This is almost EXACTLY backwards. Broadly speaking, its been my overwhelming experience across the last 15 years that the segment of anime fandom with the most myopic view of most things anime-related are, by and large anyway, Toonami fans.
Obviously when I say this, I'm not speaking about every single, solitary individual who happened to be introduced to anime via Toonami. A certain (albeit smaller) segment of that generation/viewership have certainly moved on to better things in the years since. What I'm talking about though are the core crux of the large swath of millennial Western fandom that largely still clings to not just Toonami itself, but Toonami's general conception of what anime "is" as their principal defining vision of what the medium is supposed to embody.
The problem I have with both the impact that Toonami has had, as well as with its most ardent fans, is the absurdly narrow and, yes indeed, myopic definition and conception of Japanese anime that its largely responsible for instilling into the mass Western mainstream consciousness.
Simply put: Japanese anime is a medium that contains such an INSANELY broad and diverse array of artistic sensibilities, creative visions, and unique voices, the likes of which we still to this day RARELY ever get to see in any other format of animation from any other culture on such a vast, vast scale. Toonami has, throughout most of its history, represented ABSURDLY little to almost NONE of that diversity of talent, vision, and voices. Toonami is very much indeed a "brand" in the most nauseatingly gross and cynically corporatized sense of the word.
For all that its done in making masses more within the American mainstream aware of anime, Toonami's skewed, children's Saturday morning breakfast cereal-intensive representation of anime to most of those people has always typically been SO absurdly limited and even misleading, that in some ways its almost been more of a constraint to the medium: certainly in it gaining or retaining any legs with most anyone who isn't a died-in-the-wool stan for primarily children's animation and TV shows above and at the expense of all else.
For an entire generation (several generations now arguably) within the English speaking world, Toonami is literally synonymous with Japanese anime as a medium/concept. And given how boundlessly dense in scope the actual medium of anime is outside of Toonami, contrasted with how brain numbingly narrow and stiflingly limited Toonami's vision of anime is and always has been... that widespread, mass-marketed "branding" of anime as defined by Toonami is something to be mourned not celebrated.
Anime itself as a medium is, was, and always will be something FAR infinitely bigger and more denser and meaningful as an art form than something as vapid and empty as Toonami has ever or will ever be. I would argue, indeed I have argued many times and will continue to do so, that ardent, hardcore Toonami fans (as an overarching whole, again with individual exceptions noted and set aside) don't really particularly give two shits about anime itself as a creative medium, and never have. What they care about is their own nostalgia, Toonami itself as a brand, and its narrow definition of anime. In more or less that order.
Myopia is taking an incredibly rich, infinitely layered tapestry of art with an absurdly dense 70+ year history to it that's just as capable of boundlessly transgressive artistic freedom as it is the usual cynical corporate shilling we're used to on Western shores, and reducing it down to an over-fixation SQUARELY and largely on the latter at the direct expense and near total ignoring and careless dismissing of the former.
Both Toonami and its hardcore fanbase are the motherfucking dictionary definition of "myopic" in their entire approach and conceit of anime as an artistic medium for the better part of most of the past 20 years (with a VERY small smattering of notable exceptions therein).
To want and push for MORE sides and facets of a medium's history to grow in exposure and awareness, for the mainstream consciousness' definition and conception of an entire artistic medium to EXPAND rather than remain narrowed off and limited in scope to just a certain and very strict subset of it... I'm pretty sure that's the EXACT ANTITHESIS of "myopic".
To boil it down in as blunt and direct a way as I can manage: anime is far, far, FAR more than a collection of shitball children's action cartoon schlock that happen to be from Japan. But if you're someone who's entire framework of anime is still deeply rooted largely from within your overly rose-tinted memories of Toonami as a kid, then you'd almost certainly never know or realize that, nor in all likelihood would you even care to.
Fans of Toonami may SOMETIMES overlap with fans of anime as a creative medium. Maybe one or two out of a dozen or so typical Toonami fans are people who maybe might go on to actually delve even SOMEWHAT seriously into anime as a broader creative medium and go somewhere with it that's beyond the Pokemon/Shonen Jump-esque realm (indeed, I've known a good few who have). But by and large overall, they are usually not at all one and the same thing eight or nine times out of ten.
