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  • Definition Anti-Anime: a dismissal of anime and its related

  • communities and aesthetics characterized by a belief in anime's supposedbackwardness

  • orweirdnessrelative to western media [Lachlan, from off-stage] Please welcome the

  • arrival of comrade Zeria, esteemed chairman of the anitube left vanguard, lover of isekai,

  • and scholar of yuri, for her polemic against the anti-anime saboteurs who number among

  • our ranks.

  • [I enter, turning to the camera, proclaiming this section as if it were a speech] My comrades,

  • it should come as no surprise to you when I say that we are beset on all sides by the

  • forces of reaction.

  • Our world is increasingly one of great peril, as the right grows ascendant ona global scale.

  • The society we live in is more charged than it has been in a great many decades.

  • As such, the time has passed for which we must declare all media to be political; that

  • fact is already self-evident.

  • The question, then, is how we, as leftists, must relate to this media.

  • And no, that relation can not be hating on everything, abolishing the commodity form

  • does not mean abolishing fun, Theodore.

  • Our enemies certainly know what their relation to this media must be.

  • Let it not be said that they understand the works they consume, a mere glance at the anime

  • right should put that thought right out of your head, but they know that culture is a

  • battleground, and are preparing for another battle.

  • AnimeGate is nigh-inevitable at this point, it seems likely to happen in the next year,

  • and with conflicts over Goblin Slayer, Shield Hero, and Zombieland Saga scarcely banished

  • from our collective memories, it appears that this will be a fight against theWestern

  • anime industryof Crunchyroll and Anime News Network, while a number of unfortunate

  • suspects sit by, ready to lead the fight and, if they're lucky, to make a profit from

  • doing so.

  • This obviously their actual aim, let's be clear, they saw how GamerGate worked out for

  • those involved and they wanted.

  • Wait, those guys ended up nowhere?

  • Maybe these new people should try something else.

  • Regardless, while this coming AnimeGate may end up less effective than ComicGateand

  • that would be saying somethingit must be strictly opposed by the left, after all,

  • GamerGate did play a big role in radicalizing many Extremely Online people into outright

  • fascists, though of course, we needn't and shouldn't ally with the companies involved

  • either, only the unfortunate people caught in the crossfire.

  • But this brings me to a central question.

  • How should the left relate to anime and its associated communities?

  • Many leftists I've talked to simply accept the alt-right's positions: that anime is

  • an inherently right-wing medium, that Japan is a reactionary hellhole far more misogynist

  • and queerphobic than the oh-so-venerable West, and that as a result, leftists simply shouldn't

  • consume Japanese culture.

  • You'd assume that self-proclaimed left wouldn't just accept fascists at their wordafter

  • all, if you end up dead in a fucking ditchbut, well, look at the twitter reaction

  • to this video's title.

  • So, let me be clear: for as much as the right ignores reality in acting as if Japan is a

  • safe-haven, free of the SJW scourge, my attentions here are turned towards many members of the

  • left.

  • By accepting that Japanese works are necessarily 'weird' and 'backwards' due to their

  • supposed lack of struggle, they end up infantilizing and depoliticizing an entire nation that is,

  • like any other, political on all fronts, and that ain't the tea, sis.

  • This is, though.

  • [Sip tea].

  • The people who often proudly call themselves the anti-anime left poison any efforts to

  • create a proper leftist relation to media.

  • Because yes, the leftist boogeyman is realthough not nearly as successful as the

  • right would have you believewe want to win, to take over the world, we are the post-modern

  • neo-marxists that they are so afraid, and if we're going to do so, we can't give

  • up an entire nation's media or the communities that enjoy it.

  • Anime is good, folks, don't give it to the chuds.

  • Fortunately, many members of the anime left are building the spaces for agitation that

  • we need, but it's not enough.

  • Allowing the alt-right to claim anime as their own, to act as if it's naturally theirs due

  • to the Japanese beinginherently traditionalist”, is just bad praxis that forfeits an entire

  • ground for propagandizing.

  • And in practice, this anti-anime sentiment is a symptom of a broader racist Othering,

  • one that not only hampers our ability to relate to culture but hurts many marginalized people,

  • though for that discussion, let's move into a slightly more intellectual headspace.

  • I promise, I won't use too many big words.

  • Part 1: Wacky Orientalism [Puts on fake glasses] The comments I received

  • on Twitter upon announcing this video's title are quite enlightening as we move into

  • a discussion of how anti-anime sentiment is harmful.

  • The Nazis, of course, came out in full force, and the veiled anger they displayed was frankly

  • enough to make this entire project worthwhile.

  • There's little better than Nazis spamming anime girls in SS uniforms, after all, who

  • can deny the comic genius of having a generic seasonal waifu sayburn the degenerates”.

  • A common theme among these replies is the idea that anime is one of the few places free

  • from politics, whereas us greedy SJWs have stuck our gender- and race-tainted hands aaaaaallllllll

  • over every other aspect of common media today, including games and comics[show political

  • examples].

