The Anti-Anime “Left” is Garbage and Here’s Why

Definition

Anti-Anime: a dismissal of anime and its related communities and aesthetics characterized by a belief in anime’s supposed “backwardness” or “weirdness” relative 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] 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 the “Western anime industry” of 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 ComicGate — and that would be saying something — it 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 word — after all, if you end up dead in a fucking ditch — but, 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 real — though not nearly as successful as the right would have you believe — we 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 being “inherently 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 say “burn 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 anime — something I never did, though I will get into how that might be the case later one — while 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 with “well, 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 as “nationalistic”.

It’s not hard to see that in considering Japan an “inherently 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 say “Well, what would you expect from America” if 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, saying “What about Japan” is 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 considered “otaku 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 the “anime 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 exists — without 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 as “the Western perception of Japan as ‘weird’”. As he says, the West does this to “create and strengthen the norm of what is normal” and to “confirm its normalcy”. These ideas are rampant in Western discussions of Japan over the last couple decades[play Americans reacting to “Weird Japan” and “WTF Japan” memes]. This also lines up perfectly with the leftist applications we have thus seen. When a Japanese man is homophobic, and a leftist responds with “well, that’s just how those Japanese are” they 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 anime — yes, 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 of “anime style” in contemporary Japan even outside of otaku communities. Characters who we in the West would refer to as “anime girls” are 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 of “anime” down 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 animals” or 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 shows, and the out-there music videos — because as we know, American music videos are the most normal thing, we’ve ever seen, how could anything be more normal than this  — Japan is ready to give you these things!

It is of course worth noting that none of these things are inherently bad and that you can engage with them through a non-Orientalist framework. However Japan is keen to engage with Westerners’ desires for Oriental exociticism. As the newest form they’ve been faced with, Wacky Orientalism is made use of as well. Foreigners who think anime is absurd yet entertaining are made use of and this is a problem. The Japanese state, well, it’s not good folks. For almost the entirety of its post-occupation existence, its been run by one right-wing party, the Liberal Democratic Party, whose current leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is not, by the way, nearly as funny as the memes might suggest, is the, well, the grandson of a man famously known as the, uh, butcher of Manchuria — turns out, his actual name was the “devil of Showa” but that’s worse, so, let’s continue — who was totally a war criminal and got put in power because America thought he’d guide Japan in a direction that would be beneficial to them, and, well, they were right. Foreign intervention by America, when has it ever failed. Abe and his party fully intends to abolish Article 9, one of the best parts of any constitution in the world, which bars Japan from establishing an actual military, and is something that far more nations should take up.

Suffice it to say that we shouldn’t be intentionally increasing the power of this state. While any consumption of the country’s media will do so to some degree — and I’m obviously not saying we don’t watch anime, though you don’t need to feel free to support it through official channels, don’t tell Miles I said that — pandering to them with this Orientalism only helps them. And that is a contradictory-sounding statement, traditionally, Orientalism has only hurt the people who’ve been subject to it, but, this is postmodernity, it is a time where the spectacle reigns supreme, and if we paint Japan as this weird, wacky, reactionary utopia, we are only reinforcing the work of these Japanese nationalists.

Of course, Cool Japan is only a small part of this puzzle. The backward idea about Japan’s backwardness as a nation has far deeper implications than that. This brings me to a key concept that we must engage with when looking at how the Japanese wield these Orientalizing discourses, shaping them to their own ends. It’s time to turn our gaze to Nihonjinron.

Roughly meaning “theories on the Japanese people” — were you aware that Japan is the only nation in the world that has 4 seasons and that the noble Yamato people are descended from a unique brand of ape? You can tell, because otherwise, other people would be able to speak Japanese, whereas, we can clearly see that the only people capable of speaking the noble Japanese language are, of course, the Japanese themselves — Nihonjinron could be said to be the dominant hegemonic discourse of post-war Japan, a successor of sorts to the nation-building that began with the Meiji Restoration and ended with the grand collapse of all imperial ambition at the end of World War II. Nihonjinron varies wildly from theorist to theorist — it is a nationalism after all, and all nationalisms do — but roughly, it can be said to have a few basic principles. The most important of these, is the idea that the Japanese people are a homogeneous group who are unique when compared to their neighbors in East Asia but especially when compared to the West, in particular the United States of America .