Liking A children's franchise (or maybe two or three) as an adult is one thing. Sure, its still certainly strange to some degree, but on the whole it is still something that is entirely worlds away from liking overwhelmingly largely children's franchises as an adult or worse, nothing but children's franchises as an adult.gokaiblue wrote: ↑Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:12 pmIt means something to people. Nostalgia plays a huge part, sure, but to call it sad that people are fans of Toonami, to me, is kinda like people calling us sad for being fans of Dragon Ball. Sure, they're completely different franchises, but the fact still remains that it's a huge fandom based on primarily a children's entertainment franchise that was popular in the 80s and 90s yet somehow still manages to hold on today. And yes, it did make an impact, but I think a huge portion of us would he lying if we didn't acknowledge that on some level, our love for Dragon Ball could be considered as weird as the love someone has for Toonami.
The former is a bit unusual to a certain extent, but can be fairly benign if its balanced out with a TON more focus on much more mature and age appropriate material: the latter though is deeply intellectually unhealthy as well as antithetical to having a more nuanced and educated grasp of media literacy in general.
Dragon Ball is just one lone children's franchise. One. Toonami represents not only a FUCKTON more various different children's franchises as a collective whole, but moreover a disturbingly LARGE percentage of its audience tends to be made up of people who very often tend to have an over the top level of hyper-fixation on children's media and a near total abject cluelessness and complete disinterest in (as well as sometimes even an outright FEAR of) adult-aimed media of almost ANY sort.
Being a fan of just Dragon Ball by itself is in NO WAY the same thing as being someone who's SO overly-fixated on children's television as a whole (again, often at the expense of anything else of substance or meaning), that they'll fetishize and mythologize a fucking glorified TV ad for them. One of these is just ONE single piece of media made for children: the other can be reasonably argued to be a fucking psychological pathology.
Liking a single piece of children's media as an adult (or maybe even tiny, small handful of them) is odd and perhaps quirky, but doesn't have to be anything more than that so long as its all taken with a HEAVY dose of perspective and balance alongside a much larger pool of actual adult interests. Being so overly-invested in children's cartoons as an adult that you create a fucking web shrine to, again I stress, a goddamned glorified television advertisement block for them (while oftentimes being COMPLETELY clueless to name more than maybe two or three actual non-children's focused pieces of media for adults): yes, that is UNQUESTIONABLY the textbook definition of sad.
And yes, a great deal of Toonami fans often typically tend to be the kinds of people who have the exact inverse of a healthy and balanced media palette: being grown adults who are maybe into only a smattering tiny handful of adult media (and sometimes/oftentimes not even that) while otherwise gorging and drowning themselves in a vast ocean of children's schlock 24/7.
I already addressed my thoughts on the "hypocritical" part of this up above there, but with regards to the "elitist" part: elitist is a word I've long been awfully sick to death of hearing thrown around in these kinds of conversations. I'm certainly not going to say I've NEVER met someone in a fanbase whom I think warranted the label "elitist", because I most certainly have... but much, MUCH more often that not, the term is thrown around with SUCH stupidly wild abandon, that its become one of those words that's lost any remote semblance of meaning and has devolved basically into "person with whom I disagree and don't personally care for their tone or what they're saying".
Yes, I'm evidently an "elitist" for thinking its stupid, ridiculous, embarrassing, and cringe-inducing that such a gigantic swath of this community (of largely grown-ass adults need I remind) still fetishizes and obsesses over their childhood nostalgia for dumpy kids' cartoons as a whole to such an absurd extent that they've made this crappy TV ad block for them into some ridiculous sacred cow that to insult the name and memory of it is to be seen and taken as some sort of grave offense, on the level of a personal insult.
I'm also apparently elitist for wanting MORE people (across a VAST and broad swath of the mainstream) to take MORE of an interest in MORE aspects and sides and facets of anime beyond and apart from the tiny, microscopic little sliver of it that Toonami has largely represented and embodied for the last couple decades in the minds of most in the mainstream end of fandom.
And here I thought elitism was generally marked by those who want their interests to be more "gated off" AWAY from the mainstream and the masses, to be known and appreciated only by the "privileged and enlightened" few?
