Right, so this is probably a semi-common topic among those that follow animated characters born in the land of the rising sun, but I wanted to judge feelings here since a fair amount of people seem to like the stuff. Some of it may not seem connected, but hopefully it makes sense. And no, this wasn't brought on by any incident, I just felt like writing about it today ^^ Sorry for the length or if people think this has been said before (it doesn't seem like this specific topic has been talked about, although anime has before, but if so, apologies, don't kill me for it)...just bear with me.
So, it seems to me that the anime craze here in the US anyway is dying down again. It has gone from near obscurity, where people on the fringe had to dig to find it, to almost main stream where it was almost "cool" to like it (although I wouldn't go that far) and companies started to license tons of anime, much of it terrible, to try and cash in on the craze, although anything animated still carried the stigma of being "just for kids", even during this craze. In fact companies would go out of their way to gut shows and almost rewrite them to make them "kid friendly". But this is besides the point.
Many of the shows brought over and popularized were of a certain variety, mostly shōnen fighting-type series aimed at younger boys, while a few companies brought out less well-known but (in my opinion) tremendously better shows that the fans that had been around before the fad would enjoy.
Now it seems as though the anime industry here in the US is shrinking. Some companies are dying, have died, or have reached out for help. There is still more of it around than back in the days before the fad, but it is slowly returning to something that is less mainstream again. People that were just in it for the fad are moving along, "outgrowing" it, leaving the "true" (aka much more obsessed and weird :P) fans around.
Just like in the housing market here, companies got greedy, took on more than they could handle, and put themselves in harms way when interest died down (not to mention the economic situation happening and killing people's disposable income).
I guess this is all besides the point as well. This is more my general observation over the past many years in which I have been a fan of anime and manga. But is there really a point to this? I'm not sure, I suppose it's mostly my view of things. Read on if you like.
Now even when it was a fad and probably more so now, people seem embarrassed when it is discovered that they like the stuff. I know over in Japan, the word "otaku", which many american anime fans use proudly, is basically a derogatory term for those obsessed with anime. Even online people are mocked for it, even within the community. People outside the community make fun because you like "cartoons" or are too obsessed with another country for what they think is no reason, or a least a silly reason. They think that people who like anime are only praising Japan because of the simple fact that it is Japan and that they can't possibly like the way things are over there and what they say they like. They think that anime fans simply don't want to say bad things about Japan.
With people in the community, similar arguments and ridicule can occur. People who insert japanese phrases into their speech are just trying too hard to be Japanese and are stupid, silly and "weaboos" who don't know anything and are "noobs" just trying too hard to impress people.
Now, what do I think about all of this? Well, to an extent, some of it is true. There are people who are just in it to be cool on the internet and are only trying to impress. There are also people who refuse to acknowledge that Japan is anything less than Heaven on Earth where catgirls and maids will surround you and tend to your every whim. These people are annoying, yes.
Despite this, there are some people that are genuinely interested in Japan and truly do enjoy many things about the country and wish to experience them. Yet they are still mocked and put in the same category as those in the above paragraph, even within their own community. People are new to anme and manga all the time and not just because it is a fad. New people will always make mistakes. That's how they learn. Which is why, even though it might be deserved in some cases, I absolutely despise phrases like "weaboo" and "noob" (or "newb", "n00b", whatever). First of all, they sound idiotic and second of all, it gives off a snooty air of superiority, which honestly, I find ridiculous, especially since we are talking about animated shows, manga, and games. Why do you need to assert your superiority over things like that?
That's not to say I never look down on people. I'm guilty of it too. While I have never used those terms, I still look negatively at those who are only in it for the fad and only like shows such as Naruto, DBZ (although this one was earlier in the fad), and Death Note and refuse to branch out to other titles, thinking that one of those shows is the best thing Japan has ever and will ever put out, period (If you like these shows, don't be offended. It's ok to like what you like. This only applies to those who refuse to look elsewhere).
I also look down on stupid tourists who treat the country they visit like their own and think they own the place, and nuts to anyone who thinks otherwise. This goes for any country, not just Japan. For goodness sake people, one of the reasons people think citizens of the US are rude slobs is because of the way some people act when they visit other countries. Not everyone mind you, but it only takes a few to ruin the entire image of a people. Be respectful of how things work if you are a guest in a foreign country. Don't think you are entitled. You aren't. You aren't on your home turf anymore. Play by the rules. The only way to become respected is to earn respect and fight the negative stereotype some countries have. Saying, "Well F these people! They want to treat me badly or not listen to how I do things or what I think, then I'm just gonna go crazy!" is not the way to handle things, even if whatever happened is the result of people who came before you and not your personal actions. Enjoy the culture, embrace the differences, and get lost in a new world and a new way of doing things. You'll probably enjoy it...and if you don't, you can go home and decide to vacation another place next time. This is a really touchy subject with me... And yes, for all the people ready to jump on me for saying all of this, this applies to people visiting the US too...so there. Know where you are going and BE RESPECTFUL!!! It's not hard...
Well crud...I didn't mean for this to turn into a random essay. But anyway, my question to you.
What do you think of the anime/manga/Japanophile culture in the US or your own country? Are you one? Do you admit it proudly, just admit it, or hide it shamefully as your dark secret? Did you get on and ride the fad train, or have you been around for awhile? And have you ever used the forbidden terms "weaboo", or "noob"? Be honest now...
As for me, I am obsessed through and through. I've been into it for over 10 years now and am only getting more into it as time goes by. I have DVD's, manga, figures (normal, exclusive, hard to find, all imported :P), character merchandise, music, everything. I get attached to the stories and characters, I cry, I laugh, I've fallen head over heels for this stuff ^^
I also enjoy various things about Japan. I would love to visit someday and am always fascinated reading about the country whether by books, blogs, or otherwise.
I may not announce it over a loudspeaker, but people who know me know I like anime and I don't mind. In fact I enjoy discussing it if people are interested.
I personally don't understand why people give a rat's behind about what other people enjoy. Hobbies and other things are all part of what makes you you and makes another person themselves. Everybody is unique and has unique tastes. Why in the freaking heck do people want everybody to be like themselves? Are they just afraid of dealing with someone different? Scarred of the dark unknown? Or just so insecure that they have to poke fun at something contrary to themselves?
You may not understand why someone likes something and you may not like it yourself. But can't you at least respect it? Can't you at least acknowledge the differences between you and your fellow humans and be ok with it? What's wrong with a hobby if someone puts their all into it and it makes them happy? You don't have to understand why people like it...you don't have to "get it". But at least be respectful of what others love and put their hearts and efforts into.
No one should be ashamed or made to feel ashamed about their hobby and what they love...ever...