The definition of someone who appreciates anime and manga has changed a lot over time. Anime is more accessible than ever before, and there are such diverse series out there that cater to all ages and interests. Anime and manga continue to reach greater heights, making it unfortunate when the reputation surrounding enthusiastic fandom can be a deterrent rather than something that feeds into excitement.
Passionate and vocal fans are present in every medium of entertainment, and anime has a deeply welcoming and accepting community. That being said, certain stereotypes still occasionally arise where intense fandom doesn’t do anime any favors.
Updated June 3, 2023 by Daniel Kurland: Audiences continue to turn to anime and manga as a way to express their passions and personalities. However, this bastion of creativity can also come across as scrutinizing rather than a community that fosters ambitious storytelling and animation. There’s so much to learn and gain from manga and anime, but it’s just as important to embrace the medium with open eyes and be aware of some of its shortcomings instead of developing blind spots. There are still far more positives than negatives when it comes to anime and manga fandom. However, it never hurts to be more informed over cautionary areas and subjects.
12 Some Series Are Extremely Long
Anime and manga fans have endless options at their disposal, but it’s discouraging to learn that some of these mediums’ most celebrated series are lengthy commitments that go on for hundreds, or even thousands, of episodes. Anime is a rare form of entertainment in the sense that some of the more successful series have been on the air for decades.
One Piece is an anime that everyone deserves to experience. However, it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to have the time or patience to get through more than 1000 episodes of a series. It puts fans in an unfair position.
11 Regional Humor & Storytelling Can Be Alienating
Fans turn to anime for several reasons, but some of the medium’s best series are gag comedies with ridiculous senses of humor. Comedy is a subjective medium, regardless of the language, but it can become even more polarizing when there are regional differences to take into consideration.
At the same time, these obscure gags are great ways to become more informed on Japanese culture and customs. That being said, it’s easy to watch an anime like Excel Saga, Mr. Osomatsu, or Gintama where major jokes don’t make sense because the audience isn’t immersed in Japan’s culture.
10 The Abundance Of Spin-Offs & Supplemental Material
Spin-offs and connected franchise universes are hardly specific to anime and manga. However, these mediums really go for broke in this department and passionately indulge in ancillary series and expanded canon. It’s common for mainstream anime to have extra OVA installments, spin-off manga, and light novel extensions.
These are great sources of extra information, but they can be exhausting for completionists who strive to experience every piece of a franchise. This becomes a challenge when some of these ancillary properties are extremely rare and don’t receive localizations. It shouldn’t be a struggle to stay informed.
9 The Subs Versus Dubs Debate
It’s never pleasant to feel like one is enjoying something the “wrong” way, which causes quite a stir when anime fans debate the separate advantages and setbacks of watching series in their original subtitled format or with a localized dub instead. In the end, it’s just encouraging that as many people can enjoy this content as possible, regardless of what language they speak.
However, some subtitle purists attack those who watch dubs as not getting the true experience. Dubs are prone to changes and cultural censorship, but they also have their own merits that can bring a lot to the series.
8 The Gatekeeping That Surrounds Certain Franchises
There’s a long legacy that surrounds certain anime and manga properties, some of which have been ongoing for multiple decades. Mainstream franchises find new fans every day, and it’s essential for these properties to survive. Nevertheless, series like Mobile Suit Gundam, Naruto, Dragon Ball, and One Piece can have very protective fans who sometimes keep out newcomers or make fresh fans “prove” their commitment to these franchises.
Audiences should just be able to enjoy a series without demonstrating their degree of fandom beforehand. Existing fans can offer advice to newcomers, but it’s asinine to suggest that some series require a set level of knowledge to engage with their community.
7 Certain Types Of Fan Service Get Prioritized
Fan service is a double-edged sword in anime and manga. This term is frequently applied to the showcase of characters’ figures in rather gratuitous fashions, like impromptu trips to the beach or hot springs. Fan service can help bring in audiences, but it can also misrepresent what the series — and anime as a whole — is all about.
Fan service is still heavily turned to in anime and manga because the majority of the audience supports this type of entertainment. This gets generalized to the norm and the impression to outsiders that anime is filled with endless fan service, whereas it’s actually quite manageable and not the biggest selling point of a series.
6 There’s An Immediacy To React Rather Than Patience
Pop culture as a whole has become incredibly reactionary, and it often feels like if a show or movie isn’t watched on the day that it’s released, then being spoiled is inevitable. Anime and manga engage in such long-form storytelling that sometimes the full scope of a story or character arc isn’t clear until the narrative has finished.
However, anime and manga fans can judge and react right after new content gets released. It’s an exhausting mentality to adopt and one that usually doesn’t do its material justice. There’s a greater interest in being the first to have a take as opposed to whether it’s properly informed or not.
5 Only The Most Mainstream Series Get Celebrated
Hundreds of new anime and manga get released each year, which cover a broad spectrum of genres, tones, and characters. It’s impossible to watch every single piece of content that’s released. This makes it all the more important to figure out which obscure series are worth the time.
Sometimes niche anime have the biggest fandoms of all, but by and large, it’s the most successful shonen, shojo, and seinen series that receive representation. An echo chamber of popularity occurs where the most mainstream genres like magical girl, battle shonen, and mecha are all that get discussed.
4 The Conflict That Can Form Between Manga Readers & “Anime-Onlys”
Another major schism that’s present within anime and manga fandom is the level of seniority that certain manga readers exhibit toward “anime-only” audiences. It’s completely fine to discover a series for the first time as an anime rather than already being a committed fan of its pre-existing manga.
There are problematic power dynamics that can come forward where manga readers will threaten anime-only fans with spoilers or attempt to invalidate the anime’s rendition of events as not being as canonical as the source material. These two sects of fandom should enable and encourage each other rather than tear one another apart.
3 It Can Be Harder To Be A Fan As An Adult
A stigma that continues to accompany animation as a whole, not just anime, is that it’s a medium that’s made for kids. The same is largely true regarding the perception of manga and comic books.
There is no shortage of anime and manga that’s made explicitly for adults, but it can still be difficult to freely indulge in fandom as an older anime fan. To some degree, children can enjoy anime with greater impunity, and adults occasionally need to jump through more hoops or qualify their fandom to some extent.
2 Some Content Can Be Hard To Find Or Isn’t Legally Available
It’s incredibly exciting to fall in love with a new manga or anime series, only to learn that it has several OVA episodes, feature films, or side story manga and light novels. Part of what makes anime and manga such satisfying mediums is that they allow their universes to expand.
Unfortunately, many of these supplemental stories are restricted to Japan and haven’t received localizations, despite their franchises’ popularity. This trend is beginning to change, but it still has a long way to go. It’s frustrating for fans to learn that there’s more content out there that they can’t enjoy or isn’t officially available.
1 The Obsessive Otaku Attitude Can Dominate
There can be a tendency within anime fandom to lean into extremes where a deep, obsessive passion is presented as the norm, and there is no room for casual fans. There is a wide range of anime fans, covering people who watch dozens of new series every year to those who just check out the occasional Studio Ghibli movie.
None of these approaches are wrong, but when overwhelming fandom becomes the standard, then it’s easier for other fans to feel alienated. Someone who watches anime doesn’t have to make that their entire personality, but such intense celebration is also perfectly valid.
NEXT: 10 Entry-Level Anime Every Fan Should Watch