While the problem with this is apparent on its face — nationalism isn’t good, folks — it gets even worse when you think about it for even half a second. Japan is blatantly not a homogeneous country. Let’s put aside the harder to notice ways in which people can be different and look at just the blatant one: ethnicity. Japan has been dominated by the Yamato people for millennia but to call them the only ones in the country is to erase entire groups, which, ironically, is exactly what the Japanese nation did in building itself up during the Meiji Era. After all, racialization is an important step in creating capitalism. Japan is a fiction, as with all nation-states it is built on the backs of the Ainu, on the Ryukyuans, on the Burakumin. This is one of the many reasons that the term anime poses a significant problem. What is Japanese animation? Is it animation made in Japan? That, causes issues because what constitutes Japan? Would something made in the Sakhalin Islands be a Japanese animation then? Must anime be made by the ethnically Japanese? Well, what defines ethnically Japanese? Is, an Ainu ethnically Japanese? Would Ainu animation count as anime? It would be mean to my poor Welsh and Scottish ancestors if people pretended Anglo-Saxons were the only ones in Britain, so why do people do it for Japan?

Anti-anime sentiment reifies the harmful idea that Japan is a homogeneous nation, reinforcing Nihonjinron propaganda. The Japanese right would love for you to believe that there are no gays there, that the left is simply non-existent. As anthropologist Harumi Befu discusses in his book, Hegemony of Homogeneity, Western discourses around Japan have shaped Nihonjinron. Allowing the idea that Japan to exist in leftist spaces can only hurt us, and it can only hurt our allies in Japan.

This dovetails into another concept proposed by Befu, one known as Auto-Orientalism. As he describes, Nihonjinron serves in many ways as a discourse through which the Japanese Orientalize themselves, comparing themselves to the hegemonic West. The difference, however, is that Auto-Orientalism exists to benefit the people subject to it. This fully explains Japan’s use of Wacky Orientalism, as a technique, to develop their own cultural capital. If the Western perception of you aligns with the way you’d like to see yourself — homogeneous, traditional, and at the same time, wacky and technologically-advanced — then it’s only natural to make use of those perceptions. It’s perhaps not the healthiest attitude in the long-run but, hey, nationalism is not something that traditionally works out long-term, so, that’s not really a shock.

As Befu describes, Nihonjinron has not become the dominant discourse in Japan due to the belief in its tenets — most of its common precepts are only accepted by less than half the population — but due to the lack of belief in any other grand narratives. And so we return to the conditions we live in today, in this depthless postmodern era where any narratives larger than nationalist ones have a hard time gaining any sway. Surrounded by the cultural logic of late capitalism, with little belief among the populace in Marxism or liberalism as broader projects, Nihonjinron is able to succeed as a form of Auto-Orientalist discourse, shaping the way Japanese view themselves. As a result, the nation-state is bolstered, and the right is victorious in papering over the many resistance movements that do exist. One would think, in this scenario, that we are doomed. After all, even if the anti-anime left does abandon these Orientalizing discourses, they’ll continue being used by the Japanese right for those purposes, and we can’t stop that. The rulers of Japan are reactionary. But we must always remember that no country, can be judged by its rulers. As with the anime community that this video is centered around, as with America, Britain, Brazil, and any other country in the world, as with any society where class continues to exist, Japan is a place of struggle. And much as anyone might try, that cannot be erased.

Part 3: Localized and Globalized Struggle

That was a very passionate rant. [Takes off glasses] Anyways, I need to take these off, I don’t like wearing those fake glasses, they’re kind of annoying. Um, let’s get a nice ol’, good old-fashioned glass of Leninade! To wash it down, before we start this final part. I’m gonna fuck up how to open a bottle. I’ve never had this before, so, let’s see how this tastes. Eh, it’s alright, tastes kinda like, tastes a little, it’s not very lemon-y? I know you all came her for the Leninade review. Anyway, back to the show people. When Sugita Mio declared that queer people are actively unproductive, hurting society by refusing to have children and clinging to a childish idea that they should’ve given up years ago, the Japanese queer community did not stay silent. Almost immediately protests broke out against her, and as one lesbian activist declared “the rainbow is not just a decoration” which is frankly a lot more than a great number of American pride parades will say nowadays so they’ve got us beat there. Look, cops shouldn’t be at pride folks, keep it in mind, every single year. This makes it clear that Japan is not reactionary hellhole where no one cares about queer rights. I don’t want to mislead anyone into believing that Japan is a safe-haven for queer people, after all. While a new study showed that 8.9% of Japanese from the ages 20-59 identify as LGBT, 65.1% of those had not come out to anyone and other polls show that unfortunately, only about 5% of Japanese people are aware of knowing a queer person. The Japanese Supreme Court just upheld a law that bans trans people from changing their gender unless they’ve been sterilized. There’s progress to be made. But there are people working to make that progress, people fighting with all they have to do so, and to write all of Japan as homophobic or transphobic is simply to ignore their struggles, to betray them.

