Type A, Type B


I’ve been seeing a resurgence of this kind of terminology recently, and that’s disappointing, because I had thought we had moved past this concept. Evidently, however, there are anime fans out there that still subscribe to this kind of thinking, and that bothers me, because the Type A/Type B dichotomy is flawed from the very start.

“Type A” and “Type B” anime fandom is a concept originating from 2ch that breaks anime fans down into two categories.

“Type A” fans are described thusly:

  • A person who simply enjoys “anime.”
  • Is proud of Japan’s anime.
  • Evaluates anime based on direction, voice acting, art, etc.
  • Hates shallow anime with no real content.
  • Story emphasis >>>>> Moe anime.
  • A recent example would Higashi no Eden. Fans of anime like Lain or Ghost in the Shell would probably be this kind.

“Type B” fans, on the other hand, are described thusly:

  • A person who simply enjoys “characters.”
  • Will watch an anime if it includes cute or beautiful characters.
  • Doesn’t care if story is awful, as long as the characters are of interest.
  • Evaluates anime based on which seiyuu are in it and what the characters look like.
  • Loves moe elements. Doesn’t like complex anime.
  • The otaku the media picks up on are usually this kind.
  • Doesn’t know that much about anime and so is often criticised as by Type A otaku.
  • However, they make much better customers than the more discerning Type A otaku.
  • Recently there has been a huge increase in anime targeted at Type B otaku.
  • People who like K-ON!, Queen’s Blade, Strike Witches and so on would be in this class.

It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to see what’s wrong with the way this dichotomy is presented, but let’s break this down to see just how wrong all of this is.

First of all, it’s worth noting that the concept originates from 2ch. For those of you who aren’t familiar with 2ch, it’s basically what 4chan aspires to be. Take an imageboard, fill it with otaku, and give them anonymity, and you’re bound to get extreme viewpoints. It’s important to keep Poe’s Law in mind, however, when dealing with populations such as those on 2ch or 4chan.

“A person who simply enjoys ‘anime.’” vs. “A person who simply enjoys ‘characters.’”

This is the first distinction that the concept makes between the two types. The first problem here is the ambiguity. What does it mean to “simply enjoy ‘anime’?” What does it mean to “simply enjoy ‘characters’?” Do Type B fans just look at their Infinite Stratos wallscrolls all day long and not actually like to watch anime? There’s no clarity here.

Type A: “Is proud of Japan’s anime.”

What does this even mean? Are Type B fans ashamed of anime? I’d be hard-pressed to believe that.

Type B: “Will watch an anime if it includes beautiful or cute characters.”

This is a classic “checklist mentality” argument, which operates on the false notion that moé fans are the only kind of anime fans that have a set of criteria that determines whether or not they will check out a given show.

Type B: “Doesn’t care if story is awful, as long as the characters are of interest.”

The heavy narrative focus of some anime fans has been an issue with the moé debate for some time. The belief that everything should serve the story, and that anime that don’t focus on story are inherently worst than anime that do holds the medium back from its full potential, plain and simple.

“Evaluates anime based on direction, voice acting, art, etc.” vs. “Evaluates anime based on which seiyuu are in it and what the characters look like.”

Ideally, an anime fan would evaluate anime based on all of these criteria, but since a distinction must be made (Otherwise, this Type A/Type B thing wouldn’t work, right?), general attributes like “direction, voice acting, art, etc.” are valued more than personal ones like seiyuu preference and character design. This creates the illusion that Type B fans don’t actually care about the quality of the anime they watch, only the characters.

“Hates shallow anime with no real content.” vs. “Loves moe elements. Doesn’t like complex anime.”

What is “content?” What is “complex anime?” What is “shallow anime?” To those of us who have been in this debate for a while, it’s obvious what they mean, but the ambiguity once again ruins the legitimacy of the argument.  Discounting the fact that there are a lot of “complex” anime out there that include moé elements. One only needs to look at the cornucopia of Evangelion figures out there to see that moe is still strong in many various kinds of anime outside of the ecchi, slice-of-life, and harem genres.

Type A: “Story emphasis >>>>> Moe anime.”

What does “moé anime” even refer to? Anime with moé in it? Or just the harem, slice-of-life, and ecchi genres? But then most people would refer to Clannad as a “moé anime” and Clannad has a heavy emphasis on its story. It doesn’t add up, or it does add up, but the only thing it adds up to is self-importance and a bias against moé.

Type B: “The otaku the media picks up on are usually this kind.”

The media will do quite a bit to ensure that the image of otaku that they’re largely responsible for creating is perpetuated. “Crazy moé otaku does crazy thing” makes for a good news story.

Type B: “Doesn’t know that much about anime and so is often criticised as by Type A otaku.”

