When things we don’t like become popular

Credit to linked pixiv user

In a past post, I talked about how hype can sometimes ruin our enjoyment of an anime we may have otherwise liked. Whether an anime has staff pedigree or a reputable source material, these things are what make fans build high expectations for these titles before they even see them, which may inadvertently cause them to be disappointed had they not been so hyped. But while that topic was about hype ruining an anime before-hand, today I wanted to look at “post-hype”; how lasting popularity can cause us to hate something we may have just been neutral about, or even liked, otherwise…

Out of all the anime that come out every season, most simply fade away once they finish airing without much say from fans or anti-fans. Some might garner enough of a following to get a second season, but very few become amazingly popular – like, Evangelion, Madoka Magica, and Naruto kind of popular. But despite series like this being loved by so many, this also necessitates being hated by many. It’s not hard to see how this trend comes about: an anime airs and becomes very popular, thus a lot of people are talking about it, which causes more and more people to take notice of it and check it out, and if they don’t end up liking it as much as everyone else, they’re more inclined to make their opposing opinion heard simply because their view is different from the norm. And some people can just leave it at that – they personally didn’t think this anime was as good as everyone else thought it was, but oh well. Usually they can find something good about it and understand why it’s so popular even if those elements aren’t their cup of tea. But then you have the other affect that popularity causes – the backlash. The people who watched the anime and didn’t get blown away by it like everyone else feel cheated. Instead of accepting that it’s just not their thing and moving on, they get continually annoyed because everyone around them is still praising this anime, perhaps even years later. And that mild annoyance could then turn to anger and frustration, which then turns to downright hatred. Now the question arises: if this anime didn’t turn out to be so popular, would this person still have ended up hating it?

The answer to that is…probably not. They still may not have particularly liked it, but their dislike would have likely been more subdued. If the anime wasn’t such a hit, they wouldn’t be exposed to so many opposing opinions and thus wouldn’t feel such a strong need to defend their opinion and really question what they did or didn’t like about it. Then there are the cases where people actually kind of liked the anime, or at least thought it was decent/okay. But when it becomes so massively popular and everyone is praising it through the roof, rather than focus on the things they did like about it, they feel inclined to focus on what they didn’t like, and suddenly an anime they may have mildly enjoyed turns into one they dislike simply because of popularity. Again, I think this scenario has to do with annoyance at being bombarded by so many passionately differing opinions turning into hatred. In this case, rather than the frustration being “I thought that anime was bad, why do so many people like it?” it’s “Yeah, the anime was alright, but geez, it wasn’t THAT good! Calm down, people!” With so many fans praising an anime you thought was only “okay,” you again feel the need to defend your opinion of it being “okay.” So you start to focus on the things you didn’t like about it, since that’s what will take away points from all the praising fans. And consequently, by focusing on the negative things to back up your opinion of it being “not THAT good,” you forget what you originally liked about it and develop an overall negative attitude towards it. And again, this probably wouldn’t have happened had the anime in question not become so popular.

I suppose it’s human nature to be bothered when a lot of people have a differing opinion about something than you. But while hype or lack thereof could influence how I personally enjoy something, I certainly won’t let it flat-out determine that. If something I like happens to become very popular, yes, that does make my fandom fuller because I can easily share it with others. But ultimately my love of it comes from myself and I know I would still love it even if it wasn’t popular. On the other hand, if something I don’t like becomes popular, I still try to see what’s good about it and understand why so many people like it. If something’s popular, it’s because it has themes and elements that resonate with a wide variety of people, so usually I can find at least one good thing about it and just leave it at that. And if I really can’t find anything worth praising in it, it is annoying, but it’s not a big deal – we’re just talking about TV shows and movies after all. If the popular thing is something horrifyingly bad for real-life society, like, suddenly drowning puppies becomes a popular pastime, then yeah, I would be passionately upset. But if it’s just someone liking a cartoon or TV show that I don’t like, that’s not worth getting hate-filled about (unless the show advocates drowning puppies of course).

Popular Internet reviewer, Nostalgia Critic, made a good editorial video about how hype can potentially ruin people’s opinions of otherwise good movies. He uses many examples, including Frozen, A Christmas Story, and Lord of the Rings, but much of what he says can obviously relate to anime and other entertainment mediums as well. The overall message he gives at the end is one that I think sums up this topic of hype really well and is something that haters of popular things should think about: people will always obsess over things, so instead of being hateful, be glad that the thing they’re obsessing over isn’t a genuinely bad thing. For an anime example, even if you personally hate Madoka Magica, try to take comfort in knowing that at least this show people like so much has a compelling story, unique art style, and intellectual themes that convey things about life and humanity…in other words, there’s some worth in it, which makes its popularity better than the popularity of any number of stupid TV shows deprived of intellect and creative effort.

