The Genre Ghetto

In TVTropes slang, “ghetto” stands for the attitude that a certain content type should stay limited to the narrowly defined pigeonholes that it’s critics made up. For example, the common western attitude that all animation should be made for kids, is the Animation Age Ghetto, or the common expectation that female-targeted shows are strictly for women only, is the Girl Show Ghetto.

These ghettos can even manifest themselves literally as closed-off areas where these stereotypically “inferior” stories can be rounded up and separated from “proper” entertainment, such as libraries sending all manga down to the children’s library, or separating everything all speculative fiction on a sci-fi/fantasy bookshelf, outside of everything else’s alphabetic order.

That latter one, the sci-fi ghetto, gets some of the most interestingly illogical reactions. While by now there are so many mainstream, popular, and even artistically acknowledged sci-fi stories, that you would expect it’s critics to just give up, that’s where prejudice shows it’s stubbornness: Instead of just admitting that, say, 1984 is an intelligent sci-fi novel, therefore sci-fi can be intelligent, the truly prejudiced can still think like this:

“Oh, sci-fi is that silly Star Trek-thing where spaceships shoot lasers at each other, and men wear pajamas, so if 1984 has none of that, it’s not really sci-fi, it’s Proper Literature”

And that’s not even an exaggeration. Critics, and even authors, have really argued that their works are not really fantasy or sci-fi, if they don’t fit into the crudest stereotypes of these genres. Just how arrogant you have to be, to redefine an entire genre according to your own admittedly limited familiarity with it, while dismissing the established definition made by it’s actual audience?  As anime fans, you might be directly familiar with that kind of attitude. While most of the above preconceptions are limited to the hilariously ignorant and old-fashioned mainstream, in case of anime, even our fellow fandoms and nerds and enthusiasts, who are protesting the same prejudices themselves, might think and speak like this:

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Visual Novels, and how much their public perception sucks

Visual Novels, are the only otaku media that I really got into,  other than anime itself. I rarely enjoy manga, Light Novels are too rare in english, and I’m a PC gamer, so most Japanese video games are also unavailable for me.

But ever since I looked into Fate/Stay Night almost two years ago, I would consider myself a Visual Novel fan almost as much as an anime fan.

I didn’t even read that many VNs, and I have a horrible track record with finishing the ones that I started, even if I liked them, but there is something so fascinating about the potential of that medium, that I just keep obsessing over it as a fan. It reached the extent that if I see an article on a random website about any subject, with one throwaway line in it about a VN identified as a “dating sim”, I keep posting corrections about it in the comment section as long as that section is active with discussion.

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Newsflash: Clannad is still a masterpiece

It’s been over two years since I first saw Clannad. Back then, on all the anime sites that I frequented, popular consensus treated it as an unquestionable classic, a masterpiece that every anime fan who finds the romance genre even vaguely appealing, should see.  Nowadays, I mostly see it in the same sentence with the word “overrated”,  with seemingly everyone being sure that everyone else but them is mindlessly worshipping it.

I’m not saying that as a rant against the fandom. First of all,  I don’t even know if the fandom really “changed it’s opinion”, or this feeling is only caused by me constantly getting deeper and deeper into more cynical communities, while the first “popular consensus” that I felt, only came from naive newcomers like myself, hanging around on “gateway” fansites. And even if things did change, no one reading this is a personification of the whole fandom. No one would personally identify with being responsible for these vague trends that I feel, so I would be ranting against no one in particular.  But I thought I should still start the post with this, because regardless of whether it only happened in my perception, or if my perception happened to be accurately reflecting a larger trend, it’s an important part of how my mindset changed about Clannad.

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A doylist view of romantic anime

With Ano Natsu de Matteru being the only relatively serious romance-based story in this season, multiple people started to use it as a starting point to write about their view on the genre in general, that often slipped into comparisons to romance in real life, or the difficulties of identifying with the setup . It’s not very hard to see why this path of thinking is so common.  There  is something about the romance genre, that increases the audience’s expectations of realism, and the necessity of self-insertion. It’s easy to suspend our disbelief about the physical rules of a world being unrealistic, or even if it’s rules of logic are unrealistic. But human emotions are something different, they are expected to be perfectly believeable, or the story fails at being “real” enough.

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