more anime titles were available in stores and rental outlets. I also watched a lot of anime in Purdue Anime Club meetings, and attended my first Anime Central in 1999. The convention was rather small back then, but it seemed to be comprised of the same demographics as now. I didn't start purchasing anime DVDs until I got a DVD player around 2001 or 2002. Since college, I have noticed that there is much more shojo than there was in the 1990's, and much less science fiction. I'm not interested in watching and/or purchasing anime online, primarily because I don't watch as much anime as I used to (primarily due to lack of availability when I lived in the Chicago suburbs, so I got out of the habit of regularly watching it). Also, I enjoy watching TV shows on a television rather than a computer, although I have been watching some of my shows on Hulu if I'm not able to watch them when they first air (since I don't have my VCR hooked into cable anymore, and I'm not interested in buying a DVR -- maybe when I'm on my own and working a full-time job :)). I don't watch anime on television much anymore, mostly because there's not much on anymore (at least not on most cable networks), and what is on is on rather late (especially on Adult Swim). Today, I'd rather wait for anime shows to be released on DVD box sets, and buy those. I still buy anime on DVD, just not as much of it. I also rent anime much less now that I'm back in college, and mostly rent during the summer. I have occasionally also borrowed anime from my local libraries. And I still like anime quite a bit, and am still attending Anime Central (2011 will be my ninth convention). However, I don't keep up with current anime. There's still plenty of older anime that still want to see, for example, Kiddy Grade and Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid. As for today's fan demographics, it seems that most ACen attendees are in high school and college. I would think that fans who began attending the convention ten years or more ago would balance out the younger attendees, but maybe not. Then again, if they started attending ACen in their early to mid-teens, they would only be in their mid to late twenties now, which is still relatively young. I'd have to look at the demographic breakdown this year, if it were made available to me. As for the current emphasis on high school students (especially girls), moe, and the like, it doesn't really bother me -- even if it does suggest that no adults live in Japan :D.

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I remember when I would go to Blockbuster and it would only be one 1/2 shelf of anime that included The Hobbit, Bubblegum Crisis, a Sailor Moon, and a couple odd random Vampire ones. It was either you find the right store or you find it online. Now it's definitely more access to anime in multiple types of store. I still have those random VHS tapes (one of the reasons I still have one). I think the two anime’s you can contribute to making a bang here in the US is DBZ and Sailor Moon.

 

Ok What I’ve noticed is that there is a shift but not so badly that there aren’t all sorts of different animes out there. What I find “interesting†is that it is the shojou types are immense there is too much for even someone who likes it and if you did find all of them and read/watch them all then you become mixed up with who is in what and what happened in which one because the same things happen, I love cliché but if you don’t make it discernable it’s pointless.

 

But I feel like there will be another shift soon. I’ve noticed that Cosplay is funny like that; Remember when everyone was either Bleach or Naruto, well after 2 years of that it switched the fandom. And I’ve noticed a lot of Soul Eater and something else don’t know what just that they are all the same thing…. ^.^

 

I only buy series now, and I’m very weary about what I do buy…I don’t borrow from people much anymore thanks to netflix but even then I don’t like seasons off of there… I do lend out but I’ve lost a lot of my manga that way (like 5 in a series of 8… still don’t know what happened?)

 

I feel like there are so many people who love anime that I’m glad, that if it did change, it changed to so many types of people. I’m still under that 25 deal so…? But I still feel like the younger people are so intense that I feel I have lost my zest for anime but I have changed my reasons for going to conventions, it’s not so much for the anime or the trinkets or the panels, but for the people, for the experience, for the games/learning what other people think are interesting (popular).

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With the advant of the internet and social networking, I must say, the fandom has had it growth 100 fold. Plus, with more and more anime coming in the mainstream, I see the growth of the fandom just gettin' bigger and bigger until the bubble pop.

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I stopped buying individual dvds of 24-26 episode series mainly cuz companies would later release thin pack, complete set series for a cheaper price. And it bugged the hell outta me. I would start buying School Rumble volume 1 and 2, and soon enough there was a boxset of the complete series after all the individuals were released. Same for Chobits, I bought like 5 DVDs almost got all of them, and they got me again. Years ago, I wanted to buy the Disgaea anime, then I thought "I bet their gonna do the same thing". Last week I saw at Best Buy the complete series for the price of what one anime dvd would sell for.