  • They're wrong on the anime itself, but they've got a point about the community.

  • In the pst couple of years, leftists in those spaces have done a good job at showing, contesting

  • them and, in some ways, trying to prevent them from planting their seed in the fertile

  • breeding ground that is nerd culture.

  • Anime communities have not had that, at least not to the degree that they need to, this

  • is a space full of alienated young people . Of course, the biggest anime convention

  • in the world was founded by a guy who, uh, got arrested for throwing Molotov Cocktails,

  • and Comic-Con sure as hell can't say that, but y'know.

  • However, what there right wingers are not correct about is the idea that all anime is

  • apolitical, or even worse, that it's all reactionary due to Japan's inherently traditionalist

  • values.

  • When I look at Gundam, what I see is a series with a strong respect for imperial expansion.

  • It's the leftist responses that are really concerning, however.

  • Many claimed that I was calling them racist if they didn't like animesomething

  • I never did, though I will get into how that might be the case later onewhile others

  • did something even worse, which is to say, accepting the right's premise that Japan

  • is simply a backwards nation.

  • As we all know, only under the proper civilized boot of the mighty European can the reactionary

  • savages be fixed and brought to true humanity.

  • I'm a leftist by the way.

  • This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon reaction.

  • In July of 2018, Japanese Diet member Sugita Mio made disgusting remarks about queer people[play

  • clips of what she said].

  • This caused massive blowback both in Japan and abroad.

  • When one of my friends, Kastel, tweeted about this situation, one of the first people to

  • bring it to the English-speaking world, they were faced with a wave of Orientalist backlash.

  • Many presumably well-intentioned leftists simply explained the remarks away withwell,

  • what would you expect from Japan?” which really makes sense, given that Kastel got

  • this information from Japanese people.

  • It's this behavior that was called Orientalism in Edward Said's seminal 1978 boo k.

  • Massively distilled, Orientalism could best be described as a form of Othering wherein

  • those nations deemed Oriental, an especially the people who live in and come from them,

  • are seen as backwards, exotic, homogeneous, and most of all, only able to be understood

  • by those from the Occident.

  • As Said says, “The Orient that appears in Orientalism, then, is a system of representations

  • framed by a whole set of forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western

  • consciousness, and later, Western empire.

  • ... The Orient is the stage on which the whole East is confined.

  • On this stage will appear the figures whose role it is to represent the larger whole from

  • which they emanate.

  • The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world,

  • but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe.”

  • This behavior might not be the tea, but Said's work sure is, even if weird anti-anime leftcom-y

  • types will occasionally write it off asnationalistic”.

  • It's not hard to see that in considering Japan aninherently traditionalist culture

  • certain leftists a particularly notable form of Orientalism.

  • Said himself discussed this, pointing out that even Marx himself, radical thinker that

  • he was, did not escape from the Orientalist discourses and structures that defined him,

  • and while the form of those discourses has changed, their existence, certainly, has not.

  • It is no shock, then, that leftists who aren't daddy also fall prey to this trap, though

  • you would expect in our modern, post-colonial landscape, they'd know to do better.

  • After all, I don't think that uhhhhh [checks notes] ridiculing Japan's culture is a great

  • step towards uniting the workers of the world, but hey, that could just be me.

  • The question is, then, how does this relate to anime?

  • It's true that no one would sayWell, what would you expect from Americaif a

  • Republican stood up and bashed queer people, it happens every day after all, so the fact

  • that people so about Japan is obviously a bad look, and worth curbing in the future.

  • However, if you are one of the leftists who called me out, this has nothing to do with

  • anime.

  • After all, sayingWhat about Japanis a blatantly political statement, whereas making

  • fun of anime is simply mocking a bad medium.

  • Clearly, ignoring the political dimensions of apolitical speech is good leftist praxis.

  • It's certainly true that anime does not define all of Japanese culture.

  • Only the worst Japanophiles believe that, and I'm certainly willing to call them Orientalist

  • as well [play weird SakuraCon commercial].

  • However, anti-anime sentiment is rarely a hatred of Japanese animation as such.

  • Usually it comes in the form of a hatred of all that could be consideredotaku culture”,

  • from video games to idols.

  • Once again, this is far from the entirety of Japanese popular culture, and one could

  • theoretically hate all of these, including theanime art style” — though I can't

  • say I've ever been able to describe such a thing, and I'm not entirely sure that

  • it existswithout resorting to Orientalism.

  • However, this general distaste for all nation's pop culture that make it outside its borders

  • is characteristic of a newer mode of Orientalism, one which focuses on the exotic nature of

  • those it describes: Wacky Orientalism.

  • Wester Wagenaar sees this new form of Orientalism as one that has arisen in the 21st century,

  • though not without its precursors in the late 20th, becoming a third type that stands alongside

  • the already present Traditional Orientalism and Techno-Orientalism which Japan has been

  • subject to for centuries and decades respectively.