This could easily have instead been written “Doesn’t know that much about ‘Type A’ anime and so is often criticized by Type A otaku.” Fact is, if I want to have a debate about whether Kotomi Ichinose from Clannad actually fell in love with Tomoya Okazaki, I’m going to the “Type B” guy.

Type B: “However, they make much better customers than the more discerning Type A otaku.”

“Discerning,” here, is a fancy word for “low-consuming.” “Type B” fans make better customers because they are better customers, which is to say that they show support for the media they love. Don’t believe me?

Type B: “Recently there has been a huge increase in anime targeted at Type B otaku.”

I wonder why.

“A recent example would Higashi no Eden. Fans of anime like Lain or Ghost in the Shell would probably be this kind.” vs. “People who like K-ON!, Queen’s Blade, Strike Witches and so on would be in this class.”

Here’s a novel idea: What about people who like both? Evangelion is my favorite anime, but shows like Strike Witches and Clannad are also in my top five. This reeks of drawing fake lines between the high-brow “Type A” nobility and the filthy, dimwitted “Type B” peasants.

 

So, is the problem obvious yet? Everything about the way this concept is written is skewed toward making “Type A” fans into the anime fandom Übermensch and making “Type B” fans (A.K.A. moé fans, if you haven’t figured that out already.) look like lowest-common-denominator consumers with no standards and no sense of quality.

The casualness with which I see this concept brought up in discussion bothers me, because it tells me that people aren’t questioning it before accepting it as legitimate, and that’s harmful to discussion, especially when the concept is as obviously skewed as this one is.

So, let’s stop pretending this Type A/Type B thing is anything but a made-up false dichotomy created by a bunch of bitter 2ch users, butthurt because the anime industry is no longer servicing them.

 

Stay frosty.

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11 thoughts on “Type A, Type B

  1. I think the whole Type A/Type B thing is just a general statement on people who prefer emphasis on story versus emphasis on characters. But, as you pointed out, this classification is very vague and makes moe fans out to be mindless consumers. I will always take a story with “good” characters over a “good” story, but I can appreciate smartly written stories too.

  2. The whole Type A/Type B thing is just a way for people to put fans they don’t like into little boxes to say “well these people aren’t REAL fans”.

  3. Oh yes, this list, I remember it well.

    I recall at the time that I was lurking SanCom for a few months prior, but this article was the thing that made me actually create an account and become a regular commenter on the articles (well, not as regular as other people, but I spoke my mind on comments in general more frequently back then than I do now). Everything about my current fandom more or less fell into place afterward. I watched Anime before, but afterward I started watching Anime weekly and as it came out, as well as committing to memory the names of the Directors and other staff I loved or hated. I owned some Anime prior to this, but it was only afterward that I truly wanted to have a collection of shows under my belt, both for my own admiration and viewing pleasure as well as some sense of supporting what I love and voting with my wallet (the only voting that truly matters as far as economics goes). It was also after this point that I started buying figures and such. It was also after becoming a SanCom visitor that I began formulating my current opinions and ideas on what Moe is and how it applies to the media we consume, in an environment away from the old guard of youtube Anime “reviewers” and ranters.

    I would not go as far to say that the current state of my fandom is purely because of SanCom. It can be directly traced to the people I have had the pleasure of talking to who share my passion, with one of the earlier stand outs being Actar and KrazyKobun, and more recently Anubis, kgods and VZ. Spending time on SanCom was trans-formative, but I took the paths I did due to people I have met and of my own decisions. In essence, SanCom and more specifically the article this post is based on did not create me, but it did temper the shape of my current fandom.

    As for the actual matter at hand, I for a long time had viewed this list on more of a symbolic level than anything. For a long time I viewed this list as just one of the many faces to the long standing argument of “Characters vs Plot/Narratve” in Fiction. While this is important to all of fiction, it holds special importance to us within the Anime fandom due to the sheer fact that Moe exists. It shows us new ways of interpreting characters within plot-driven fiction, as well as showing us that fiction can exist without much of an overarching plot at all, surviving and thriving purely off of characters. Specifically it was the part of the list saying “Doesn’t care if story is awful, as long as the characters are of interest.” that makes me think of the larger question of why we ingest the media and fiction that we do, and what we specifically want out of it. I always return to my overly long adage of “If I don’t like the characters, then I don’t like the events happening to them. Since the events happening to the characters is the story, if I don’t like the characters I can’t like the story.” I do enjoy things that have overarching plots, like Steins;Gate, SAO, Negima, Railgun and the aforementioned Clannad, but it is always the characters I fall in love with first and foremost. The plot is always my second love. Just as well, there is really not much plot to speak of in Lucky Star, K-ON, Hidamari Sketch, or Acchi Kocchi, but I highly enjoy them regardless because this character love. For a long time, I viewed this list as just a facade for the larger debate of “Plot vs Characters” with Type A being Plot and Type B being Characters. It was also for this reason that in my early days of being on SanCom, I self identified as a Type B fan.