So, do you get angry when an anime you don’t like becomes popular? Or do you get angry at the people who hate on popular titles? Or do you just not pay attention to hype one way or the other? XD

20 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Myna says:

    I’ve grown so distant from the anime fandom that I hardly pay attention to stuff like this anymore, haha. The only show I”m really angry over in terms of its popularity is SAO. K-ON! too but the dislike has lessened a lot since its popularity has been eclipsed by newer stuff like Love Live! (Though I will say that the general decline in KyoAni’s stats on MAL does please me.)

    I don’t understand the craze about Kuroko’s Basketball, though I did think it was a better-than-decent show. And I still think Attack on Titan is overrated. But that’s about it. Not too many strong feels.

    • Yumeka says:

      I’ve noticed you’ve been absent from MAL (besides the occasional update). I figured with finishing up school and finding new interests there, your anime hobby would slowly fade away (especially since you tend to not be too enthused about most new anime you watch XD)

      I’m assuming you have no interest in the current KyoAni series despite it being another music-related one about a brass band club. From what I’ve heard though, it’s actually a pretty accurate take on what being in a club like that is like, at least according to this writer on ANN. Though it does have some typical KyoAni elements that you don’t like, the “moe feel” is a lot less than something like K-ON…so yeah, just a thought if you want to give another music anime a try.

      • Myna says:

        Yeah, even though I’ve become even more selective with the things I watch, I still end up not liking most of it…oops. I definitely anticipate watching fewer anime this year, especially since the fall marks the beginning of my senior year. Senior recital + rehearsals + classes = what is free time? Motivation to keep up with weekly shows has also been going down the drain, too.

        I have been debating about whether or not to check out Euphonium. I might marathon it once it’s completed, but not sure yet. (Judging the previews for summer and fall 2015, this year just doesn’t seem to be great for anime as a whole.)

  2. Mau says:

    I get sort of angry because whenever I look for anything anime, whatever is popular pops out a lot more and for me is just more “news” that i dont care about. One piece, naruto, kill la kill, the list grows every season. Sometimes i think the anime I like is a niche inside a niche XD only watched by me and a few more people, maybe a dozen.

    • Yumeka says:

      Well, that’s normal for anything really…news about the popular topics will be the first to pop out, whether it’s anime or movies and TV shows in general. Liking niche anime has its own perks though – it’s much more thrilling to find another fan of those anime for one thing XD Most serious anime fans have their share of underrated series they really like, myself included of course. You’ll just have to work harder finding your fellow fans, but they’re there =)

  3. cyth says:

    One of the few anime this has happened to me with was Suzumiya Haruhi. The hype constructed around that series was perfect while the anime was running, but aside from people taking it through the roof, when correct episode order was established, the anime revealed just how boring it really was. :P

    • Yumeka says:

      Your idea here is valid, though I personally disagree on the example you chose since the Haruhi Suzumiya series has been my all time favorite anime and light novel series for years, and even after many rewatches and rereads, I find it anything but boring! =P I think the only hyped up anime I found more boring than not was Bleach…usually if I don’t like a popular anime it’s not so much because it’s boring as opposed to just being not the kind of series I get really enthused about.

  4. JekoJeko says:

    Seeing people hate on an anime because of other people’s reception of that anime bores me to tears. While a few shows may have a lot of room for analysing how the response of the masses factors in to the show’s overall artistry (Angel Beats, Kill la Kill, to name a few), for the majority it’s just a way of making a further point about something without going any further into the source material. You may feel worse about something is people think it’s better than you do, but that does not make the work of art itself worse. Having our criticisms morph because of popular opinion isn’t something we should celebrate; a concrete voice, able to fully analyse the value of a show and then respond to hype/criticism it has received, is much more valuable to someone who wants a proper review.

    I wonder if there’s any correlation between me staying away from critics online before I watch a show and enjoying shows I’m apparently, as a critic, not supposed to enjoy. But as Wilde said, ‘when critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself’. I just hope said ‘critics’ are disagreeing about the art itself and not getting distracted by the masses.

