Anime Vice News

Girls. Boys. Otaku. Discuss!

Just some blather...

So, I was talking to a friend about Anime Expo and San Diego Comic Con, and I referred to the fact that Expo is, as a whole, much less stinky than SDCC. True story! I generally attribute this to the higher female-to-male ratio at anime conventions (generally it's a 50/50 split, as I understand it).

Then we started talking about how women have pretty much always been a significant chunk of the North American anime/manga fandom, unlike the “boys club” feel of comics and games in the past and sometimes present. We even discussed the possibility that there are MORE women in the anime fandom than men (it's pretty hard to tell).

My companion told me that he often felt like guys forget completely that women are at conventions, though, and treating it more like other, more male-dominated fandoms. I countered that sometimes I ran into women who acted as though women are in a serious minority in the anime world-- again buying into the idea that the anime world is more male-dominated out here. (That “out here” is important-- I make no claims to have a strong sense about the gender balance in Japan.)

But take, for example, this Anime News Nina! strip over at ANN. I have been an anime geek for 13 years, and I can't think of a time I've ever had a guy react like that to me, or to my more-attractive-but-still-geeky friends. Not that I haven't met plenty of awkward guys, of course, but I've very rarely run into the “holy shit! It's a female-type who likes anime! SUPER RARE GET!” to any significant degree in the US.

So the point I've been building up to here is: I so rarely feel any kind of strong divide between the genders in anime and manga. The times I do, it's almost always being inserted there by someone who acts as though the divide is already there. People ask me “what it's like” to be a woman in the anime fandom, and I say that it's probably not all THAT different from being a guy in it.

I briefly took part in a round-table blogging project that was geared towards female anime/manga bloggers talking about stuff, but I quickly abandoned the project: as much as I respect those in it, it just didn't feel like our gender mattered. The Anime Vice Squadcast is all-female, but I've always been careful not to make it a “girls on anime” thing, because frankly, it's all girls because these are just the coolest anime geeks I know locally.

How about you guys? Are you boys surprised by your female counterparts? Girls, how often do you run into trouble in the fandom because of your gender? Do you think there's a lot of prejudice here, or do you think it gets attention because of the status of other geekdoms?

In short: do you think gender is an issue in the North American anime fandom?
rocketbomberon May 12, 2009 at 11:41 a.m.
It's going to be hard to believe, considering how effusive and occasionally abrasive I can seem on-line, but in real life I'm so shy that I have trouble speaking (had a serious speech impediment up through jr. high) (and that is going to be even harder to believe when you hear my first podcast ;) with me in full-on radio announcer mode) and on top of that I am not-phobic-but-extremely-uncomfortable in crowds.

And I think I may be typical.

it's not the actual male-female ratio that makes things hard to guage, but the shy-geeky to outgoing-enthusiastic ratio that overshadows gender differences and is the most important in fandom.  And the shy-geeky don't make it out to as many cons.  And when they do, they don't often hook up with compatible other shy-geeky types, let alone the loud-scary-outgoing-type.  

Considering the escapist-fantasy and fantasy-fulfillment qualities of so much of the media (manga, anime, games) is it so hard to understand the appeal to quiet, nerdy types who don't quite fit in?

And for 10% of fandom (maybe more?  no one has statistics on this) gender issues are going to be confusing even before we throw Japanese comics into the mix.

Of course, being of age, I can just drink enough beer until I hit a comfort level [social drinking in this context is wrong, and a first step over the long downhill to alcoholism, kids -- "and knowing is half the battle."] that allows me to interact with everyone to a degree (there's still a 'say, who's the drunk old geezer?' barrier that I have to overcome; but there's less of that at the mainstream sci-fi cons -- plenty of drunks there, thanks -- it's only you kids at my anime conventions that give me 'that look' ...but I'm an amiable drunk in person -- I save my bile for internet forums -- so I doubt most people care)

Anyway.  Gender isn't an issue until you gals break out the yaoi paddles.  That's just wrong.  Otherwise it's all fun and games and middle-aged-guys-in-Sailor-Moon-cosplay [shudder] and more fun and games and comraderie.  A shared, passionate interest goes a long way to erasing most differences.


HeeroYuyon May 12, 2009 at 12:01 p.m.
I've never seen the "holy shit! It's a female-type who likes anime! SUPER RARE GET!” type either. The closest situation I've ever been in to that though was during Freshman year of college when I met 3 girls at the grill who liked Zeta Gundam. Things like this don't usually get guys too surprised, but for me it was more the situation of "ok, I've known girls who liked Wing, but Zeta? cool...". Though I'd have to punch any dude in the face who reacted like the guy in that Nina strip...

On the note of whether there are more girls or guys, I've never personally thought of anime as being gender dominated to either side, but I can definitely picture crazys from both sides. Over 2/3rds the friends I had my age in high school were girls who at least like manga, and most of them liked anime as well, but I think only 2 of them ever went to any conventions, so there is undoubtedly a healthy female anime fan presence.