Understand something: I don't talk shit about Toonami (and the ridiculous hyper-clinginess of its fanbase) because I think myself "superior" to it/them (which is what elitism actually is). Trust me on at least this much: I don't think of myself, nor do I even want to think myself, as superior to ANYONE or anything. Ever.
I simply find it SUPER frustrating - like, to maddening degrees - because I KNOW FOR A FACT that this is a community/fanbase that is potentially capable of SO MUCH infinitely better discourse, self-reflection, analysis, and insight than its demonstrated throughout the years, and that a large part of what's holding so much of it back from evolving like a fucking albatross has been this seemingly pathological refusal/inability for so many people within it to psychologically move themselves past and let go of this ridiculously over-idealized image of what media and their perceptions of it (amongst a SLEW of other more important things in a great many cases, but that's neither here nor there) was like to them during their grade school years.
Dragon Ball has "more meat on its bones" because its an actual fucking narrative with characters, arcs, themes, etc. A fairly simple one for kids, but nonetheless an actual cohesive narrative that, if in no small part due to its sheer size and scope, invites a fairly good deal of exploration and analysis.gokaiblue wrote: ↑Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:12 pmI could go on and on about the merits of Toonami and the community it brings just as all of us could go on and on about Dragon Ball. Sure, the latter has more meat on its bones and thus more to discuss, but that doesn't make it any more or less of a fandom than Toonami.
Toonami meanwhile, is nothing more than an advertising brand. That it has a "storyline" across its ads is little more than a shallow gimmick, like the "storylines" on the back of a toyline's packaging. Thus, I'm not even going to VAGUELY pretend to entertain the idea that there's anything even the slightest bit of worthwhile merit contained therein that's worth acknowledging or discussing.
Moreover, Toonami is an advertising brand that I would argue (and have argued, and will continue to argue) has done a LOT more in the way of longterm damage to the creative credibility of anime in the Western mainstream that vastly outweighs the "exposure" it has also given it.
More people in the mainstream zeitgeist knowing the term "anime" and that it means "cartoons from Japan" means absolutely shit from shinola to me when by and large the ONLY KINDS of anime most of those people are thinking of when they think of the term (even among a great deal of the supposedly "hardcore anime geeks" online) is the likes of Pokemon, Naruto, One Piece, My Hero Academia, and yes, certainly even Dragon Ball as well.
Sorry, but having a MUCH broader and demographically/artistically diverse depth of anime within the mainstream consciousness ABSOLUTELY matters infinitely more to me (and in general) than just "Hey, now Joe & Jane Average knows what a Pikachu or a Kamehameha is!" Shit like that is in NO WAY my idea of a "win" for anime's visibility in mainstream Western society. And since THAT is usually the full breadth and depth of what most Toonami diehards mean when they talk about "anime owing SO MUCH of its Western exposure" to the block: then Toonami can absolutely and unquestionably fuck right off the face of the planet with THAT shit.
And if you want to lament along with me the depressingly narrow scope and lack of visibility in the mainstream for other kinds of anime apart from the Shonen Jump set... then most of the people reading this can't really blame anything for that but themselves. Because these things don't just magically grow out of nowhere from a vacuum.
The overall fanbase ITSELF is and remains largely to blame for anime's horrible mainstream perception and reputation in the U.S. (and other English language countries). Part of it is definitely some of its grotesque personal behavior and conduct online via certain corners of it within places like 4chan and whatnot, which obviously pushes away a TON of people for extremely self-evident reasons: but even setting that aside (since yes I'm well aware, 4chan and its like hardly represent ALL of anime fandom as a whole obviously), the broader whole of Western fandom is STILL at fault for the rotten perception of anime largely by its own fixating on and promoting only the most shallow and insipid junkfood titles that exists only on the narrow scale and spectrum allotted by the Toonami-like brand that's been thoroughly stamped into their heads.
Why would or should the mainstream look any deeper into all the great many masterworks, classics, and genuinely worthwhile gems of the medium when most of the "hardcore" fans online oftentimes don't even give much of a crap about them or pay much attention to any of them themselves? And they're supposed to be the ones who are "super passionate" about this stuff!