    • Yumeka says:

      Good thoughts. As I said in the post, even if I personally didn’t get as into something as the masses did, I still try and understand why it’s so popular…and usually I can and that’s satisfying. I think a lot of people who hate on popular things don’t take the time to think in someone else’s shoes so to speak – because they didn’t like it, how could anyone else? I suppose no one’s obligated to think this deeply about the shows and movies they watch, but I would say it’s a healthy thing to do, and certainly a necessary thing if you’re a critic trying to write a serious review. On the other hand, as you suggested, being too distracted by the opinions of the masses isn’t good either. A balance of both your own individual view, and being able to analyze the view of the masses, whether you agree with it or not, would be best.

      • JekoJeko says:

        Reminds me of conversations I’ve had with friends who try to convince me that a show is overrated and rubbish. When I respond with something ‘deep’ about the show, they just repeat the same points they already made again. So yeah, no-one has to think deeply about a show, but if you’re going to try to convince a deep-thinker of your opinion, you have to come ‘down’ to their level (albeit in a good way).

        I guess that’s one reason why it’s good to be so open and critical on the internet; it’s best to encourage people to think more deeply about things, and making controversial statements with deep analysis invites your opposition into a far more interesting playing field. :)

  5. Kal says:

    It does not affect me one way or another. Whether I like something is entirely up to me, and is not decided by other people. If I see a lot of talk about something I did not particularly like, I just skip it.

    Something I’ve learned well over time, is that there are fans for everything. Even something I did not like at all, someone will like. The producers/directors liked it enough to make something out of it, and someone will like watching it. So when I see people talking about it, or it becomes popular, I do not have a problem with it. Someone is bound to like it.

    I don’t know, I guess I cannot really relate to people that get mad because something they dislike became popular. It seems pointless.

    • JekoJeko says:

      I think I can relate to them, but it’s not something I’d encourage. It’s a popularity thing; I’ve seen many reviewers get heralded for ‘going against the tide’ or joining some kind of ‘cool club’ when it comes to a show while the points, valid or not, raised in their articles, in which they go against the tide or join said ‘cool club’, get no attention whatsoever. It’s all about the reviewer and what impression they’re making, and the person supporting them for making that impression is trying to make an impression themselves.

      I’d never catch myself to say something’s overrated – as if I’ve seen exactly how highly it’s been rated all over the world and/or am any authority on how the masses should react to a work of art. People who write articles on things like that are just writing them for people who already think so themselves. But seeing that happen is part of the fun of being an otaku.

      • Yumeka says:

        I think the only time I’d call something “overrated” is if I’ve seen it myself, really thought about why people would like it so much, and in the end I can’t understand why. This happens very rarely though as usually just general knowledge of human nature and societal trends can reveal why something has such universal appeal. But if I’m writing a review of something I feel is overrated, rather than be indignant about it, I’ll ask people who are fans of it to tell me exactly why they like it so much XD I want to understand more than criticize in that case.

    • Yumeka says:

      Not getting riled up when people hate on something you like, or like something you hate, is certainly a good thing in terms of media entertainment like anime and other shows. After all, we’re just talking about visual/artistic entertainment that people enjoy – is it really that big a deal if someone likes a cartoon you don’t like? I’m not saying you should never talk about why you don’t like something of course…only that it’s not worth getting as hateful about it as some people do. I’d rather save my anger for something that really matters in the world =P

  6. Hogart says:

    I’ve never seen the point in being angry about popularity, though I do get frustrated with people who call themselves fans, yet can’t understand that criticism of what you love is a vital element of being a fan. Anime “fans” tend to be some of the most childish and insufferable fans of anything in this regard.

    When you can’t even suffer a joke or contrary opinion about something that’s popular, then I have to call into question whether you actually like it, or you’re just jumping on a popularity bandwagon because you want to feel included (which makes sense for kids, but doesn’t excuse anyone old enough that they ought to understand such things).

    • Yumeka says:

      Great point about people having aversion to criticism of things they like. Sure, it can be hurtful if someone tears apart something you really enjoy, but everything has flaws and you shouldn’t be so enamored by something that you don’t see that. Over the years I’ve enjoyed reading/watching all kinds of parodies and people poking fun at things I like, and I find it very fun if done cleverly enough =D You shouldn’t like something because it’s absolutely flawless and anyone who says otherwise is wrong; you should like it because, despite the fact that it has flaws, the things that are good about it are so good that they make up for that.

  7. Rioraku says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had this problem with anime per se, as I don’t usually watch series’ as they are coming out but rather once it’s at least a season or so in, so both the hype and hate pass me by. But I’ve definitely felt this way in regards to music, movies and games. There have been things I just could not get into but I hear get praised for whatever reason and I just quietly steam about it XD.

