“Anime Forums”, Huh?
A few years ago, I posted one of the very first entries that had to do with state of the Anime fandom on the Internet between 2003 to 2004. It was about my membership on an anime forum that still exists today–I think it does in some form or another…
The original post was entitled, Naive Closet Otaku-parts 1 and 2, which I thought fit the topic as everyone I mentioned fit the stereotype of an
kid anime fan who thinks they know everything about the culture from fansubs and has never been to Japan, cussing off others for favoring a show that the “cool” people don’t like simply because “it’s too kid-y”, like Pokemon for example…
In the original post, I did not make note of the forum’s name at all, not even a hint. But I’m feeling adventurous: it’s time to reveal at least a little hint of the forum’s name and the members: if I were to reveal exactly who they were, it might stir up some drama…but I just do not want to credit these people for their “efforts”.
Being around several anime forums and attending conventions, spending a few hundred dollars on this and that in the process, I have run into awesome, informative anime fans. But there’s the group of fans that really bug me the most: the ones who hang out on the Internet behind anonymity. The true Otaku (the original use of the word in thought, that is).
I originally called them “closet otaku”: the ones who never see the light of day, spending most of their free time on *chan boards calling people names for being a Pokemon fan or watching English dubbed Anime at all.
It was back in May of 2003 when I decided to join an anime forum, called for the sake of this post: “A.N.”.
Being young, I was a bit shy about joining forums at all, hearing about very bad people living online (wishing I believed that as I write this), but as long as I kept secret about my confidential information, it was OK… Going by the old saying: “look before you leap”, I decided to join after visiting the forums for a couple of weeks.
Going by my old alias, “K”, I signed up and introduced myself in the “Introduction Forum”. Within minutes, I was welcomed by the friendly forum dwellers. A couple of months passed getting to know *most* of the members and what they liked, I got my first avatar after reaching 20 post counts in the first week: it was Edward from Cowboy Bebop! I also made new friends and joined a couple of interest and series-based clubs on the forum.
The first time I would have a problem with anyone was when I made a joke about Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop in a club for “Lovers of Bishounen”…
Saying a line of the theme song from the movie Shaft in connection the the Cowboy Bebop universe was very offensive to Ms. “B” that she responded by saying “WTF?!”. This was when the saying was very new on teh interwebs. It was in the most unflattering tone. She was one of the first people I met that defined the attitude of a rabid fangirl.
Alright, maybe it was a stupid joke. But since it was a dying club, I had to bring life back into it somehow. It worked…but not the way I had intended it.
The Seiyuu Freak
I took a closer look at what makes B tick: not only being a hardcore Yaoi fangirl, she’s a big fan of Heat Guy J. Not a very good show, in my opinion; when the series aired on MTV2 later that year, I did watched a few episodes to see if there was anything good out of it. It did not make any kind of sense other than the character designs, which totally turned me off… I could have watched more episodes, but I saw enough of what I wanted to see.
In addition to her rude behavior, she’s also a mega Seiyuu fan. Or: “It’s Seiyuu! Not ‘Japanese Voice Actors!!’ RAAAGE!!!” She also had a fan club on the forum for Seiyuu in all of awesome Nippon.
Being a HGJ fan, B is madly in love with the Seiyuu of the character Shun Aurora, Shinichiro Miki: he also voices Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Kojiro (James) in Pokemon, Yohji Kudo in Weiss Kurez (another one of B’s favorite shows), and hundreds more spanning a decade and a half.
There’s nothing wrong with being in love with your favorite Seiyuu, Voice Actor, J-Idol, or whatever… It’s just that when he happens to be a star in the Boys Love (BL) scene, it’s kind of creepy to be seeing her asking for movies with him in a public forum, and off-topic, nonetheless…
To make matters worse, B was a fan of Gackt. When you put Gackt in the same category of a rabid Yaoi, Seiyuu loving, 7,000+ post fangirl, you just can’t help but wonder… (No offense. I’m just not a big fan of him… Sorry!)
Several months passed with no additional “incidents” with other members, or so it seemed. Whilst browsing around in the forums, there was one member I noticed who appeared from a distance to be just another fanboy. Wait… he was a fanboy.
Mr. “S” would troll around the Gundam and Mecha anime related forums, as well as the Technical (Computer) Help forums in his spare time. He’s also obsessed with Harry Potter and Sailor Moon. What does Harry Potter and Sailor Moon have in common with this guy? This character from SM: Mamoru Chiba.
