Fandom, or fan community, involves a cult following of a certain movie or TV show where fantasy meets reality. Today’s modern fandom includes Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. But fandom goes beyond the British/American-produced franchises. Another global fandom is Japan’s anime and manga, popularized and adapted in various mediums. Since 1990s, anime has gotten a grip on nations outside of Japan with hit series such as Dragonball, Pokemon, Speed Racer, and other popular stories. It has the same qualities that bring in fans all over again and again.
The basis of the fandom in anime and manga go back to the early 80s and the “Otaku,”describing those who are obsessed with the stories to the point of showing their love for them in public. The first real group of fans were those who loved the space opera Space Battleship Yamato. What begin as small clubs regarding various serials and movies quickly grew in and outside of Japan into the West, especially the United States. The massive success of Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and Dragon Ball Z made the crossover highly possible to today’s status.
The biggest example of anime fandom areannual conventions where people openly go to them dressed as their favorite characters, also known as Cosplay. The Cosplay represents a subculture all surrounding the fictional world of the story anime brings in. Since 1992, the biggest Anime convention in North America is Anime Expo held every July in LA. With the Japanese anime, they may not be as recognizable as the title mentioned above, but for the small group of people who know the story, it is a special bond. Anime fandom does not have to be in person, but is now extended to online. Such clubs exist with blogs of people sharing their love and discussion for the anime or manga.
The fandom extends out to one more section: Japanese culture. Those who are obsessed with anime and manga are more likely to take a high interest in the Japanese language and make the trip to the country. Japanese terms are learned because they are written in even during translation to keep the original writing as faithful as possible. For many outside of Japan, they don’t know initially of an anime’s origins until later and they will describe their fandom based on the fact the anime is just better than American animation.
The combination of cultural, themed, genre and aesthetic reasons for anime fandom is a continuing drive to their popularity all over. It has penetrated the West’s taste for animation, showing off what could be argued as superior cartoons. The look and story of the anime is personally and emotionally lucrative to the point where Cosplay and “otaku” is part of their life. They would be considered nerds or geeks and fans will be fine with that term because of the popularity is big enough where it’s a notable, accepted subculture. Anime fandom is part of the regular fandom of various cultural highs on TV and in print that people will proudly show their love of online and in person.