October 26, 2014

MANGA MONDAYS | Flame Wars 101: How to Argue

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By MICHAEL MAUER

We all know that guy on the anime discussion forum: “SAO was stupid! Everything about it is dumb including its fans. Grow up and watch a good anime like Boku no Pico!” He smugly posts his brilliant fanboy bait, and, behold! The thread explodes into vicious attacks against artistic taste, intelligence and the quality of the other man’s waifu.

Now, there are a lot of things that I’m okay with, but nobody is going to be doing any waifu attacking on my watch. To avoid this travesty, I’d suggest that a provocative post should look a little more like this:

“SAO was a disappointment for me. The characterization was poorly paced and inconsistent, due to a number of time skips which seriously hurt the show’s pacing. Personally, I preferred novel’s attempt at characterization, which was clearly difficult to translate into anime form.”

Wow! Look at how cultured we sound now! I know from experience that this type of post will often still draw enraged fanboys who cannot comprehend your blasphemy against Kawahara-sama. However, a post like the second example, which analyzes specific aspects of the anime in question, allows for a starting point of discussion with the enraged fanboys.

I’m not suggesting that throwing around fancy words like “characterization” will allow you to convert fanboys away from the anime which they love so much. However, adding a little intellectualism to discussions might help us all reflect more seriously on what we enjoy and why.

I know that many otaku have a well-developed ability to debate seriously and coherently about their favorite anime/manga. If, as a community, we continue developing that skill, it will help push the boundaries of the media which we love so much. The alternative is a community with perceptions composed of reactionary, asinine generalizations. And that is the kind of community that attacks waifus. Now, I ask you, are you okay with that kind of community? Because I, for one, am not.

Michael Mauer is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at mmauer@cornellsun.com. Manga Mondays appears Mondays this semester.