In the past, I have shared my thoughts on why people get bullied or fans get labeled as an otaku or a nerd just because he/she enjoys Anime. However, I have never gone through the reasons why some people are against Anime despite its popularity in the west ranging from the stigma surrounding 2D animation, different cultural/political views and being introduced to the wrong shows that give one a bad initial impression.
First off, we need to understand that Anime (or Japanese animation) is mainstream in Japan and that people of all ages enjoy them. Although there are shows that are made specifically for children like Pokémon, there are others that are being made for a vast audience (females, males and older audiences). This is probably the reason why Anime covers a diverse amount of genres compared to western animation, which focuses on mostly educational, children and adult comedies.
To me, perhaps one of the obvious reasons why people would be against Anime in general is for the fact that there are cultural differences and a stigma that cartoons and 2D animation in general are for children. I feel that this stigma exists for the fact that most cartoons in the west are made for a young audience. In a sense, it’s just like saying that playing video games are childish when there are adults that play mature rated games.
On the other hand, I feel that this argument can easily be countered since there are shows that either have adult themes, a lot of violence or other things that are not appropriate for children. Sure, most anime being made nowadays has a lot of cute girls, which tends to make a show feel childish, but there may be things that a child might not understand or inappropriate for a certain age group. The same applies to video games since there may be content that are not suitable for them. For instance, a parent will most likely not let their child watch a show like Fate/stay night because there is a lot of violence. If they allow them to, their child might end up learning things that can affect their judgment before they fully develop.
In addition, I feel that cultural differences is another reason people might be against Anime. Most notably, Japan tends to have different views when it comes to nudity and tend to find it more acceptable in some cases. While you won’t see full-on nudity as it usually gets censored, there might be fanservice that show partial nudity. Moreover, Japanese pop culture tends to place a lot of emphasis on cuteness for the fact that Japan largely demilitarized after World War II and society as a whole places more emphasis on peace opposed to violence. While dark, violent and/or action packed Anime are still being made, most of them are mostly light-hearted, especially for shows that are geared for Otakus.
I feel that the reason why some people in the west might be against Anime is for the fact that most shows do not necessarily appeal to a certain audience. Generally, shows with violence and dark themes tend to appeal to a western audience. Since Anime is mostly tailored to a Japanese audience, some viewers in the west might feel some resentment. This can be avoided by having an open mind when you experience any type of media.
Still, the portrayal of certain characters in a show, especially in regards to gender might offend some people. While differences in views of nudity has a factor in this, people have to realize that all types of media have this problem to a certain extent and most importantly, the characters are fictional. Since they are not real, you can’t really harm them since they do not exist in real life. I think this applies to all types of media as most people have clear judgment of what is fiction and what is reality. This is perhaps the reason why there is no evidence that video games causes violent behavior.
While people are free to voice their own beliefs on the issues surrounding any type of media, what I do not agree with is having content banned or censored just because someone or a certain group does not find the content acceptable. The creator should have the freedom to create what they want. However, this does not shield them from any potential criticism, bad or good. I think education and not letting children or teenagers play/watch age-inappropriate games or shows will go a long way in preventing such behavior rather than censoring.
The last and obvious reason people might be against Anime is for the fact that they were introduced to the wrong Anime. This is an easy mistake to make since there are some who would just recommend any show that might not fit someone’s taste or give a wrong impression about the medium. It’s just like recommending someone a romance harem comedy like Ore no Imouto to someone who has no experience with Anime and then expect him or her to gain interest in it. To me, it’s better to start small by recommending shows that won’t have objectionable content like any of the Miyazaki’s films before moving on to other shows that he/she might also be interested in.
As a whole, it’s understandable why people might be against Anime for the fact that Japanese animation in general has a diverse genre of stories that they might not familiar with along with cultural differences. In the end, I think it is a matter of recommending them the right shows, which allows them to gain an interest in the medium while shredding the prejudice towards it. While there are other reasons why older people might be against it, especially in regards to political views, most of these reasons can be resolved by introducing people to “gateway shows” that meant to build one’s interest in and watching it an open mind.
With that, have you met people who are against Anime? Also, did you try to get others interested in it? Feel free to share your experiences.