I’ve been mulling over something lately: Is it safe to define a genre or trope preference in fiction as a case where you’re more accepting of less-than-stellar results? Much like supporting a local sports team through thick and thin, is being a genre fan about enjoying even the mediocre?
I’m ready to admit that the analogy falls apart under close scrutiny for a whole host of reasons. There’s no clear metric for winning vs. losing with something subjective like fiction. Supporting a player or a team, something made up of real people, is very different from being into a particular fiction genre—a more fitting comparison might be a favorite animation studio or book imprint.
But when I think about a genre I enjoy—giant robot anime for instance—there’s something about my appreciation that feels like it goes well beyond considerations of quality. When Good Smile Company announced a ton of new model kits for their Moderoid line, the sheer variety and obscurity of the line stood out to me. Some of the excitement came from the representation of series I consider personal favorites: Godannar!!, Reideen, Granbelm, Rayearth, The BIg O, and more. But it also came from seeing new or relatively obscure things get the spotlight, like Daitei-oh (the Eldoran series that never officially got an anime), Zeorymer, Promare, and iDOLM@STER: Xenoglossia. Not all of these series are genre-defining heavy hitters, but that they exist as merchandise fills me with warmth.
In contrast, I’ve watched a good amount of idol anime at this point, but I still don’t see myself as a fan of the genre. I appreciate the titles that stand out, though.
Perhaps, however, supporting your local fiction genre also comes with being able to recognize that you have a bias towards the tropes and expectations that come with it, because sometimes having a truly disappointing instance stings extra hard. But I also wonder if, like how you have sports fans of consistent winners and those of perennial underdogs, there’s a difference between the fans of a genre that’s seeing the limelight and one whose star has faded a bit—or, for that matter, a genre that may have once been big versus one that has never really ascended in the first place.