    After a while however, my views changed. At first I stopped self-identifying as Type B and just stopped thinking of the list in general because I thought it was superfluous to me and my fandom. We as humans naturally categorize things in our minds, you have already pointed that out Anubis, otherwise we would not have such things as tropes. This list however, just felt more and more like just an arbitrary line made just for the sake of making a line where none existed before (in essence, like bloated bureaucracy). Then, as has been shown, the list is far more dubious than just more bureaucracy. The list is blatantly biased to make the Moe fan look like he has been lobotomized, and reeks of passive-aggressiveness on the part of said “Type A fans.” Yes, I am a degenerate with no taste, and I will buy whatever gives me a boner. Soon to come after are claims of pedophilia and misogyny. All that huff, bluff and steam could have been used to actually talk and discuss the things that you love like I do. If all you have to say is the same tired shit we have all heard many times over, then please get the fuck out of my face and leave me be. I will be busy supporting the things I like, while the things you love wither on the vine.

    At the end of the day though, I do have a semblance of respect for the original article, as my introduction to SanCom put me on a path to my current form of Anime fandom, which is something I am very happy with. That doesn’t mean however, that the whole “Type A, Type B” thing is, at the end of the day, needlessly superfluous at best, and barely veiled antagonism at worst.

    And I wonder why I stopped posting on SanCom anyway….

    • This post highly resonated with me, VillainousHanacha. The whole idea that fandom can be broken down into two opposing sides is absolutely ludicrous on its face. I cannot stand it when people feel the need to categorize each other as fans and take a position of superiority over others; as if you disagreeing with them makes you a clueless and low class fan.

      A lot of this behavior does go back to human nature. We intrinsically desire to simplify and categorize complex things for easier understanding. I often see fans who try to make themselves feel special or more important by taking these types of cheap shots at others; a schadenfreude mentality if you will. The reality is people like what they like for various reasons unique to each individual. There is no one true type of fan, nor is there a hierarchy of fandom; we are all fans of anime just the same.

      I have this same philosophy in regards to the plot/narrative versus characters debate, “If I don’t like the characters, then I don’t like the events happening to them. Since the events happening to the characters is the story, if I don’t like the characters I can’t like the story.” I too see little value in stories that focus on the narrative at the expense of the characters; things where the ideas are more important than the characters themselves. Steins;Gate, in contrast, deals with some interesting ideas, but it does not sacrifice character depth to do so.

      The plot exists because of the characters, not the other way around. Stories where the characters act like stereotypes in order to service the plot and nothing more really irritate me; especially if the characters look interesting, but we are never shown their motivations. Real people have a back story, are motivated by things that resonate with them, have fears, hopes and dreams, and actively pursue their desires. If I cannot connect with the characters on some basic human level that is relatable to me, then the story is deficient. Had Steins;Gate just focused on the idea of time travel and largely ignored the characters, their relationship with each other, and how that tied into WHY they were time traveling, it would have failed to have as big of an impact on me as it did. Both the story and the characters are important, but without solid characters there is no story to be told.

  4. “Doesn’t care if story is awful, as long as the characters are of interest.”

    I’m sorry. What? Whoever came up with the moronic details for this stupid “holier-than-thou” dichotomy obviously has no idea how plot development even works.

    • ^^This. Friggin’ this!

      I find this “Doesn’t care if story is awful, as long as characters are of interest” mindset to be quite stupid. For me, the golden rule of any anime is that you have to have great interesting characters in order to have a good story. If the characters are of little to no interest, then that would make for a rather bland story with little to no substance. Characters are supposed to draw one in and appreciate the story. It doesn’t matter how “deep” your anime is trying to be.

      This is one of the reasons why I’m not fond of such shows like Aku no Hana, which tries to be dark and edgy and pretentious. Too bad it doesn’t have characters to try and back it up.

      Bottom line: if characters are of no interest, then the storyline is of no interest either.

  5. Ah yes, this argument. I think the last time someone accused me of being a Type B was when I was expressing my dislike of Mirai Nikki on a forum. They saw my K-ON avatar and immediately jumped to the conclusion that I have a shallow appreciation of anime. But my liking of K-ON has nothing to do with why I disliked the show. I tried to tell them that I too like engrossing, well written stories and a good cast and that the reason why I didn’t like the show was because I felt it didn’t provide them to me. If I only appreciated cuteness, Yuno’s character design was plenty cute but her personality was irritating so I couldn’t care less about her design.

