Wednesday, 1 April 2015

2ch does not represent the Japanese fandom

Today's post isn't my usual fare of translated content. Instead, I'm writing an editorial post where I get very meta and analyse the reaction to a translation of a 2ch thread talking about the English-speaking fandom's comments about the recent Morning Musume video.

The other day, a translation of a 2ch thread entitled 'Zukki is not in the new Morning Musume MVs' was posted on Jicchan. Despite what the title suggests, it actually focuses more on the reactions of the Japanese fans on 2ch to what they perceive as the English-speaking fandom's dislike of the heavy representation of Miyamoto Karin in the video. Among the allegations these 2ch posters had were that the English-speaking fandom were mad because there wasn't enough Zukki in the video, and that we shouldn't be running our mouths because we don't spend money on H!P idols. This lead to quite the uproar in the English-speaking fandom, upset over these allegations.

A bit of back story might be in order. Suzuki Kanon got injured doing acrobatics around the time MM were filming the music videos for Seishun Kozo ga Naiteiru & Yuugure ha Ameagari. Thus, for the music video filming, Miyamoto Karin was brought in as a substitute for her. H!P has done substitutions before - Ishida Ayumi substituted for Miyamoto Karin in their music video for Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo. In a way, this could be seen as Karin repaying the favour. That Karin would be subbing for Kanon was known for quite some time before the videos were released.

Some time mid-March, a preview of the music videos became available through unofficial channels. I didn't watch them, but from what I can gather, they heavily featured Karin-chan despite her being a substitute. Later, a HaroSute episode had short versions of both music videos, where the emphasis on Karin had been toned down, but was still significant. This was soon accompanied by a stream of comments written in English on the YouTube video, which led to the aforementioned 2ch topic that has been translated.

Now that you're up to speed, I'd like to get to the main point of this post and give this friendly reminder: 2ch does not represent the Japanese fandom. If you believe that, you're just as tunnel visioned as those posters on 2ch, who act as if the people who comment on YouTube represent the whole Western fandom.

When it comes to 2ch, I find that the posts on Ookami, the H!P board, are laden with deep-rooted cynicism. It's not that constructive communication is impossible, but you have to go hunting for the diamonds in the rough. If the 2ch translations you've read seem pretty reasonable, trust me, it's not because 2ch's a nice place - it's because whoever's doing the translation has gone through the effort of separating the wheat from the chaff. And some of that chaff is pretty toxic. Going through 2ch threads themselves can get pretty depressing, even when the topic of discussion itself is generally interesting.

Remember that these are just the opinions of some dudes and dudettes on the Internet. Just because they're Japanese doesn't make their opinions any more (or any less) valid than a non-Japanese fan's opinions on a forum, on Twitter, on YouTube. The posters on that 2ch thread seem to be basing their assumptions mainly on YouTube comments and their own prejudices. If what you get from that post is that all Japanese wota despise the Western fanbase, you're doing the same thing - you're basing your perspective off a small subset of the fandom who aren't necessarily representative of the whole.

I agree that some of the comments can get upsetting. Keep in mind the translation on Jicchan starts with a huge warning. In red. In ALL CAPS. The warning was there.

The 'shut up since you don't spend' mindset, ignorant as it is, feels to me like an extreme version of 'I spend more on my idols, therefore I am a better fan' mindset, which isn't unique to Japanese idol fans. Within my personal encounters with Japanese wota, they generally seem to be happy that people overseas enjoy the same thing that they do. I've never felt animosity from them, if anything, curiosity seems to be the main reaction.

As to what I personally think about the video, I mostly agree with number244's post - The emphasis of Karin was most likely the result of a business/marketing decision to promote one of their stronger prospects from a lesser-known group rather than any attempt to usurp Kanon or to make Karin the new face of Morning Musume. Whether or not it results in a good business outcome remains to be seen, but H!P seems to be doing well sales-wise, so they must be getting some things right. Heck, I could probably write a whole post about the usage of the Momochi Musubi as a branding element, why it was important to have it all the time for Berryz Kobo and why it had to be sealed off in Country Girls.

To sum up, I'd like to reiterate again that please, don't use 2ch as a proxy for the Japanese fandom as a whole. Treat their comments as you would treat a forum post, a tweet, a blog write-up, a YouTube comment - sometimes they may be enlightening, sometimes they're amusing, and sometimes they're just trolling.

TL;DR 2ch ≠ Japanese fandom as a whole

1 comment:

  1. There are many many inside and outside Japanese fandom who hate and never visit "ni channeru"!