NewGeekPhilosopher wrote a little piece about a new sub-breed of anime fans he called the “Oztaku”. I can understand the desire to move away from using the word otaku, but the terms “anime fan” or “anime enthusiast” perfectly describe any of the individuals he raised as examples in his post, and it didn’t really matter at all where they were from. I trolled him in the comments, but he raised a point I thought worth wasting my time and yours with in his reply:
[...]the reason why I highlighted “Anglo Saxons” is because many white Anime and Manga fans are not the same as Japanese ones, and have a different cultural construction of their identity. Hence an Oztaku would be brought from a different cultural society entirely from a Japanese society.
I always thought the point of a “fandom” is that people are brought together through their passion for a hobby, regardless of race, creed, age or geographical location. Regardless of your culture or how you were raised, our passion for (in our case) anime brings us together as a group of fans. Our common hobby breaks down the cultural barrier, and we can chat simply as fellow anime fans, regardless of from where we hail.
However, I’m sure cultural identity affects our opinions on what we all watch. How big is that impact? Is the difference big enough that we would require sub-dividing of the fandom? For example, if a group of Americans and a group of Chinese watched the same show, does the difference in culture cause the two groups to arrive at vastly different conclusions or have vastly different opinions?
I think the difference could be quite karge. I’ve visited enough Chinese and English fansites to notice that there are palpable differences in what the English speaking audience perceives as classics and what the Chinese speaking audience perceives as classics. For example, Cowboy Bebop, which I deem to be a very Westernised show, is often called a favourite by English fans, but it’s rarely given the same amount of praise and adorations in Chinese circles. Other shows that spot more anime-ish characteristics (or maybe simply a more universal charm), such as Kino no Tabi or Naruto, tend to be more equally well-received by fans on both side of the language divide. However, from my limited experience, Australia fans’ tastes don’t seem to differ much from the fans born in America or Britain, probably because these three cultures are still closely related.
In short, how great, if it exists at all, do you think the impact of cultural upbringing is on our opinions of anime?