I didn’t realize just how competitive the anime market is! Otaku Unite! highlights the evolution from fan-subbed episodes, to the Cartoon Network, to anime on the web (i.e. the Anime Web Turnpike). Interestingly enough, this boom in competition also led to the growth and spread of anime to an even bigger market. It took fan groups scanlating and subbing/dubbing to popularize manga and anime, and the conventions took that popularity and ran with it – enabling even wider access to anime and Japanese media. Because of this, American anime conventions and cosplay have become their own sub-culture.
The voice actors and actresses, however, seem far less enthused than their devoted fans. To the non-otaku, anime are just cartoons. The anime fans refer to their beloved voice actors as”industry folk,” and put them up on pedestals…sometimes unable to distinguish the person from their voice as a character. However, it seems that the voice actors/actresses deal fairly well with their popularity at these conventions and take it as sincere flattery. It seems that people like Corinne Orr and the guy who does the voice of Speed Racer look at anime fans as a breed of people more educated and passionate than regular fans (like Trekkies). It was refreshing to actually hear non-otaku say something nice about anime fans!
All in all, watching Otaku Unite! makes me a little apprehensive about going to ACen this weekend. It will be interesting to wade through all the cosplayers, see the skits, and interview people about their costumes. I’m looking forward to running into people from class…hopefully I will recognize you!