Edited by Animexcel

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some point along the line i remember watching anime and no one cared what was "good" or "had a good story" or wether or not it was subtitled...i want those days back

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I think the hardest thing to do about new anime is to find a place to watch it. Back in the hay day of Adult Swim it was possible to see shows like Death Note and Code Geass and the latest Gundam show and such by flicking on and not paying attention and letting the show just drag you in and MAKE you care.

 

There's no real way to do that these days. Anime has become such a niche market that you have to do ALL the ground work yourself. You have to FIND the show, you have to watch it, find a purchase copy, buy that and of course you have to learn about it from someplace.

 

I consider myself semi-extreme with my anime habits and hang about the Ah! My Goddess, Haruhi and Gundam portions of the internet a lot. I see all the colorful memes when a show gets popular and I see all the news posts when something relating to the shows I already enjoy come out... but when something original and different comes out. Something which is bold but doesn't stand high and proud amongst the rest? I have no idea it exists.

 

Imagine my surprise to find out that an anime set in Chicago. 1930's Chicago no less has existed for a couple years. I only learned about Baccano this weekend and the idea intrigued the hell out of me. So I want to watch it... great I have the first two episodes on Funimation's site (which I had to look for myself), but that's not enough to make me want to drop $50 on the rest of the show. ---my choices? Search about for hours to find the videos illegally online or... just buy it and hope?

 

---sod that, I'll stick with the devil I know and keep saving my money for the Slayers season 4 set I've wanted since last year.

 

It's that kind of thing that is killing the anime industry recently. Another thing I noticed is like Haruhi. That show is STUPID popular, but Bandai are only marketing it to existing fans. Like seriously. After watcihng the Haruhi-Chan omake DVD I am convinced that Bandai are not bothering to advertize the show at all and just left it as a self-referencing wink-wink nudge-nudge to the fans, which is all well and good, but is an absolute road-block to non-fans. Imagine how they'll treat the movie, which is STEEPED in continuity. How CAN you sell that thing to a new audience? It requires watching 2 seasons of the anime, both of which have never aired on TV and unless you go for the subbed version on Crunchyroll are not freely available for casual audiences. So... yeah. When they get around to releasing that movie, much like Haruhi-Chan (which they didn't even distribute to stores, they just sell it on the website) it wont have an audience outside of the fanbase.

 

To be honest, I gave up looking for new anime because there's SO MUCH OF IT. You either go to mass anime sites like ANN and see EVERYTHING or stick to the small circles and miss the gems like Baccano because they're not relevant to Goddesses, high school girls or giant mechs.

 

Ah vell. Things were better back in the day that the good stuff just kind of floated to the surface and EVERYONE knew about it.

 

PS: I feel the best bit of advertizing in the anime industry is the AMVHell series. I have watched SO many anime purely from those videos. Someone needs to invest in them. Like now.

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The changes that I see in my Anime buying and viewing habits are that I buy series on the INTERNET directly from Japan if I can find it with English translations. Also after attending convention's for several years, I now work on staff and do not get to panels or the video rooms unless I am working them. It takes an effort to get to the dealer room and the artist alley sometimes. We arrive early and leave late and mainly work behind the scenes. As for the age question we are older to begin with as are most working staff.

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If you have Comcast On-Demand (I think they refer to it as "Infinity" now), under "Cutting Edge" they have anime from Anime Network and Funimation (the latter split between free and premium). It's how I've learned about the newer shows, but you've got to wait a few weeks/month before the next batch of episodes in a series are added.

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On reading this recent House of 1000 Manga article -- http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/house-of-1000-manga/2011-06-23 -- I found out that artist Tomoyuki Saito got to experience western anime fandom around 2000-2001, and then wrote about it. Her series "Dame Dame Saito Nikki" was apparently never finished, and is apparently difficult to find, but it sounds deliriously funny.

 

The June 22 update on Jbox.com -- the worksafe version of J-List -- also talks about changes in anime/manga fandom. It's just a paragraph, but it's worth a read. (Keep in mind that Peter Payne, one of the company's founders, has been an active fan for at least twenty years. His old fanworks are archived at seishun.org.)

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june.h   

Anime itself hasn't changed in that it's become more ecchi. That stuff's been around for YEARS. You can find plenty of anime that has little violence or sexual innuendos. Even 20 years ago with the popular anime you could find stuff that was a little more than rated PG-13.

