Updated: to format references correctly.
Over the past week I have been lurking on the Reddit board r/anime (Reddit 2014). Every day, I have been perusing the top 100 posts in an attempt to familiarise myself with anime beyond what is shown on Australian screens. In short, the experience was isolating.
Scrolling through the posts felt like walking past strangers. The content I viewed was varied but seemed to be primarily focused on image. Characters were presented either in stills or as fan drawings, with little explanation to where they are from. Reddit, as a platform, is well-suited to this sort of image heavy board (Fenn 2013). But this format made it harder for me to engage with the content and the community. It is easy to scroll past strangers, just as it is easy to dismiss dialogue you don’t understand and jokes you are not apart of. As it is rightfully allowed to be, the board and community within is clearly geared at an experienced viewing audience, rather than hooking in new viewers. Perhaps, for this reason alone, it is not the best place to start my viewing experience.
Aside from the board layout, I also suffered from my own bias. Last semester, I conducted a small-scale research project with another UOW student into Reddit’s AdviceAnimal memes (Bauer & Shalavin 2014). The results showed that some of the memes did show women in a negative light but were deemed not offensive as they were of a joking nature. As such, I began viewing the board with the assumption that some content would in fact be misogynistic. This accusation has been thrown around the anime community before with fans pointing out the hyper-sexualised construction of female characters (Cross 2014). However, while I believe I was searching for this over the past week, I do not believe I found it. While most image-based content featured female characters, they were hardly ever represented as overly-sexualised. Instead, they were largely drawn in empowered stances or situations and praised in the comment sections.
My experience was hindered by both myself and the site I attempted to engage in. It is, of course, not the community’s fault that I felt isolated as I was a novice nor that I walked into experience with a poorly informed view of female representation in anime. Perhaps this is a site to return to after I have begun my viewing experience.
Bauer, E & Shalavin, C 2014, ‘Gender and Digital Dissent Followup’, presentation, 14 May, Prezi, viewed on 12/8/14, <http://prezi.com/slmouolsnvmf/gender-and-digital-dissent-follow-up/>
Cross, K 2014, ‘Sexist Static: How a lust for misogyny is hobbling an important artform’, weblog post, 24 April, Feministing, viewed 12/8/14, <http://feministing.com/2014/04/24/sexist-static-how-a-lust-for-crude-misogyny-is-hobbling-an-important-artform/>
Fenn, M 2013, ‘Reddit is becoming an image board – Here’s why’, 20 March, The Daily Dot, viewed 12/8/14, <http://www.dailydot.com/news/reddit-imageboard-pics-study/>
Reddit 2014, ‘Anime’, Reddit, viewed 12/8/14, <http://www.reddit.com/r/anime>