Ultimately the only real level of separations you may find in the genders come from the obvious. Girls tend to like more shoujo stuff, romantic comedies, BL, and guys tend to like more shounen, mecha, and fanservice. The more neutral something is the more pretty evenly dispersed it tends to be as well, but even on the extremes there are exceptions all the time so with anime it can be pretty hard to differentiate. Heck, even I'll read shoujo every now and then, and I rather enjoyed Bitter Virgin (trust me, it isn't a hentai)...

Aside from that there really isn't much difference between the guys and the girls when it comes to this stuff....we all seem to be squeeling over K-On, Eden of the East, and FMA: Brotherhood....and the only difference sometimes is why.


And finally - Madarame may be the coolest of the Genshiken characters, but he still needs to get off his rear and watch THE REST of Gundam series (there's more out there than just the First and Zeta buddy)
rocketbomberon May 12, 2009 at 12:10 p.m.
I like mecha and shoujo romance.  And fan-service, but we all like fan service that's why it's called Fan Service.  

...

...OK, so there's a gender difference for you, Gia.

I'm trying to think of a mecha shoujo romance and the closest I get is Stellvia, with a wink at Crest of the Stars but that's space combat as opposed to giant robots.  -- well, there is Simoun, of course, but now we're shading into yuri.

Lan has a response as well, but put up as a blog post instead of in the comments.  [is the forum/blog divide something that needs an administrative fix?]
omoon May 12, 2009 at 12:39 p.m.
Gender is definitely an issue, but not like this. There are two areas that I see where it's worth examining:
1. In the substance. SDS translated the ranting of a Japanese blogger on otaku-girl moe, and that overlaps a bit with the whole "woah a girl who likes anime" bit. But at the same time, it can be a bit weird to see girls who digs the same kind of deviant anime that some people might like--the type of late night otaku fare that aim squarely at the mid 20s male demographic. Basically, it's not unusual to see girls at conventions, but there's definitely a gender divide in terms of what girls like and what guys like. The whole "woah girl who likes anime" thing is now "woah girl who likes anime that I like" thing, which is what that Nina strip is actually about. Konata is a good example--she probably plays yaruge for that matter.

2. In the culture. Japan is kinda misogynist at times. Other times they love girls too hard that it's like, too hardcore. And then you get things like rapelay. It's a gender issue but it's not particularly otaku, even if it definitely influences otaku.

As to con funk, I think that has more to do with the fact that there are more casual fans than serious fans at conventions nowadays.
coonce staff on May 12, 2009 at 2:17 p.m.
@omo: you really think you see more casual fans than serious, hardcore anime fans at the more recent conventions?
Kiriskaon May 12, 2009 at 2:44 p.m.
I think girls outnumber boys sometimes. ._.
Agent_Loston May 12, 2009 at 2:50 p.m.
Personally, I never have any problem with it. Yea, most people that I know that love anime is 50/50 of female and male.
Nikoon May 12, 2009 at 2:59 p.m.
I believe there is about an even split in the gender in the fandom, if not more on the feminine side. The only surprise moments I've had with girls in the fandom are pretty much on par with HeeroYuy's, including one time at AWA when a girl hugged me for liking UC and trashing SEED.

I've met enough people in both genders with a wide variety of tastes that I find the stereotypical gender-based genres don't hold as true as they used to seem. It's just that many people in this fandom who also come from other geeky fandoms that tend to be stereotypically gender exclusive, or those just brought up thinking that geeky, nerdy stuff is a male area, aren't used to such a level playing field that the anime fandom has.
yuriconon May 12, 2009 at 3:07 p.m.
In the early days, I saw more of this from the old-school types (Lum t-shirt three sizes too small, no real socialization as a child) who would stare creepily at cute young things, but not approach them.  In the early days, too, I was speaking loudly about Yuri as a woman (gasp!) and as a lesbian (shock!) and it made some folk uncomfortable. As anime/manga have been mainstreamed and the age of fandom has dropped, no I really don't see this kind of thing much.

In general, it seems to me that anime fandom is about 50/50-ish and manga fandom trends *just* slightly female, maybe 55/45. So I'd be really surprised at anyone at a con these days pulling that - even at comic cons, though. Women in comics is not hardly a unique thing anymore, on either side of the table.

If there's still this kind of thing out there, then you're basically talking about that 12-year old mentality that canNOT believe girls game, no, really, picture or you're lying kind of person. The type of person exists, regardless of venue. But hopefully with a con full of girls obviously walking around, its obvious that yes, girls are into this. Duh.

