Fandom, Fan Delusion and What Fans *Really* Want

March 1st, 2009

Revolutionary Girl Utena is, in part, about a young girl’s complete misinterpretation of everything in her past, and the choices she makes trying to attain an ideal that is based upon a profound misunderstanding.

Today I thought we’d talk a little bit about what I call “Fan Delusion.”

“Fandom” is a very amorphous word. “Fan,” like most other labels is self-chosen and self-applied. Only I get to decide if I am really a “fan” of a series or not. Your opinion doesn’t count. ;-)

Here’s how I look at it. “fans” (we’ll use the small ‘f’ to denote this level) are people who become engaged in a series. They identify with it, they think about it meta-textually, beyond the confines of the media itself. As a friend of my wife’s said to me once as I was talking about Marimite, “You talk about these characters as if they are friends.” Umberto Eco defines literature as any text that moves beyond the confines of its media. When people start to talk about the characters as if they are friends, the book is no longer just a book – it has become literature. And the people who discuss it this way are “fans.”

By my personal definition, “Fandom” is made up of those fans who take the next step into engagement with a series – they want to become a part of it. These are the folks who cosplay, do fan art, fanfic, music videos, or simply rant endlessly on forums about the series, pick individual characters and scenes apart endlessly (often tediously.)

Because “Fandom” becomes *so* engaged in the series, they often personally identify with it. Sometimes positively, often not so much. A “Fan” (with a capital ‘F’) often reinterprets things in the series, or in the character, to better fit the story to their own worldview. This could mean writing an Alternative Universe story, where the character doesn’t die, is actually gay, goes to school in their small town and meets their cousin who happens to have the same name as the author.

More insidiously, Fans become so attached to the way they believe a thing should be, that they begin to think it is the way that things are. They start to feel as if the creator of a series actually *owes* them for being so engaged in the series – even if they have never once financially supported the series in any way. “My love,” this kind of Fan says, “is worth something. You *owe* me for my loyalty.” This leads to what I call “Fan Delusion.”

Take a look at the picture above. This is what my wife and I call a “Fandelusion Pony.” (It’s a horse pun, if you don’t get it, don’t go crazy.)

Now re-read that first sentence. Utena was laboring under a delusion of who and what her “Prince” was and what “Princes” in general should be. Fans often labor under the delusion that the series they are reading or watching would be good, if only it were something else completely different. (Which is why the horse having Utena’s rose seal on it’s ass is, to me, a perfect symbol of this syndrome.)

Not long ago, I had a conversation with someone about Maka-Maka. The other person strongly felt that it lacked soul, that it *would have been so much better if only* Jun and Nene left their clearly miserable boyfriends and took up with each other. I replied that that decision would have made the entire series completely irrelevant because – despite what Fans here want it to be – the series was incontrovertibly created as lesbian porn for straight men. Jun and Nene will never leave their boyfriends. They aren’t going to live in a happy lesbian relationship, because, they aren’t. As a piece of porn for straight guys, Maka-Maka is quite good. Without delusion, we are far less likely to be disappointed with a series than we are when we look for something that is not there – and was never intended to be there. (See this earlier essay, about managing expectations.)

Fan Delusion takes a darker turn when a fan takes a series or characters so seriously that any disagreement with their worldview becomes a crisis that can only be assuaged by crossing the Intertubes badmouthing the person who had the nerve to have a different opinion. I’ve been vilified by a lot of people for this – in order to hate me properly, I am told that I am stupid, of course, and ugly. A veritable monster who real humans should slay instantly upon sight. Like a zombie. Or Hun. Or /fillintheblankevilthing/.

When Fan Delusion gets really ugly, authors themselves become the targets of this kind of thing. They receive hate mail over killed characters, or married characters or characters with alcohol or drug problems or whatever was the cause of the crack in the delusion. This is a lot more common than you’d think. Delusion is a powerful thing.

And lastly, whole genres suffer from Fan Delusion. The person who says on a forum that they won’t buy any books of a series unless they are all published, is suffering from a Delusion. The person who says that they love a series, but won’t buy it because a name was spelled differently, is suffering from a Delusion. A person who doesn’t “support” a company because, 5 years ago, they censored one panel, is suffering from a Delusion.

