Anime fans aren’t just watching the latest cartoons or reading up on their favorite characters – they’re living a lifestyle.
These fans have embraced anime (pronounced "an-ih-may"), Japanese for animation, and manga (pronounced "mon-gah"), Japanese for comic books. In the United States, both terms have come to mean Japanese-crafted and -produced examples of this art.
Anime magazines acknowledge the enthusiasm of fans by turning their readers into active participants. Animerica prints news related to the industry, and hooks its readers by running contests for "fan art" to showcase their best work. Tokyopop, its competitor, practices similar fan recruitment by publishing manga doodlers from the United States.
The Popularity of Blogging
Anime fans are known to be extremely Web-savvy, so it’s no surprise that blogging – the act of keeping an online “log” or “journal” for personal or niche-specific use – has emerged as a way for fans to get together and discuss their favorite hobby in a supportive community.
Anime bloggers tend to use a format comprised of two-column layouts. Anime blogs keep track of what each individual user is watching, and the writer provides commentary and “screencaps,” which capture the anime on the viewer’s screen using software such as Bsplayer. Blog readers drop comments on the author’s site, making the process of watching and reviewing incredibly interactive.
Oftentimes, anime bloggers watch their cartoons "raw," or direct from Japan without subtitles. These fans are most likely to campaign for an anime series to be purchased and distributed by a U.S. company. Since they are often the first to view these series, they have the potential to increase awareness of the product.
The Fansubbing Craze
Other viewers who do not speak the Japanese language rely on distributed fansubbed episodes. Fansubbed cartoons have been translated to English and subtitled for fans. American audiences can expose themselves to new series or movies this way.
The passion of fansubbers has evoked a special "code of ethics,” which insists that once an anime series has been bought, the show´s "free" distribution online needs to stop. Fans are then expected to buy the series once it has been released in America. The guaranteed online audience may lead to American companies’ willingness to buy the rights to favored anime series.
Anime fans are notorious for their pickiness and enthusiasm; they are also proactive in making their wishes known. They will reward the acquisition of their favorite series with consumption and word-of-mouth publicity. Anime fans have played a definitive role in transforming anime from niche hobby to popular pastime; it looks as if their next campaign will be mainstream domination.