    After all that, they still stuck by their argument. Even when I pointed out that I listed Fullmetal Alchemist, Code Geass, Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagann and Cowboy Bebop as among my favourite anime they still didn’t listen. One part of their argument they were saying how I only I liked ‘shows like Yuruyuri’ which I found deeply ironic considering I despise that show.

    It happens far less often, but I’ve also been labelled as the opposite. Someone tried to deter me from watching Precure (If you look at my avatar you’ll realise they were wrong in doing that) because of my dislike of shows like Yuruyuri and A-Channel and my appreciation of shows like Bebop and Fate/Zero. Because of that I’ve also been labelled as one of those ‘MANime’ types or the sort of person who likes shows commonly labelled as ‘epic’.

    This name calling confuses me to no end. Am I a giant moefag or am I anti moe? Can’t I just be someone who watches anime and enjoy whatever I find to be good?

  6. Well, among other thing, i tend to think that the type A/type B thing is closer to what some pals on my circle argue about the shift in what type of anime is popular: In recent years muzukashii-kei (difficult-type) has been overtaken by kuuki-kei (atmosphere type) and sekai-kei (world-type). I’m using Sato Dai’s descriptions as I feel they represent the differences a bit clearer.

    In short, muzukashii-kei refers to complicated storytelling. It’s outward oriented, typically something happens and characters react to, and have impact on, events and their environment.

    Sekai-kei is named after “You, Me and the World”. It’s inward focused, the relationship between the main characters is what drives and determines events. The outside world is of limited consequence.

    In Kuuki-kei the anime attempts to stir up a certain ambience or emotion(s) with the viewer. Character interaction, music and setting all serve this goal. Storytelling is often minimalistic to prevent distraction and set in a safe or closed off environment to limit interaction with the outside world.

    As all three types are not limited to genre and have their share of good and bad shows. So I’d prefer to avoid “sophisticated” versus “moe” debates.

    The shift is possibly caused by the changed perspectives of young people in Japan. Anime has always been escapist; in the past story driven shows offered a diversion from the boredom of school or work. Now in more difficult times it offers an escape into safety.

    • The shift in anime is a real thing, yes, and the differences between muzukashii-kei, sekai-kei, and kuuki-kei are distinct to where there are some people who will like certain types of anime over others.

      The issue with the Type A/Type B dichotomy is that, rather than look at the differences between different kinds of shows and their fans objectively, it’s focused on raising one type of fan above another based on arbitrary criteria (See: Nerd Heirarchy). It is the “sophisticated” versus “moe” debate.

      The problem isn’t that it talks about differences between fans of different kinds of anime. The problem is that the way it’s written portrays one kind of fan as the Master Race, and the other kind as unwashed, stupid peasants. It’s valuable to talk about the differences between types of anime and their appeal to certain kinds of fans, but using the Type A/Type B terminology in that discussion can only poison the watering hole, because its basis isn’t “Fan A is different from Fan B.” It’s basis is “Fan A is better than Fan B.”

  7. Can I be called a “Type C” fan? You know, somebody who likes the elements of both Type A and B otaku? I’ll never understand why someone who enjoys moe and ecchi anime (which is commonly referred to as Type B anime) can’t enjoy anime with deep and complex plots. Madoka Magica actually appeased both crowds, ironically for the same reasons.

    As Anubis said the main flaw with this theory is that its self limiting pigeonholing people into archetypes without considering the many variables that exist for anime fans. Sure there will be instances were this theory will apply to some anime fans, but it won’t with most. Sadly though the fandom seems to adopting this myopic theory to most anime fans for their egotistical paradigm.

    And even for those fans out there who are Type B who the fuck cares?! Appreciation of characters is just as valid of a reason to like an anime as appreciating a deep plot! Type B fans are fans who can be emotionally invested in characters a lot sooner which is why lack of plot doesn’t affect them, they’re in tune with the character/characters themselves. Also, their zeal to buy merchandise helps the economy. So there’s plenty of benefits to being a Type B fan! That’s why I don’t see how being a Type B fan is a bad thing.

    • I think most of us would fall into this “Type C,” which illustrates precisely what the problem with the Type A/Type B dichotomy is: It doesn’t actually serve to describe anyone. Its entire purpose is to make one group feel better about themselves by shitting on another group.

      The only reason it’s gained any traction in the Western fandom is because of the elitist “Type A” fans who go on about their “discerning tastes” and their “Sturgeon’s Law,” coupled with the fact that people will people will jump on board with anything that confirms their fandom worldview. Because they agree with it, they fail to see what it really is: Some stupidity posted on 2ch likely by a bitter fan, soured by the lack of Ghost in the Shell.

      Hell, the very fact that it originates from 2ch should be a red flag by itself, but then again, most people who subscribe to Type A/Type B thinking probably don’t know what 2ch is.

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