Manga and anime are, above all things, business. Anyone who thinks that their engagement means that they are owed anything by the people who draw, write, animate, produce, direct, edit, etc, is suffering from a Delusion. The only thing going on here, really, is that XYZ company makes entertainment and you may or may not buy it. That’s it.

What fans *really* want is their favorite author to read their forum posts and reply, “Gee, that is a good idea! I’ll bring so-and-so back from the dead, pair him up with the guy he never spoke to in the series and have them start a cucumber farm for maximum service.” But you know – there’s no way that’s going to happen.

Fans *really* want the newly remastered series, magically translated into perfect English to be released at the same time as the Japanese version, with all the extras, uncensored, for 1/10th of the Japanese price. This will never happen, either.

Fans *really* want all 43 volumes of an ongoing manga series to be on the shelves in their local bookstores in their small suburban town where manga doesn’t really sell, because they might want to buy Volume 15 and 13…if it’s on sale, like it is at a con.

Many Fans cannot *wait* for a series that’s just come out in Japan to be scanned or subbed, because despite their engagement in the series and their dedication to it, they really have no intention of ever buying it. This way they can complain about how we never get anything good over here and justify why they keep reading or watching illegal versions of licensed material.

Alternatively, as soon as a series is announced in Japan, there are Fans with delusions of it being licensed right away and sold here. Despite the shrinking economy and the patently obvious fact that some genres sell well and many genres really, just don’t, because audience size does not translate to market size.

So therefore, from now on, whenever I get mail or comments that express these particular kind of Delusions, you’ll be eligible for your very own Fandelusion pony. :-) Enjoy.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to be a big-‘F’ Fan. Or that your engagement in the series is delusional. I’m just saying that no one, not the artist or writer, or the publisher owes you anything but a book or disk in return for your money.

If you don’t buy it because you don’t want it, well then, that’s perfectly sensible. But that’s not the author’s or publisher’s issue. It’s yours. Anything else, is merely Delusion.

For an awesome example of Fantitlement, please read this post at The Manga Critic. Kate nails the issue.

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42 Responses

  1. Eric P. says:

    You really write some good essays when you have the time for them, and you really know what you’re talking about when you do.

    I visit the occasional forums, and at times fans will leave civilized-enough comments about titles or anime news, and yet it’s unbelievable how occasionally hostile and silly they can get. There are some series I consider near and dear to my heart, and others where I’m thinking how it could be done differently, but I always try accepting a series for what it is either way and not fall under this Delusion.

  2. Just now, as a co-administrator of an anime forum, I’ve put this one forumer (a total Gundam nutter) under probation because of his tendency to pick a fight with anyone disagreeing with his worldview.

    In another forum, sometimes I end up having to watch fans (complete with popcorn for entertainment) of a certain anime series go fight and die for their ‘ship. It’s both sad and hilarious.

    (and my feet smarts so bad from walking all day)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m a longtime reader leaving a comment for the first time.

    Thanks for this article. This is something I’ve thought about very often, espcially concerning video games from Japan. How many times have I seen fans whine, pitch, and moan about how localized games are never done the way “Real Fans” think they should be, yet there are perfectly Japanese version available if they just take the time and energy to seek them out.

    Thankfully I have mostly grown out of that. My view is that if I really cared about the “true original content” of a game/anime/manga, I’d get it from the source and not expect companies like Square-Enix, Atlus, or even NISA to fulfill my every desire. Otherwise, I just trust the company to do their best with what they have (which, from what I understand, isn’t always a lot). At the end of the day, I just want to play and enjoy the game I spent my money on.

    Thank you again for writing this article and putting it into perspective better than I could ever have.

  4. athenaltena says:

    Thanks for reminding me of why I don’t visit forums much anymore. I just don’t get the level of effort some people put into it or how people can get that invested in something fictional. But on the other hand I’m also a sociologist so it’s very interesting research fodder.

    The Fandelusion Pony made me laugh, especially since just the other day I saw someone who had made custom ponies of Anthy and Utena, complete with rose crest on the ass. It was quite something.

