Anime has been that one particular medium that has gone above and beyond in terms of garnering mainstream acceptance, and that’s due in part to the anime fandom itself. If you look back to the early days of when anime first made its mark in the West, you’d be surprised by how many geeks all around the U.S. have been bullied and made fun of at school; because of the Pokemon backpack their parents bought them for their birthday! For many older anime fans the 80’s was when anime began its walk into the mainstream, but they also know that it was the 90’s that propelled it into the forefront and thus allowed geeks of all generations to proudly state that they’re anime fans. Never had I thought I’d see the day where Goku would be flying over 34th street in New York during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, nor would I thought that mainstream anime franchises would be getting the ‘Red Carpet’ treatment. Anime has come a long way in terms of being noticed by the mainstream audience, however many feel like it hasn’t truly reached its final form yet.
Right now there is more anime to watch than ever before on so many streaming sites than ever before. If you were a kid in the 90’s you had to by a pack of 12 bricks for $150.00 if you wanted to see the Saiyan Saga on VHS! (Kids today will never know the hustle old school fans had to go through to get anime.) As the years went by anime solidified itself as a mainstay in the mainstream, however the journey didn’t come without a few bumps in the road; quality declines, weeb culture, sub v. dub wars, you name it. Somewhere along the line there have been recent debates over what decade of anime titles were better. Sure you had your pioneers like Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon; but then you’ve got gems like Case Closed, Lupin the Third, and Gundam – oh, Gundam! Now we like in a timeline where some 12-year-old kid says that Boruto is better than Gundam SEED, and I know this because that kid was never seen on Twitter again. (He 86’d his account.)
I’m no stranger to the battle of old school vs. new school, but I feel like if older anime fans were a bit more forgiving of newbie anime fans (due to the mass amount of anime out there), it would take a lot of tension out of aggressive online debates. Older fans also gotta keep in mind that this is the first time new fans are experiencing the medium; they have no tier list, favorite waifus, best girls, best boys, shows that are fire, and shows that are ‘mid’. I also feel like established anime fans put so much pressure on newbies that if they pick a show that they don’t like only because the new fan like it, they get dunked on faster than Captain Crunch against Shaq.
As fans get older their taste in anime changes, not the feeling they have towards it. Older fans prefer more of a story with decent plot progression and plot development, but they’ll also settle for character-driven stories with character development as well. Its not to say that new school anime fans don’t want that, but if a show doesn’t grip them within the first 2-3 episodes, then it is dropped and forgotten – and older fans are the same way about newer anime. Genres have also played a part in what fans (both old and new) will watch; as isekai and harem titles have been cranked out more often than not, with ‘sliced bread’ style plots and ‘cookie cutter’ characters. There are some titles that do indeed bridge the gap between old anime fans and new ones, but when it comes to watching anime, there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Everyone’s entitled to like the shows they like, and with so much anime out there, there’s bound to be some that both old and new fans will like (or dislike). Trends for certain anime genres come and go, and tastes in anime will also change as well, but with the right approach old school anime fans might end up teaching new anime fans what to look for based on their tastes. A lot of the debates and squabbles I see online can come from nostalgia chasers and ‘boomer anime fans’ (me being the former than the latter), but I think older fans remember how hard access to anime was before streaming sites became the norm. They remember the days where they had to watch 1 episode of School Rumble in 3 separate videos from the same Youtube channel – in 480p!
Being an anime fan comes with a lot of growing pains, but it also came with a lot of unforgettable moments as well. We all knew how hyped we got when Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan for the first time, or when Naruto and Hinata shippers finally got the scene they wanted when Naruto and Hinata kissed. Regardless of what generation you come from as an anime fan, just know that there will be shows that you think are the best ever made, while others may think that your show is ‘mid’ or ‘trash’. Sure, old school fans are always gonna look back at the gold ol’ days; when anime titles focused more on the quality of their story and characters, than by how much anime content can be put out onto the web. Newer fans will have a different take on what’s out there; since there’s so many titles and genres to choose from. At the end of the day, if the shows you watch have value to you as a person and as a fan, then that’s all that should matter to you; regardless of what other people think.
So watch what you love, help your younger anime fans, and keep being nerdy! 😉