It’s one of those issues that can be applied to pretty much any media fandom, but I saw it a lot among anime fans recently, and hey, I have an anime blog, so for the time being, let’s discuss it in this context.
When was the last time you heard this rant?
I’m an anime fan, so I don’t care about what happened in your LN/manga/VN! This is an anime, so it should be judged as one. It’s obvious that due to the differences of the mediums, the adaptation is going to be a bit different, so shut up about how “inaccurate” it is.
Strangely, as much as I see them, I didn’t ever see a defense against them. No one ever comes up and explains why some people keep talking about the source material. They just keep sagely nodding at the universal wisdom that was just uttered. Apparently, the entire Internet believes that such rants accurately describe fandom etiquette.
Except, of course, the people who proceed to talk about the source material anyways. Including some of those who were just sagely nodding, right until the arrival of another series, that’s source material they are the fan of, in which case, they proceed to do the same. I guess I could write it off as people being hypocrites, and intentionally offensive rabid fanboys, but following Hanlon’s razor, it’s much more likely that the source of the conflict is poor communication between two different groups with different interests, than that one group of fan is being malicious.
For example, one of the major misunderstandings is a result of making a blanket statement about what anime “ought to be”, that is more of a personal wish, than a general rule: “all anime should stand on it’s own”.
Of course, no one likes to hear that the show that they just planned to watch, makes the most sense if they first go through some other material too. But they still wouldn’t feel entitled to demanding instant accessibility in every situation. You wouldn’t jump into a series at the second season, and expect everyone to shut up about that “other show” that you didn’t watch. You wouldn’t watch a genre parody, and demand that all the jokes must be funny without being familiar genre. You wouldn’t watch a historical series, from a time period that you know nothing about, and expect to understand it without occasionaly being helped out by wikipedia links.
Yet many of us say that an anime that is treated with the assumption that we all read the LN/manga/VN , is asking for too much, so we draw the line there. And that’s all right. It certainly makes sense, that you would refuse reading a story in a medium that you don’t even like. But be aware, that this is not grand universal “rule” of what all anime shall be like, but an arbitarily drawn line based on your personal history with the source mediums. It might be at odds with other fans’ expectations, and most importantly, with how anime is being made.
The truth is, that most anime is really nothing more than a supplementary material to the original story. That’s just a result of the otaku industry’s business logic: Manga, Light novels, and Visual novels, can all reach higher sales, than anime discs. It’s mostly because anyone who wants to read them, needs to buy a copy, while anime is first airing on TV for free and only the biggest fans pay for it. So we have a large potential audience, that is willing to pay for written stories, but most of them only see anime as a free option. It’s a logical conclusion, that with every new anime, publishers have two main goals: First, draw anime viewers into the franchise, so they will eventually buy the novels. Second, convince the core of the existing novel fandom, to buy the anime discs out of loyalty to the franchise.
As a result, most anime is designed with these two audiences in mind: The old source material fandom, and the potential readers who will want to read it after watching the anime. Characterizations, genres, messages, plot conclusions, can’t be too heavily modified, not to piss off the fandom, but enough minor details must be left out to make the newcomers curious about them.
The “anime fandom” doesn’t figure into this at all, because the anime fandom as we know it is a western concept. It’s all a big coincidence that such a large amount of western otaku started to define themselves exclusively as “anime fans”, and treat every other Japanese medium as an irrelevant niche inside their fandom.
But technically, when that irrelevant niche treats an anime as a side-project, that’s only purpose is to faithfully retell the “real” story but with more colors and animation, they might be closer to the truth than the anime fan who wants to interpret it without it’s context.
In a certain sense, both sides are understandable in their expectations. I’m not a manga fan myself either, so I know how annoying it is, when the manga’s fans keep complainig about how incorrect the anime is. They are annoying me, in the same way as people on a crowded subway car are annoying each other. Not because either of them did something wrong, but because they are being pushed together into a situation where they can do nothing but annoy each other.
We have fans with the perfectly reasonable expectation that they shouldn’t have to deal with constant discussions of a medium that they don’t care about, and fans with the perfectly reasonable expectation to enjoy and discuss the franchise in the order as it was intended to be, are going to annoy each other.
But hey, we are locked into the same community, so we might as well tolerate each other.