How to be an Anime Expert

The following dumb thing originally appeared in the Kitacon III conbook. I can now take my place in the annals of unfunny conbook articles nobody ever reads.

1.Watch Anime.

You’d be surprised how many people who are right here at this con don’t watch anime. Maybe they are sitting beside you? Maybe they are on the convention committee? These people aren’t here for the love of anime, they’re here out of some Pavlovian need for the ritualised socialising built up around these events. It’s sick, I tell you. Some of them aren’t even wearing cosplay.

Which means it’s really easy to appear an expert to them just by watching something. Of course they won’t care and may even sneer out of self-loathing. But never mind that, because you are on your way to passing yourself off as an anime expert!

2. Take note of who made the anime you like.

I don’t mean the animation studio, as that’ll screw you in the end. If you doubt this, find someone who watched another GONZO show after they liked Last Exile. They’re probably the same people who don’t watch anime any more.

No, you’ll need to take note of actual directors, character designers and screenwriters who created the show. Anime News Network and Wikipedia are your friends here. Then once you get used to that, advance to animation directors, key animators and storyboard artists.

Start throwing those names around like you know what a key animator or storyboard artist does. Unless they are one, nobody else will know either. And the people who are will be happy that you appear to know what they do.

The added bonus is that you’ll start to only watch the anime that you’ll like. You’ll find this is a big improvement over taking a shot in the dark and getting jaded by shows about teenage girls doing nothing or adaptations of text adventure games with ideas above their station.

3. Co-opt smarter people’s opinions as your own.

The best place to go is Ben Ettingers’ Ani Pages Daily blog (http://www.pelleas.net/aniTOP). The man knows his stuff like nobody else writing on the topic. So if you’re going steal, steal from the best.

However, he doesn’t update that often, so why not co-opt the opinions of people who’ve already co-opted those opinions. A lot of lurking on 4chan will pay off here, though you might want to try /m/ rather than /a/.

If you don’t have time to lurk, smoke out some opinions by starting a thread about Osamu Kobayashi or Akiyuki Shinbo. You’ll soon have all the incendiary second hand opinions to appear to be passionate about anime.

4. Have an opinion on everything.

By now you should be getting an idea of the corner of the anime world that you are going to be an expert on. However it is not enough to be the master of a tiny province of knowledge, you must now declare war on everything you don’t know anything about.

Fandom is a zero-sum game, and to win you must destroy everything everybody else likes. Of course, we’ve established that at this point you are only watching the anime you will actually like, so you have two options.

You must endure the pain of watching anime you don’t like.

Or just look at the websites and sneer at the character designs.

I suggest the latter option.

5. Post on message boards.

Start throwing around your knowledge and half baked opinions on message boards. I suggest being aloof and matter of fact about everything you say. It’s about being certain that you are right, rather than actually being right.

Get too aggressive and you’ll just be another message board crank. And never defend your position. You are in the right, so it doesn’t need defending.

6. Start a blog.

Message boards will only take you so far. Your now rampant ego deserves a home of its own. You might be tempted to review things or deal in the facts you’ve learnt.

DON’T.

These are for weaklings and may accidentally expose your carefully hidden ignorance. Remember, this is ZERO SUM FANDOM.

Opinion pieces taking down everything you don’t like are much better and will get you more readers. You can always drop actual knowledge in comments, as you take down chumps.

Alternatively, disable comments altogether so that all dissenting voices are silenced (known in the business as the VonSchilling maneuver).

7. Write conbook articles.

This will give you a false sense of authority, as it will make it appear that other trustworthy, competent people think you know what you are doing and you haven’t been making up nonsense all along.

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