Mamoru has nothing to do with Harry Potter, true. But if you look at the pictures of Harry and everyone’s favorite Tuxedo Mask, they look the same… I wonder why. Is it because a charming man in a tuxedo doesn’t bold well with a wizard with a troubled past? But Tuxedo Mask isn’t anything like S is. You could say he’s a disgrace to Sailor Moon fans… Let’s continue.
With 6,000+ post counts and being the popular member of the forums, S was very informative that he would eventually become a moderator, winning other members over. And it happened: just like that. He was a moderator in just a few months after I joined A.N..
He didn’t even seem interested in being a moderator until a few months later. At the time, I didn’t think anything was wrong of him: I simply said “congratulations!” and moved on.
So I thought: “Great! We have a new moderator to guard the forums in case anyone breaks the rules!”, like B was doing…
A few months in after S was promoted moderator, terrible things started to happen. He posted in every thread in the forums–writing every single post in the “General Forum” rules thread. Not that they were witty and informative, but they were actually a bit irritating. Bossy. For example: in the Gaming Forums (for Word Association/Finish the Sentence threads), he reminded members that the forum was “not a chat room” and could face the banhammer if they broke the rule.
Ever since Mr. S made note of the rule, the “chat” posts were minimized–to a point where the entire sub-forum could have been deleted or merged for inactivity.
He also made additional rules for the Feedback Forum. The heart and soul of the whole community. Everyday before S became a mod, everyone would leave feedbacks and report bugs with the forum.
With S around, it turned into virtually every year: S would rename or lock threads that didn’t follow the rules, though they did in the first place. The Feedback Forum was turned into a ghost town.
That’s not all the horrible things he did. He even deleted legitimate posts in threads. I was even a victim of his New World Order. S removed a post of mine that hinted that if other people besides the TC’s (Topic Creator) request for a forum for an Anime series, it would eventually happen. Maybe it was because I was “imitating” a moderator and trying to kiss up to become one… Only that I was simply trying to help!?
I wasn’t the only one with missing posts: during Christmas of 2003, A.N. Forums had an Anime Wishlist giveaway for the holidays. Another member (who was one of the nicer members) replied to a post answering someone’s question–that was posted earlier in the thread by another moderator–and quoted by non-mods, in the thread for the contest that was legitimate. When the poster asked why her post was deleted, another mod (a forum vet who no one had problems with at the time) reminded her that she was “being off-topic”.
Otaking? That’s a laugh…
Months after setting foot on A.N., I decided to create a club of my favorite anime series, Dragonball. Clubs were all the rage on the forum. At the time, my club was based on a forum that already existed in the Series forum. There was no rule on having a club forum when there was already one for it at all. Of course, that came to an end when Mr. S ruined everything, announcing that Anime series-related clubs can’t be created if they have one created by A.N. admins.
The Dragonball club came to an end after a year and a half when it was mysteriously deleted. It was a pretty good run for a series that ended a couple of years before the club’s creation, with 30 members, along with an RP game which was very fun. But the whole situation was complete bull$%#: one of the requirements for having a club is that it must be very active, which it was. After a month of no activity, it would be deleted. There was little activity in the club at the end of its first year of existence, with a post that was made a few days before its deletion–and it wasn’t even a full month.
Was it because I had a image linked in a thread on Bojack Unbound from another site that was not on their servers?
Was it all because I tried to hobnob with the moderators when I suggested–along with 10 other members quoting another member on a thread, that they should have brought an Anime DVD from A.N. forum’s “sponsors” instead of the other store when the TC didn’t get a fair price, deleting my only post out of all the other suggestions?!
I wonder if S had anything to do with it…
After finding the club was gone, I immediately left the forums without saying goodbye or confronting the admins about it. There was a likely chance of getting banned just for addressing a simple problem (without using vulgarity, of course) that could make members and other mods happier.
It was already too late: most of the loyal members, that followed the rules, had already left. Maybe they had a real-life job that was more important than an anime forum, or they just didn’t like the things that S was doing. At one point of his moderating career, the average active (currently online) members dipped from the usual 300 to 110.
Before Mr. S became a moderator, the amount of members that were active on a weeknight averaged at 250: there was a time where it nearly hit the 350-400 mark. I wished I took screenshots: I know that just stating numbers without visual proof like this means nothing, but visiting another anime forum with similar amount of members (5,000~), with nicer people, and 7-8 moderators (excluding one power abuser) would have at least have have a similar amount of members online.
Others Want to Have Fun
A while after S was promoted, a few members who seemed like they could have been banned for irresponsible behavior attempted to kiss up to the other mods. One in particular was named Mr. “C”. Everything C posted seemed to borderline on prejudice… and not just on other Anime fans. Either that, or he was just another troll. But that should have been enough for an account suspension. C also had an astronomical post count of 5,000+, and seemed to be a fan of this sport.
