Investigating if the Anime fandom leaves a bad impression on non anime viewers

Different Instances of Anime

In recent years, since Lockdown, the Anime Community has grown to become a massive culture. The industry gained immense popularity, allowing it to reach new heights in animation and business. There were many collaborations with Western industries. However, not all receptions were positive. The Anime fandom has a negative impression of it. But why?

  • Is it because of the questionable themes in it?
  • Is it because of bias?
  • Is it because of its fanbase?

Today, we will dive into why stereotypes regarding the Anime Community persist and if it is unfounded.

What do others view the Community as?


The Anime Community and its members are viewed unfavourably by outsiders. Many stereotypes have been attached to it and it has continued to grow with the recent boom in its popularity. It must be remembered that stereotypes and prejudices stem from unawareness of the subject and can only be removed once educated regarding the same. However, this has not been the case with anime. The stereotypes and discrimination have reduced in number, however, its intensity has only grown.

  • There are still many who consider Anime and Cartoons to be the same. While there is an unending debate surrounding it, the general convention is that these two mediums have different approaches and styles that differentiate them.
  • It is assumed that anime is targeted toward younger audiences. While certainly many shows cater to a younger audience, it is not limited to it. Many series have an elaborate expression of mature themes.
  • It is assumed all people who watch and enjoy are lazy and fat. Let’s just say this is as far as the sun is from Earth.
  • It is assumed that the fandom is filled with pedophiles and sex offenders. This is a huge allegation that is completely unfounded.
  • It is assumed that the viewing audience is a minority. Even before the lockdown, this assumption is untrue. The viewing audience is highly unsaturated, with people from all walks of life.
  • It is assumed that the fandom spends highly on figurines and merchandise. It is as true as it is for a football enthusiast to buy the merch of the game.
Youtuber Mairou with his Dakimakura
Youtuber Mairou takes his waifu to Starbucks | Courtesy of Mairou2

All stereotypes regarding the fandom circle back to these highlights. These take a toxic and derogatory turn in online forums that soon turn into cyber-bullying cases. But why do these persist? Even with such popularity, these prejudices against the fandom have only intensified.

Why do these views exist?

The blame could be set on ignorant individuals who do not understand the fandom. Yet, this is only escaping the issue. The fandom does nothing to stop these stereotypes from perpetuating. If this was not enough, the fandom that gets highlighted in online forums has very eccentric and weird tastes.

In any online platform, the user is anonymous. Pairing this with anime’s majority audience being people who have time to consistently indulge themselves in the medium, the interaction takes a sudden and extreme turn. With not much repercussion for what they say online, their comments soon turn sexist and trample upon the domain of what is viewed ethically right. While this is a small part of the community, it is the most highlighted part of it.

Without any consequences, many members barge into explicit conversations regarding series/shows. Their excuse is that this is fiction they are talking about. It has no serious impact on the world. Unbeknownst to them, they create an uncomfortable space for those who simply wish to be around people who like anime. This creates an image around the community that it is pedophilic and demeaning.

As the saying goes, “Empty vessels make the most noise”, These eccentric fellows do not think before they speak. They assert their opinions without a care for how others feel and will be offended when anything other than their view is stated. This behaviour makes it undesirable for non-anime watchers to seek recommendations and share their experiences online. This slowly turns into disinterest for many toward the medium.

Having said this, the blame is not solely on these individuals. Anime also plays a part in propagating these extreme opinions in the fandom. Taking the Shounen genre as an example, the series follows a common pattern of an ostracized main character slowly gaining recognition and becoming the best of all around him. The genre does not treat female side characters nicely either.

The Truth of the Anime Fandom

The community is misunderstood and misjudged. Although many reasons for these stereotypes can be found to exist in the community, this is not true for the entire fandom. The majority of members are not as extreme as these minorities sound out to be.

Anime Fandom at AX 2023
Crowd at AX 2023 | Courtesy of Anime Expo

The majority of the fandom casually watches anime as a means of entertainment. While the community is a mix of introverts and extroverts, they are quite accepting of each other. Anyone who has experienced an Anime Convention will likely support this. The community, unlike its highly advertised face, is very creative and enthusiastic. As seen by the vast majority of cosplayers, the fandom has brilliant minds that work to create an enjoyable space for everyone.

The majority of the fandom has a positive reflection on the franchises. They appreciate the show and the people who make it. They understand that not every show would be a masterpiece and that each show has its means of expression and storytelling.

Man marries an anime character
Akihiko Kondo with his wife Hatsune Miku | Courtesy of The New York Times

The fandom has unique ways of expressing their fascination with the medium. While not as extreme as the ones mentioned earlier, it sure is weird. For non-anime watchers, these antics are sure-fire signs to not be involved in the community. Albeit their curiosity and appreciation of the art, they feel reluctant to join.

The Verdict

Many of the stereotypes held against the anime fandom are redundant. Those that do have some soundness to them are far from the truth. Similar to other cultures, the fandom has a bad image due to the 5-10% of its member pool that has no shame whatsoever. While other cultures do not get admonished to such an extent, the community has to suffer through these remarks inexplicably. Such a drastic tag on the fandom shooed away any who was curious enough to endeavor into the medium.

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