Today was my group’s presentation for the Japan and Singapore module. We did a rather dry War World 2 textbook bias paper, even though the topic was completely free. Half the world would probably do their projects on anime, cosplay and the like, so we thought. Turns out, we were right! Partly.
There were two other groups who presented theirs. The first was on the maid cafe in Singapore, Cosafe! Little did the presenters realise that one member of the audience, Kokanaden, was Cosafe’s loyal customer and knew the phone numbers and blogs of all the maids, allegedly. He also appeared on a national TV program, interviewed as a customer of the cafe, where he chirped, "The little girls here are deliciously cute!". Thankfully, the presenters knew their stuff and were quite well-versed in the dark otaku arts. One of them passed around a neoprint of him in a real Japanese maid cafe together with a real maid. Basically, the conclusions for their paper was along the lines of Cosafe being a fake maid cafe and how the mass media is partly at fault for their ignorance. How dare the respectable mass media not know what is MOE and Cat’s ears! Right?
More interesting is the 3rd presentation, which was on anime influences in Singapore. The team comprised of 4 girls, who were apparently from Science faculty, judging from their vocabulary. This presentation was hilarious not only because of the poor survey methods, spurious conclusions and total lack of knowledge of the local anime scene. Totally an example of why you shouldn’t do a niche topic like anime if you’re not particularly knowledgeable about it, because there will always be FREAKO OTAKUS who will point out every single error. Like me.
Off the top of my head, I shall recount the funny moments.
They showed a couple of pictures of anime series. The usual shounen fare, Bleach, Naruto, Inuyasha etc. At this point, the audience were quiet even when the presenters asked people to identify the series. Obviously nobody wanted to said the dirty words "Bleach, Naruto, Inuyasha…" as that would a) show you to be Narutard, or worse b) reveal that you watch Japanese cartoons of orange ninjas and red dog warriors. One girl from the back of the room, who had always been active in participation, even if misguided in information (she once claimed secretaries could earn up to 30K USD a month here in Singapore, commonly) shouted, "INUYASHI!!"
Note, it wasn’t "Inuyasha" as in the long-running series about a girl keeping a pet dog warrior but some pirated version "Inuyashi". I’m mean but I laughed really loudly at that point.
Next, the presenters showed their survey. It was poorly done. Not only did they use a web-based survey system, that only allowed up to 100 respondents (too cheap to buy a month’s worth of Surveymonkey eh?), they also did not screen out for non-Singaporean IPs. They publicised their survey link on a "popular local anime forum", which I deduce to be the lowlifes of the Internet Sgcafe.com. The questions were also crap, like the one which asked how respondents got their anime from. There was an Internet option, and then a TORRENT option. Doesn’t this severely reduce the proportion of people who choose either one and make it unfairly low compared to other choice? Unless they mean like, you know, the anime floats down on torrents of water to their doorstep. But these are small issues compared to their hypotheses.
The main flaw in their argument is that they see a low active cosplaying percentage in their measly 100 samples and then conclude that there is NO anime craze in Singapore, because you are not a fan if you don’t cosplay. As I pointed out to them, "So I must wear costumes of Japanese cartoon characters to be considered a fan of anime?" While they do realise that the apex of fandom is in creation, rather than just consuming, they do not know that besides cosplay, there are other avenues of creation, such as blogging, doujinshi, forum discussions, figure/gunpla building, memorising the seiyuu lists and reciting them like sutra etc. Hence the misguided conclusion which ruffled some otaku feathers.
Even in Japan, the cosplaying to non-cosplay ratio is very skewed. So does that mean there is no anime craze in Japan? What is anime craze in the first place? But I must admit that it was an enjoyable Q and A session compared to the usual boring ones.
Finally, one of the presenters mentioned that a main reason why people download anime instead of watching them on TV or VCDs is because of speed. Fair enough. But she then proceeded to quote D’Gray Man as an example! D’Gray Man! The one and only anime series out of millions, which is being shown CONCURRENTLY with the Japanese and she had to choose that! Just now, episode 79 just aired on free TV! And here they were claiming that it took 3-4 years for the new anime to reach us. I call bullshit on that one. The recent time frame is more like six months, particularly for Animax.
I rather regret not doing the paper on something that was my field of knowledge, rather than struggling on an unfamiliar one like history. Perhaps we should’ve chosen a topic like, "A Case Study of the Singaporean Otaku" and then just observe Darkmirage in action.
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