Before I begin, please note that this node is an editorial.
Over the past few years, the animation genre known as anime has sprung up to new popularity heights in America. While this isn't necessarily a good or bad thing in itself, it seems to have brought about some undesirable results and an incorrect overview of Japan. I hope through this node to try (as politely as possible) and make some of these issues apparent. Let's go.
(I think it's important that I note I am not "anti-anime" by any means; rather, I am quite fond of many animes - just not all of them).
Right away, I can say that anime is a TV genre like sitcoms or reality shows. There are some sitcoms that people enjoy and others they don't. Simple enough. This is not the case for die-hard anime fans. In a recent discussion with an anime junky, I mentioned I didn't like a particular anime which is rather popular among avid viewers of the genre. I was treated with a hearty, "How is that even possible! You're no anime fan!" I'll explain how it's possible: Opinion. This magic word that more than just anime fans have trouble understanding escapes this new generation born of cartoons from another country. There's nothing wrong with selectivity, people.
Next, I just want to make a quick mention (because I'm sure the topic has been done to death) that anime is an enjoyable, entertainment form--no more, no less. It is not a lifestyle and should not be what one bases their existence on. Okay, done with that.
The last issue, which is the most important one for me, may call out to a very select few of you out there. I hope to hear from you if this gets to you. The issue I speak of is the mindset of the anime lover that Japan = anime in real life. Let me start this idea off by saying that I am an enthusiast of the country of Japan and its culture. I am a college student and hope to transfer to a Japanese international university soon in order to finish college abroad. Who knows? Perhaps I will want to live there, but I digress. The point I'm making here is that while I have spent countless hours of my own time and tons of my own money learning the Japanese language, culture, history, and falling in love with it all, there are fanboys (and girls) who have several anime series completely memorized and therefore think they know Japan. Anime is not Japan. It is an aspect of the culture that is something to admire, but Japan also has a rich history, an amazingly different society, interesting people, beautiful scenery, and much more. I am sick and tired of hearing some unkempt twenty-nine year-old who has victimized himself as antisocial saying that he's going to take a trip to Japan one of these days and get all the chicks because Japanese women are just crazy about anyone American, no matter how disgusting or antisocial they are. I mean, they're Japanese women! They must love anime as I do! Surely they'll have sex with me! In these modern days, Japanese women have respect for themselves and their bodies. Just because you saw an anime girl in a tentacle hentai enjoyingly take four of the phallus monster's arms up her gaping vagina does not mean that all Japanese women are just willing sex slaves.
Similarly, at the University I attend, the beginning Japanese class is almost impossible to get into because of such a high demand. However, the intermediate class had well over ten openings last time I checked. Everyone wants to join Japanese so they can watch anime without the subtitles, but the truth is, Japanese is a hard language for a westerner to learn. Most in the class just quit after the first year, but their being in the class may have cut some people out who truly wanted to learn Japanese. I was lucky enough to be admitted the intermediate class where several anime junkies who couldn't get into the beginning class had joined in hopes of just "catching up." The first day of class one girl even had the nerve to say, "Okay, everyone! It's time to tell the truth! Raise your hand if you're just here so you can translate anime!" To which a couple of students raised their hands and giggled. She and all who raised their hands were not in that class a week before dropping. People like these are cluttering up the Japanese classes and leaving people out who actually want to learn the language, and this isn't fair.
As I reach the end, I'd just like to apologize if this node sounded too bitchy, but I'm sure there are a few of you people out there on the same boat as me. Also, when I gave examples from my own life, I was doing so to illustrate points - not to make this node a LiveJournal or brag about myself. I don't think I'm above or better than anyone else, and that's not what I'm saying here.
In closing, I'd be a liar if I said I didn't enjoy anime or RPGs - they are a nice *piece* of the Japanese culture. But there are other things to love about Japan. If you're just an anime fan, stay an anime fan--don't make the country of Japan synonymous with anime. If you are truly interested in Japan, then don't get all your information on the country from anime. Read about it. Reading does wonders, especially if you don't understand things in this node or any article pertaining to Japan. Don't just be another boisterous gaijin who goes walking down the streets of Japan eating and drinking, sticking your chopsticks in your rice to set them down, and asking your business partner directly if he'll accept your proposal.