 

In terms of the industry pushing out more Moe/girly stuff, well it's what's selling right now. Just like how mecha stuff was bigger in the 80's. It's got it's trends, it'll pass eventually.

 

The fandom I think is also ruining the industry in that it doesn't know how to keep up and restrict torrents and streaming. Companies can barely break even by licensing, producing, and marketing anime/manga in America as it is. Also, now with the power of the internet, you can watch just about anything, not just the select few that either fansubbers or commercial licensing companies bring over, which also unfortunately doesn't filter a lot of garbage series too. Thus, you're left with a TON of selection and very few you really want to invest time watching.

 

Fans have gotten younger, at the same time are a lot more open minded. Unfortunately with younger fans comes having a much smaller disposable income to purchase anime to support the industry. But the younger fans tend to bring their friends into the fandom as well, so it's really got it's pros and cons.

 

All-in-all, it's difficult to say if the fandom's gotten better or worse, but it's changing a lot from the past 20 years (man, it's been that long for me?) and it's interesting to see how both the Japanese and American industries are going to help shape it.

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Krystal   

I think the fandom has gotten more extreme. Too much ecchi and too much hentai.

 

Example is stuff like on sankaku channel. There is actually a guro, yes guro, kawaii moe girl anime in Japan right now, think it's called Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The whole purpose is to appeal to the guro fanbase.

 

 

Madoka isn't Guro. It has it's creepy parts, but definately not guro. Perhaps you're thinking of Elfen Lied?

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TekoMuto   

went to otakon

 

everyone was candy core raver

 

/slammed head into palm tree multiple times

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rondo   

When looking through all the anime/manga crap I have either lying around and in storage, I realize that over the years..my anime fandom has waned quite a bit. I'm not as rabid a fan as I once was. At a time where I bought everything from cels, to shot glasses, zippo lighters, et cetera...all that I really buy now is anime and manga and it is nowhere near the level I once did.

 

And looking out at the rest of the public, at one point I saw anime fandom growing from the early 80's onward but I feel that trend has slowed quite a bit. Where animated programs ruled the day for kids of many ages, they are now replaced with tons of live action teen dramas/comedy/garbage and I feel this has also affected anime, and to a lesser extent, manga. Along with the lack of programming on easily available cable channels, anime just doesn't get the exposure it once did and has firmly become entrenched as a niche and I feel it will never go beyond that, at least in the States.

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...And looking out at the rest of the public, at one point I saw anime fandom growing from the early 80's onward but I feel that trend has slowed quite a bit...

 

There were a few years in which publishers really emphasized physical products. But I suspect people stopped buying them. Single volume DVDs started to vanish around 2008. There's more and more current and vintage shows available through streaming, and purchase-able series are now mostly being sold through season packs and digital distribution. Print versions of manga translations are slowing down. Publishers are starting to sell digital releases as well. And I think there will be a viable, legit manga portal soon... perhaps JManga?

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Madoka isn't Guro. It has it's creepy parts, but definately not guro. Perhaps you're thinking of Elfen Lied?

 

No I know Elfin, it had that weird cat thing on the articles that mentioned it. I think the manga ka was trying to stop production so he started killing the cast/bad guys in horrible ways, but fans still liked it. Maybe it was the manga only?

 

If I find it again on sakaku, since it was old, I'll double confirm.

 

A lot of fans are into, 'young girl subtype,' in anime and manga right now. Madoka to K-on, and even No index, the spinoff with the girls was released in Usa before the original. I don't mind, but I wouldn't mind seeing more older women/men manga/anime, like persona 2 did.

 

On a related note, Trigun wasn't popular in Japan and they are just making a movie for it.

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Ohki   

Tastes in Japan have changed drastically, and that's led to a huge change in what gets made, and therefore what Western fans consume. A lot of Western fans would be thrilled by a return to things like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. Others are happy with what we get. Still others, myself included, would like a mix of both.

 

A big change is how easy it is to get information these days. Now, I'm too young to be part of the pre-internet Western anime fandom or have any memories of it, but even where my fan memories start, it was much more difficult to find out what shows were out there, what they were about, what their episode count was, who made them, etc. I don't think you could even track what the current season of anime in Japan was back then. Also anyone remember Angelfire and the like and the shrine sites on them? MIDI files? Those memories still amuse me looking back.

