Anime fans have a reputation for many things, and few of them are positive. They’re thought to be obsessive to the point of disorder, and antisocial as a result of that. They’re thought to be immature due to a misconceived association between anime and cartoons. Due to the increased presence of hentai in the age of the internet, they’re recently thought of as perverts and deviants. But most of all, anime fans are thought of as being just plain weird, thanks to the often eccentric nature of their preferred medium.
NASCAR enthusiasts. Dungeons and Dragons practitioners. Bronies. Almost everyone, when reading those words, can instantly conjure up an image of what each fanbase and their stereotypical members look like. Like most stereotypes, these conventional traits are often negative, and don’t serve as a fair or flattering portrayal of the average fan. While fanbase stereotyping is a definite problem for countless groups, there may be no greater victim of it than anime fans.
Anime Is Only for Children
Perhaps the largest misconception about anime in general is that it can be categorized into any one genre. Because of this, and because things like Pokemon and Sailor Moon are the most well-known examples, anime has a reputation of being only for children. However, anime is best thought of as a medium, rather than a genre, and the wide range of content available includes plenty of adult-oriented shows not meant for kids.
Series like Attack on Titan are as scary as The Walking Dead, and Death Note is a dark thriller on par with Breaking Bad.
Anime and Cartoons Are the Same Thing
Despite being an animated medium all its own, like Western cartoons, anime has some sharp distinctions from what we think of as traditional cartoon fodder. While animated features in Western civilization have always been aimed at children and reveled in simplicity, anime is not held back by such restrictions.
Anime’s serialized nature, something that has only recently been seen in Western cartoons, has allowed for the development of more nuanced storytelling and complex drama, which is on full display in shows like Fullmetal Alchemist and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Anime Fans Are All Perverted
The internet has laid bare some aspects of pop culture that were generally kept under wraps in the past. As with everything on the internet, the strangest and most socially taboo examples draw the most attention, which can lead to a skewed interpretation of a fanbase. The unfair association with fans of anime and fans of hentai is one such instance of this. While there’s nothing wrong with liking any sort of legal pornography, there’s no reason to assume that every fan of anime is also a fan of hentai.
That’s like assuming every fan of Game of Thrones is into incest porn. Even though some anime is sexualized, it’s no different than the portrayals seen in Western action films, and nobody gets called a pervert for liking those.
Anime Is Unintelligent
Due to the diverse range of content available in anime, calling all anime dumb is about the equivalent of saying that television is dumb or that comic books are stupid. Anime is a format, and like any format, there is content of both good and bad quality. Also, like any other format, there are those who have mastered the art of anime and have made full use of its storytelling strengths.
Death Note uses intelligent storytelling to suck the viewer in for every twist and turn, just like any renowned modern drama.