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.