Cheers,

Erica
animemizon May 12, 2009 at 3:27 p.m.
Perhaps girls do outnumber guys that seems to be a divide there. However I can't really say that I notice any difference in treatment for girls and guys. My belief is that this is such an individualistic hobby, that you don't really notice the difference until you go to anime conventions, or as I hang out with some of my male friends, but even then that is kinda hard to imagine - because I talk with them about anything other than their obsession. Notice my surprise in real time when I saw that my male friend was into K-on. >_<

There are also the various times I spoke with my Japanese friends, and they're always so surprise to know that I am an anime lover. I don't know if I went ona  tangent, but yep.. no difference, unless you count the various shows caterring to guys, but also have a female following and also the yoai series that female/male fanes can like.
HeeroYuyon May 12, 2009 at 4:41 p.m.
@Niko: Holy crap.... you found a girl who liked UC AND hates Seed!?!? Now THAT is someone I'd be impressed with.
giaon May 12, 2009 at 5:48 p.m.
I hate Seed and am ambvialent about UC, having never experienced any of it. That count? ;)
rocketbomberon May 12, 2009 at 6:06 p.m.
@gia:

The fact that you can discuss/debate Gundam is a definite plus -- at least for those whom Gundam is a religion.  As a Gundam agnostic (I don't believe that Gundam can be proven or disproven as the One True Fandom) I have to say your knowledge of the franchise has to be considered +sexy -- but isn't a dealbreaker one way or the other.

But this is all so very subjective.  I know we're taking the one Anime News Nina strip as one of our starting points, but when considering what brings two people together, even a shared love of anime/manga/comics/sci-fi/fantasy/whatever is going to be secondary to boy, meets girl, i.e. "some enchanted evening, you will meet a stanger; you will meet a stranger, 'cross a crowded room" etc.
CalAggieon May 12, 2009 at 6:52 p.m.
During my involvement in a college club, the membership has leaned in a female majority but gender hasn't been too much of an issue. 

I was a little surprised at first (3 or so years ago) to learn that certain anime bloggers were women because they didn't write in a way that betrayed their gender, similar to what happened when many internet writers use a neutral alias and avatar. After learning they were female, I didn't really view them that differently from before gaining that knowledge. (I remember that blogger round-robin effort and I think it also fell flat due to some internal politics.)

I definitely think there is a female majority in terms of manga readers but that only holds meaning to me as an observation and not something that greatly affects me. I don't like articles that are "X things that women might like" in general, something that still occassionally appears in game-related media. I guess that's why I like how this particular fandom is less gender-stratified than others.
giaon May 12, 2009 at 7:33 p.m.
CalAggie: Yeah, I've had a lot of people be surprised that I'm a girl..O_o Which I find odd! ;) I mean, sure, I love my female characters, but you'd think the occasional yaoi talk (or the <3s...) would be a tipoff, eh?

The thing that occasionally irritates me with women in the anime fandom is that occasionally some of them make a big deal out of BEING a woman in the anime fandom, as if it's an abused minority instead of a pretty equal partner @_o;

...Not that there aren't traits more common among male fans that annoy me, too ;)
omoon May 12, 2009 at 7:56 p.m.
@coonce Totally.  Of course, I guess my definition of casual fan is a high bar, but I don't really know that many hardcore fans who I'd run into at a con.
giaon May 12, 2009 at 8:44 p.m.
@omo Whoa, do we have Twitter-type @ing now?!

Edit: Guess not. Did you do that manually?
HeeroYuyon May 12, 2009 at 8:55 p.m.
@gia: As Nagi from Hayate no Gotoku would agree,  you need to see some Universal Century. I'd recommend the original series' movie trilogy as a good start since it's a lot shorter than the whole first series but it still gets you a good understanding of the basics. Zeta is the one UC purists usually promote so much, but trying to watch Zeta without any knowledge of the events of the first one is like watching the Conqueror of Shambala without having seen FMA.

I'll give you some credit though for knowing a bad gundam series when you see it.
Zeouterlimitson May 13, 2009 at 1:23 p.m.
Here in Ireland (at least in the University) it isn't.
  There are more guys but the core committee is half and half with everyone watching a similar amount.

Gender does definitely not matter really. Superficially it might occasionally affect the ignorant, but bleh.
Deacon_Sephirothon May 14, 2009 at 12:15 p.m.
HeeroYuy said:
Heck, even I'll read shoujo every now and then, and I rather enjoyed Bitter Virgin (trust me, it isn't a hentai)...

I'll agree that I read or watch whatever's good, my tastes may be generally more masculine, I'm a 27yr old guy in the military after all but I'm not opposed to anything in particular when it comes to entertainment. I noticed the refrence to Bitter Virgin and I gotta piggy back on that. A friend recommened it to me as a good manga and I was just bebopping through it at a fast pace like ussual and about halfway through the first chapter I hit the brakes and my mouth fell open like "oh....wow.... heavy." I finished it out at a much slower and more attentive pace than I give a lot of mangas. It was VERY good, very real, and as you said not hentai.
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