The anime industry exists within Japan — though as I said it’s worth problematizing that definition — and also exists within class society. It can’t be solely reactionary, no element of culture can. Anime is ideological, but it is also Utopian, in various different ways across different times. Anime is far from a perfect representation of Japan, even manga isn’t either despite its far wider reader-base, pop culture comes from a society but does not define that society. However, to act as if an industry as broad as anime can be entirely reactionary, is, essentially, to act as if the culture it comes from can be entirely reactionary and homogeneous in some way. Put aside Japan, otaku culture isn’t homogeneous, female-aimed works and male-aimed works can be quite different, though, again, we should problematize those definitions just a tad. If you’re gonna come up here and tell me that a magazine like Galette and Weekly Shounen Jump have anything to do with one another, other than both having manga in them, then frankly, you’re being a disingenuous little shit.

We live in a time where manga is increasingly focusing on queer people, with anime sure to follow soon. Shimanami Tasogare wrapped up recently, is coming out in America soon, and has covered all kinds of LGBT issues in a manner few Western works have managed to accomplish just as well. Not only that, but it’s written by an asexual, x-gender author. X-gender, by the way, is the rough Japanese equivalent of “non-binary”. It’s a growing identity over there and soon, I believe, we’ll be seeing it in anime. Just recently, “My girlfriend is a boy” or “Watashi no Kanojo wa Otokonoko” released, a manga about a bigender main character and their agender SO. As the work shows, many x-gender people decline to call themselves trans, a significant difference from the dominant trends among enbies in the Anglosphere, due to this significant medicalization of transness in Japan. People in Japan, like those in the West, push up against the gender binary, and at the same time, they push up against it in unique ways. And by the way, don’t let the Buzzfeed article fool you, it’s not even like all binary trans people in Japan like the way that things are medicalized, just because some activists really like the idea of being able to claim they have “gender identity disorder”, which, by the way, in the Japanese translation sounds even worse somehow, does not mean that no trans people have an issue with it, and any reporting that ignores the fact there’s two sides on this is frankly really bad. Japan has movements of its own, ones must listen to if we’re to understand them. What do you anti-anime leftists say about listening to marginalized people, huh?

The oppressed ethnicities in the nation do not simply bear the brunt of the state’s racialized violence with no remarks. Black Lives Matter exists in America and while something exactly like that might not exist in Japan, obviously, people don’t just take shit sitting down. I mean they do take shits sitting down, but uh, that’s not what I meant. When the United States[old man Spongebob meme] tries to plant new bases in Okinawa, the people of the island do not sit by. When mixed-race students face system exclusion, they do not sit by. When the country’s Korean, or Zainichi, population is forced to hide their heritage, they do not sit by. You will not find a country on Earth where these dynamics do not play out. If, as I declared, Japan is a fiction, then those not encompassed in that fiction will, as a result, try and propose their own ways of living within society.

Japanese schools are slowly waking up to the fact that their uniform system, as it currently stands, punishes gender non-conforming students, though really, you can’t totally avoid that as long as you have gendered clothing at all and some of them are beginning to allow their students to mix-and-match their clothing options, which is really nice, and honestly some of these looks are really good, the bowtie, with the pants? Oh my God! When a Japanese medical university was caught blanket lowering female students’ scores because those students would, when going on to become doctors, quit upon having a family, people did not simply sit by and accept it. These harmful ideas, like the one that women always want to start a family and quit their job, still propagate in Japan, yes, and that’s not a good thing. There are specific issues on which Japan is behind Western countries, but also issues on which they’re ahead of those countries. Various Japanese people are racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and much more. But many others aren’t. That’s true in politics, it’s true in education, and it’s true in otaku media. To believe otherwise is, as I believe I’ve demonstrated, to Orientalize the Japanese people, and to help the Japanese and Western right wing. Most of all, if you accept, as Marx declared, that “the history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle” then the workers of the world must unite. Belittling the heterogeneity of Japan, ignoring its class politics by acting as if it somehow, unlike all other societies that exhibit class struggle, has universally reactionary media, is not going to help us lose our chains. In fact, it only reinforces them. That doesn’t mean we must praise their media, or even that we must consume it, but to attack it is not a good plan.