  5. Filo says:

    This may or may not be entirely the same thing, but it kind of reminds me of some fans’ treatment of the Star Wars special editions and prequels. I’ve heard a lot of comments of how George Lucas ‘ruined’ and ‘screwed up’ Star Wars because he made the prequels/special editions in a way that some fans didn’t agree with. My response–whether you like or dislike the prequels/special editions, it doesn’t matter. George Lucas is the creator, which means Star Wars is how he sees it, and not how anybody else sees it. The reason he did the special editions in the first place is because he was never fully satisified with the movies as they originally were, but many people just don’t understand this. It solely depends on your preferences, not on what you think this franchise or any other commercial franchise should be.

  6. Nice Article. I myself big forum presence myself see a lot of reasons why people like things that I don’t like. Most of the time they ask me why I even bother writing in the forums. I say it’s because I love the stuff so much.

    Here’s my crazy example of what I find to be a real Fan. There is this Star Wars fan who is so paranoid of Lucas that he actually made his own edit of the original Star Wars movie and from a techinical stand point is quite praiseworthy for being done by only one person. And like many of the fans described in your article Erica, he turns hostile when questioned and takes criticisms as an insult. And the worst is when *HIS* fans come out and start banging on my head to shut up. Grr.

    I myself am glad you wrote this article because recently I read a Roger Ebert review for the movie ‘Fanboys’ which he calls the whole idea of fandom as being “idiotic”. Nice that we have someone who knows the field and.

  7. Kori Michele says:

    Its been years since I’ve been to any of the old Utena forums, but I’m happy to say I remember an acceptance of everyone being shipped with everyone in that series in that community to pretty much everyone’s delight.

    A stint with some of the newer anime communities, though…

    …just, thanks for writing this. =)

  8. Anonymous says:

    The internet has played host to many flame wars between rabid believers. It isn’t just fighting over entertainment, but also technology, science, math, religion, politics, etc,etc. I don’t mind too much because it make the internet fun.

  9. Katherine says:

    That was a very insightful essay. This past Friday I decided to try living a “No Anime/Manga/Anime soundtrack, J-pop, J-rock, other pop-type-genres-I-normally-listen-to/Forums” week just to see what it would be like, and the one thing that I don’t really miss is the forums. 80% of it seems to be, “Zomg, lookit these two cute girls next to each other, their in love!!11!” or “Why is this so bad??!!!! This show/scene/character should have been made like THIS!!!” And yes, it’s irritating when a “fan” proclaims his/her fiery devotion to an anime/manga/genre without contributing a legitimate penny towards its creation or continuation, and then expects it to cater to his/her tastes.

  10. BruceMcF says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful essay … as I have seen said of Usenet language newsgroups flamewars, “Reality is decided by arguments between rival groups of programmers, so Yell Louder.”

    … even if some of the commentary thread wandered off-topic into the absurd contention that Lucas did not ruin Vol. I and II of Star Wars. Such nonsense is, however, off-topic and so I cannot respond in this forum …

  11. socchan says:

    Very well put – and that’s as someone who rather resembles some of it, and probably in more ways than I’d like to admit. I do accept that, by and large, the creators will probably not be thinking the way I “want” them to, but I’m mostly at peace with that – that’s what I have Fandom for, after all. Though I’m also not ashamed to admit that I do get an extra thrill whenever a certain series’ creator(s) and I “agree” on something ;)

    Oh, and you also got a chuckle out of me with the pony joke X3

  12. Anonymous says:

    While I certainly agree up to a point, I have to wonder about situations where a person knows that their personal reading of a story is just that, a series of private decisions and beliefs about a work.

    I suppose what I’m talking about is adhering to creator intentions (which are not always clear) vs. taking a piece of media as a work to be interpreted on a personal level.

    Using Maka-Maka as an example, what if I simply decide that Jun and Nene will end up together, not because the author may have intended it and not because I think he did, but because I simply wish to think so?

    Is it still “delusion” if you realize that that is simply your personal interpretation, and that you made a conscious choice to decide that?

    And if so…is that an unhealthy thing?

