Hardcore in five easy steps
For every enthusiast activity, thereâ€™s a pecking order- and anime is no different.
At the bottom are the ignorant passes: These are the people who buy one or two anime DVDs a year, often unwittingly, sometimes by mistake. Above them are the casual fans: a slightly smarter bunch who are familiar with the term â€œanimeâ€ but only follow the most popular, mainstream shows. The next level up are the serious fans: folks who read anime magazines (ahem), peruse anime websites, sometimes preorder their titles, occasionally join an anime club and try to attend at least one anime con a year. Then there are the elite: the hardcore.
Now, you might think that being the editor of an anime magazine automatically catapults me into the â€œhardcoreâ€ category. Well, think again. To be hardcore is one of the toughest achievements in anime fandom. It takes a Herculean effort to trundle through the tangle of contradictory and seemingly arbitrary requirements to join this lofty group. While I might consider myself one of the most â€œseriousâ€ anime fans I know, I am not hardcore.
Iâ€™m guessing the majority of people reading this page are in the same category as me-serious fans who fall just shy of hardcore. Bu that doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t aspire to hardcore status. In fact, Iâ€™ve been doing a bit of research on hardcore fans lately, and Iâ€™ve compiled five quick requirements that will help you achieve this goal. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it will guarantee you admission to the ranks of anime elite- if you manage to satisfy all five. Remember, itâ€™s not enough to just have one or two of these requirements under your belt. Weâ€™re talking about being hardcore here, after all.
You must have two DVD players. Well, duh. Who doesnâ€™t? And when you include PCs and game consoles, that number jumps even higher. But see, sheer volume isnâ€™t good enough. To be truly hardcore, you need to satisfy three more conditions: 1.Both DVD players must be in the same room, hooked up to separate TVs (or monitors). 2. At least one of them must be able to play Region 2 discs. 3.You must use both DVD players to simultaneously watch an original Japanese release alongside the US version in order to irrefutably prove your assertion that one frame is missing from episode 572 of Sailor Moon, then immediately hop onto your favorite message board to rant about various conspiracy theories related to this missing frame.
You donâ€™t like dubs. Look, Iâ€™m a proud dub fan. I refuse to work when it comes to my favorite form of entertainment, and reading all those icky subtitles really makes my lips sore. But this isnâ€™t yet another rehash of that tired old sub/dub debate. Go ahead and like what you like- itâ€™s all good to me. However, to rank among the hardcore, you must hate, hate, hate dubs. You must abhor them with such passion that youâ€™re apoplectic over the fact that the simply exist- even though the vast majority of anime DVDs include a perfectly acceptable subtitle track, complete with an accurate translation and original Japanese voices. Still you must grouse about specific voice actors butchering the performance on a dub track that you apparently refuse to watch. You must know more about dubs than those who watch them, because youâ€™re an expert on everything thatâ€™s wrong with them. (Bonus hardcore points: If youâ€™ve ever prattled on about the poor quality of dubs while waiting in line to get a US voice actorâ€™s autograph at your local anime con, then you are among the hardcore elite.)
You know what â€œADRâ€ means. Itâ€™s not enough to know what an ADR director does. You have to know what those three letters actually stand for. And you have to be willing to do the quick research to find out what other shows a particular ADR director has worked on (then again, you should probably already know). While we are at it, you need to be the type of person who reads every last line of credits, down to the freakinâ€™ copyright, in hopes of gaining some sort of insight into the production process. Itâ€™s almost as if, buried in those credits is a mystical assortment of factoids to justify your feelings about a particular show. (Yes, I realize this requirement seems to contradict the one directly above it, since the credits are as much about the US production as the original Japanese one, but if youâ€™re to count yourself among the hardest of the hardcore, youâ€™ll have to accept that youâ€™re a bundle of delightfully enigmatic contradictions.)
Your interest in a US release is in direct proportion to the quality of the collectorâ€™s box. What is it with hardcore anime fans and chipboard boxes? And just what is â€œchipboardâ€ anyway? The way this magical material is discussed online, youâ€™d think itâ€™s composed of pixie dust, catnip, gold shavings and crack cocaine. Now, as a â€œseriousâ€ anime fan, Iâ€™ll be the first to admit how tickled I am when a quality show comes in a sturdy collectorâ€™s box. I like the way they look on my shelf. I like to collect them. But if I want a show, I want that show. In other words, I want the content of the DVD more than the sturdiness of the box it comes in. But thatâ€™s not good enough if you want to be hardcore. You must be willing to walk away from a purchase simply because the collectorâ€™s box isnâ€™t hearty enough.
Your complaints are in inverse proportions to your purchases. So you get online and gripe. Then gripe some more. Then gripe about how others are griping about things that you wish you thought of griping about first. But hereâ€™s the thing: That title youâ€™ve been carping on? Youâ€™ve preordered it- and despite your bilious protestations and furious promises to import Region 2 DVD because it is more â€œpure,â€ you will still buy said title.
And there you have it: five easy steps to vault you into the elite ranks of the hardcore anime fan. Think Iâ€™ve missed some other key requirements to being hardcore? Send me your thoughts at [email protected]
, and mark the subject line â€œhardcore.â€
Editor in Chief.