 

As for me personally, while my enthusiasm is still high, I watch less per week. This is mostly out of internet addiction. Oops. I definitely avoid single discs these days, I'll only buy box sets. However, I still love physical media and would never switch to digital only, much as I do like legal streams, and I do confess to downloading fansubs. I've gotten a lot more into the merchandise collecting scene, particularly figures. Also doujinshi is a guilty pleasure and money sink of mine these days. Early on I mostly just bought DVDs, posters/wallscrolls, and small trinkets. My tastes have broadened over time; I think the only genre I've lost interest in is BL. I'm extremely picky about it, and vastly prefer yuri now.

 

For the record, I'm female and 21 years old. I first got into anime when I was 9 or 10.

 

@Fujoshi Um...no? Madoka is not "just to appeal to the guro fans". Madoka is a deeper, darker, more thought-provoking form of a magical girl show. There are often parallels drawn between it and Princess Tutu, which I think is a good comparison. It's a really amazing series, and dumbing it down in description to call it "just to appeal to guro fans" is doing it a massive disservice.

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@Fujoshi Um...no? Madoka is not "just to appeal to the guro fans". Madoka is a deeper, darker, more thought-provoking form of a magical girl show. There are often parallels drawn between it and Princess Tutu, which I think is a good comparison. It's a really amazing series, and dumbing it down in description to call it "just to appeal to guro fans" is doing it a massive disservice.

 

Whoa I never said it did. I was responding to what Krystal said a while back about Madoka not being guro. I was quoting on what Sakaku said in this article about said series: Madoka Manga Guro Death Scene Shocks Fans feb. 2011, and how it was still popular despite such scenes, (to the point that some cosplayers dress up in guro fashion from the same series.) I didn't say that all fans who were into it liked guro, or anything of the sort.

 

I can't link to the articles directly but there was a lot of them that showed more scenes, (and all of them were the definition of guro, which is the graphic killing of someone in an appealing manner in terms of anime/manga, different than the clothing lineup.) Now I never read the manga because I wasn't into the girl moe subtrope that is dominating the market, (such as K-on,) or tsundere girl, (such as I can't believe my little sister is cute and Tora!) so I was curious and had an open mind about it. I am not bias towards the series in general, I just mentioned it in passing.

 

Wow you seem....really offended when I mentioned 'guro' and 'madoka.' Sorry.

 

I mostly go on Sakaku to find figmas and the rare cosplay images, but it does have a lot of hentai/4chan like rants among the website.

 

I used to go on Angelfire and be into DBZ back in the days, as well as MIDI files of Evangelion, Dragon ball Z, etc. Back then it was impossible to get whole DVD series of the movies/anime/etc. of DBZ. I have been into anime since I was.....6 or 7?

 

I mostly buy doujinshi now and manga instead of anime dvds, because manga is easier to get into and purchase in my opinion. I'm into Hentai/Hetro romance/Traps/Yaoi and ocassionally Yuri in terms of doujinshi. Rarely yuri since it seems to be Hentai=yuri and hentai in many doujinshi and books.

 

Manga I'm reading Shonen and romance/older women manga. Stuff such as Drrr, Tiger and Bunny, Beezlebub, Hapi Mari, etc.

Edited by The Fujoshi

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Scott   

When I started, DVD and VHS were the standard way to get Anime. I remember paying around $125 for the 13 episode tenchi DVD set, so it was priced at a premium too. Now it's a lot easier to watch it legally online, which I think is great. That's pretty much all I do these days. I don't mind a few advertisements for the convenience factor.

 

Current fans seems to be younger, but I'm just older, so I'm not sure it works out much different. Large anime conventions like ACen show the big demographic, but it seems to me that people move more toward Sci-fi conventions as they get older.

 

Anime fans seem to be instigators of the meme culture, which I think is a bad thing for the fan base. Anime itself is diluted because of all of the extras that now go with the culture, not to mention all of the negatives that go with sites like 4chan that were mimics of something Japanese.

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Ohki   

@Fujoshi

 

Um. That's exactly what you said. You claimed that the show's whole purpose was to appeal to guro fans. That's incredibly false. You've never seen Madoka, have you? People talking about shows when they don't know what it's actually about bothers me. That simple. You can't just take what you read on a site like Sankaku as 100% fact.

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