  13. @Anonymous – IMHO, if you’re aware that you’re doing it, having *fun* doing it, then it’s a perfectly healthy expression of imagination. I’m just as likely to do that as anyone. I quite enjoy my harmless imaginings. :-)

    The delusion comes in when the person in question actually *believes* that their needs supercede the reality of the thing.

  14. punistation says:

    I sympathise with the “waits until it’s ALL published, up to and including the end” fan.

    When I was young, X/1999 was one of the first books I “collected”, and salivated for the next volume to be released. What started at 4 books a year became three, then two, then stopped at 2005.

    Now my bookcase has the beginning of a beloved childhood book, forever unable to be lent to frends to produce new fans/gossip buddies, AND a poor looking book set since the format/spine was redesigned/reformatted four or five times, not including logo/font changes.

    Even in my very young days, when I was introduced to anime via the Ranma 1/2 books by VIZ, I pouted whenever they changed the size, look and format of the book in addition to republishing the old books in the “new” format. Now my Ranma 1/2 collection starts with the big technicolor old books, progressing to the new smaller format books, then the smaller books with the new VIZ logo, then ending with the smaller books with the new VIZ logo but minus the “genre” logo.

    If I had just waited, I could just buy the whole set, one size, one look, all nice and neat and visually standardized. Some would say that’s boring and lacking “life” or casting away ye olde memories that the old books provoke eith every gaze… but when you buy a new bookcase, do you get a different size+colour, or a matching set?

    Gee, nothing makes writing a rant easier than making the subject “my pet peeve is…”. ^__^

  15. Dorota says:

    A lot of things in this superb article are familiar to me.

    I find obsessing and overanalyzing of series fun. As long as you don’t take yourself seriously, of course (and since that’s my prerequisite for life, I can manage).
    Thinking you could have done it better or thinking only you know how the story should end is ridiculous. Stories are very flexible – you can stretch them and mold them in any way you want, I find. That’s what your mind is for.
    No reason to think some interpretations are better. Stories live in a parallel universe, where they can be everetything at once, so it is polite to allow the creator to choose the one he/she prefers.

    (and I really dislike the talk about ‘supporting the creators’. Trust me, there is nothing I would like to do more. But please, understand that a lot of english speaking internet ids are not American. Sure I can import stuff (I even do, everytime I scrape some money from my tight student budget), but I feel bitter when I see how much fucking effort the fucking world puts into keeping some stupid shiny disks and moldy books in one place. So, fuck DVD regions, fuck customs, fuck ‘sorry, we don’t send shit to your country’ . . .
    Sorry about the swearing, I’m just slightly annoyed.)

  16. Ellen says:

    Gee, I can have a free pony?! And I won’t even have to buy a barn! 8^)

    I’m rather sympathetic to both sides in the “this is how it is” but “this is how it should be” debate. That’s why I write fanfic. They can have it their way, I can have it mine.

  17. jinstevens says:

    Great essay. However, as a small counterpoint I’d have to say that one of the things that drive anime fans to rage is the unwillingness of some anime/manga companies to consider alternative distribution and licensing models. Having the anime broadcast in Japanese and then not having it available to non-Japanese consumers until a considerable time later only in DVD format is a rather unwieldy economic model that neither (IMO) helps the consumer or the production company. I realize I’m getting into a thorny area here but anime licensing runs into the same issues as online music. For example, would the anime companies consider offering each episode to be downloaded (with English subs) at $2-$4 episode via something like iTunes? I know I’d pay for something like that for that price point. Or maybe I’m just being delusional. :)

    Anyway, off topic. Erica – you’ll enjoy this:

    Sachiko and Yumi make a cameo in To Aru Majutsu no Index.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I think this is one of the many good times to quote The Simpsons:

    Comic Book Guy: Last night’s Itchy & Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever. Rest assured I was on the Internet within minutes registering my disgust throughout the world.
    Bart: Hey, I know it wasn’t great, but what right do you have to complain?
    Comic Book Guy: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.
    Bart: What? They’re giving you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? If anything, you owe them.
    Comic Book Guy: Worst episode ever.

