Love anime? It’s okay, weeb!

Love anime? It's okay, weeb!

Gabriella Backus, Editor-in-Chief

The man, the myth, the legend, Naruto

At some point in the average high school student’s life, they’ll be introduced to anime in some way, shape, or form — their friends might recommend a show, or they might stumble upon an anime running on late-night television. However, students who watch anime may find themselves ridiculed and belittled for their choice in entertainment. If such a large populous is familiar with it, there is little reason for anime to be stigmatized among students.
In terms of content, anime is as diverse in subject as any other medium. Undoubtedly, teenagers associate anime with the infamous hentai — a subgenre of anime characterized by sexualized characters, images, and plots — and conclude that all anime viewers are interested in the explicit anime subgenres, or that all animes include hentai-like elements.
“Anime is more humanoid than usual cartoons, and humans are more sexualized, so anime is more easily sexualized,” junior Michael Thomas said. “It’s easier for those characters to be sexualized than Spongebob.”
Some believe it is not the shows themselves but the fan bases that put off potential viewers. Weeaboos, extremist fans who attempt to assimilate into Japanese culture by adopting Japanese words and phrases and acting like anime characters, can dominate the public eye at anime conventions and online forums. Although they make up a minority of anime viewers, some students believe these unusual desires extend to any casual fan and, as a result, are less willing to enter anime fan bases for fear of its seemingly transformative characteristics.
“I am definitely turned off from watching anime series because of the stereotypical fanbases behind it,” Thomas said. “I watched part of ‘Death Note,’ but I stopped before I finished watching the first season because I didn’t want to become a weeb. If there wasn’t a stigma, I probably would watch more.”
Others suggest that the storytelling medium of animation itself disinterests students, who associate cartoons with young children and prefer to watch live-action shows. However, American students are not unfamiliar with animation. Most young children grew up watching animated shows like “Spongebob” and “Avatar.” Even today, nostalgic animated sequels and remakes of childhood favorites like “Incredibles 2” excite and enthrall even the most skeptical viewer.
Anime Club president Thurmann Pangilinan, a junior, says the stigma extends past anime and surrounds all types of cartoons in a broader societal context.
“[We] associate animated shows with cartoons which, at least in the mainstream, have been mainly directed at kids,” Pangilinan said.
Recently, however, teenagers have embraced American cartoons that tackle more mature content, the most popular of which include the sci-fi adventure show “Rick and Morty” and the coming-of-age comedy “Big Mouth.” On campus, students show their appreciation for their favorite animated shows — Japanese and American alike — with cartoon-themed clothing and stickers.
“Anime has definitely become more mainstream,” Pangilinan said. “Nerd and geek culture in general has become more accepted and, since anime is a part of that culture, anime has become more accepted.”