Instead of people like C and B getting warned or banned, the good members (like myself) would get talked down on like we were little kids, while the actual kids ran around breaking the rules and abusing their status. A few months before I left A.N. forums, C made a suggestion: to make a separate forum just for member birthdays. A lot of members would wish another member Happy Birthday in the General Discussion forum when the day came. The suggestion C made…happened. Pretty much on just his word alone, despite protests from others.
There were no more Birthday threads in the General forum, but within the Birthday Threads forum within the General section. This made the Birthday experience of members less meaningful. And if a member’s birthday was on a Friday, it would get deleted on the following Sunday: the rule (written by S) was that the thread would get removed a week from when the thread was posted.
This was no way to take control of a forum. I fully understand that every Administrator or Moderator of any kind of site has the right to edit or delete anything they find off-topic or inappropriate, but it was happening way too often… more like for personal gain…
Instead of attempting to feel better about himself, Mr. S could have at least warned or stepped in on a few posters that have responded to me (or anyone else) in a bizarre manner:
This was such a long time ago that I do not remember the exact responses, but only the gist of them. Please bear with me.
From B in the “Describe a Bishie with One Line” Thread in the Bishie Lovers club (as mentioned above):
K (me): Spike Spiegel: Because he’s a bad mother– ‘shut your mouth!’ ‘I was only talking about Spike!’ ‘I can dig it.’
B: “WTF?! What are you talking about? He didn’t do anything…”
From a supporting member: “Case in point: my ship works when I kick it.”
K: “I was only joking… -_-”
B: “You’re ruining the game… -_-”
The New Year’s Resolution Thread:
K: “What are your plans for the New Year?”
Member A: “That’s funny. I could have sworn I’ve saw this thread a few pages back…”*
*The original thread, where the last reply was a week old, I did not see until later due to me being away from the forum, dedicated to things that really mattered…
A Thread on “Horribly Animated (non-Anime) Shows”:
K: “What is the worse animated show on TV you’ve ever seen?”*
Member B: “No, no, no! That’s a 3D animated show. Think of shows like Ed, Edd, and Eddy or The Simpsons.”
*The show I mentioned was actually a 3D animated series (that was canceled anyway), but I do not remember the name of it.
Here’s another incident where I made the mistake of asking if SD Gundam: Superior Defender was coming back. The thread was filled with trolling and whining on the subject, along with a post from S simply saying “I certainly hope not”. One person did manage to answer my question: at one point, it was suppose to air again with new episodes, but it was eventually canceled (then there’s the new SD Gundam series Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors airing in Japan). I don’t care for it anymore, but they didn’t have to act so insecure about it…
After I found my club removed, that was the end of A.N. for me. The only thing left for me to do was to find another forum where the moderators didn’t feel helpless because they didn’t want others to become popular in a sensible way.
That was the last time I participated on an anime forum with the exception of
Gaia Online Hongfire. It was my next alternative to A.N.: when I introduced myself–and explained to them what happened, they greeted me with open arms (including a HF member who said he was banned on A.N. after he didn’t log in for a few weeks). Sadly, I could not keep up with all the topics; after leaving A.N., I started playing MMORPGs, losing touch with the “outside” world, leading up to me launching CEN.TAKU.ME a few years later.
While I’m finding myself no longer participating on forums where its members are identified with *just* an avatar of Tuxedo Mask or abstract non-sense, I’ve found forums of Anime conventions more friendlier: because everyone is human.
Just think: while it seems fun to flame someone for being a fan of Dragonball Z (“kiddie” Anime) over Chobits (“adult” Anime) on A.N., it’s not on anime convention forums. True story: that happened to me once just for stating the very same scenario. I got flamed for it from a kid… then he was flamed back by the adult members of the Anime Central forums.
I was very, very disappointed of the behavior of the people of A.N. who were promoted to prevent their own disruption of the forums. It was a shame that the very first anime forum I’ve ever joined was turned into a game of reputation. Maybe that’s why some fans fear Anime clubs, as talked about on ANN’s Answerman, but I digress. But the bright side is that I did get some good out of the experience: I made a lot friends, and I discovered more Anime series (Love Hina and Great Teacher Onizuka) that expanded my knowledge of anime.
The moral of this story: don’t promote a fanboy just because he has a ridiculous post count and has nothing better to do but bury everyone’s opinion. Oh… did I mention that S had a post count of 12,000+ out of all the members of A.N. before I left?