    Fantastic essay. Reminds me why I stay out of fandom. The sense of entitlement and obsession to the point of ignoring other views. I’ll surely be sharing this with others.

  19. BruceMcF says:

    @ jinstevens, some are working on it … Crunchyroll has gone to only accepting uploads from the companies themselves, with different mixes (largely based, I’d guess, on the rights owners preferences) on different mixes of streams for paying members, advertising supported free streams, and fee per episode downloads. FUNimation has its own Youtube channel (dubs only, sadly). Some producers are streaming directly themselves (ad supported, I believe).

  20. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I’m kind of sad I see some posters who’ve already missed the point, but I’m glad you’ve posted this. I’m sharing it wherever possible, as this is a truth that applies to all forms of fandom, not just anime fandom.

    Glad you had the guts to post it. It’s a lot more eloquent then anythingelse I’ve seen along these lines.


  21. Lecy says:

    Without delusion, we are far less likely to be disappointed with a series than we are when we look for something that is not there – and was never intended to be there.

    I really liked this line.
    That being said, you’re not just going to start accusing everyone who disagrees with you of suffering from fan delusion, are you? ;)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Two words:

    Prince Uranus.

  23. @Lecy Absolutely not! I’m as prone to my delusions as anyone. The difference is that I can see the lines that separate business and entertainment more clearly than many, and I am *wholely* aware when I’m being delusional. :-) I usually state, flat out, when I’ve made something up in my head.

  24. alphanomical says:

    This was a very interesting article. While I am prone to the odd delusion in my head (there are many times when I wish characters would get together romantically in a series), I am fully aware that the likely hood of my delusions happening is next to nothing. When I even care to think these things through, then it is obvious why these things have not occurred e.g. characters have certain roles or destinies they must fulfil, and a fully-fledged relationship would get in the way of this.

    What really annoys me is when previous fans of a series, turn their back on the creator and start hating them. Okay so you may have been disappointed with the ending, or have gripes because your favourite character died (which can be upsetting, I know). It is okay to feel upset or disappointed, but just don’t take your frustrations out on the author. At the end of the day, without the creator of this work, you would not have a fandom in the first place; you would not have experienced the hours of joy and entertainment had they not been there to create that work. They have laboured and sweated over this so that you can sit there, with your feet up, and enjoy the final product. Stop being so selfish and just grow up.

  25. Pattie says:

    “…and have them start a cucumber farm for maximum service.”

    Have you forgotten that this is a Yuri blog? You should have chosen two fetuses in frilly dresses moving in together and opening a doughnut shop!

    I am shocked and disillusioned with your lack of dedication to Yuri! I will be boycotting this blog from now on!

  26. @Pattie – But, last night you said you loved me!

  27. Anonymous says:

    But Erica….we’ve seen you. We’ve listened to you. You ARE stupid and you ARE ugly.

    The irony of you blaming that on other peoples’ delusions clearly escapes you.

  28. bettynoire says:

    At first, I was going to respond to your commentary about Maka-Maka being only porn for straight men with my typical characters-are-people-in-a-world-we-can’t-access mindset, and say that it’s entirely possible they did because lesbians after the events depicted in the story, and if they did or didn’t still doesn’t diminish the obvious feels they had for each other. So what if they weren’t exclusively gay? They clearly loved each other, and that’s what I liked about it.

    I got carried away and started arguing my point anyway, eesh. Stopping myself right now! *breathes* POINT IS. I realized that those things are my own way of managing expectations. Though there’s probably something a bit silly in thinking of characters as if they live in a separate dimension, but I don’t really think I’m deluded >.>

    As a sidenote, I wish I had the money to buy Maka-Maka. T_T

  29. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I partially agree with what you wrote but not 100%.

    I do agree that fans can get way too involved in a series so that what they think should be is the way it must be. I cite “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki” as chief case in point. The first two OVA series and special (which Pioneer marketed as a single series called “Tenchi Muyo!”) did well both in Japan and the U.S.. However, in Japan, the expensive, canon OVA series were not concluded for nearly a decade in favor of non-canon, cheaper produced TV series.

