In the past, I shared my thoughts about the Anime Fandumb where fans become obsessive to the point where they berate people. Of course, there is another ugly aspect of the fandom that I haven’t touched upon: fandom rivalry and fanboys.
Most often or not, there will be shows that will have similar aspects, themes and popularity. As a result, fandoms will most often than not start debating on which show is better and even take it to another level by accusing a show of being a ripoff or accusing fans of not being a true fan of Anime just because you don’t like a particular show. I feel that fandom rivalries are destructive not because it can drive average fans away, but can distort one’s view of other shows.
People are wondering why do people tend to favor one show over another? I feel that we tend to develop a preference for a show one watched first in a particular genre, time period or franchise (if there is remakes). Because of this reason, some fans tend to view a different show in the same genre or a newer version as inferior to the original. A good example I remember during my childhood is the Pokémon vs. Digimon rivalry during the 90s. Both shows had similar themes and concepts of a group of young character going on an adventure collecting monsters and battling. Nonetheless, both shows are essentially different since they have different concepts on how monsters are stored and evolve. Despite these differences, it didn’t stop the fans of Pokémon claiming that Digimon copied Pokémon or vice versa without realizing that they are distinct and original works. Because of this reason, some fans who feel this way can’t give other shows or a newer version a chance no matter how good it is because they won’t live up to the show he/she liked the most.
On the other hand, I feel that archetypes and clichés also contribute to this feeling. It’s understandable because certain genres tend to rely on a good number of archetypes and clichés to define it. While shows can have recurring aspects, it does not necessarily mean it’s a ripoff since shows can combine these concepts with other ones through the characters and/or settings in order to make it interesting. For instance, the magical girl shows tend to use a lot of archetypes and clichés that makes the genre iconic. Because of this reason, one can argue that Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a ripoff of Card Captor Sakura and Sailor Moon because it features a cute girl fighting monsters and collecting stuff. However, Lyrical Nanoha targets an older audience by mixing some aspects from Mecha anime and the idea of main character befriending other girls through beating the crap out of them, which in turn allowed it to become a popular magical girl franchise.
Lastly, I feel that fanboys/fangirls/anti-fanboys (or fan haters) is another contributing factor that fuels these rivalries. Fanboy/fangirls are basically fans of a particular interest or activity that takes things to obsessive levels where it becomes serious business. They claim to know everything about a particular interest or franchise and typically berate people for not liking the same things and defend it no matter how flawed a show or particular work might be. While they are very annoying, they also contribute to fandom rivalry because they will defend their positions even if their facts are not necessary right, thus making the debate endless and fierce. This kind of behavior from these people doesn’t only make regular fans look bad, but the fandom as a whole. There is no wonder why a lot of people tend to look down at fanboys and fangirls because of their behavior from the minority (yes, there are some that keep it to themselves).
At the end of the day, I feel that fandom rivalries are silly for the fact that there is no such thing as flawless shows since there will always be better ones. As I said many times, it’s better to look things in a balanced and open-minded way opposed to starting an all out fandom war on whose opinion is right or which one is better. I think it’s okay to like multiple shows that are similar or in the same genre. Sure, I admit that I prefer the music from The Idolmaster to Love Live School Idol Project since the former has more variety, but does it mean that I enjoy the latter less? Not necessarily as I enjoy the characters and story from Love Live too. To me, I feel that it’s childish to debate which show is better. What’s wrong with judging the show through its merits and enjoy it what it is? If we did that, fans will get better instead of having these silly fan wars over whose preferences/tastes are superior.
What are your thoughts about fandom rivalries and fanboys? Do you think they are silly? Feel free to share some of the fandom rivalries you’ve experienced.