Fan productions are something extremely common. Fan fiction, fan music, and other incredible things that fans of a production have created in inspiration of what someone else has made are somewhat abundant. More often than not, these fan productions can connect to fans of the original material better than other professionally made content can. Things like fan covers of popular anime openings or fan comics for games like UNDERTALE have soared in popularity amongst their respective fan communities because of how much the fans can connect with whatever they’re experiencing. However, that usually means that fans are the best at creating fan productions for other fans to enjoy. After typing that sentence I just confused myself, but I have the next few minutes to expand on that thought, so let’s get going.
What initially inspired this editorial was when I watched the doujinshi anime for the popular video game series Touhou done by the doujinshi circle MAIKAZE. As a fan of the games the anime was three episodes of pure bliss, filled with Touhou fan service and endless references to the game while still holding onto a plot that was interesting enough to hold me hostage while it continued to fill me with joy. After all of the initial hype and all of the excitement, I eventually drew the line between Touhou and Kantai Collection that always somewhat exists in my mind, and instinctively began comparing the Touhou fan-made anime to the professionally made Kantai Collection anime. I remembered disliking the Kantai Collection anime for several reasons and I had no idea if understanding the references or not would have helped my enjoyment at all (not that relying on references is an excuse to make a bad anime) since the Touhou anime made me beyond excited to see so many references.
Kantai Collection’s anime was bad (at least in my opinion) for it’s terrible plot, it terrible CGI, the overdramatized moments around every corner, and the references I couldn’t understand. I then thought about how utaite singers are slowly becoming more and more mainstream and becoming J-pop stars. Singers like ClariS and nano started off singing covers of Vocaloid and anime songs and are now some of the biggest known names when it comes to anime music. Other utaite singers like Mafumafu, Reol, Hanatan, and Yuyoyuppe are growing into popular producers; Mafumafu’s unit with another singer Soraru got ads in Akihabara for their first album and Yuyoyuppe writes music for the insanely popular J-pop metal band BABYMETAL. Fans know what they like and how they can attract more people who have similar interests.
Fans understand what they like. I commonly find Kantai Collection fans even disliking the anime because diomedia wanted to create a production that pleased everyone and failed in doing so. MAIKAZE’s Touhou anime was amazing to me as a fan and filled my heart with joy, and when I showed it to friends they often enjoyed it as well. The plot didn’t rely on nothing but references to grab the attention of fans and the attention of other possible audience members. Sure there were references to well-known Spell Cards, games, and characters, but it never relied on it; it was always was just off to the side and never over saturated the production (which honestly would have effected my enjoyment). Perhaps the reason ufotable succeeded so much with their adaptations of Type-Moon productions were because they themselves were fans of the source material. Perhaps people just know how to do something proper justice in an adaptation when they themselves care a lot about what they’re creating from, and all the effort that went into creating something they grew fond of. This initially boiled down to KanColle vs Touhou in my mind because both anime tried to create an original story from games that already didn’t have a story focus. One created a very simple plot and sprinkled in fan service along with multiple conflicts wherever it could, and the other had a convoluted plot drowned in references with an undeveloped cast at the sidelines.
Fans have a very powerful place in the lifespan of a production’s popularity. The fanbase decides whether or not the series is remembered; whether or not it’s a series worth recommending and whether or not the series gets to survive as a successful production. Fan productions help a series survive. Fan productions increase fan interest and contribute to the popularity of their source. While it’s not an anime, Touhou’s fan community keeps interest in the series alive almost permanently. Every Comiket it has the most fan productions being sold and I know plenty of people who dislike the games because of their difficulty, but still love what the fans of such an obscure title create. This keeps interest alive. This allows word to spread and now there’s active enough communities around the world for fan productions of many kinds to be regularly produced. Fans have an insane amount of power, and when relating to other fans of the same “thing” (for lack of a better word), they have more power than people who professionally create the shows, games, manga, and music we all enjoy.
I really hope that makes sense… I wrote a good amount of this while I was in a Discord voice chat and a lot of what I wrote is just a blur, but I’m sure once Joe combs through this mess and I reread what I wrote it’ll be literate enough. Hopefully. I tried to make the one longer than last week’s, even if it wasn’t really 100% about anime, and I really hope you all enjoyed it! If you like what I do and want to see me trash talk Mayoiga in my free time, feel free to follow me on Twitter! I’ll be back next week with another editorial for all of you amazing people.
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist hews.