This week I fell down the rabbit hole.
I began by looking at board r/anime. Which as I have mentioned before, can be quite overwhelming. There was a slew of content to sift through and most of it, due to my amateur status, was completely foreign. I decided to attempt to narrow my experience by picking a board at random from several that focus on anime and manga.
The board that was most appealing based on name alone was r/awwnime. I was expecting cute and cuddly, and that’s certainly what I experienced.
The first impression of the board is its banner, which features several female characters with exaggerated eyes and bathed in pastel colours. Scrolling down, the board seemed to exclusively contain imaged-based content; all in the same pastel, highly feminine and “cute” art style.
The board boasts ‘All moe, all the time’ as its tagline. Moe, I’ve since learned, refers to this particular type of ‘cute’ anime style (Eisenbeis 2013). However, the term is controversial. Some believe the ‘moe’ style to be grown men sexualising young female characters (Hornyak 2014). This set off alarm bells for me, as I am concerned with how women are represented in Asian media. However, the board rules directed NSFW content to another board. This was still alarming, but at least the board distances itself from this use of the term.
I found the board more calming than its r/anime counterpart. I believe there are several reasons for this. The first, is that the colours and nature of the art style itself lend themselves to this sort of atmosphere to begin with. The second, when comparing the board with my experience in r/anime, is that this board is more organised and more restrictive with its content. It is not just anything related to anime, but only pictures relating to this particular sub-genre. All posts are tagged with either [original] to mark an original character, or tagged with the anime the character has been drawn from.
Moving past just the face of the board, the third reason lies in the community. As the content is so restricted, the comment section is full of positivity. The commenters are there to appreciate the artworks, rather than to discuss episodes or argue over spoilers. And this begets a more peaceful and fun atmosphere than the mishmash in r/anime.
I liked being in the board, even though I had little idea about the shows these characters and images were taken from. Before I knew it I was ten pages in, in absolute awe of the artists’ works, and filling up on the happy vibes emanating from the board.
Eisenbeis, R 2013, ‘How to Know if Something is Moe’, Kotaku, 10 January, viewed 10/9/14, <http://kotaku.com/how-to-know-if-something-is-moe-1432159264>
Hornyak, T 2014, ‘Japan’s ‘Moe’ obsession: the purest form of love or the fesitshization of young girls?’, The Japan Times, 26 July, viewed 10/9/14, <http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2014/07/26/books/book-reviews/japans-moe-obsession-purest-form-love-creepy-fetishization-young-girls/#.VBAihYC1ZOw>