  • Wagenaar defines this Wacky Orientalism asthe Western perception of Japan as 'weird'”.

  • As he says, the West does this tocreate and strengthen the norm of what is normal

  • and toconfirm its normalcy”.

  • These ideas are rampant in Western discussions of Japan over the last couple decades[play

  • Americans reacting toWeird JapanandWTF Japanmemes].

  • This also lines up perfectly with the leftist applications we have thus seen.

  • When a Japanese man is homophobic, and a leftist responds withwell, that's just how those

  • Japanese arethey do this to subconsciously confirm that for all the problems the left

  • has, at least that behavior will be combatted here.

  • After all, those wacky Japanese just haven't gotten with the times like those Western companies

  • have done a great job at[stare at screen and then show shitty homophobia and misogyny from

  • Western people].

  • The simple fact that this behavior is far from homogeneous in Japan and is in fact opposed

  • by many people in the country, is totally ignored.

  • And why wouldn't they be?

  • After all, the Oriental knows less about themselves than the enlightened Westerner.

  • What a brilliant leftist strategy, congratulations guys.

  • In light of this newfound destination Wacky Orientalism, the problematic nature of writing

  • off all of anime and its associated cultural elements comes into fuller focus.

  • Whatever one's feelings are on popular animeyes, yes, I know that Hetalia does some

  • uncomfortable stuff with Korea and and the Axis Powers, I know, I know, look all I'm

  • saying is that Hetalia hasn't been popular for years and was never representative of

  • anime as a — by attributing their dislike of it to some fundamental reactionary thought

  • that somehow exists within the roots of the medium, anti-anime leftists are confirming

  • that for all of its problems, Western pop culture is better than Japan's.

  • This is an especially big problem given the popularity ofanime stylein contemporary

  • Japan even outside of otaku communities.

  • Characters who we in the West would refer to asanime girlsare simply a common

  • part of life in urban and sometimes even rural Japan, being everywhere with little to no

  • comment.

  • Culture differs from country to country, as do the forms in which various oppressions

  • take root and express themselves, but, well, few people are saying all American animation

  • is bad, and America's got a hell of a lot of right-wingers.

  • Precure is an anime, Kase-san is an anime, and Michiko to Hatchin is an anime.

  • In effect, boiling all ofanimedown to one thing acts as if all of its creators

  • are the same, have the same values, or come from the same situations, and that is a form

  • of Orientalism, no matter how much you try and call me a weeb so you can avoid listening

  • to me.

  • So yes, perhaps saying that all anime is trash is, in fact, racist in itself, though obviously,

  • you're allowed to dislike the industry, that's just a matter of taste, yada yada

  • yada.

  • When you extend this line of logic to anything that even remotely has to do with the common

  • aesthetics surrounding anime, you get yourself into the /r/socialism fiasco, where you end

  • banning people just because they enjoy drawing catgirls which, uh, “reduces women to domesticated

  • animalsor something.

  • You get the idea that anyone with an anime avatar is a Nazi because there's nooooooooooo

  • reason that anyone would ever want an idealized version of themself or something, rather than

  • having to look at an actual picture of what they look like.

  • This is your brain on anti-anime leftism y'all, do you really want to end up like this?

  • Hell, let's ignore the orientalism for a second, do you know how many trans girls you'll

  • alienate if you put these ideas forth?

  • Have you spent any time in online trans communities?

  • These people love their goddamn cat girls!

  • I'm not even that into them myself, I'm more of a dog girl person myself, but look,

  • I respect them, this just isn't good praxis.

  • I'm not done, however.

  • This Wacky Orientalism is not just bad due to the way it Others Japan and the cultural

  • products it produces and consumes, nor because of the way it sets up the West as always right.

  • Painting an image of a homogeneous Japan is not just helpful to the Western right, who

  • would love full and unfettered access to these communities.

  • No, these discourses are far more dangerous than that.

  • They also assist the Japanese right, and the process of Japanese nation-building.

  • And if you're a leftist, that is very, very bad.

  • Part 2: Nationalism and Nihonjinron Not only are leftists absolutely capable of

  • being suckered into Orientalism given its status as the primary Western discourse on

  • the East, which the Marx example was intended to show, but Japan has historically made great

  • use of the Orientalism they've been subject to and Wacky Orientalism, as the newest form,

  • is no exception to that.

  • It's time to talk Cool Japan.

  • The Japanese state is well aware that its culture and media are popular around the world,

  • and in this age of late capitalism, where soft power is one of the strongest tools available,

  • it is happy to market this culture worldwide.

  • Into the Traditional Orientalist focus on kimono, katana, and the serenity of tea ceremonies?

  • Well, Japan's glad to sell that to ya.

  • Fond of the Techno-Orientalist focus on Tokyo's fascinating machines?

  • You can have that too.

  • And if you're into the wackiness of Japan, the weird anime, the absurd game