    During this time, series creator Kajishima-sensei wrote some back-history novels, doujinshi, gave interviews, and even had a website to answer fan questions. Unfortunately, most of this information never came to the U.S. and U.S. fans became convinced that things should be a certain way. So, when “OVA 3” was finally released, many people were not happy and combined with some presentation flaws in the anime, people left the fandom. However, there are some who STILL scream to this day about how terrible “OVA 3” is. As a big Tenchi fan, I’ve been hammered for about four years now by a single, psycho troll who goes out and looks for anything I’ve written anywhere so he can attack me, then attack Tenchi (even if I don’t talk about Tenchi). Its insane and I don’t understand such psycho behavior.

    On the other hand, I disagree with you on the business aspects you discuss as being delusional.

    For example, if I start buying a light novel series and then the publisher decides for business reasons to stop publishing the series of novels (thus leaving me in a lurch mid-story), what about this inspires me to purchase their NEXT light novel series they publish? I don’t read things to be left hanging in the wind with my only chance or legally reading the rest of the story is learning Japanese and buying the books from Japan.

    My dollars are limited (more so in the current economy but that’s another issue). So, I support the titles I love but frankly with limited dollars, those who get my money will provide me exactly what I want and not what someone graciously decides to sell me. That’s how the business world works — people choose the products or services that best appeals or suits them.

    For years, I wouldn’t buy anything from Viz because they had poor translations, flipped manga, entire manga chapters inexplicably deleted, and more. Your thesis implies that I should just put all those concerns aside and be grateful for the crap they create or else I’m delusional. I reject that notion completely. Instead, I took those same dollars and supported companies that gave me what I wanted.

    Recently, Viz has had improvements. Both “Honey and Clover” and “Hayate the Combat Butler” are mostly well done by Viz and the result is that I purchase both of those titles from Viz. However, there are other titles from Viz that I don’t think are done well and I still won’t buy those, period.

    Still, it is a good piece you have written. ^_^

  30. jackie says:

    nice blog! =) its a meaningful article, and im glad you took the time to write it! keep up the good work. you’re usually quite objective about your views, and i like it!

    much love~

  31. cream cheese alchemist says:

    I think shipping is particularly personal, because it comes down to one’s ideas about love. I began listening to the Harry/Hermione podcast for laughs and it didn’t disappoint. Such arrogance (how dare JKR write her books this way!), snark and fanfics based on less subtle versions of Dirty Dancing and Sound of Music. But something else snuck up on me. There were people expressing that they thought Harry/Hermione sent a better message- that bookish girls could get the guy instead, that Hermione and Ron’s relationship was too turbulent to work- echoing a number of shows they did on domestic violence. Pure projecting and a misreading of a series where Harry has the good fortune to pick up sibling-surrogates who get married and marries into their family- nice and tidy and not at all contrived.

    That’s why I write fic from time-to-time and have started my own comic book. I get burned all the time because I’m desperate for gay-inclusion in genres that don’t do that yet or just pile on the gay villains and corpses. So, I’m putting it in my own hands because I’m sick of projecting.

  32. Carlo Levy says:

    Soooooooo true. Especially the comment about complaining in order to keep downloading/scanning our much worked for/paid for licenses without disbursing a penny… In french forums (but I guess this is universal practice) you have user openly complaining about programs they admit not having even watched once (i.e.: The dub is so bad, I’m happy I watched only the fansub version). By the way, aren’t we being delusional about how our readers/viewers should be? heheheh….

  33. @Carlo Levy – You are completely right. I do have a delusion about being part of fandom that actually supports the industry and don’t whine about everything. Call me crazy… lol

    No, seriously, the readers of OKazu are exceptional. They REALLY DO put their money where their mouths are and they are very, very supportive of an industry that maybe hasn’t treated them as well as it could have.

    Okazu readers are my heros.

  34. @Carlo: I’ve been watching both types of anime — subbed and dubbed — for the past few years now, being used so much to dubbed material, so I tend to emphasize the storytelling goodness more than the quality of the translation and voice acting. I’m for genuine entertainment, and I have love for my native language, which is Tagalog. :)

    When there’s something wrong with the dubbing, I simply fire away an email to dubber and scriptwriter friends, pointing out the deficiencies. It is through this diplomatic approach that me and my buddies helped dubbers fix the Philippine version of Code Geass. Sometimes, fans (with the right connections) have to network and cooperate with those in the industry to make things right.

