Anime and Manga Fandom in the 21st Century: A Close-Up View

Anime and Manga Fandom in the 21st Century: A Close-Up View

Chiquan Guo (The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, USA) and Chengyan Zeng (Qingdao Beer Distributors, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1048-3.ch023

Abstract

Anime (animated films) and manga (comic books) fans are easily misunderstood and can even face prejudice. In fact, they are considered nerds or weirdoes in the eye of many people. This is an unfortunate happenstance for two simple reasons. First, it is a gross misperception of fans, which is fundamentally unfair to them. Second, with a growing fan base, this ever-expansive population presents ample opportunities for businesses. However, any biased view toward those fans may likely hinder marketers' efforts to serve them in an effective manner. We would like to show people what anime and manga fans are all about. This chapter aims to introduce readers to the world of anime and manga fandom and to its fans, in particular. It will present and explain specific terms such as weeaboo, otaku, waifu, husbando, fujoshi, and critic. We will also describe the different characters of anime and manga fans and explain how these characters can affect marketing.
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Introduction

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2019), fan is an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or performing art) usually as a spectator, or an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit). Fan is a shorten version of fanatic, which comes from the Latin word fanum, meaning “sanctuary, temple.” As the definition indicates, people that have an intense passion or love for, or dedication to an object, sport, art, or activity may be considered fans of those things. Fans of a particular pursuit do not necessarily have a direct face-to-face contact. However, fans have a long history of publishing fan magazines, attending cons, writing fanfic and making fanvids to create and interact together in self-contained bubbles. That is, fans have a desire to interconnect to and socialize with other like-minded people. Consequently, fandom emerges, which is “a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest” (Wikipedia, 2018). Simply speaking, fandom is the interconnected networks of individual fans sharing the same interest. Since the explosion of the internet, fandom has become a very modern online phenomenon. For example, the internet has turned politics into fandom (Ditum, 2018). Fandom draws on popular contexts from all around the world, from media such as Hollywood blockbuster films to local programming such as Afghan Idol, Afghanistan’s adaption of American Idol (Gray et al., 2007).

This chapter aims to introduce readers to the world of anime and manga fandom and explore the marketing implications for this industry. It will present and explain many specific terms used in this fandom. To better understand anime and manga fandom, this chapter will begin with a description of its origins and history.

The chapter will then introduce different types of fans like otaku, fujoshi and waifu and explain their characters in order to better understand them and their behaviours. Finally, this chapter will explore the relationship between anime and manga fandom and consumption and discuss implications for marketing.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Otaku: A Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly the anime and manga fandom, usually refers to young males.

Fantasyesque: A plot or story in anime or manga that is unlikely to happen in the real world.

Weeaboo: Someone who worships pretty much anything that is Japanese or related to Japanese culture.

Fujoshi: The female fans who love to watch BL (boy love) in anime and manga.

Anime: A style of Japanese film and TV animation.

Fanfic: Fan fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction written by fans of that work rather than by its creator.

Theming: Putting thematic elements together in one place.

Fanvid: A fan-made video consisting of clips from a film or TV series, usually set to music.

Cosplay: A contraction of the term ‘costume play’, this is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character.

Waifu/Husbando: A fictional character whom an anime fan considers to be their wife or husband.

Digital distribution: Anime and manga products are accessible to fans worldwide via modern technology such as smartphones, streaming, and the Internet.

Fantasyscape: A wild story or genre in anime or manga that resembles little with the reality.

Shounen-ai or yaoi: Boys love, which is a niche genre where two young boys or men fall in love. Its main target consists of female fans.

Globalized culture: Consumption of anime and manga products is becoming a global phenomenon where fans reside in a number of countries.

Manga: A Japanese term that refers to ‘comic’.

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