To me, that really shows the pervasiveness of anime and manga in recent years. And guess which three series can claim the most credit?
They are NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA of course. While more discerning viewers of anime would have expanded their palates to include more hi-quality works such as GitS and Gintama, the fact remains that the above mentioned 3 are the most popular, you could say as starter culture.
This post shall include a mini-field study I conducted during the course of the camp regarding the various types of anime/manga fans found in this tiny sample size and its relevance to anime elitism. Note that including two male seniors, we had 7 guys in total. And interestingly, each embodies one type of anime fan.
This guy was moderately knowledgeable and could rattle off the names of classic series like Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk and Kenshin. His favourite series included the likes of Naruto, Prince of Tennis (barf). But the one determining factor which led me to classify this guy under "freeloader" was his utter refusal to pay for anything anime-related. He would download everything. Such anime fans would cease to exist if the current free anime sharing network was shutdown. Does not know any current or newish anime though, mainly finding out about new good ones through word of mouth.
He watches mainly Naruto and Bleach but is deeply infatuated by both series. He analyses (albeit wrongly) both these series to great detail and is constantly looking for people to discuss Naruto stuff with. I’m not sure if he buys the manga or free-loads, because this guy mentioned that he did not know the Japanese names for all the characters, instead preferring the Chinese pronounciation of the kanji. Fair enough, but this would suggest he actually pays money for the manga,which is a good thing and puts him above Free-loader in my opinion. But when someone else was reading an actual copy of Naruto at the table, he failed to recognise it and was trying to figure out what series it was. The Narutard does not know what a seiyuu is, does not know what Studio Pierrot is and has never heard of anything besides Rasengan and Bankai.
The most prominent anecdote of the Narutard I managed to observe was: Artistic (more on this guy later) suggested that the fourth Hokage is probably the head of Akatsuki. The Narutard reacted violently, protesting loudly that it couldn’t be, because the "fourth Hokage is dead, stated in the first volume already". I laughed because he actually believes Naruto and Bleach abides by such rules. In shounen, no one stays dead because you can always collect the 7 dragon balls and wish them back to life. Anyway, in conclusion, this anecdote shows how the Narutard, with his lack of knowledge of other series and thus ignorance of generic conventions, makes himself look silly when attempting to talk about anime.
This guy loves to draw and has a keen eye for art. But due to limited finances (perhaps the need to purchase art materials), he keeps a strict limitation on his manga expenditure, preferring to buy short series (except Naruto and Bleach). The artist is generally the most well-informed of the group, 2nd only to the Otaku. He eschews all anime, preferring to read manga instead because he feels the artwork is "purer". I made him promise that he would watch Gintama. The defining point of the artist is the fact that he draws. Not necessarily anime/manga styled art, but his abilities do allow him to be more critical of manga artwork and capable of providing interesting analysis in this area. He explained how Kishimoto (Naruto) is good because he does not require much cross-hatching or shading to create fixed viewing angles etc etc. In other words, the artist actually talks sense. The favourite mangaka of the artist is Oh Great! and I have to agree with that choice because Oh Great may be a shitty writer but his art, especially in the more recent Air Gear volumes, have eclipsed even the likes of Da Vinci.
This guy knows nothing about anime and manga, being more a sports-person. But his good friends are all into Naruto (note the trend here?) and have influenced him to read the series casually. He does not know much about the series, nor is he interested to find out more. In terms of knowledge, he has the least among the whole group but he is probably the coolest in the eyes of society. This is a fine example of how manga and anime are slowly becoming more mainstream.
The Non-Chinese Reader
Most of you guys should know that the vast majority of anime and manga are in Japanese, but then due the culture’s popularity in China, HK, Taiwan and Singapore, the Mandarin language is most often used when it comes to translation. Here in Singapore, we have non-Chinese populations including the Malays, Indians and fat caucasians and they have difficulty finding English-translated manga legally. Why? Because the locally published English manga have less than stellar translations, and the US versions costs three to four times as much as the Chinese ones. As such, most of the non-C readers download their Naruto chapters. One of my seniors is just like that.
This guy doesn’t read or watch any anime or manga. Period. Under the onslaught of Naruto and Bleach, such people are getting rarer. As such, he is bored when the topic switches to it.
This is me. I generally do not talk about anime/manga to people in real life outside of my otaku friends, because I don’t believe any worthwhile conversation can be sustained with a Narutard. Why would I talk about Naruto in public? It’s embarrassing!! Why can’t we talk about Gantz or Gintama instead? Anyway by the fourth day of the camp, all the other guys knew that I was a big nerd and knew a lot about nerdy things ranging from tech stuff to tentacles. I guess I have no qualms spreading otaku information like regarding seiyuu, studios and the general culture, but it is just difficult for me to go into stuff like why Naruto’s Rasengan Shuriken cannot be thrown. THE REASON WHY IT CANNOT BE THROWN IS BECAUSE NARUTO IS RETARDED.
Otakus who have to talk to other fan-subtypes such as those listed above always have this snide, "I know this better than you" feeling inside their hearts. But whether or not they express it depends on the individual’s personality. Personally, I’ll only correct someone if he’s really wrong. Like "Bleach is the only good manga" wrong.
Quite a few of the girls were anime fans too, just replace "Naruto/Bleach" with "Inuyasha". They made me laugh when they were complaining about how violent Bleach was. One of them, a rather cute and pretty girl I might add, insisted Sesshoumaru was the villain. I guess it’s ok, I forgive her, because it’s cooler to know less about Inuyasha than to know even the exact name of Inuyasha’s fourth sword powerup (was it the dragon scale one?).
So from the above descriptions, you can tell my camp group was pretty diverse. Now to relate the whole post to elitism, as you should have been able to infer by now, otakus look down on Narutards, and with good reason. Otakus look down on freeloaders. Otaku look down on n00bs. And Otakus look down on everyone else, except girls who aren’t Fat Yaoi Fangirls.
The above paragraph sums up "Anime Elitism". It is in fact, a hierarchy of losers who think they are less loser than others