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Anime and the stigma associated with watching it


Suspected Unicorn
Validated User
Have you had any experiences like this? What are your thoughts on this topic?
A few, but not many.

As in most things I've found since I became an adult (and out of college, away from the last vestiges of schoolyard culture), the quote that gets misatributed to Dr. Suess holds fairly true - them that matter, don't mind, and them that mind, don't matter.

At the end of the day, "anime or no anime" is just a question of what TV shows you watch. Life is too short to care about people criticizing you for what TV shows you watch. It's also too short to care about what shows other people watch.


Suspected Unicorn
Validated User
Anime has somewhat snuck into the mainstream - but the stigma is still there, though it's shifted somewhat. I've encountered more than a few people (including some moderate-level celebrities, including Wil Wheaton) who have straight up said they consider "Otaku" to be a synonym of "Alt-Right", and that's a stigma that's hard to fight against, because pointing out how GLBT friendly my local anime con (Kumoricon) is, or pointing out the diversity of the convention comes across as saying "Some of my best friends are..." and similarly arguing in favor of some of the progressive causes that various anime fansites have helped fight for ends up coming across like "Not All Menz" - so whenever this comes up, my only real option is basically to sit in the corner and be sad, because it means that this is another person whose work I enjoy and who I deeply respect as a person, but who, if they found out I liked anime, would probably treat me with outright hatred and loathing for reasons that are not applicable to me - but which are applicable to other fans of the things I like, but because of those fans actions, I end up being tarred with that brush too.
Wil Wheaton can seriously stop being a thing we care about at any time. He literally only has any power or relevance because we gave it to him. He was languishing in obscurity as the (unjustly, to be fair) hated scourge of Star Trek.


Registered User
Validated User
I think there's two different angles for the question, with different answers for each.

1. Watching animation as an adult. Maybe a bit niche, but mainstream. I say "animation" rather than "anime" here, because I think part of the mainstreaming has been the west building up its own animation offerings, so a lot of it in terms of casual viewership is a blend of Japanese anime that's marketed as such, Japanese offerings that are localized and may not really be thought of as "foreign" by casual watchers (something like transformers for instance), and western animation which may or may not be influenced by anime art styles. So I think the mainstreaming trend and social acceptance of anime is part of a larger trend of acceptance of animation as a storytelling approach that isn't only geared for kids.

2. Appellation as an "otaku" or part of the "fandom" or whatever. I think this probably still carries some stigma, though I'd see more of it as driven by internal "nerd pecking order" bullshit than anything. Insomuch as there's "mainstream stigma" for anime fans at this point, I'd say its more like the difference between "person who likes star trek" versus "trekkie", i.e. a term bundled up with the notion of "taking it too far". Some parts of nerdom build up its own hierarchy that tries to make deeper claims about why [insert geek thing you don't like] has an inherent dysfunction that is different than the occasional toxic people who show up in [insert geek thing you do like]. Its shitty, but as far as getting people around you to get together for an anime bingefest, probably not going to be a major impact.


We See You
Staff member
Validated User
Michael B Jordan, who was just the villain in what is on track to be the biggest superhero movie ever, publicly talked about his love of anime.

The stigma’s over. The battle’s done. We won. Anime is cool, or at least liked by pretty cool people. You can put down your shields.
This is news to me! But then again, being out of the loop is probably why I've even considered the stigma.

Again, this has definitely passed me by. All I knew of anime in the mainstream is basically Dragon Ball Z. But yeah, if it's made a similar transition to gaming, then that would make sense. And just like in gaming, there's always stuff that'll make you go "Wait, not all games/anime are like that!".

I mean... that's pretty blatant once you notice it.

And it's amazing.

Kevin Mowery

Validated User
Yeah, this is definitely a thing as well! I've learnt to be very suspicious of people that have anime girls as their profile pictures/avatars. Especially if that girl is depicted wearing a WW2-era german uniform!

There is this picture of the "anime fan" as an alt-right "niceguy" with a soiled bodypillow. And that kinda makes me leery of dipping my toe back into the medium, even if I know it's silly.
It's the same problem faced by fedora enthusiasts, bronies, etc. There's a very visible, very vocal subset of terrible people who make a point of inserting their fandoms into their shitty opinions.


Validated User
It's basically the stupidity of the social clock. It doesn't have much to do with anime itself. No one bats an eye about younger people liking cartoons or anime, but if you're out of college all of a sudden the stuff is supposed to stop being enjoyable. Same thing goes with RPGs, cosplay, comic books, etc.

People are dumb. Enjoy what you want, but keep it to yourself in the real world.


Registered User
Validated User
Caveat: There are always going to be kids growing up in families with parents that think poorly of anything other than interests similar to what they did growing up, so this is mostly in regards to adults.

I think the era of the (non-self-) stigmatized nerd (of all stripes) is ended or ending. Nerd activities are not only mainstream, many of them are so mainstream they are hitting their 'no-longer-new' phase. Comic book superhero movies are so popular the biggest concern is oversaturation. Non-superhero comic books and fantasy novels have become TV series that are nearing their end (GoT) or looking like they will pull an X-files (which is back) and stick around long past its' sell-by date (Walking Dead). Cinematic LotR is approaching being 20 years old. Transformers (based on earlier Japanese IPs) and Star Wars (based a little less directly on Japanese movies) movies will be coming out until we are all dead and in the ground. Pokémon (anime style cartoon), which is 2 1/2 decades old has a reinvention (Pokémon Go) which has reach "oh, is that still a thing?" level. Pacific Rim, which is an love letter to both Kaiju and anime mecha series, is finally getting a sequel. We as general-interest nerds are not just ascendant, we might have peaked (cue articles about whether XYZ new album recaptures that old magic and teenagers having never heard of our favorite thing).

As to anime specifically--well, like folk music being associated with the American political left or country music the American political right, I think the anime-alt-right connection might stick around a while, but it is hard to say. The more general arrested-development lonely male with bodypillow thing, that's disappearing as people actually watch or at least hear about the shows and hear about the plots and realize it isn't just a bunch of... what's the bad stereotype, teenage girls in maid costumes being assaulted by tentacles or something? ... and that is happening. Rapidly. Sure, it might take a while longer for the idea that complex character dynamics and the like are the important part of the shows, and to the person who thinks it is mostly about people piloting giant robots and the like, it will still be seen as shows for glorified adult children, but no more than the Avengers or Transformers and the like.
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Catharsis Cat

Live Action Anime Girl
Validated User
As I mentioned in a different thread, it's not in anime in general that has alt-right associations, just specific ones. Mostly the moe-esque types. The amount of far-left pokemon and sailor moon memes is pretty heavy in my neck of the woods.

Same thing with avatars. I know one youtuber I follow recently made a bit of a dismissive remark about "Transbian anarcho-communists with anime avatars" even.
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Active member
Validated User
The whole overlap with alt-right and certain anime genres is a very strange thing, and something that kind of snuck up on us (or me at least) without notice. It's always very strange to suddenly notice that something you like has gotten associated with people you could hardly disagree more strongly with.
I suppose it partly explains why Youtube's recommendation algorithm keeps trying to push certain kinds of videos on me. It mostly took the hint after enough "not interested" clicks, but they still pop up occasionally.
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