So, the question is, what is to be done? Well, here I’d like to propose a mission plan for the anime left, so that if and when AnimeGate happens, we can be prepared to deal with it as best we can.

First, we must organize. The online anime left is currently scattered and utterly incapable of dealing with any sustained harassment campaign. Being the leftists that we are, doomed to splinter forever, we’re never gonna unify entirely, but we at least need some hubs of activity. I myself am fond of Vox Artes, an explicitly Marxist front for criticism which happens to have an article associated with this video, which you can read if you’d like more discourse, but if that’s not your jam, you can go find another place. Anime might not be universally right wing but it’s not universally left wing either so we need clear spaces from which to advance our agenda.

Second, we must understand that anime is not ours. Problematize the terms as we might, it is a Japanese medium made by Japanese people. The West does influence it and the idea that it doesn’t needs to be burned, but I’m a leftist, I’m not gonna come out here and tell you to vote with your wallet. That would be ethical consumption and we live under capitalism, remember what Sonic says? The Japanese left must be supported wherever possible, their struggles need be shared as widely as we can, but anime simply isn’t ours and that’s fine. What we need to change is not anime but the anime community itself. Only by doing that can we win, and if we don’t recognize the important fact that anime isn’t ours, then we will be falling into the same Orientalist traps that the anti-anime left does.

Third, we must make our views known. The Youtube Left is rising, Hbomb’s stream proves that, and within this accursed space we call Anitube, the left must rise as well. Lachlan and I can not be the only leftists in this space, and fortunately, we aren’t. Going forward, I promise to amplify some of these other voices because if we only have two people, we’re already doomed. We gain strength from our numbers, not from our institutional support, that is the chief difference between us and the right, so we must build strong communities. I can only hope that my continued Marxist content will help us to do so. Ironically, some of the anti-anime leftists that called me out do this exact same thing, so clearly, they agree with me on this.

And lastly, our leftism must be genuine. Agitating within the anime community is important, anyone who tries to tell you that subcultures don’t matter is either a. A snake oil salesman or b. a vulgar Marxist who still believes that the base entirely dictates the superstructure. First of all, if you’re that person, go back to the Second International, we don’t need you, however it is true that anime is not as important as on-the-ground organizing. As always, we must look at this through the lens of class. If you do otherwise, you’ll end up, I dunno, proudly calling yourself a CEO while still claiming to lead a big feminist organization. At the same time, we can’t ignore other oppressions, we’re not class reductionists, and if we try and build a coalition made entirely of white working-class men, well, first of all, I wouldn’t wanna be in such an organisation, and second of all, we’re not going to win. If we’re going to win in the anime community, if we’re going to win in the wider world, we must build a winning coalition. And please, always remember, for as important as every single battle is, you can always duck out. Your personal life comes first. With any luck, and a lot of work on every front, we can make this 2019 one where the left continues to rise. After all, we have a world to win.

My big project for February should be a video on the importance of doujinshi and the which, if you’re interested in that, I would be very please cuz I’m kinda worried no one’ll care but at the same time maybe a lot of people’ll care. I’ve also got some other cool videos planned for the month including my next video, a review of Ojamajo Doremi, um, when this is out you can probably still vote in my patron poll for the next anime if you’re interested in doing so. As always, special thanks to my patrons, especially my ten dollar patrons,

Alice

Mika Hearn

Vey

Annalisa König

Petra

Jolyne Munson

Rose

Cathleen Rau

Shadowfish

PjammaGod

A Huge Pair Of Cats Who Are Friends With Anime Characters

Blanc

John Clark

DJJax

Daysofsummer

Wardog_E

Michael Tersigni

Mad Marx

You can also give me a one-time donation on Ko-Fi, see where else I’m at in in the description, and I’ll see you next time! God that took a long time to record. Bye!

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One thought on “The Anti-Anime “Left” is Garbage and Here’s Why

  1. This was a really interesting read, and I learned a lot from going over it. (I did it while doing math at work, where I couldn’t watch the youtube video.) I just want to put in one correction, in that “enby” was actually supposed to be used as a kid term in line of ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. While it can be used by adult nonbinary people, it’s not really supposed to and was kind of forcibly co-opted. That’s what I was told when I used the word casually, from a friend of mine who apparently knew the original person who came up with it.

    I know that I come off as just a random comment on the internet with what I admit is a vague source (“but my friend told me this!” and all that), so you’re free to take it or leave it. I just thought I would pass it along.

    Like

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