Most typical Western anime fans throughout all the past 20 years post-Toonami could care less about promoting and pushing the more denser and genuinely mature and boundary pushing sides of anime, because they themselves don't care in the slightest about them because they're FAR too busy and preoccupied with splooging and obsessing over the latest Pokemon series or the newest Shonen Jump fiasco, or whatever the latest Moe/Ecchi/Light Novel flavor of the moment happens to be. Because the former two timewarps them mentally & emotionally back to being an 8 year old sitting on front of the TV watching Toonami, while the latter... gyaah. The less said about it, the better.
I mean, just for a moment take yourself out of being a diehard geek/Otaku/fanboy or whatever you wanna call it. Place yourselves in the shoes of a so-called "normie" for a second. Who in the FUCK in the mainstream, adult world would EVER want to venture NEAR something like this? Its always been downright delusional of so much of modern anime fandom to want or expect that the rest of the overall mainstream culture would descend along with them into mainlining such an overwhelmingly steady diet of such abject irritating garbage and juvenile idiocy along with it for years and years and years and years at a time.
Toonami pushed only a CERTAIN KIND of children's anime out into the mainstream spotlight at the turn of the century: but since it NEVER really ventured any further beyond that and never showed the mainstream much of anything else (of the MYRIAD of other options) that anime has to offer past that type of stuff, the novelty of it all eventually wore off on all but the most dedicated of diehards; to say nothing of all the regular, ordinary children who started out as fans, but eventually "outgrew" anime when nothing much beyond Shonen drivel was still being shoveled out in front of them.
And those diehards themselves have, by and large, not really done jack shit to even educate most of THEMSELVES on what else anime has going on apart from the insular Weaboo shit, much less be bothered to try and push any of it out into the mainstream via aggressive grassroots word of mouth and internet/social media visibility. Because most of those "diehards" online (a great majority of whom were weaned on Toonami originally) genuinely, sincerely do not fucking care in the SLIGHTEST about anime as a real piece of creative media (and continually demonstrate that nearly every day), but rather as a surrogate time-machine - an animated Neverland if you will - to service their morose and self-pittying wallowing in the past (and to say nothing of wallowing in their other creeptastic sexual fantasies, but that's a WHOLE other can of worms).
Lest we forget: most of the original licensing companies of the 80s and early 90s, pre-Toonami, managed to push and market anime into the broader mainstream by a fairly great deal from pretty much the ground up, DIY-style, in the analog world of VHS and dial-up: pre-digital, pre-DSL, pre-wireless, pre-social media, pre-smartphone, pre-streaming, and with hardly a wisp of major TV network backing from the likes of a Ted Turner-type.
With the internet being what it is today, it would be EXCEEDINGLY do-able for the fanbase to organize and self-curate a diverse and creatively broad canon/body of titles with which to heavily push via social media and word of mouth to help promote and rehabilitate the image and perception of anime within the mainstream zeitgeist and show actual, normal, healthy, emotionally functional, and intellectually active adults (read: non-manchildren and non-online introverts/shut-ins) that anime is SO broad-ranging and diverse, that it even has PLENTY of worth to offer and genuinely interest them.
With RARE and scattered exceptions though (nowhere near enough to cohere and make enough of a dent at least), most of the online anime fanbase generally doesn't: largely because most of them don't give two shits enough to. Because most of them don't give two shits about anime as an art form, but rather just about wallowing and marinating in their childhood nostalgia, desperately chasing after the ever-fading dragon of that first high they felt as 8 year olds via Toonami and the like.
Thus, along with economic fallout from the collapse of the DVD/home video industry in the mid/late-2000s, has helped lead us into the increasing insularity and Weaboo-ification of anime that we've been witnessing for most of the last 15+ years now. At least within North America and much of the Western world: Japan itself is a WHOLE other matter entirely.
I've said this before, and will say it again here: I may like Dragon Ball, as a singular work unto itself, a fairly great deal. But if I could, I would without the slightest hesitation trade in and completely undo ALL of its North America/Western exposure and mainstream popularity/visibility across the last 20 years in a fucking NANOSECOND if it meant, in exchange, that anime as a MUCH broader whole of a medium all across the mainstream (and its fanbase along with it for that matter) were in FAR better - as in, more intellectually and artistically/creatively healthy - shape. I'd do it a thousand times over, and I wouldn't lose a wink of sleep over it.