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WO's February Top 10: Interesting Things Part 2

Alright boys and girls; time to get this show back on the air. And without a moment to spare too, since February is almost over.

Yeah it's my fault that the February top 10 got split up, but I mean seriously that was one long post, and I got bogged down in real life stuff.

But now I am back for a bit to try and finish out the top ten list.

05. A Song In Their Hearts
One of the things that I find interesting is the sheer amount of energy a fan puts into learning the opening and ending songs for an anime that they really like. It seems that given enough time, their favorite show will inevitably release a vocal album, or a single and while we as American, English speaking fans don't know much about the Japanese language; we will learn every word to the songs. Or at best try to sing along with them anyway.

Have I done this?

You better believe it. And it isn't a matter of just being an obsessed fan, or going too far in my fandom, it's a matter of me liking something, and wanting to take possession of it it my own way.

04. Shave and a Haircut
We've all at one point in time while watching an anime, have observed the industry's representation of what an otaku looks like; and it usually isn't a pretty picture.

Japan's take on the average otaku fan-boy (as represented in their own shows) is of a late teen to middle twenties something male with long hair--tied into a pony--with three or four day old beard stubble.

Now this may be something to laugh about in anime and manga, but I assure you, it's a totally different reality when you encounter it first hand in the local video store; and instead of a twenty-something male otaku with dirty clothes and stains on his hands from pringles and cheese puffs, you find a smelly dirty female otaku that hadn't seen the light of day except to crawl out of the dungeon of fandom to see if Hastings had released the latest box-set of something.

I have to be amazed by that. I mean, in Japan the image is pretty bleak, and I'm sure that not all fans of anime are dirty otaku. But then not all fans of anime are otaku at all.

Being an otaku is similar to being an obsessed nerd that slacks off social duty and responsibility in favor of their fandom. And while I'm sure that the definition has become massively skewered in its transition from Japan to America, the picture they've painted for one, is dead on even here in my hometown.

03. Beyond Fiction
When was the last time you encountered a fan that told you they wrote fan-fiction? Or better yet, when was the first time you ever heard of fan-fiction?

For me, I encountered fan-fiction as far back as 1999 to 2000 when I dove into the fandom full on. There were dozens of sites featuring fan-fiction and some that went even further and offered lime and even lemon fiction.

It has always been something of an interesting thing to note that while we as fans are always somewhat satisfied with an anime or a manga; we still will find things that we wish had gone one way or another; perhaps it's just that we can't seem to let the thing end, and want there to be more so much so, that we write up our own "continued" experiences for our favorite characters.

Sometimes we dive into the reals of character pairings, and like the lemon fictions of yore, we will break canon, and combine two unwitting characters in an anime or manga just to satisfy our cravings for deviation.

I will freely admit to cutting my writing teeth on fan-fiction back in the day, as it was a somewhat easy way to write, as it didn't require character development, background, or much planning; it simply required a passing imaginatiion, and passable--barely--grammar and writing skills, and voila a fan-fiction was born.

02. All Your Sweet Are Belong To Us!
I noticed something the last time I was in Springfield, MO., when I was visiting my fiancee. We ducked into an oriental market shop and there was all this seemingly delicious food and snacks that was just waiting for me to buy and sample.

The thing that I noticed, was that some of these foods were things that I had seen in anime and manga, and most likely wouldn't have given a second thought about trying had I not seen characters munching and scarfing on them obsessively in some show or graphic novel.

As I poured over the bottles of Ramune, and cookies, and juices, and things; it occurred to me that I had no idea if any of this stuff was even any good, or if I was simply being swayed by the fact that this product was in some way tied into the fandom of which I was apart.

Sure we all have a desire to experience all the things that encompass something pertaining to our habits and passions, but I was on the brink of blindly buying a food that had traveled around the world, and put something in a clear plastic wrapper with un-known writing on it in my mouth, and eat it. All for the sake of my fandom.

I was interested in this notion, that we as fans take something as simple as food, and drink and think that just because it makes a heavy handed appearance in the world of our fantasies that it will be manna from heaven if we consume it.

01. The Winds of Change
The biggest thing that I find interesting when looking out over the fan-base of anime and manga wannabee otaku is the frequency with which they change their views and stances on things.

Fans of a particular genre are usually dead set against some other form, and will rant and rave against it, and make a general nuisance of themselves, only to change their opinion some ways down the road.

I know that what often cripples the fan-base is the misconception of the fans. Thinking that something is this way or that way, based on a few randomly read blog posts, some half-fact from A.N.N and some hostile debates in a message board thread.

It's this charging out into the fray half-cocked mentality that has seriously harmed the fans, and generated loads of confusion, hostility, and ignorance. Everything from the Moe phenomenon, to the loli driven shows has seen fans of some sort that start out hating it, only to later express some interest in some alternate form of it.

I am guilty of this as well. Don't think that I am immune to the effects of blatant stupidity and ass-foolery, just because I am well versed in anime, I too have let personal bias cloud my eyes to somethings that should have been seen more clearly, and with less taint and pomp.

I am fascinated by my own ability to shock and surprise myself from time to time, and am even more fascinated and intrigued when I see this happen throughout the fan-base as a whole.

Fans that swore before almighty God that they would never watch an anime in its original audio, have taken it upon themselves to see it as it was broadcast, or have fallen in favor of streaming content; fans that swore that moe-ism was a blight on the movement have set aside their hatred and have begun singing the praises of such shows as Lucky Star, K-On!.

I look forward to the day when we as fans can set down more of our personal bias, and hold hands and sing songs around the great campfire, and live happy and free... well, free, maybe not happy. Okay, so mostly happy, but who's taking notes.