    Sadly, the bulk of deluded “purist” fans — too much time on fansubs, having been ‘washed by other “purists” to believe too much in defending the so-called “purity” and “sacredness” of the Japanese language — are really missing something in the process, they’re intolerant, they think they’re Japanese, and they’re ruining my enjoyment of decent titles on local TV. So sad and funny.

  35. Secret Yuri says:

    This was a fabulous post. I really have to agree with the delusion that some people suffer, since I myself have occasionally been guilty of wishing something was there that wasn’t. Although I can’t say I will ever go so far as to send someone hate mail though. But still, glad to find your blog. You have a new Fan, er, I mean fan. ;)

  36. Helen McCarthy says:

    That’s right on the mark, Erica, and always has been – certainly in my fannish lifetime, which started way back and has embraced a number of fandoms before anime and manga. Humans are probably defined by their addiction to self-delusion more than by any other single characteristic.

    Having said that, those Fandelusion ponies are so pretty that I’m awfully tempted to have a few really huge fan delusions, so I can get six and have them pull a pink carriage with bells and white satin cushions!

  37. @Helen – My wife says that you forgot the bonbons. :-)

    I think that you and I have enough for at least a four-in-hand! :-)

  38. Rincewind says:

    ¡Zetsubou shitaaaa!
    ¡Im in despair! ¡The self-deluded fandom has left me in despair!

    Well, to be fair sometimes just for being the creator of something doenst mean that you cant screw it.

    And sometimes the fans delusions become reality. Just watch Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien Next Season.

  39. Anonymous says:

    “@Anonymous – IMHO, if you’re aware that you’re doing it, having *fun* doing it, then it’s a perfectly healthy expression of imagination. I’m just as likely to do that as anyone. I quite enjoy my harmless imaginings. :-)

    “The delusion comes in when the person in question actually *believes* that their needs supercede the reality of the thing.”


    Also, there’s a huge difference between “I personally would have liked the story more if this had happened instead of that” and “The author should have written this into the story instead of that.” The latter is delusion, and the former is simply having personal tastes in art. ;)


    …about the whole “I don’t wanna collect the series because of the [odds of the ending never being translated/odds of the covers varying/etc.], so I’ll boycott it” thing, isn’t there a middle ground?

    I’m short on cash and have little room in my apartment myself, but instead of collecting series or refusing to support the arts I like, I borrow books (even when that takes interlibrary loan) and recommend purchases to my local library (so far the librarians have bought a whole bunch of my suggestions!). Books get purchased because of me, *and* they doesn’t take up space in my place forever.

    Librarians decide which new books their libraries should purchase in part on how much the authors’ previous stuff got borrowed from their libraries. This way, even if I borrow a book that’s already in the library instead of suggesting the book to a librarian first, I’m supporting the author by increasing the odds that the library will buy more of the author’s stuff. :)

  40. Anonymous says:

    “I don’t read things to be left hanging in the wind with my only chance or legally reading the rest of the story is learning Japanese and buying the books from Japan.”

    There’s another middle ground! French and German are easier to learn than Japanese for English speakers, and taught in more schools, and some manga series that didn’t get licensed in English did get licensed in French or German. Tokyopop even published some series in both English and German then dropped them in English (low sales of the English editions) and completed them in German (high sales of the German editions). So if you took French or German in high school instead of Spanish or Italian…

  41. Anonymous says:

    Your article makes really great points. I’ll defend the pairings I ship, like you mentioned. But I don’t go look for people who disagree with me and then try to convince them I’m right. I only defend the pairings when people come to sites/groups/communities/forums whatever dedicated to that certain pairing and go “derp this is bad! you guys are dumb and wrong.” It’s just like “Dude, why are you even here?” I like to spend my time doing stuff I like. Not searching out things I dislike and telling people that like it that they’re wrong. Who am I to rain on their parade, right?


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