|home / february 2002 / feature
Fanboys and Fangirls - Symptoms and Diagnosis
By Alex Brotman
It all began with the introduction of one life changing anime; it escalated into a passion (or addiction, depending on who's reading this article ^_-). From collecting DVDs to collecting hair samples, these fan's interests have a range larger than a surface to air missile. "Who are these people," you ask? They are the fanboys (and fangirls - whom we will collectively refer to as fanboys throughout the rest of this article) of the world.
They eagerly wait in lines for hours on end. What's at the end of this line? A few squiggly lines from their favorite anime creators, a 6 ft^2 sheet of paper with colors on it that make out the form of a hero, or a metallic button the size of a nickel with a creative logo printed on the front. This is a familiar sight to those who have attended the average anime convention. These fans are there for "Rurouni Kenshin," "Ah! Megami-sama," "Love Hina," - just to name some of the big guns. Everyone has a different top-pick for different reasons, but they all have one thing in common: They love anime. While looking at a picture of someone in Cosplay once, I began to ponder... "What is it that makes the fanboy?" At first, as I always do, I looked up the word in a dictionary. Unfortunately the word does not exist. The definition of "fan" and "boy" combined does not do justice to the complexity that is the fanboy. So, I did what any other writer worth his snuff would do... I set out to create my own definition.
Fanboy Genre Observation
Before labeling someone a fanboy, you must understand what symptoms to look for. First of all, you have the ever-noticeable paraphernalia fanatic. These individuals will purchase anything they can get their hands on. It may start with a t-shirt, maybe even a key-chain, but it will quickly turn into high-priced animation cels, duplicate DVDs (to get the different-looking covers!), and even the materials that were used to produce the anime. "But how much could a clear piece of plastic with ink on it cost?" you ask. Whoa there partner, don't be so quick to judge a manga by its cover. Some of these bad boys sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Animation cels provide a permanent memory of that moment in time when you first saw Goku toast Vegita with that glowing blast of pure energy that is the kame hameha wave. They also make good wall decorations. In any case, the paraphernalia fanatic does not hesitate to purchase these items.
Next, we look at the anime junkie. These fans watch any and every anime they can get their hands on. "But that anime got a 3.14159 out of 10 and that was only because the person reviewing it accidentally typed the pi key instead of 0," you might say. Well cowboy, I'm afraid this doesn't matter to the typical anime junkie. As long as they gain knowledge of any anime information, the anime junkie is willing to submit his/her life to anime that is in rather bad taste. "But what do they do with this information once they have it?" Well, this section of fanboy divides into yet another two sections: the applier and the bragger. The applier feels the need to apply information from anime to the real world. Taking a class on Edo-era Japan? Refer to Rurouni Kenshin. Having trouble with women? Try watching some Love Hina. All right, so Love Hina may not be the best model for how to act around women, but you get the idea. Secondly, we have the bragger. As far as I can tell, these individuals exist only to claim their knowledge of character names, events, and storylines. You ask them, "Have you seen-," and are abruptly cut off by, "Yes, I have."
Next, we can examine those fanboys who follow the path that I tend to refer to as "The Way of the Character Who Does Not Exist in Real Life." That's a fairly straightforward description within the title itself. However, this category of fanboys, like the anime junkie category, breaks down further into two sections. The first is the "Casual Character Adoption Group," or CCAG. These CCAGroupies obsess with one specific anime character to a point where most of the objects that revolve around their lives have some sort of link to this fictional boy or girl. (Begin Dramatization) You turn on your friend's computer by pressing a button which resembles the face of Faye Valentine. This is followed by a customized "Windows loading" screen on which you see Faye in a fairly provocative pose uttering, "You really know how to turn me on." Then, the Windows boot up process completes and you catch the first glimpse of their desktop wallpaper… Yes, you guessed it -- it's Faye Valentine standing in front of the Bebop. But it doesn't end there, does it? No. It continues into the Window start up sound, "You told me once to forget the past, cause it doesn't matter, but you're the one that's still tied to the past, Spike!" Now, after being submerged in Faye-dom, you try and navigate to the C drive...but where's the "My Computer" icon? Oh! That must be it: An icon of Faye's head.
The second portion of CCAGroupies is the Cosplayer. These individuals take it upon themselves to take it one step further and personify their favorite anime character in themselves. "I never thought I would live to see the day that I met Chun Li in person. I don't know what the point of my existence is anymore." - Me, 30 seconds after meeting Chun Li (AKA my good friend in cosplay). At first I found even myself bewildered at the unusual site of some of my favorite characters standing before me in real life. However, especially more recently, I find myself donning the personality of my idol Onizuka Eikichi of GTO (I realize he is an animated character, as has been pointed out to me many times, thank you much ^_-). I don't think more needs to be said about this group of anime fans; the above is pretty self-explanatory.
Do you fit the mold?
Many readers may be thinking, "That is just silly. I would never go as far as to..." but here is where I stop you. You might already be one of these individuals. The following are just a few signs of fanboy-ism.
-You've spent more hours in one day watching anime than you have sleeping.
-Someone mentions the word moon or sailor, and you instantly picture a Japanese schoolgirl.
-You have named a pet after an anime character.
-You have pictured your ideal woman or man as resembling some anime character.
-You live in North America, and eat Asian food no less than 3 times a week.
-You live in North America, and own a pair of non-disposable chopsticks.
-You own a pair of non-disposable chopsticks and refer to them as O-Hashi.
-Your favorite drink is Calpis, Milk Tea, or any other drink not available in normal grocery stores.
-Your favorite video games involve physical movement besides your hands (i.e. Dance Dance Revolution).
-Your cell phone ring is something other than the default ring tones that accompanied it in its package.
-You have been to more than one anime convention within 6 months.
-You have traveled over 300 miles to attend an anime convention.
-You have taken the time to produce a fan made tribute to an anime (i.e. music video, fan fiction).
-When accounting for what is taking up your hard drive space, you discover 3/4 of your drive is anime files.
-When accounting for what anime files those are, you find that only 25% of the drive is videos and music, while 50% is manga scans.
-You have an emulator installed on your system so you can play those damn good Dragonball Z SNES RPG games (or similar game we lack in America)
-You introduced multiple friends to anime (they used to call it "Japanimation"), and they continue to watch it today.
-Your house or office is decorated with anime collection items.
-You purchased a second DVD drive for your computer just so you could switch the region setting to play Japanese DVDs.
-You actually think the Internet is a parallel world to ours.
-You have made a trip to the hospital because of an anime stunt gone wrong. (don't ask...)
"I've never seen one of these fabled 'fanboys'," you could be thinking at this point. Well, my unobservant friend, then you must live in the "booniest" of boonies. Fanboys have breached the shores of America and they are making themselves known. Next time you are in denial of the popularity of anime in America, take a quick count of how many anime-related shirts you see around town. Besides the above-mentioned classes of fanboys, still many sub genres exist. Take a look around the next anime convention you attend...make some observations of your own. Don't be so quick to look down upon these individuals... you may just be one yourself.