There Are Two Kinds of People in This World: Winners and Trolleys

In Anime World Order’s look back at the previous decade of anime, guest Matt Alt talks about how the true successor to giant robot anime isn’t current giant robot anime, instead bestowing that title to those shows which spawn trading cards and games revolving around collecting. Essentially, the true spirit of super robots lies not in the continuation of the aesthetics of giant robot anime, but rather in their ability to push merchandise.

Considering this point, I can only think about how much more today’s anime for boys fosters a sense of competition, with trading card games and the like being at the center of children’s entertainment. The kids don’t have to be competitive “high-level” players, and they don’t even have to necessarily know the rules, and I still think these games, even if their shows talk about friendship and honor, still push the theme of competition more than anything else. Just the fact that there are  specific rules and stats and points means that, in a given activity, there will be winners and losers, even if it’s just cheap plastic being spun in an enclosed space. In contrast, that’s not really possible when you just have toy robots and the like. You can perhaps beat your friends by collecting more toys than them, or even create arbitrary rules of competition or even create fake competitions between your toys as Cobra Commander attacks with his vicious horde of My Little Ponies, but at the end of the day there’s no definitive way to become King of Make-Believe.


Well, almost no way.

This in turn got me thinking about the anime fandom and how we have figured out ways to compete via anime. The act of watching cartoons is not really an area in which you can determine winners and losers (unless you say that we’re all losers), so the community instead focuses their competitive spirits towards anime-related activities such as making music videos and cosplaying. These competitions are far more subjective in their criteria and human judgment is paramount in determining winners, but all the same we have taken a relatively passive activity and found ways to test our abilities against others.

I don’t really have a grand point I’m trying to reach, as I’m just laying down some thoughts. But be it through subjective judging or concrete goals, I don’t think an increase in competitive spirit is really a bad thing. That said, it can be taken too far.

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5 thoughts on “There Are Two Kinds of People in This World: Winners and Trolleys

  1. “Constructive” competition via productive(?) activities like AMV-making is marginal at best. Most people compete for a longer e-penis (be it MAL length, blog stats or number of collectibles).

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  2. Yeah, lots of different competitive outlets exist in anime fandom – who can get more blog hits, who can make better AMVs or cosplay, who’s watched more anime, etc,. But of course, if you don’t care about competing against your fellow fans in whatever endeavor, then you don’t have to be part of it. For example, my blog has never been that popular but I’m not going to change my way of writing it just to get more hits. Also, although I’ve been playing Pokemon for 10+ years, I’ve never felt like changing the way I play in order to become one of the best in tournaments and such. I think it’s good that these competitive outlets exist to spice up the fandom and indulge people who like competition, but it’s also good that you don’t have to be competitive in order to enjoy the fandom.

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  3. There is an interesting tendency I’ve noticed among fans to assume that they themselves are okay and perfectly adjusted, but that there are some annoying other mouth-breathing fans who obviously don’t know what they’re doing. Does that count?

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