    • Yumeka says:

      I’m not too familiar with the latest popular music, movies, and games (besides the handful I do get into of course) so when I see something in these mediums is really popular I think either “Lots of people seem to like this, but I don’t think I will” or “Hmm, lots of people seem to like this, maybe I should give it a try too.” Usually I’ll check it out if I know people who have similar tastes as me really like it =P But if it turns out I just couldn’t get into it like everyone else, it is a tad annoying, but oh well. As I said, usually I can least understand why people like it even if I don’t…usually XD

  8. Well, I am unsure for example I know that even if Neon Genesis Evangelion had not become popular through older anime fans, I, would still find the series a bit on the boring side. I mean it is somewhat intellectual but a lot of the characters and even story where bland.

    It would be hard to say outright that if an anime had not been popular in the first place then those anime fan haters would not hate it. In this case, if those anime fans could easily have been part of the original anime watching wave then I am sure they would have hated it as much. It’s like any anime season where even as some people get excited over some anime, others, might as likely see an anime in question as silly.

    Nobody can really say. And sure while I know some anime fans love or like Neon Genesis Evangelion while I do not see the appeal at all. I still wouldn’t go out of my way to disprove their love since it becomes clear they are impassioned by the series.

    But then again, I have never been much to care about what the majority love. I am usually more interested in the unknown anime titles anyway. Except, Attack on Titan, I love that anime series to death and coincidentally the series became quite popular.

  9. Guest says:

    I think this is an interesting topic because anime relies heavy on personal preference and for some reason an individual’s resonance with a show can mean more than that actual true quality. For me, if you exclude the 4kids TV that I grew up on, the first 2 shows that introduced me into the anime would fall into this category. This was because for all intensive purposes I was new to the realm and had to rely on others for advice on what was worth my time. The first 2 shows I watched were Sword Art Online and Evangelion. My reaction to each anime was drastically different. SAO in my opinion was a good anime. Sure it had plot holes, lacked the development of other characters and the surrounding area, might have had some cheesy moments, and overall I felt skipped over a lot of potentially entertaining story line (IMO probably 25 episodes worth of material was available per game), but I felt that it was extremely entertaining. The goal of the anime was to be a feels show, whether that was by being a badass, in love, or dying, etc. My connection to the show might lead to bias in terms of its enjoyment for me compared to others, but even so it was undeniably a well put together story and anime. Some may hate the fact that it gets so much attention when they believe that other animes are more deserving of it. I mean while I liked SAO and put it my top 5 animes (keep in mind my short anime watching career) it is not my favorite while it definitely receives more attention than the others. Ultimately it was my pilot of anime as a whole genre and well I’m still consistently watching anime today. Had it been a different anime I watched first I couldn’t necessarily say the same thing. Anyway after enjoying SAO I asked the same person for another suggestion thinking that our interests aligned enough that the next show would also be enjoyable. This is where Evangelion came into the picture. And well I disliked it enough to not even finish it and for me that is saying something because I am always searching for the conclusion of a story. I rarely stop watching anything mid season and never fall asleep during even boring movies/shows/etc because of this desire to find out the ending. That being said I couldn’t finish it (yet I did wiki the rest of the series and from that information I believe I made the right choice). Even today I hear people say they love the Evangelion and I don’t understand why. This hardly angers me though. If someone wants to invest time and money into something that gets those endorphins flowing then all the power to them. That being said, I would never recommend Evangelion to anyone because I can’t stand behind it, but many people have watched it and liked it so there are probably many who haven’t watched it and would enjoy it. That’s why I am always skeptical of other’s suggestions and also provide a disclaimer with my suggestions. Sometimes a certain anime just isn’t what you are looking for at the time and it may be at a later time. All that being said, these are all just opinions and while I can try to explain why each anime deserves a certain ranking the only true way to find out if an anime is good is by watching it. But you can’t watch every anime ever created nor would you want to with all the duds that exist out there. This is where hype comes into play because many people, like myself rely on hype to pick the anime they watch. It makes sense because theoretically a good anime will have more hype than a bad anime, but it doesn’t always work out that way (not to mention a higher probability of being continued because no one likes season ending cliffhangers without another season – Sekirei). I think hype for any anime can help the genre in popularity as a whole and therefore should be encouraged. I’m not saying that you have to like something because everyone else does. but please don’t hate something because it’s doing well…Anyway this got long and I apologize.

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